Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Greenham 25 years on- 31 March 2007

Greenham 25 years on - 31 March 2007

Lindsay Poulton at the Guardian has just sent me this information about a 'Greenham Day' at the Borderline Film Festival.

It includes a showing of 'Carry Greenham Home' . Not sure if it is readable, but in Richard's obit of Pinki, there is a mention of the incident recorded on the film when Pinki was kicked in the stomach by a bailiff.

I have also put in a photo (bottom left hand corner) of Pinki feeding Sky at Greenham. Plus pics of here as punk in 78, on bike at Molesworth in 85 and at Silbury hill in 87.

There is a 'life an death of pinki' archived here - November 2005. Same archive has some 'Stop the City' flyers. Along with Dave Morris (McLibel) , Pinki was one of the 'organisers' of first (Sept 83) and second (March 84) Stop the Cities.

Here is the Greenham Day info:

A special day event at this year’s Borderlines Film Festival marks the 25th
anniversary of the Peace Camp at Greenham Common. More details below.

Tickets for films can be booked online at or a
£10 day ticket covering the whole event by calling The Courtyard Box Office
on 0870 11 22 330

Please forward this message to anyone who might be interested in attending.
If you’d like a copy of this information in PDF format for printing out
please contact

Friday 23 March to Sunday 1 April 2007

Saturday 31 March 1.00pm
The Courtyard Hereford
The Borderlines Debate – Greenham 25 Years On
Come and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Greenham Common peace camp!
Look back at some of the films produced, meet the women filmmakers and
protesters and look forward to the new resurgence in peace campaigning at
the Borderlines debate.

11.15am Close to Home
A feminist perspective on life for two Israeli conscripts patrolling the
streets of Jerusalem.

Meet for lunch in the Courtyard café; there will be a display of banners
and other memorabilia.

2.00pm A Common Cause
Director: Jane Jackson, 1983, 50 minutes
Made for ITV this fly-on-the-wall documentary was banned from national
viewing because it showed Peace women as they really were – ordinary,
respectable women with children, who walked from Chester to Greenham to
protest about cruise missiles. Introduced by the filmmaker, Jane Jackson,
four of the Chester women will reflect on their experience.
Chaired by Ursula Atfield (Labour Party councillor and Hereford ex-mayor).

4.30pm Carry Greenham Home
Directors: Beeban Kidron and Amanda Richardson, 1983, 1 hour 6 minutes
Made while the directors were film students, the film gives a fuller
picture of what life at Greenham was like than the fragmented news reports
of the time. It covers the processes underlying the women's decisions, the
influence of outside forces, and the verve and style with which they
developed their own brand of non-violent direct action.

Directors Beeban Kidron and Amanda Richardson will be present for a Q&A
along with Lindsay Poulton from Guardian Films

plus And the Fence Came Tumbling Down
Director: Tim Knock, 2001, 10 minutes
Documents the ultimate success of this unique protest, with the dismantling
of the US air base in 2000 after 20 years of non-violent action.

7.00pm - 8.30pm The Borderlines Debate
An opportunity to explore the legacy of Greenham and to focus on current
peace issues. Speakers include Jean Lambert, Green MEP, whose special
interest is peace, nuclear disarmament and peace, Jenny Maxwell, Chair of
West Midlands CND will address Trident Replacement and Janet Bloomfield,
British Coordinator of Atomic Mirror will talk about how the arts and
culture can contribute to social change movements. Felicity Norman, Green
Party candidate for Leominster, Herefordshire, will introduce the speakers
and chair the discussion

Tickets for films can be booked online at or a
£10 day ticket covering the whole event by calling The Courtyard Box Office
on 0870 11 22 330

For more information visit and

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Beyond Mechanism : Rhetoric Ends, Politics Begins

Beyond Mechanism OR Where Rhetoric Ends, Politics Begins

Image: Craigenputtock - see Carlyle section below

For the past six months I have been a post-graduate student at Glasgow University’s Crichton Campus. I have been studying the cultural heritage of South West Scotland. Through economic necessity as much as any desire to minimise my ‘carbon footprint’, I have travelled to and from the Crichton by public transport. As a result I have spent much ‘waiting’ time in Dumfries town centre. On more than one occasion, these lines from William Blake’s poem ’London’ have come to mind:

I wander through each chartered street, Near where the chartered Thames does flow, And mark in every face I meet, Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every man, In every infant's cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forged manacles I hear…

Blake wrote the poem in 1791, the same year Robert Burns moved to Dumfries from Ellisland farm. But for me, Dumfries evokes Blake not Burns. It does so because the town centre reminds me more strongly of the decaying centre of Hackney in east London (where I lived for ten years) than it does the vibrant and lively Dumfries Burns knew and celebrated. This should not be so. Hackney has a population of 200 000 crammed into an area of only eight square miles. It is a ‘third world’ enclave of public squalor and poverty bordering on the gleaming towers and global financial affluence of the City of London.

Dumfries has its problems, but hardly on such a scale. Indeed, in a world which must put environmentally sustainable economic theory into practice if we are to have viable future, Dumfries has immense and untapped potential. As the capital of a region which does not have the burden of an unsustainable urban industrial heritage Dumfries could once more become the lively and vibrant town Burns knew. But to do so we must throw off the ‘mind-forged manacles’ which bind us to the out-dated, mechanistic, urban industrial way of thinking which created Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’.

We live in a green and pleasant land, one which inspired another local writer, the sadly neglected Thomas Carlyle, to rage against the ‘machine’ at the very beginning of the industrial age. Like Blake, Carlyle was not just opposing the obvious signs of the times
- the steam-powered cotton mills of Paisley and Manchester. Rather, as Charles Dickens grasped in his ‘industrial’ novel ‘Hard Times’ which he dedicated to Carlyle, Carlyle was opposed to the mechanistic philosophy which ground down and reduced the richness and complexity of human life and culture to only that which can be measured.

In Hard Times, Dickens shows the damaging impact of this philosophy when applied to education. Sissy Jupe, whose father trains horses for a circus act cannot factually answer the question ’ What is a horse?‘ A fellow pupil can:

'Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.'

The government inspector of schools reinforces this exclusively ‘factual’ definition of a horse:

'You are to be in all things regulated and governed,' said the gentleman, 'by fact. We hope to have, before long, a board of fact, composed of commissioners of fact, who will force the people to be a people of fact, and of nothing but fact. You must discard the word Fancy altogether. You have nothing to do with it. You are not to have, in any object of use of ornament, what would be a contradiction in fact. You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets. You don't find that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your crockery. You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon walls. You must use,' said the gentleman, 'for all these purposes, combinations and modifications (in primary colours) of mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and demonstration. This is the new discovery. This is fact. This is taste.'

This ‘fact’ is why we are told that there is no economic (factual) need for education in the (non-factual) Liberal Arts in Dumfries and Galloway.

To reinforce my point, here is Carlyle from ‘ Signs of the Times’, written at Craigenputtock in Dumfries and Galloway in 1829:

Were we required to characterise this age of ours by any single epithet, we should be tempted to call it, not an Heroical, Devotional, Philosophical, or Moral Age, but, above all others, the Mechanical Age. It is the Age of Machinery, in every outward and inward sense of that word; the age which, with its whole undivided might, forwards, teaches and practises the great art of adapting means to ends. Nothing is now done directly, or by hand; all is by rule and calculated contrivance. For the simplest operation, some helps and accompaniments, some cunning abbreviating process is in readiness. Our old modes of exertion are all discredited, and thrown aside. On every hand, the living artisan is driven from his workshop, to make room for a speedier, inanimate one. The shuttle drops from the fingers of the weaver, and falls into iron fingers that ply it faster. The sailor furls his sail, and lays down his oar; and bids a strong, unwearied servant, on vaporous wings, bear him through the waters. Men have crossed oceans by steam; the Birmingham Fire-king has visited the fabulous East; … There is no end to machinery. Even the horse is stripped of his harness, and finds a fleet firehorse yoked in his stead. Nay, we have an artist that hatches chickens by steam; the very brood-hen is to be superseded! For all earthly, and for some unearthly purposes, we have machines and mechanic furtherances; for mincing our cabbages; for casting us into magnetic sleep. We remove mountains, and make seas our smooth highway; nothing can resist us. We war with rude Nature; and, by our resistless engines, come off always victorious, and loaded with spoils.
Carlyle’s vision did more than just inspire Dickens and other Victorian novelists. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were also inspired by Carlyle in the writing of their Communist Manifesto of 1848. However, where Carlyle despaired, Marx and Engels were optimistic. From their materialistic interpretation of German philosopher Hegel’s belief in ‘progress through contradiction’, they believed that the economic tensions and internal contradictions of Carlyle’s Mechanical Age would lead to a social revolution…

Carlyle, it would seem, was the better prophet. But, it would also seem, in our ‘war with rude Nature’ and despite our ‘resistless engines’ we are no longer ‘always victorious’. Rather we must become educated in the philosophy of an ’Organic Age’ and apply its lessons if we are to salvage some remnants of civilisation from the barbarism of the Mechanical Age.

Where rhetoric ends, politics begins.

It begins with hard and difficult questions. How can we salvage something from the ruin of Dumfries’ town centre? How can we salvage something from the Crichton Campus crisis? How can we turn a slogan - Dumfries and Galloway as ‘The Natural Place’ - into the reality it must become?

The Mechanical Age is ending. But what will take its place?

I can but hope that those elected to represent Dumfries and Galloway on 3rd of May will, when critical decisions have to be made, reflect on and bear in mind what Thomas Carlyle glimpsed of the ‘mechanical’ future at Craigenputtock back in 1828.

And choose a different path.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We've got loadsa students

Super-university or super-polytechnic?

Allegedly, Mark Batho, head of the Scottish Executive's Lifelong Learning Group has been advising Nicol Stephen and Allan Wilson that Dumfries and Galloway and G doesn't need Glasgow University - what we really, really need is a New Superuniversity. See it deliver education results faster than a speeding bullet, more powerfully than an express locomotive...

Liberal Arts? Pah! Scottish Enlightenment? What that?

From Scotsman Wed 7 Mar 2007
£21.2m merger to create super-university
A NEW super-university is to be created following the announcement yesterday of a £21.2 million merger between two higher education institutions.
The University of Paisley and Hamilton-based Bell College have received ministerial approval for the tie-in, scheduled to take place this August.

The new body, to be called the University of the West of Scotland, will have almost 16,600 students and four campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley.
However, it will not be Scotland's largest higher education institution - Glasgow University is the biggest, with 25,100 students, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
Offering a range of courses from HNC up to degree level, the merged institution will also have the country's largest school of health, nursing and midwifery.
The announcement comes at a time when the higher education sector is under financial pressure.
Professor Seamus McDaid, principal and vice-chancellor of Paisley University and principal-designate of the new institution, said: "Through merger, we will create a new and unique, regional university that delivers internationally informed higher education.
"We aim to have a big influence on the economic, social and cultural development of the west of Scotland through the provision of high-quality, inclusive higher education and innovative applied research."
The merged institution will provide a local university for 30 per cent of Scotland's population.
Professor Alex MacLennan, principal of Bell College and vice principal- designate of the new institution, said the tie-in would give people in Lanarkshire their own local university for the first time.
Nicol Stephen, the Deputy First Minister, approved the merger in his capacity as minister for enterprise and lifelong learning. He said: "The next academic year will be an exciting one for staff and almost 17,000 students alike and I look forward to seeing the new university's progress."
A spokeswoman for Universities Scotland said: "Mergers are effective where there is a business model with clear benefits that has been negotiated from the bottom up at local level, as has happened in this case.
"They only work when two institutions have clearly identified that the education and services they provide would be enhanced by merging.
"The higher-education sector will continue to innovate and deliver for Scotland in the best way that we possibly can," the spokeswoman said.
The news comes only weeks after Glasgow University announced it was to pull out of the Dumfries campus, which it shares with Bell College and the University of Paisley.
Dumfries and Galloway College is due to move to the site next year.
Glasgow University said it was losing £800,000 a year from its involvement in the Crichton campus, a former psychiatric hospital set in 85 acres of grounds.
Sir Muir Russell, principal of Glasgow, said that the Scottish Funding Council's refusal to pay for more of its students to attend the campus had forced the move.
The university, which will end admissions to the Crichton campus later this year, has 230 students on the site, but only 88 of them are funded from the public purse.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Joe Hill supports campaign

Joe Hill and the International Workers of the World support the Crichton campaign.

I dreamt I saw Joe Hill last night

Alive as you or me

I said to Joe, I thought you died?

I never died, said he...

You can see Joan Baez singing Joe Hill at an anti Iraq war demo here

Solidarity Request to Help with Crichton Campus Struggle

I'm writing to your organisation as part of a campaign to save the jobs of some workers we represent in Dumfries in the South of Scotland. Their employer, Glasgow University, is pulling out of the campus in the region, which will cause no end of problems. As the IWW, we have some presence amongst workers in the University, and are currently involved in the campaign. Presently we're contacting groups, individuals on the left internationally to request that they circulate the communique below among their members as we are aiming for a really large telephone lobby as we
try and build this campaign.

Central Scotland Organiser, IWW

Fellow workers, Glasgow University IWW Job Branch and the Save Crichton Campus campaign in Glasgow are calling another phone lobby on the success of last week's event, which saw the University implement a telephone protocol for complaints about Crichton and lay on extra staff to deal with the volume of calls.


The campaign is starting to score victories against the decision. The Scottish Executive, previously immovable in claiming Crichton's closure had nothing to do with them (an article in a Dumfries paper alleges they knew about the decision 8 months ago and gave the University the OK) is now pressurising Sir Muir Russell, principal of the university to meet with them to discuss the issue. The campaign is building momentum on campus with flyposting and creative publicity stunts and resistance is planned, however time is very short as the University has accelerated its attempts to shut the facility down in light of the media exposure. Pressure however is starting to tell.

We believe that with a further phone, fax and email lobby we can increase the pressure on the University Administration and the principal in particular. Last time round we caused a major nuisance - this time we want to cause further discomfort and we are advertizing this lobby on every medium available to us. This is going to be big, especially with your participation! The IWW and the campaign believe that we can win this fight with your help.

On Thursday and Friday we are asking people to ring (and ring and ring again if you can!) the university swtichboard, and the principal's office. Send a fax, write an email, but above all phone the principal's office and ask to speak to Sir Muir Russell.

If you're looking for things to say mention that you want to register a complaint about the closure of the Crichton Campus, with the loss of the jobs of staff, the damage done to the Dumfries area at large, the vital role that the campus plays in the education and culture of the area, and that fact that all this damage is being justified on the basis of figures for sums of money which prominent Labour Party MSPs have dismissed as fantasy; this university administration, you might want to remind them, is a university administration which saw fit to award Sir Muir Russell, the Principal, a 15% pay rise a few weeks ago, while attempting to cut Janitors pay by 5 grand a year, and laying off staff at Crichton, on the back of last years job losses. It has pointedly ignored a 2800 signature petition from the people of Dumfries. There is widespread popular anger in the region, and staff and students have been involved in winning the support of the entire community, collecting signatures and donations and talking to people late into the night at local supermarkets. The local council is against the decision. The local paper is publicly backing the campaign. There could not be more support in the area for the campaign against the decision. Ask them how they feel about behaving with such arrogance in the face of such widespread popular opinion. Of course you could also just say what you want to keep the phones tied up. ;o)

This is going to be big - help stick the boot in. Workers jobs and an entire community are resting on us winning this campaign.

Phone, fax or email the following on Thursday 8th March and Friday 9th March during GMT office hours 9AM - 5PM. Let us know how it's going!

Sir Muir Russell
Principal of Glasgow University
Tel: 0141 330 5995
Fax: 0141 330 4947

Mr Alexander J Scrimgeour
Executive Assistant to the Principal

Prof K C Calman
Principal's Office University Chancellor
telephone: 0141 330 5995

Also those with more time to contribute can contact the University via the switchboard and try and tie lines up there too:-

0141-330 2000


Enlightened decision?

This letter was published in the Herald 28th Feb 2007. Response? None. I wonder why...

David Hume, Dugald Stewart, Hugh Blair, William Robertson, James Hutton, Francis Hutcheson, Thomas Reid and Adam Smith are the names of but a few of those Scots who produced works of genius in chemistry, geology, engineering, economics, sociology, poetry and painting in the late 18th century. The impact of this ‘creative surge’ , which we now call the Scottish Enlightenment, was felt far beyond Scotland. The Scottish Enlightenment helped lay the foundations of the modern world. In turn, this enlightenment imparted a lustre to Scottish education which, though dimmed, has not yet been tarnished beyond repair.
Of the enlightened , Francis Hutcheson , Thomas Reid and Adam Smith all held the chair of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Thus they contributed their ’genius’ to the still world-wide reputation of that University. However, I fear that this association between the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Enlightenment has been fatally compromised.
In September this year, the University of Glasgow in partnership with Kaplan International Colleges, will begin admitting foreign students to the Glasgow International College. The aim is to offer “courses designed to prepare international students for entry to the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes “. A worthy aim? Perhaps. But what would Francis Hutcheson, Thomas Reid or Adam Smith make of this from Kaplan International’s website on ‘test preparation’?
"With nearly 70 years of experience, Kaplan is the world leader in test prep and has helped more than 3 million students prepare to take the tests necessary to achieve their education and career goals. Kaplan offers complete preparation for entrance exams for secondary school, college, graduate school as well as English language and professional licensing exams."
I suggest they would be sceptical. Test preparation is not education. To educate is to 'bring-out ' ( from Latin educere = ex- "out" + ducere "to lead" ) existing qualities within the student. Test preparation is the force-feeding of students with the already known 'correct answers' to the test questions. As such, ‘test prep’ depends upon the passive acceptance by the student of the ‘word of authority’. This runs directly counter to the enlightened attitude to ’the word of authority’ described by Alexander Broadie in his recent book ’ The Scottish Enlightenment‘:
“The enlightened person accepts the word of authority not as something to which he [she] has to say ‘yes, but as something which it is appropriate to subject to critical analysis. The question for the enlightened person therefore is whether the word of authority can stand up to cross-examination before the tribunal of reason. If it can then it is accepted because it is sanctioned not by authority but by reason. If on the other hand it cannot withstand the cross-examination then it has to be discarded, however exalted the source. The Enlightenment was an age of criticism in the sense of ‘critical analysis’ or ‘critical reflection’. It was through critical reflection that people were to gain their freedom -I do not say ‘secure’ it, because our freedom is never secure. Any position gained from the dead hand of authority has to be defended. Without an effective holding operation the position is lost. “
The doors of Glasgow University’s new International College are to open in September. At the same time, the doors of their Crichton Campus in Dumfries will begin closing. Students at the University’s Crichton Campus “follow a core programme of courses designed to promote active citizenship, creative and critical thinking”. Glasgow University, it would seem, has chosen the immediate economic benefits of the ‘test prep’ path to profit over the more challenging educational path of the Scottish Enlightenment .
Alistair Livingston