Monday, 31 August 2009

Fox tells Gordon Brown: 'bring home British troops or resign'

Article published on today's Edinburgh Evening News:

SCOTTISH Socialist Party leader Colin Fox will tell a public meeting in Edinburgh this week that Gordon Brown should either bring home British troops from Afghanistan or resign.Amid reports of a low turnout in the Afghan presidential elections - just150 voted in an area which saw some of the bloodiest fighting involving British soldiers - the former Lothians' MSP said Labour's strategy had been reduced to "tatters".
He said: "The unparalleled British casualties sustained during July and August from this aggressive operation now appear to have been for nothing."
Sharing the platform with Mr Fox at Wednesday night's meeting in Jury's Inn,Jeffrey Street, will be Rose Gentle from "Military families against the war". She lost her son Gordon in Iraq, and recently met the PM to express concern that lessons learned in Iraq were not being used in Afghanistan.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Afghanistan: 8 years of a pointless war is enough, its time to bring home the troops

Over the past few weeks the Scottish Socialist Party has stepped up our campaigning against the war in Afghanistan. We are in favour bringing the troops home and letting the Afghans run Afghanistan.
No other party in Scottish politics can hold a candle to the SSP's record in opposing the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since it is now 8 years since Tony Blair took us to war in Afghanistan alongside his chum the 'Texan terrorist' George Bush we are entitled to draw up a balance sheet on what has been achieved. Tens of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians have been killed, tens of millions now consider Britain and America to be occupying their country against their express wishes, and more young British soldiers have been killed than died in Iraq, that other pointless, senseless war.
In the face of these facts the bankruptcy of Gordon Brown is clear for all to see as the best he can say is that 'we must resign ourselves to being in Afghanistan for a further 40 years'.
Well I tell you what, rather than us resigning ourselves to another 40 years of this senseless, pointless war, it is Gordon Brown who should be resigning and we should bring home the British troops now.
In the next few weeks the Scottish Socialist Party in Edinburgh will hold a public meeting on the issue to offer the public a chance to have their say. Rose Gentle, who lost her son Gordon in Iraq, from Military Families Against the war, will join me on the platform to outline why the majority of the British people now oppose the war and wish to see British troops withdrawn.
Watch this space for details of the meeting.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Peoples Festival celebrates songs of protest

In the year Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ and Woody Guthrie’s ‘This land is your land’ were sung at the inauguration of a US President and we celebrate the 250th anniversary of songwriter and poet Robert Burns the Edinburgh People’s Festival presents a musical tribute to those protest tunes which changed the world.
Musicians Fiona Keenan, Lee Paterson and Wendy Weatherby will join rock bands Townhouse and Enradgey in the Nelson Hall, St Leonards on Saturday night [15th August] for an evening celebrating political songs of protest.
This year more than most we have cause to reflect on how the power of music and song can change the world. People in this city and beyond have used music and songs throughout history to express their feelings, campaigns and struggles for justice and equality. The People’s Festival presents a wonderful array of talent using various musical genres to show how music and song has changed the world, whether that be in the fight for civil rights in the US, for peace in the world, on picket lines or against apartheid and other forms of oppression.
‘Songs of Protest’ starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 15th August. Tickets are available on the door on the night priced £2.00.*
[*The People's Festival acknowledges the support of the city's trade union movement in allowing us to keep ticket prices within everyone's reach]
For full details of the Edinburgh People’s Festival visit

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Dozens enjoy People's Festival guided walk around radical Edinburgh

Local activist and historian Allan Armstrong led today’s ‘Radical Auld Reekie’ tour as part of the Edinburgh People’s Festival. He explained the fascinating revolutionary history of the city and the struggles it is connected to from the 1790 to 1938 and highlighted key figures like James Connolly who led the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, Thomas Muir the leader of the Reform movement in Scotland at the time of Burns and those who went to aid the Republican side in the Spanish Civil war of 1936-1938 amongst others.
Allan highlighted the many episodes of that most important side of Edinburgh, its working class history and struggles. You will not find any of his tour notes on the ‘Visit Scotland’ website, or BBC TWO’s ‘Festival’ coverage, or the Rough Guide to Edinburgh – but you will be able to see Allan for yourself soon on the Edinburgh People’s Festival website.
The picture shows Allan and part of his party in Calton Hill cemetery, where there stands a monument to Thomas Muir and the Scots radicals sentence to penal servitude for championing the rights of working people in the 1790’s, as well as the first statue erected to Abraham Lincoln outside the USA.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Let the people speak

The Edinburgh People's Festival August 2009 programme opened last night at the North Edinburgh Arts Centre in Muirhouse.
The public were able to see our award winning exhibition explaining the history of the People's Festival from 1951-today and the entries in our arts competition 'Let the people speak' for the first time. Each show runs until 29th August.
The photograph shows myself and Professor Richard Demarco one of the competition judges with the prize winners Steven Hood, Joyce Gunn Cairns, Shelagh Atkinson and Alan Kilpatrick. ‘Let the people speak’ is a fantastic show which is well worth seeing and complements the huge success of last years arts competition.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Hamish Henderson memorial lecture

Last year the Edinburgh People's Festival initiated the Hamish Henderson Memorial lecture. Hamish Henderson [ 1919-2002] was a remarkable figure in Scottish culture, celebrated in many different ways. He was a poet, song writer and scholar who wrote Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica about his experiences as a soldier in North Africa during World War 2. As the father of the Scottish folk music revival in post war Scotland he left us the wonderful anthem Freedom Come All Ye. He took the Italian surrender in World War 2 and translated the work of the celebrated Italian writer and thinker Antonio Gramsci into English. He established the ground breaking School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University and was also the founder of the Edinburgh People's Festival in 1951. He even found time to turn down an OBE.
In last years inaugural lecture Hamish Henderson's biographer and close friend Mr Timothy Neat delivered a thoroughly engrossing talk about the man to a highly appreciative sell out crowd.
The Edinburgh People's Festival is absolutely delighted to announce that this years lecture will be delivered by Dr Fred Freeman a celebrated authority on Hamish Henderson from the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University. Fred recently presented an acclaimed hour long special on Hamish's life and legacy on BBC Radio Four.
The lecture takes place on Wednesday 12th August at the Nelson Hall in St Leonards [7.30pm] which is not far from where Hamish Henderson used to live. It is widely expected to be another sell out crowd so get there early if you want a seat.