Dec 17 2020




The following article by Jim Aitken, first appeared on the Culture Matters blog.





There was a palpable sense of euphoria on the BBC during the morning after the night before of the General Election of December 12, 2019. It had a feeling of glee about it; a childish excitement that the un-English dragon of socialism – as represented by Jeremy Corbyn – had well and truly been defeated by the forces of St. George of England. These forces, amazingly, had included many of those who had been reduced to the level of serfdom by the political party they were now supporting. Dragon Jeremy had promised these serfs their rightful inheritance and instead they chose Boris, the court jester. England’s green and pleasant lands could remain forever precariously green – a bit like the serfs themselves.

In a sense the BBC was entitled to this gleefulness because it had helped to orchestrate a campaign that told the serfs of England’s former industrial areas that the court jester needed their seats to ‘Get Brexit Done’. Many duly obliged because they too wanted to ‘Get Brexit Done’. No-one asked them why they wanted it done and why Europe was so noxious to them. No-one asked them if they thought it was the EU that was responsible for the de-industrialisation of their areas; if the EU was responsible for the austerity they lived under; for the food banks they go to for food or for the zero hours and chronic low pay they receive. No-one asked them if all these adversities were made in the UK or in the EU. For the court jester, however, Europe was foreign and too left-wing with too many regulations for a free-marketeer like him. England did not need to be a vassal state any longer. She could be free from all the regulations that guaranteed the serfs minimal rights, and be great again. Continue reading “POPULAR CULTURE, BREXIT AND ONE NATION TORYISM”

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Mar 31 2020

Review of ‘Quines’ by Jim Aitken

We are posting this review by one of our contributors, Jim Aitken, of Quines, Poems in tribute to the women of Scotland, written by Gerda Stevenson ( This review was first posted by Culture Matters. Accompanying illustrations of textiles are by artists from EDGE: Textile Artists Scotland.





The second edition of Gerda Stevenson’s Quines came out with some fanfare as it was launched to coincide with International Women’s Day. The launch at the Central Library in Edinburgh was also accompanied by a unique exhibition in honour of some of the poems in the book by EDGE: Textile Artists Scotland. Continue reading “Review of ‘Quines’ by Jim Aitken”

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Jan 22 2019


Jim Aitken, poet and playwright,  has written an appreciation of the Glasgow poet, Tom Leonard, who died on 21st December, 2018. It can be seen on the Culture Matters blog at:-


also see:-


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Jan 21 2015




Photo of RCN banner – Patricia Kirk & John Lannigan


A) The emergence and clash of Left British unionism and Left Scottish nationalism

B) The politics of the Scottish independence referendum campaign

C) How the Left responded to the demand for greater national self-determination in Scotland

D) Carrying over lessons learned from the SSP experience

           i)   the need for political platforms

           ii)  the need for a revolutionary pole of attraction

           iii) the need for political balance sheets to avoid repeating earlier mistakes

E) Promoting socialist republicanism and ‘internationalism from below’

           i) The political legacy of the Republican Socialist Conventions and the Global Commune events

           ii) Debating with other socialists during the Scottish independence referendum campaign

           iii) promoting socialist republicanism and ‘internationalism from below’ in RIC

           iv) the debate over secularism

           v) the debate over Ireland

F) Debates and differences within the RCN

          i) in the lead up and during the referendum campaign

          ii) since the September 18th referendum

          iii) the future for RIC, the all-islands Republican Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Left Project






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Nov 14 2009

Savings in the Down-Turn

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 18RCN @ 8:50 pm

Efficiency ones or just savings
Public sector restraint
And reducing waste
New realities demanding
These new measures
For we all have to tighten our belts
During this down-turn

Which refuses to say
What we are all saving for
And who we all are
While we still fight wars
And order Trident Mark 2
As Lords and Ladies lunch
At the Palace or at the Club
During this down-turn

That affects us all apparently
The rich who grew rich
On the human waste they created
The lives they gambled away
In their Stock Market
And the new poor, new homeless
Along with the previous poor
And the previous homeless
Who have no belts to tighten
During this down-turn


Mar 20 2009


Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 17RCN @ 4:16 pm

From Dornoch we moved further north
not as north as where she was born
but north enough to understand;
to understand her returning

She sat there beneath the sculpture
Of ‘The Emigrants’ at Helmsdale,
Moved by the woman looking back
To the strath that was once her home.

For she too had to leave here
To work in service or in shops;
She too, with some eighty years now,
Lived in the south and not the north

And these years have moved her to tears
And this woman brought them all back,
Yet she sits with son and daughter
Who marvel at her dignity.

Two highland ladies, one in bronze,
And the other in flesh that pains,
Bestow upon a changing world
Unchanging values that redeem.

This is taken from Jim’s latest book of poetry, Being Beneath the Moon. Available for £2.50 including. postage & packaging from Magdalene Press, 2, Carlton Street, Edinburgh, EH4 1NJ.

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Jan 11 2009


Originally published in Emancipation & Liberation Issue 8, Autumn 2004.

This wall between us slowly grows
slinking along the dusty earth
like some snake in the desert sands

Once in Jericho it fell down
by those who now do the building
the heirs of the trumpet blowers

Once Belshazzar saw the writing
on the wall, Daniel read the words
Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.

The days of your kingdom will end
for your acts have been found wanting
and your kingdom is divided

Jim Aitken


Sep 27 2007


Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 15RCN @ 3:58 pm

They all have their stories.
This one, young and ageing,
says that his stepfather
was ‘a brutal bastard.’

And in those greying eyes
that have seen far too much
I can still sense the child
whose world went upside down.

But this lad has moved on,
now dreams of survival
on the harsh, concrete street
where he must never sleep
must never sleep
never sleep.


Sep 14 2007


Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 15RCN @ 2:57 pm

by Jim Aitken

Eliot said the game was up
after the First World War. How wrong!
For after the Second we fell
into a state of disbelief
that still must make us shake our heads.

And on then to Hiroshima,
To Korea down to Vietnam,
And all the other names we call-
Cambodia, Timor, Iraq.

The list a litany of grief,
and what now to say about this
except Beckett may have the words
to sum it up: ‘No matter, Try
Again, Fail again, Fail better.’


Mar 12 2007

One Year On

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 14RCN @ 9:57 am

by Jim Aitken

One year on
after the wind subsided
and the floods disappeared
there was still a scene
reminiscent of some battle zone
with dilapidated houses
piles of debris lying there
upturned and rusting cars
broken boats moored in-land
amid the empty, eerie desolation

One year on
he said New Orleans will be rebuilt
acknowledging that it had not
but it would be a great city again
in some indeterminate world of time

One year on
from all of this I had read
how the empire abroad expanded
how Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad
occupying fifteen square miles
with two swimming pools
a miniature golf course, mini-theatre
planned to accommodate 20,000 soldiers

One year on
from all of this I had read
of the 234 military golf courses
around the American world
and of the Air Mobility Command
that flies servicemen and their families
in fleets of long-range C-17 Globemasters,
C-5 Galaxies, C-141 Starlifters, C-19 Nightingales,
KC-135 Stratotankers and KG 10 Extenders
and for the more senior personnel there are
Learjets, Gulfstreams and Cessna Citation
luxury jets

One year on
desperate people in New Orleans
no longer look at the stars
or listen to the sounds of birds

One year on
after this neglect at home
I had heard about Camp Taji
once barracks to Saddam’s Republican Guards
how it has its own Burger King, Subway and Pizza Hut

One year on
after this neglect at home
I heard about the new Embassy Compound
in the heart of Baghdad
ten times bigger than other embassies
with its own sources of power and water

One year on
in New Orleans and several years on in Iraq
there’s still no water or power

One year on
as the poor scavenge in fear
in the rubble of New Orleans
new bases have been and are being
in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Kosovo,
Pakistan, India, Australia, Singapore,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam,
Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal,
Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, Georgia,
Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan
and only God knows where else

One year on
if you are poor or homeless in America
you should join the military
doing their great job of extending freedom
and get a posting abroad
for that way you will get yourself a house.


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