Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Keep your culture on your left

After an enforced absence due to a family bereavement, the Captain leaps back into bloggery with news of some imminent cultural milestones, notice of another radical edge to next years Celtic Connections and a little nudge to radical groups and organisations to begin preparations for MayDay next year.

David Hayman marks the legacy of Bill Speirs
David Hayman
Later this week, on Thursday 29 November, the second annual Bill Speirs Foundation lecture is being given by Director and Actor (and good friend of Bill), David Hayman. This lecture is entitled Activate Your Humanity and Change the World. 

It is being hosted in the Deeprose Theatre (Room A005, Govan Mbeki Building) of Glasgow Caledonian University from 5.30pm. It will take the form of a lecture, followed by Q&A with David. There will be light refreshments afterwards, appropriately enough in the Govan Mbeki Garden Cafe! 

Entry is free, but ticketed, and a collection for the foundation will be taken. Tickets from http://billspeirs.eventbrite.com/. Any questions please contact Jaki Speirs on +44 (0)141 273-1610 or email jaki.speirs@gcu.ac.uk

This is the second in what is planned to be a series of annual events, marking the social, political, cultural and international legacy of former STUC General Secretary, Scottish Labour executive member, International campaigner, and 7:84 Theatre Company Director, Bill Speirs. It promises to be a great evening!

The Morning Star of Scotland
Another interesting event in the campaign to grow the left in Scotland is the launch of the Scottish edition of the Morning Star on Saturday 1 December at the STUC from 7.30 - 10.30pm. The Morning Star, as many on the left are aware, is the only left-wing daily paper in the UK. It is owned - not by multinational media empires, or even porn kings, but by its readers, like me, through a Co-operative (the People’s Press Printing Co-op). 

In recent years its sales here have been declining greatly, as the paper (along with other small-circulation dailies) has been refused access to a late night flight delivering the papers to Scotland. The lack of same-day availability has proved almost fatal, and led to a spiral of decline both in circulation and in coverage of Scottish issues

However, some of you may have started to notice it appearing on shelves in your local newsagents. Not only that, but these papers were currently dated! This is due to the Star management having taken two bold steps. Firstly, setting up a second printing source in Oldham, to ensure that the paper intended for Scotland and the North of England can access transport to these areas in time to get to us for the relevant day, and secondly appointing both a reporter on the staff with responsibility for Scotland (Rory MacKinnon) And a local journalist - the talented Malcolm Burns - who is keeping his eye on the scene in Scotland.

The Co-op funeralcare brass band
The event on Saturday is a Scottish Edition launch event. The St Andrew’s Weekend celebration is a mixture of speeches and musical celebration being organised jointly with the Scottish Co-operative Party. Again, it is a free event, but there will be a collection for the Star. Speakers are Richard Bagley (Editor of the Morning Star); Mary Lockhart (President of the Scottish Co-operative Party); Richard Leonard, (Political officer of the GMB), and Pat Rafferty, (Scottish Secretary of Unite the union). This part will be chaired by Agnes Tomie, (President of the STUC). 

Musical backing is being provided by the award-winning, Co-operative Funeralcare band, with some soloists also playing with prominent Scottish musician and composer, Eddie McGuire. Young performer, Marc Livingstone and evergreen singer Arthur Johnstone will complete the bill. For further information foster631@btinternet.com.

See you at both of these!!
Match This!
If you can’t get to Glasgow Caley on Thursday, and are in the Hamilton Area, you could do worse than to get yourself down to Hamilton Town House Library for 7.00pm. In a promising new library project, UNISON’s South Lanarkshire Branch and the local Leisure & Culture Trust are hosting an event with author Louise Raw

She will be promoting her new book, Strike a Light, telling how the women workers at Bryant and May in London's east end sparked the rise of new unionism and helped to build the modern trade union movement. 

Celtic Connections maintains its political cutting edge
It is good to see that the new programme for Celtic Connections, maintains the welcome radical edge started in last years festival. While a more detailed listing will come later, the return of Tony Benn, with a preview of his biographical film Will and Testament, 
particularly as he is joined by Comedian Mark Thomas to chair a Q&A afterwards, and with Scotland’s folk ‘royalty’ (though they wouldn’t thank you for that description), Sheena Wellington  and Arthur Johnstone, looks like a major highlight.

Sheena Wellington. The folk singers' folk singer
Arthur will also sing in Songs of Struggle. A collective series that emerged out of last year’s UCS Anniversary concerts. More detail later, but again a highlight of the programme. Concerts that also look good, include Red Cydeside, with Dave Swarbrick, and Scots in the Spanish Civil War, curated by Ian Macalman. More later!!

Prepare for MayDay
Finally, the potential for much of this cultural energy to re-emerge around next year’s MayDay celebrations in Scotland, looks hopeful. An early approach to a number of organisations from the Glasgow Friends of MayDay has started them preparing to stage events. 

The GFoMD also plan to build on last years successful MayDay programme, and in particular, are looking for bids from Trades Union Council’s outside Glasgow to see if we can’t develop the successful Concert into a short ‘tour’ around MayDay. Why not check what your TUC or campaigning group has planned, and get in touch with GFoMD via FairPley @ 0141 418 0562 or swright@fairpley.com or chrisbartter@btinternet.com 

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