The Point
Last updated: 15 November 2017.

...red sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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In Praise of Beethoven

Arthur C Clarke - A Very Modern Odyssey

Tackling Private Landlords

Investigating the Value Form

The Eternal Dark Heart of Empire

If You Build Them, They Will Come

What the Frack..?

Sean Robertson gives his opinion on the fracking controversy


In Middle America a housewife turns on her kitchen tap. Flames shoot out of the faucet, singeing her eyebrows. The ground shakes and a massive hole opens up in the street. No it's not a natural disaster or the coming of the apocalypse but an incident of a type which are likely to become more and more common as oil companies attempt to keep dwindling supplies of fuel flowing using the modified techniques of Hydraulic Fracturing or 'fracking'. This is the process used to exploit previously unextractable deposits of hydrocarbons, mainly natural gas or methane. The process involves blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into shale deposits deep underground to release trapped gas.

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A Tribute to Tony Benn by Jack Fraser

Only days after the untimely death of Bob Crow, a great trade unionist and socialist, another giant of the British left has sadly died. Tony Benn, a Labour Party socialist who was unashamedly Old rather than New Labour passed away on the 14th March 2014. Born into privilege he was the first peer to renounce his title to remain an MP. An accomplished parliamentarian who won the respect of many on the right, Tony Benn never shirked from promoting his socialist values. He always remained loyal to his Labour Party.

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Tony Benn 1925-2014

 

 

 

Tony Benn 1925 - 2014

By Gary Fraser

Tony Benn was more than just a politician – he was an educator, a preacher and dare I say it, a visionary. His death, last week at the age of 88 profoundly upset me, even though I knew he was unwell. It’s strange how you can have genuine feelings for someone you didn’t know, and for someone that you only met once albeit for the briefest of moments. But I grew up feeling like I knew Tony Benn.

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No Mean Fighters – Tributes to Bob Crow and Tony Benn by Tommy Sheridan

 

The week beginning 10th of March 2014 was a hard one to bear for socialists. Within days of each other we lost two giants of our movement the likes of which we may not see again for a long time.

Tony Benn lived a full and active life for 88 years and whilst he had been ill recently, and we had feared the worst only a few weeks ago, it still did not seem to soften the blow when we heard that he had passed away.

Bob Crow was a much younger man and still in the prime of his life. We have been abruptly and cruelly robbed of his vigour, tenacity and passion.

The socialist and trade union movements are undoubtedly the weaker for both of these great men’s passing.

Yet in this time of sorrow we can be consoled in the knowledge that their lives and actions have provided inspiration for thousands of working class people to pick up their cudgels and continue the fight for better, fairer society.

I penned the following tributes to both men who I knew well and considered friends and comrades.

Tommy Sheridan

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Independence and the Economy: Time for the front foot...

 

 

 

Independence: Time for the front foot on the economy says Stevie Arnott

 

The battle to win a YES vote is now firmly in its second stage. Polls in January indicating that momentum was firmly with YES, and that the gap created by Project Fear was closing, brought forth an onslaught from the NO camp that was as incessant as it was hysterical and contradictory.

Far from it all being over except to 'bayonet the wounded' - as Labour Unionist MP Ian Davidson so charmingly put it – it was clear that there was everything to play for, and despite the advantage of a supine and, frankly, biased media, the YES movement was having some success in challenging and dispelling the constant negative tropes of the NO campaign. A full spring offensive by the NO campaign was launched.

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Radical independence; Britain is for the Rich, Scotland can be ours

aaa Rad indy demo

 

Liz MacDonald of the Radical Independence Campaign (Highlands) outlines the progressive left case for independence.

 

By voting Yes for Scottish Independence on the 18th September 2014 we will begin the most challenging and exciting journey ever undertaken in our nation’s history. A journey hoped for, dreamt of, and worked towards by many courageous Scotsmen and women who could see the possibilities and potential for radical change.

It was John Maclean in 1923 who said, “The social revolution is possible sooner in Scotland than in England. The working-class policy ought to be to break up the Empire, to avert war and enable the workers to triumph in every country and colony. Scottish seperation is part of the process of England’s Imperial disintegration and is a help toward the ultimate triumph of the workers of the world.”   Maclean could see that Britain was for the rich and that Scotland could be ours.

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Building YES locally: one group's inspiring story

All over the country a mass movement for independence has formed organically over the last year. Toni Vastano of YES Badenoch Strathspey recounts the YES adventure so far in the shadow of the Cairngorms

 

YES! Badenoch & Strathspey formed in September 2013. Some of us had been on the Independence March & Rally, Calton Hill, Edinburgh and we were amazed by what we saw and felt there. A real sense of community. People from all over Scotland and from many other countries too. All races, all ages, all backgrounds. It didn't matter. We saw a glimpse of what our country can be. People representing their own communities, meeting together to celebrate a vision of Scotland as national community. Elaine C. Smith's words "What we need to talk about now is the kind of place we want to live in."

 

I thought "Well, there must be other people living in my local area who would like to have exactly that sort of conversation. We should start our own YES campaign group." I asked the local branch of the SNP for advice and they offered us the use of a room they'd hired for a routine meeting. There was no advertising, word just got round that there was to be a YES campaign group in our area. The response was overwhelming. We had over thirty people, most of whom were not connected with the SNP and many of whom had quite different ideas about how we should proceed. Everybody did agree on one thing - independence. They then all agreed to have me as Chairman.

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Independence and the red herring of working class unity

Gregor Gall deconstructs the argument that Scottish independence would break trade union unity and solidarity across the UK.

 

There are a number of red herrings in the debate within the left about what the consequences of and motivations for independence. Amongst these are the equation of independence with nationalism and the notion that an independent Scotland would see the peoples of England consigned to permanent Tory rule. This article will focus on another one: that independence will split the unity of the working class in Britain, because this is one of the most potentially damning arguments on the left.

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Paradigm Poll – UKIP and the Euro elections

Green left activist Adrian Cruden looks at this years euro-elections, and why this time, it’s quite different

 

Tradition has it that the European elections don’t really count. And yet, whatever the case in the past, the received wisdom has never been further from the truth than this year.

Perhaps because of a combination of the proportional voting system and the perception that the Euro-elections are different, voters clearly feel freer to vote the way they really would like to in other elections but for various reasons don’t. Consequently, if you review the previous Euro-results, the so called main parties have frequently performed extremely poorly even when they have come first[1] for example, in 2009, the Tories “won” with barely 27% of the national vote.

But this year more than ever we see a political class in crisis as the Euro-vote threatens to make a major and lasting impact on the British political scene.

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Homelessness in Scotland: Progressive Legislation for a Progressive Nation

Yes activist Kevin Kane looks at the differences in housing legislation north and south of the border

Introduction

Homelessness in England has increased dramatically since the UK coalition government came into power, with a 37% rise in rough sleepers in the country since 2010.1 This is in stark contrast to Scotland, where the Scottish Government has introduced the most progressive homelessness legislation in Western Europe2 and homelessness is steadily decreasing. Given that homelessness in Scotland is falling even in the face of harsh Westminster Government policies is a testament to the progressive, forward-thinking ethos of the Scottish Government.

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External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left

Greenpeace

The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books