Friday, 20 January 2017

For a' That.

On the 25th January, many Scots will be celebrating 'Burns Night', an excuse for nationalism and excess. It's my least favourite meal; 'Tatties, Neeps and Haggis' are mashed potatoes, turnips and a collection of offal in a sheep's stomach. I'll pass on that and on the 'Tartan Tories' who make such a fuss of Burns Night.

But Robert Burns was amongst other things a true radical and a supporter of the American and French revolutions.

This is his finest poem, untranslated:

A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the
gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
hoddin grey, an' a that; Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho'
e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see
yon birkie, ca'd a lord, Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a
coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can
mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might, Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride
o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that,
an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for
a' that.

Robert Burns 1795

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me:

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Chelsea Manning.

I've been struggling around Tesco's today, doing the shopping on a bad and painful day.

And yet, I'm very lucky I'm still free to be able to do it.

Unlike Chelsea Manning who, until yesterday, was facing a sentence of 45 years in jail.

Manning released State Department cables and other information to Wikileaks, while she was serving in the U.S. Armed forces. Unlike certain Generals who got sentences of Probation for similar offences, Manning released very little 'Top Secret' information but got the most severe sentence possible.

I was very grateful to her in 2012 and 2013 as the cables enabled me to write a number of articles, mainly on the subject of right wing British Labour party and Trades Union leaders who said one thing in public to their members and constituents and something quite different in their private briefings to the Labor Attach├ęs at the American Embassy in London.

All of which was a little bit interesting but not 'secret' enough for such a savage sentence.

So it was a delight yesterday when the news got out that Manning's sentence has been commuted by President Obama and she will be released in May of this year.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me: