Thursday, 26 February 2009

As obsolete as...?

Doing my usual reading of my paper from the back business pages first - it's the only way to really understand the world - I came across a small bit about the way the economic crisis has hit Eastern Europe who were already up to their eyes in debt badly.

Our old friends the IMF as outlined in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine have got their claws into Hungary and Latvia and are eyeing up Serbia, Agencies are giving Latvia a junk rating for credit which is almost unheard of for a country. My pals Wullie and Jo were recently there and said that heavily armed cops were very visible. No wonder - there were riots in January not really reported anywhere but see here:

This has resulted in the PM resigning last week - surprisingly because the IMF told him to cut public expenditure and raise taxes. The IMF are still circling though so whoever wins an election if it is called expect them to be told what policies they have to implement whatever their policies were.

And yes I know that the photo is EMF but in my defence it is unbelievable....

Too late....too late

Attended a local meeting in the Hill about the plans to close Victoria Primary and Nursery as part of the latest massacre of public services by Glasgow City Council.

It was nominally a "consultation" - with powerpoint-armed officials explaining how closing a school splitting it between two other schools - disrupting education and increasing class sizes will actually improve the kids' education.

The room was packed and really representative of Govanhill I thought - a buzz of kids and different communities - interpreters had been employed for the Eastern European families and some of the Asian ones. There was a semi-respectful silence for the presentation carried out by an official who used to be a primary school head teacher - you could definitely tell! But even then there were muffled jeers at some of the more outlandish claims.

The open session was excellent - mothers and grandmothers mostly who knew all the counter arguments to blow the officials away also peppered with genuine anger and

disbelief that the wee building that they were sitting in may no longer be there in 6 months time. They also held their own when the officials started talking over them and countered.

There was a bit of politicking - a new SNP MSP spoke Ann something she got the seat when Bashir Mann died - not bad points but a bit crude in promoting her own party I thought. Danny the local Green councillor spoke very well and got the best reception for non-parent: pointing out this was a Labour Party scheme not some neutral education plan. Denied vociferously of course

The anger kept mounting and the articulate arguments kept coming from the floor so the ex-headie stopped the meeting. Then as people were getting up to leave some old guy got up to say he wanted the last word. It was one of the local labour hack councillors! Not a front ! He got completely shouted down and couldnt get any of his attack out at all. You're too late, too late the parents shouted at him. Brilliant.

Next stages for the campaign will be critical as the facade of consultation is gone through. A city wide response is vital - but I think what happens in Govanhill will be essential for success.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

L-Idyll: the brutal truth.

A relatively late trip to supermarket for weekly shop. Bit down cos of end to good weekend and numerous domestic and work tasks mounting up. But a chat with the woman on the check out gave a big dose of perspective and showed how hellish this economic crisis is getting.

My local supermarket Somerfield was bought out last summer by the Coop. So it has been known that our place is going to go and replace by Lidl who must have bought the site in G hill.

So staff have been worried a lot as my weekly chats has shown. If they would be kept on what the transition would be etc.

The checkout worker told me that at a meeting on Friday Lidl announced that the the building would shut for 6 months from March 7th and all staff would lose their jobs. Although 100 work there Lidl only plan to have 15 staff who would multi-task. They also have to sort out their own tax and insurance - essentially be self employed. No sick pay or paid holiday entitlement. Absolutely outrageous and shows how capital is using the crisis to carry out a lot of excesses.

You can sense the despair in the shop and the shelves are almost bare - no new stock being delivered a la Woolies and Zaavi. My worries over the renegotiation of my weekly shopping ritual is nothing compared to the shock facing 100 low paid shop workers. Grim grim grim....

20th century composers...honest!

Finished reading the massive footnoted work that I began in early January - an education in many ways but some flaws. The Rest is Noise see blog and pic - tells the story of 20th century classical music in historical context or vice versa. Made me listen to some cracking music that I wouldnt have done otherwise. Bit musicological in places but not 2 much. Also discovered Moz and Shostakovich link!

See my review below - from Fbook.
A muscular tome - absolutely thorough in its discussion of 20th century classical music. Very enthusiastic in places which rubs off - You tube has taken a pounding with me listening to stuff . He has introduced me to material I would never have heard.
The historical context is also excellent for the most part although the write seems quite hostile to the left which means that there is a weakness to some of the analysis of the whole number of composers who were influenced in this way.
It takes a long time to get through but is a very fulfilling and worthwhile read. Criticisms would be it tends perhaps inevitably to focus on the States. British classical music which I saw 3 hours of documentary on is only told through the prism of Britten in one chapter.
I think it also gets a little rushed in the last couple of chapters - it means you dont have the luxury of examining the history or appreciating the music just a whistle stop thru a number of composers. But a good project to embark upon.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Let them eat pizza

Significant piece in papers yesterday regarding general economic collapse. Hailing the creation of 1500 jobs by Domino's Pizza while all other sectors are massacred. We thmay all have no money or rather no access to credit anymore but we still cant do without our heavily topped melted cheese snacks.

The context seems to be that the British service economy may weather the storm more than other places in the world. Dont follow the logic given that the NuLabour ethos has been to worship the financial services economy at all costs. That is what has collapsed.

It's ironic that Britain and the States have buggered up the rest of the world's capitalist economies that actually produce things - like Japan and Germany. Our drunken credit fuelled boom has been able to buy flat screen tvs ipods and mobiles ten to the dozen. Now all the money's gone as Babylon Zoo put it in their less successful second single the crisis of overproduction is there for all to see. No wonder the Japanese Finance Sec was apparently steaming at a press conference - he has now resigned!
On the first article I linked to what a terrible conclusion it makes - typical of the patchy analysis of economic commentators who have been mostly caught completely unawares over the last year. Anyway Im off to watch new Moz dvd.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Consequences of boring football

Zero squared bore draw with Old Firm yesterday. Two shots on target or something like that. Needless to say the chat and company were exponentially more interesting.

This led to some non-football related topics such as the worst film you have ever gone to see on a date. Mine is to the side - the hilarious story of Tom Hanks and his police dog side kick that slavers a lot and um.. that's it.

Bad date in lot of other ways though and I was 19!

In other news it seems pound shops are ruling the roost on the high st!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Demo time

Went to save our schools demo in city centre yesterday. Pretty good about 1000 people there and most of the areas represented. Important because a traditional tactic of Labour councils is to pick one area off against each other and play a sort of Dutch auction.

It is getting pretty clear though that the schools may have to prepare for occupations - interesting to see if that takes off. Has not in the past but we shall see.
Lots of speakers at demo including celebrities who signed autographs for the kids for hours! Nice.

Friday, 13 February 2009

SNP backtrack

This week saw the first major uturn of the SNP government - they wont scrap the council tax or even present an Act on it in this Parliament.

It's strange stuff given the tactical advantage they would have gained if they had been defeated by Labour and the Tories. Maybe its a post - budget deal so they could win the vote last week. Maybe the rich backers like

man above pulled some strings.

Possibly it was to do with the flat tax element where everyone would pay the same rate if not the same charge which would have substantially cut council budgets.

Anyway it's a gift for the Unionist parties and I think is going to make the referendum bill even more tricky. Given one of the reasons that they stated they were withdrawing the proposal was that there is no majority in the Parliament for it.

I wrote a piece on the contradictions and problems of the SNP government at the end of last year it's here.