- Do you regularly read blogs? If so, which ones?
I've read Richard Seymour's for years and have learned more from it than all my formal education put together; yours, and Lallands Peat Worrier's.
- You did used to blog many moons ago. Why did you stop?
- Have you ever been tempted to give it another try?
- Do you find social media useful for activist-y-type things?
Indespensible. Although I do constantly despair of clicktivism, sign this Change.org petition and you can save the world.
- Who are your biggest intellectual influences?
In later life probably the feminist avenger, fought so many battles alongside her, value her opinions more than any other, the sharpest of political minds. I had the good fortune to meet and become a comrade of Heiko Khoo during the miners strike and beyond. Spent endless hours discussing socialism, Stalinism and much more with him, including several stints in police cells.
In the bigger picture though, it would have to be Trotsky. In the world I grew up in, the Cold War, Trotsky was the man who explained how we got here and how socialists should understand the Soviet Union and the crimes of Stalinism.
- What are you reading at the moment?
Antony Beevor's D-Day. I've read countless volumes of military history since I was about 10 years old. Beevor is great because he's such an easy read but is no sycophant to orthodoxy. He records relentlessly the total fuck ups of the Allied commanders whose decisions caused the unnecessary deaths of 100s of thousands of Allied troops.
- What was the last film you saw?
Pippa had The Lorax on earlier, absolutely fantastic explanation of capitalism and envirnmental catastophe for kids.
- Do you have a favourite novel?
We never had a telly when I was a kid because our parents were ideologically opposed to it so I spent loads of time reading books. I had a period of devouring Russian novels which I remember with great happiness; Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov's short stories.
The novel that changed everything in the world I lived in at the time was Trainspotting.
- Can you name an idea or an issue on which you've changed your mind?
- How many political organisations have you been a member of?
The Labour Party, Militant Tendency, Scottish Militant Labour, Scottish Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party.
- What set of ideas do you think most important to disseminate?
- What set of ideas do you think most important to combat?
The patriarchy, fascism, racism.
- Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major influence on how you think about the world?
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. Absolutely extraordinary.
- Who are your political heroes?
I'm kind of post political heroes these days, in younger days it was the usual pantheon of those the Trotskyist left deified.
Looking back I think it's probably a political and rock and roll hero in one; Joe Strummer.
- How about political villains?
- What do you think is the most pressing political task of the day?
Build a socialist party of the working class free of the shackles of Labourism.
- If you could affect a major policy change, what would it be?
Ban all cars from cities & towns.
- What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?
- What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Don't inject drugs and try to stay out of jail.
- What is your favourite song?
- Do you have a favourite video game?
Civilization. Currently V with Hulfgar's Industrial Warfare Mod.
- What do you consider the most important personal quality?
Love for your fellow human beings.
- What personal fault do you most dislike?
Can't keep my mouth shut when some moron comes up with the anti immigrant, racist, bullshit. It causes problems.
- What, if anything, do you worry about?
- And any pet peeves?
People who don't observe Edinburgh bus etiquette. Stand in the quue, when a bus comes ask the person ahead of you if they want this bus, give up your seat on the bottom deck to someone who looks like they need it more than you do.
- What piece of advice would you give to your much younger self?
Injecting heroin was a really fucking stupid thing to do.
- What do you like doing in your spare time?
Sweating in the steam room at Victoria baths.
- What is your most treasured possession?
A Cambridge Audio CD player, preamp and a pair of Wharfedale powered speakers.
- Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Your taste in music.
- What talent would you most like to have?
To make everything better for everyone.
- If you could have one realistic-ish wish come true - apart from getting loads of money - what would you wish for?
An N guage Graham Farish Class 101 2-car DMU in BR green.
- Speaking of cash, how, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money?
Get a house with more than 1 bedroom for 2 kids, 2 adults and a dog to live in.
- If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be?
Malcolm X, Raquel Welch & Bill Shankley.
- You were very active in the Yes movement. What do you make of the 45'ers?
As one of the 45%, the Yes campaign was absolutely extraordinary, a genuine mass movement that mobilised people in a way I've never seen in Scotland before. A different movement to the poll tax and the industrial battles around the miners strike.
This was a movement that brought to the fore every single issue of the day in Scottish society and related it to the national question. Poverty, nuclear disarmament, the position of women in Scottish society, the economy, health provision. Everything.
After a historically high turnout it was defeated.
There is a widespread feeling, while not buying into the absurd It Was Fixed truthers narrative, that feels the referndumn was won by a tsunami of threats and scare tactics.
The elderly were told their pensions would be under threat, Poles told they would be deported because Scotland would no longer be a part of the EU.
Even to the extent of Scots wouldn't be able to access NHS services for critically ill people.
The consequences of the defeat were completely unpredicted and took everybody by surprise, a movement by tens of thousands into the pro independence parties, primarily the SNP.
What happens now, who knows? Hundreds of thousands of Scots who had never been involved in politics before discovered street campaigning, canvassing, flash mobs. Whatever the battles are that lie ahead there is a huge actiivist base ready to be involved.
- Overall do you think the referendum campaign has made politics in Scotland friendlier to socialist and radical ideas?
Yes I do, genuine socialist and radical ideas, not those of Scottish Labour which you have to remember dominated every aspect of Scottish politics and life for decades.