Notes From the Northern Colony

Greum Maol Stevenson, thinking & writing in Scotland

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Photo: Babs Nicgriogair

Despite unfriendly weather, there was a good turnout for today's Vigil for the Valley in protest of the sell-off of land previously used for social housing.

Disappointingly, no SNP leaders attended, but Keiran O'Neill, Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate for Maryhill and Springburn, did. He said, “The strength of feeling in the wider residents of the local community is very clear. There was over 30 people attending the safe, socially distant demonstration that Living Rent and Wyndford's Tenant Union organised.”

Read Glasgow Live's report here.

Photo: Nick Durie

#wyndfordtenantsunion #glasgow #collinastreet #maryhill #stillgame #landlordism #buytolet #socialhousing #keiranoneill #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Help stop the death of a working class community.

I invite you to a physically distanced outdoor vigil tomorrow, Saturday the 14th November, at 1 pm, that Living Rent tenants and Maryhill residents are organising anent the sell-off of Collina Street to private housing developers by Glasgow City Council.

The site of a scheme, and where Still Game was filmed, lies empty because the Glasgow Housing Association tore down the scheme. Surely justice would mean that land should be prioritised for public housing.

Living Rent has put forward a tenants' manifesto for the election. In it, we call for vacant land, particularly land that is vacant because of the demolition of public housing, to be prioritised for public housing. Collina Street was home to The Valley scheme, and sits on arguably the bonniest part of Maryhill, with commanding views over the city and access to the Forth and Clyde canal and Kelvin water.

The Council, without any consultation, intend to flog Collina Street off for 100% private housing. Not only that, the Scottish Government will hand the highest bidder money to build 105 of said houses. These will be “affordable” – which means a person will have to have tens of thousands of pounds to be able to have any hope of buying them. The majority will surely end up in the hands of buy to let landlords.

STOP THIS. We want the sale halted. We want a local consultation over what should happen to this much-loved place. We have invited all the local politicians and election candidates and the media to come along.

Will you join us?

#glasgow #livingrent #glasgowhousingassociation #buytolet #landlordism #wyndfordtenantsunion #collinastreet #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Four years ago, I was preparing to leave the US, where I had lived for 22 years. I decided to leave when Trump got the Republican nomination. I was certain he would win the Presidency, but I intended to leave even if he lost, because I was unwilling to live in a nation where someone like him could be taken seriously as a political candidate.

Though he will soon no longer be President, it is the same nation.

Biden, and others, have said of Trump's America: “This is not who we are.” But it is.

Had it not been for Covid-19, Trump would have won easily this time. He lost by a narrow margin, with the second-highest number of votes in the nation's history, which means almost half the population supports him after seeing what he has done for four years.

Leaving aside the fact that Biden is not much less right wing than Trump, only less incompetent, what is there to rejoice about? Well, America will probably rejoin the Paris Agreement, and...

And that is about it. Capitalism will continue to reign, people will continue to die of being unable to afford healthcare, black people will continue to be murdered by police, and the working class will continue to rarely even be mentioned by the millionaires in elected office, who will pay lip service to protecting the middle class.

America is still the nation that elected Trump four years ago, and came close to electing him again having learned both that he is incompetent and that he is a totalitarian. Trumpism is more powerful now than it was before, and, in the wake of the election being called for Biden, we can expect violence from the fascists Trump enabled.

Americans ignore policy and respond to personality. They support political parties the way people here in Scotland support football teams. Barack Obama, a charismatic Dick Cheney, took George W. Bush's policies even farther than Bush himself dared. Bill Clinton was more of a conservative than his two Republican predecessors. But Democrats were fine with all that, because it was their party leaders. And now, as they cheer, they're cheering for their team, not for any change.

America is a good place to leave.

#usaelection #americanelection #donaldtrump #joebiden #fascism #populism #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

On November 7, Scotland becomes the first country in the U.K. to ban adults from using violence on children, which is now a criminal offence.

In the Scotland in which I was a child, the tawse was used routinely in schools, and teachers would also slap children on the head or face, shove them, shake them, even choke them. Corporal punishment was banned (or “phased out”) in Scotland in 1982, but it’s taken 38 years for domestic violence against children to be banned.

In England and Northern Ireland, you can still batter your children as long as it is “reasonable chastisement.”

I hope the legendary George Purves, a career child-abuser while pretending to work as a maths teacher and “guidance teacher” at North Kelvinside and then Woodside Secondary Schools in Glasgow in the 1970s and 1980s, is still alive to see himself and his world consigned to shameful history, and children recognised as human beings.

#smackingbanscotland #violence #childabuse #scotland #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

As readers of this blog are aware, Craig Murray likes things to be all about him. So it is unsurprising that he has decided to run for the position of President of the SNP, and still less surprising that he has once again embarrassed himself.

Mr Murray took out an ad in The National with the headline “Craig Murray for SNP President and Independence in Two Years”. He declares:

“I am standing for President because I want the SNP to be a party whose overriding priority is to obtain full, completed and internationally recognised Independence for Scotland within a maximum of two years from this date...

“As I was a British diplomat for over 20 years, including six years as a member of the Senior Management Structure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I can assure you that MI5, GCHQ and the other organs of the UK security state are targeted on us. Scottish Independence supporters are rightly perceived as the biggest threat to the UK state.

“My intention is to ensure that we are indeed the biggest threat to the UK state. Anybody who believes that the security services are not already targeted on us is a fool. The security services would not be doing their declared job otherwise. This new legislation is a threat to us. Remember Pat Finucane. Remember David Kelly. Above all, remember Willie McRae.”

While Mr Murray is right about the urgent need for Scottish Independence, it is pitiful that he presents himself as the person to bring it about within two years if he becomes SNP President (which he will not). The position is an honorary, unpaid one, without power or influence. Its only reward is the spotlight Mr Murray seems to crave.

We need to demand another referendum, without asking England's permission. (See this column by Xeno Albannach). But the struggle will not be helped by grandstanding, personality-centred sideshows.

#craigmurray #SNP #scottishindependence #scottishpolitics #xenoalbannach #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Yesterday I received the above letter. It is one of at least a dozen I have received in the last three years. These letters are always addressed to “The Legal Occupier,” which I find overly familiar. Only my closest friends call me “The Legal Occupier.”

Here is an earlier one:

There are two things it did not mention, despite its bullying, threatening tone:

1) The threat of “a visit” means nothing, because they have no right to enter your premises without a warrant or an invitation.

2) They will not have a warrant, because they are not police. They are not even the BBC; they are a private company hired by the BBC to intimidate people.

Several times, after receiving such letters, I have written to them: “​You are not welcome to visit, and have no legal right to insist on doing so. If you do, I will file a lawsuit for trespass, both against you as a private company and your client the BBC.” They do not visit, but the letters keep coming.

What I find the most obnoxious about these form letters is that they are obviously aimed at scaring vulnerable people — elderly, immigrants, anyone who may not know their legal rights — and is one more reason to boycott the BBC, or refuse to pay for its programmes.

#bbc #boycottthebbc #tvlicence #bullying #intimidation #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Today Living Rent launched our Tenants' Manifesto. There were speeches from Meg Bishop, Nick Durie, Annemarie Craig, Nicky Patterson, Angela McCormack, and me. We discussed each of the manifesto's five demands, and then there was a varied question-and-answer section. This, of course, was all online.

#livingrent #wyndfordtenantsunion #socialhousing #publichousing #rentcontrol #glasgow #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Being dead makes people like you better.

In this article, Gerry Hassan eulogises Donald Dewar, Scotland's first First Minister, who died 20 years ago. Mr Hassan's admiration for Dewar seems to be based on how bourgeois he was:

“Donald Dewar was a profoundly decent person, imbued with an older sense of public mission and morality, who often seemed out of kilter with the times – drawing from a deep reservoir of how the middle and professional classes used to behave. His death robbed the Scottish Parliament of leadership and aided a period of institutional instability, but even more began a series of steps that led to Scottish Labour’s long descent into near-irrelevance.”

Mr Hassan is right about one thing: “Dewar as First Minister was no natural leader, but his death removed a politician who could speak to the Scotland beyond Labour.” He appealed to the right wing as much as to the left, because he was an establishment shill who, either through ignorance or dishonesty, played down the hardships so many people living in Glasgow endured.

In 1990, Dewar appeared on the STV show Scottish Books to discuss Alan Spence's novel The Magic Flute. Dewar complained about Mr Spence's description of Glasgwegians in the 1960s living in slum flats without bathrooms, or even hot water on tap. He declared that no one in Glasgow was living in such conditions by then.

If Dewar, a doctor's son and a lawyer who became a millionaire, had bothered to visit Maryhill in the 1970s, he would have known that not only was Mr Spence's description correct, it was still that way a decade later. In Raeberry Street and Mount Street, to name only two, people washed at the kitchen sink, with water boiled in a pot, and, if you were lucky, you had a toilet (just a toilet) in your flat, instead of a cludgie outside that you shared with neighbours, and that is how it was until 1978, when the buildings, which were also infested with rats, were demolished.

It is hard to believe Donald Dewar was unaware of this. Perhaps he was too busy counting his millions to notice.

#donalddewar #gerryhassan #scottishlabourparty #scottishpolitics #glasgowslums #maryhill #poverty #bellacaledonia #alanspence #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Dear Mr Murray,

You are an impressively meticulous reporter. You are also thin-skinned and self-absorbed, and, as I have previously written (while defending you), you have a tendency to embarrass yourself when you take things personally.

This was demonstrated by your response to my previous post.

Bella Caledonia magazine posted a link on Tw**ter, and your reaction was to ignore the questions I had asked and make it about yourself. In response to my asking if you had blocked Protonmail, or if your Russian email provider did so automatically, you wrote, “I don't know what Protonmail is, let alone have blocked it.” For someone who is supposedly concerned about surveillance — and who is a friend of Julian Assange — to not know about a popular encrypted email service is bizarre, and indicates you are dangerously ignorant and naive, as I suggested here. (I wonder now if it was a similar naivete, rather than something more sinister, that caused you to obtain “press credentials” from Black Isle Media, an amateur “news” site run by a wannabe terrorist who assaulted a pregnant woman.)

You then wrote: “Better query – why is Bella Caledonia obsessed with promoting paranoid attacks on Craig Murray?”

You did not explain how what I wrote was paranoid, or even how it was an attack. And, of course, it was not. Not only am I not your enemy, I recently agreed to testify as your witness at your impending trial for contempt of court, and your lawyers took a precognition from me and filed it as an affidavit.

The only paranoia on display was yours, when you told Bella Caledonia, “I find it very hard to understand why anyone is accusing me of anything.” But I had not accused you of anything.

While you ignored my questions, you answered a question I had not asked. “I have a account because I used to live in St Petersburg and Tashkent,” you wrote. “I also have btinternet and gmail and a blog contact button.” Leaving aside the naivete of a journalist and activist using email provided by Google, you seem to be using the classic politician's evasion — ignoring the questions being asked and talking about something else instead. And you did not explain why, of your various email addresses, the Russian one is the one on your website.

It turns out that your Russian mail server does indeed block Protonmail.

After the email sent to you bounced back, the person who sent it then tried to post it as a comment on your blog. It said: “I work in tech. The reason they're insisting that people dial in is so they can track their phone numbers and devices. I strongly advise against doing so.” The comment never appeared, which you claim was the decision of “the mods.” You wrote: “To be fair, it does seem the mods may have blocked a comment. I can't find the comment but there seems to be a response to it from one of the mods... I think the mod wasn't chuffed when I was asking people to listen to the hearing, by someone posting telling them not to. I would not have blocked it myself.”

This raises two additional questions, and I hope you will answer them rather than evading them or lashing out. They are:

  1. Who are “the mods” who decide what comments are allowed on your blog, rather than you making the decisions yourself?

  2. Now that you know that people who attend your trial virtually will be tracked and surveilled, are you concerned enough to warn them, or are you only concerned about yourself?

Sincerely, Greum Maol Stevenson

#craigmurray #julianassange #alexsalmond #surveillance #protonmail #russia #scottishpolitics #bellacaledonia #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson


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