Glasgow University 16th November 2010
Lauren Martin discusses the rapper and her album, Pink Friday
Subclub gets glammed up for In the Company of Wolves
Also in this issue News Worst graduate prospects for 17 years
Full interview with Glasgow Principal, Anton Muscatelli
London riots: A full photo feature
Features James Maxwell explores the divide within the Liberal Democrat party James Foley explains why Millbank may be anti-cuts students' only lifeline
Students lay siege to London Nick Sikora
A PROTEST AGAINST proposed changes to higher education funding descended into chaos as thousands of students laid siege to Conservative Party HQ. The protest, organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Universities and College Union (UCU), began as a peaceful
demonstration against changes to the government’s higher education policy. 52,000 students, including a contingent organised and subsidised by the Students’ Representative Council, travelled to London to attend the event, which was arranged following government announcements that higher education funding would be lowered while tuition fee
caps would be raised by almost £6,000 to £9,000 per year. The protest was scheduled to include a march from Horse Guards Avenue to a rally held beside Tate Britain, passing the Palace of Westminster in the process, in a demonstration lasting two hours from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. The route had been pre-approved by Metropolitan Police, who had initially considered
the march to be a ‘low risk’ demonstration. Proceedings were overshadowed, however, when the Millbank Tower complex, which sits along the route, was set upon by thousands of students demanding changes to government policy. Ruby Wight The complex was targeted by protestors as it hosts the offices of (continued on page 6)
Aimee Pratt discovers the links between the supermarket and slavery
Sports Glasgow University Squash win the championship Glasgow Basketball sets up for league slam-dunk Guardian throws the spotlight on fencing
Anton Muscatelli: Staff cost cuts may be ‘inevitable’ Adam Campbell UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW Principal, Anton Muscatelli, has stated that staff cost cuts will be inevitable if cuts to higher education continue as predicted. The Principal had previously stated that the University is likely
to enoucnter a £35 million budget black hole unless “corrective action” is taken, leading to concerns amongst the Glasgow University student body about the future of the university, particularly with regards to how well the institution will be staffed. In an interview with the Guardian, Muscatelli stated that ‘60% of [the
University's] costs are staff costs and inevitably reduction costs will reflect that’. The statement is likely to raise hightened concerns about job losses, following previous attempts by senior management to force staff redundancies in some academic departments. He also refused to rule out course culls in the coming months, although
promised that anybody already enrolled in a course would not have their degree terminated if a department was scheduled to face the axe. Since becoming Principal in 2009, Muscatelli has overseen a controversial restucture of the university's academic framework. He has stated a belief in graduate contribution for
students, based on a progressive payment model in which graduates earning higher amounts would pay more. This is in constrast to the pro-fees stance held by the Russell Group of research universities, of which Glasgow University is a member. (full interview on page 3)
16th November 2010
IN BRIEF Grim future for graduates
University opens first Buddhist college
THE FIRST BUDDHIST COLLEGE IN Britain is set to open at the University of Glasgow. From the beginning of the next academic year there will be a one-year diploma course available to students. Successful students will be able to go on to take a degree course. The course will be taught by the Venerable K. Sri Rewatha Thero, Buddhist Chaplain at the university, and Doctor Kenneth Hutton, from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. The Buddhist College UK will be modelled on the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka.
Pastures new for Dean of Vet School
PROFESSOR STUART REID, HEAD OF the Vetinary School at the university, is leaving the university to take up the position of Principal at the Royal Veterinary College in London. Principal of the University of Glasgow, Anton Muscatelli spoke fondly of Professor Reid, saying: “We are both delighted and disappointed at this news. Delighted that Stuart will be moving on to such a prestigious position, but also disappointed that we will be losing such a talented colleague, who has contributed so much to the success of this university.” Professor Reid was appointed Dean of the Veterinary Medicine Faculty in 2005. Under his leadership the Vet School retained its accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education in 2006 and in 2008 saw the faculty placed top in Scotland and joint first in the UK for research according to the RAE.
New test for heart disease may save lives SCIENTISTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF Glasgow have developed a new non-invasive procedure to test for coronary heart disease. The new test, which involves analysing urine samples, aims to indentify coronary heart disease before symptoms are shown. The test identifies heart disease “with 90% accuracy,” according to Professor Harald Mischak. He went on to outline the benefits that this test will have, he said: “This new method may be well suited not only for detection but for also monitoring disease, and assessing the effects of therapy.” The new test could replace existing methods of testing, such as CT scanning, which are both expensive and time consuming.
Louise Wilson GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT IS AT ITS highest level for 17 years, with 8.9% of university leavers unable to find a job according to figures released earlier this month. Of 2009's graduates, over 21,000 were still unemployed by January 2010, six months after graduation. This is an increase of 1% on last year. The rate of growth in this area is slowing, as the previous year saw a rise of 2.4% in unemployment rates amongst 2008’s graduates compared to 2007. A Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU) spokesperson said that they expected this figure to have now peaked, and are likely to see a decline in short-term unemployment in next year's figures, although with spending cuts proposed by the government in the public sector they were unsure of what the middleterm effects would be. Graduate unemployment has not been this high since the last recession in 1993, when it hit 10.3%, whilst in 1992 it was higher still, setting a record 11.6% of unemployed graduates. The figures equate to one in eleven graduates being unemployed, with IT, media and electrical engineering graduates worst off with a higher than average unemployment rate. The poll, which covered 82% of those who graduated in 2009, also revealed that those with a degree in Geography or Psychology faired slightly better than the average. For those who have been successful in getting a job, only 62.4% are in graduate-level jobs as defined by the government. One in seven graduates have found short-term employment in catering and retail, a slightly higher figure than previous years. The average annual salary of graduates has also decreased to just £19,695, however
Scottish graduates earn slightly more at £19,965, placing them the second highest in the UK after London. Dentistry graduates are best off, earning around £29,805, whilst Celtic Studies students fared the worst. A Scottish government spokesman was positive about the support the Scottish government will be able to give to it's graduates. He said: “Nearly 90% of those who qualify go into employment or further education/ training. While we recognise that the job market is difficult, it is clearly the case that those who commit to Higher or Further Education stand a better chance of securing a job. “Figures confirm that graduates from Scottish universities can expect higher average salaries and less debt than their counterparts in the rest of the UK. However, we are far from complacent and fully appreciate how tough it is to get into the job market. Our priority is to ensure that each and every graduate has the support they need - for as long as they need it - to move into long-term, sustainable employment.”
Employment in the public sector has seen a slight increase of 0.5% in areas such as healthcare and social work, however, the planned cuts in the public sector is likely to impact this. The spokesman for the Scottish government also commented upon the effects of the planned 6.8% cut of the Scottish budget from Westminster, revealed last month. He said: “Recent figures also demonstrate the need for full fiscal autonomy. The fact that £1.3 billion has been cut from our budget by the UK government demonstrates beyond doubt that Scotland must have the same financial and economic powers as other nations in order to grow our economy as an alternative to a decade or more of Westminster cuts.” As expected, an increase in further study has been seen, with a growth of 1.3% to 15.4% pursuing postgraduate degrees or other academic routes. Further figures revealed that, on average, there are a huge 270 graduate applicants per job. The number of jobs is currently up by 18% on last year, after two years of continuous decline. Jani Helle
Fan-tache-tic: Uni groups grow mo's for charity Allan McKinnon STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF Glasgow have begun to grow moustaches to raise cash for men’s health charities during the month of November. “Movember” is when men around the world grow a moustache for a month, and get sponsored to do so. The money raised in this month is then given to charities to combat problems relating to men’s health. This year the UK is raising money for two charities, Everyman and the Prostate Cancer Charity, which both work to raise awareness of Prostate cancer and men’s health, a subject that many people still consider to be taboo. They also raise money to help research treatments for prostate cancer, and to support those suffering from prostate cancer and their families. Movember also aims to raise awareness of prostate cancer and men’s health. Men are four times less likely than women to visit a Doctor, and are even less likely to go if the visit may involve a prostate check. Currently
Prostate cancer kills one man every hour in the UK alone. Movember intends to challenge societies’ views on Prostate cancer, and to encourage men to go for regular checkups, with the hope of reducing Prostate cancer-related deaths by 20% in ten years. The student bodies of the University of Glasgow, the Queen Margaret Union (QMU), the Glasgow University Union (GUU), the Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA), and the Students' Representative Council (SRC) have started a friendly competition to see which team can raise the most money for charity. The idea for a cross-campus Movember competition began with Jim Wilson, VicePresident (Media and Communications) last year for the SRC who introduced the concept to Luke Winter, current VP media and communications. Leo Howes, President of GUSA, described how the idea developed this year. He said; “Following strong meetings during Fresher’s week, the SRC proposed the idea, and we were all well up for it. Also this year, all four Presidents of the student bodies are men
who can participate, so it was a great opportunity.” He was also keen to point out how involved the ordinary student members have been, saying that rather than the GUSA team being composed of council members, it has had a large level of participation from ordinary members, a thought that was echoed by most student bodies. Glasgow University is set to break it’s first £1,000 target. Individual students and staff are all contributing and growing moustaches all across campus. The University has been very supportive of the participating staff and students, with even the Clerk of Senate, Professor Graham Caie donating to the groups. Tommy Gore, President of the SRC expanded on why he thought Movember was a good method of fundraising at the University of Glasgow. He explained: “It’s a simple way to raise awareness of a serious disease that isn’t normally high profile. It’s also a good way to put the natural competitive spirit between the four student bodies to good effect, encouraging people to raise both more money, and more awareness.”
Anton Muscatelli talks to Guardian 16th November 2010
(continued from front page)
Do you believe the case has been made for the government's program of cuts, particularly to higher education funding and the Scottish Government’s budget? If you look at the UK Government Spending Review I think arguably some of the cuts in higher education are far too deep and in England I am very concerned by some of the moves to remove public funding for areas like arts, humanities and social sciences. That’s why whenever we have discussed the possibility of a distinct Scottish solution I think it will need to be different. As for, as an economist, whether the fiscal cuts have been too far, too deep, I think the jury’s out on that. I think there is a substantial risk, that by trying to fix the UK’s position over one parliament the economy might weaken and I think the government will probably need to have a look about in the next six to twelve months to make sure that as far as the economy is concerned these cuts have not gone too far. You have stated before that the University of Glasgow would run out of money in three years, unless “corrective action” was taken. How will this action impact on students and the education that they receive, for example would courses be closed? Would there be staff redundancies involved? What you saw in the press was an exaggeration and some of the figures were accurate, but it was quoting them in isolation. The figures came out of a Court Strategy Paper which basically said if the cuts are going to be in the order of 20-25% of real income in the next four years, and public funding by 80[%] and if we did nothing then we would run into deficit. That’s not an entirely surprising statement, every university would be in that position. But if these are the sort of cuts that we face and there isn’t a Scottish solution then what Court has deliberated is that we will need to find and generate more income but also reduce costs and, if we do have to reduce costs by that amount and there isn’t a Scottish solution, then that’s concerning because 60% of our costs are staff costs and inevitably reduction costs will reflect that. Concerns have been raised in the past about the levels of executive pay. If there were to be redundancies would they be across all levels? If there is a reduction in staff costs, by definition we mean to look at all areas of spending. You asked in the previous question about student experience, and I suppose just to conclude on that, we are reasonably proud of the student experience that we offer in Glasgow. So whatever we do, we need to make sure that it doesn’t negatively impact on that and we would need to reduce costs but we are looking at all ways of doing it in a way that doesn’t impact on the student experience and we would work very closely with the student organisations to ensure that the student voice was heard. But if we are looking at reductions in staffing costs of course we are looking at all levels and indeed part of the restructuring that we took place, although this was well before
University of Glasgow
the cuts and wasn’t linked to any of it, cost reductions was actually reducing the number of management positions in the university and we now have a smaller senior management team now than we had a year ago and we have a smaller management structure. You mentioned the restructure there, one of the aims of that was to increase interdisciplinary research, which would in turn increase the university’s income. How long do you think it will be before we see the benefits of that? We always thought, before we started this, that we would begin to see activity almost right away. If you look at our colleges we are beginning to see collaborative research across previous faculty boundaries and new research happening. There are inevitable lags because if you look at research funders, for most of them it takes between a few months and a year to consider applications. In terms of being able to maintain or grow our position, and our target in our strategic plan is to maintain our relative position in the Russell Group funding over the next few years, we will begin to see a difference in the next couple of years. When can we expect an announcement on the nature of the university’s saving plans? The University Court has asked us to come back with a plan by February, by then we will also know more clearly what the Scottish Government plans to do. We’re waiting, literally over the next week or two, to see what the Scottish Government will do about higher education. And once we know that, that’ll give us some clarity. What we won’t know, and we probably won’t know until the election, is will there be a Scottish solution, will there be an alternative to Browne in Scotland. So we are going to have to plan over the next few months without knowing what that Scottish Solution might look like and so whatever plan we come up with, will need to be flexible because if suddenly in May 2011 we have a Scottish solution or summer next year a Scottish solution, we would need to adapt.
What is the university’s position on the Browne Review Proposals? Well officially we don’t have a position because it doesn’t impact directly on us. I have said throughout that a Scottish solution has to adhere to the following principles, no upfront tuition fees and students don’t pay, at most it would be graduates who would make a contribution towards higher education after they graduate and after they see some of the benefits of having a degree. It has to be, therefore, linked to earnings and therefore ability to pay, it has to be progressive, it has to not discourage access to higher education and therefore some of it is going to come back into student support. And finally I think there has to be the right balance between public and private funding. My view is that Browne’s proposals go too far in putting the balance on the individual, because there is still a public benefit of higher education and I have always said that throughout my preferred solution is 100% public funding for education and it’s always been that. I need to ensure that the student experience that we offer in Glasgow is comparable to what is offered elsewhere in the UK and indeed elsewhere in the world. So we need to find a solution that meets those demands, that is fairly shared between public purse and private contributions.
perhaps what we’ll see is a huge rise in applications from across the border.
Do you think in light of the Browne Review the university is likely to see an increase in the number of English and Welsh students applying? To be honest I think that is a possibility, but that depends largely on what the Scottish Government decides in terms of fees for rest of UK students and that is not a Glasgow decision, that is a Scottish Government decision. At the moment, even with the current system in England, we, the Scottish universities, will charge some fees to the rest of UK students coming top study in Scotland. I expect that if the UK Coalition government’s response to Browne is actually enacted in Parliament in Westminster, what we would find is that the Scottish Government will introduce higher levels of fees for rest of UK students because,
What do you think the main concerns that the university will be facing with the Scottish Parliament elections next year? I think our main concerns will be to ensure that whichever government emerges from the Scottish elections they are committed to finding a Scottish Solution to the funding problem of higher education. We need a solution that will last the test of time which means we can plan for the future and develop our universities. The universities are Scotland’s biggest asset. For every pound that the Scottish Government spends on our universities, we bring in an additional pound to the Scottish economy through research funding from outside Scotland and through international students who choose to live in Scotland, so we would argue that we need to find a solution.
You have mentioned that Glasgow is in a better financial situation than other Scottish universities. Could you outline how that is the case? Well in two respects we are in a better position. First of all for the last five years we have been running an operating surplus and we have to run a surplus because, we use this surplus to reinvest in IT equipment, and refurbishment of premises and important areas like the library and lecture theatres. But we are in a position where we have run a surplus and, therefore, we are able to maintain our cash position in a healthy state. We have a healthy positive cash position, we have no long term debt. But having said that, what the projections that we discussed earlier show is that if you can’t just use that to prop up cuts in spending in public funding because that cash will run out in a year or two. What it means is that we have got a little bit of time, which compares to other UK universities, they start with long term debt, they start with low cash positions and they certainly would have to take immediate decisions, we have a slight luxury which is that it gives us a bit more time to make the right decisions as far as our shape going forward is.
16th November 2010
Glasgow Principal holds open Q&A firstname.lastname@example.org
News Staff THE PRINCIPAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF Glasgow Anton Muscatelli has held his second open session with students on November 11. The session, which consisted of a talk by Muscatelli followed by a question and answer session with students, was held in the university’s Bute Hall. It was intended to address student concerns regarding the upcoming cuts to Glasgow University’s budget, and the management’s response to the crisis. The event was poorly attended, however, when less than 30 seats were filled in the 1,200 capacity venue. The lack of turnout raises questions about apathy from the student body toward the cuts, as well as concerns over how well the Q&A was publicised. Tommy Gore, President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) acknowledged that responsibility for the poor turnout was the fault of the SRC. He said, “I apologise for the poor attendance, the blame for that can solely be laid at Tom Bonnickat the door of the SRC and we will be looking ways to improve that.” Questions asked during the session included student fears over course and staff cuts to the university as well as targeting the Principal’s salary and executive pay. Despite the poor turnout, the Principal indicated that the next scheduled talk with students would not occur until after December, when the position of Scotlands' government is clearer.
Jonathan Nicholson Questions posed to the Principal centred on fincial issues, including the Principal's salary
Punishment fears for Strathclyde protestor James Foley STUDENT LEADERS HAVE ROUNDLY condemned the “trial by media” of a leading Scottish activist involved in the Millbank protests on November 10. Bryan Simpson, a fourth year Law student at Strathclyde University, featured prominently in news following an incident at Conservative Party HQ, where he allegedly stole an officer's hat. It is unclear as to whether he was amoung the 50 people arrested after the protest. The hat-snatching incident was subsequently featured in several national newspapers, alongside Simpson's personal information. Simpson has told Glasgow University Guardian that his family have been harassed by reporters, while other members of the Strathclyde University Anti-Cuts Action Network (ACAN) have reportedly been followed by paparazzi. After intensive media coverage, the Herald reported on Friday November 12 that Strathclyde University authorities were “poised to take disciplinary action”. Sean Coyle, a spokesperson for Strathclyde University ACAN, denounced the treatment of Simpson, who was seen as a prominent figure in the university’s anti-cuts movement. He said: “We condemn unequivocally the campaign of media harassment directed at
Bryan, who is a passionate campaigner and well-liked on campus. “Bryan has not committed any crime, but the media are witch hunting him as a criminal and harassing his family, apparently with the complicity of university management. We demand the student union takes action to protect Bryan from this intrusion.” Members of ACAN from Strathclyde, Glasgow University, and Glasgow Caledonian University staged an impromptu protest in defence of Simpson on Friday evening outside Strathclyde University’s court meeting. Phil Whyte, president of Strathclyde University Union, told protestors told that he was not part of any “witch hunt”, and that Court was not planning disciplinary action against any students. Whyte also condemned media reporting of Simpson’s role at Millbank. As the Guardian went to press, Strathclyde University authorities were unable to comment on specific details regarding the incident, but a spokeswoman for Strathclyde University explained the university's position on students involved with violent protests. She said: “The minority who took part in violence did not act with the support of students and will face the consequences through the courts and, where appropriate, through university disciplinary process.”
An officer's hat gets burnt by protestors
16th November 2010
Glasgow courts Columbia Philine Apenburg THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW HAS secured a research understanding with one of America’s top universities. Columbia University and Glasgow University, both prominent research-led universities, have created new research links which will allow the development of a range of academic collaborations. Glasgow University’s Principal Anton Muscatelli and Columbia University’s Provest Professor Claude Steele signed a research agreement in New York City on October 25. Researchers from both universities are now able to work together more closely. Principal of Glasgow University, Anton Muscatelli, spoke of the benefits of the agreement. He said: “The University of Glasgow is delighted that this memorandum of understanding has been signed. To formalise our existing links with one of the USA’s great universities will provide first class opportunities for staff from both institutions to collaborate and work together.” With 97 Nobel Prize winners, including President of the United States of America
‘Fraser Fund’ finds success
Barack Obama, amongst its alumni, Columbia University is one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Founded in 1754 Columbia University is part of the esteemed Ivy League group and ranks in the top one percent of the world’s best institutions. Forged over a number of years of close academic cooperation, the research agreement marks a new height in the relationship between the two institutions. It is specifically aimed at developing biomedical research collaborations in three different areas: cardiovascular disease, molecular pharmacology and neuroscience. The work is intended to translate research findings into treatments for patients. Furthermore both universities are working together to recruit a human geneticist who will work at both Glasgow and Columbia University. The partnership is also designed to develop PhD research and post-doctoral training. Professor David Hirsh, Columbia’s executive vice-president for research, said: “Columbia is pleased to formalize its collaborations with the University of Glasgow as we share several common research interests. We believe the mutual cooperation will advance the scholarly pursuits at both of the universities.”
To celebrate the signing of the agreement Columbia University hosted a co-operative research symposium, with lecturers from staff from both universities. Anton Muscatelli also gave a lecture entitled ‘The Political Economy of Universities,’ in which he spoke about the
importance of competition and autonomy in the development of a world class university system. In addition he explored the financial challenges that universities face, comparing US funding models with those in the UK.
Wally Gomez Columbia University's Low Memorial Library
Poor turnout at QMU by-election
FRASER SUTHERLAND, VICE PRESIDENT of Student Support, has donated 32.9% of his salary from the Students' Representative Council (SRC) to a charitable fund. Sutherland pledged in a heckling meeting for the SRC spring elections in March this year that he would work for the minimum wage. The remaining money from his salary would then be used to set up a trust to aid charity fundraising within the University. The SRC executive salary is £15,292 per year, pre-tax for a contracted 34 hours a week. Sutherland agreed instead to work for £10,254.40 pre-tax, leaving £5,037.60 to be put into a trust called the ‘Fraser Fund’. The money from the trust is distributed at the discretion of a committee made up of SRC Sabbatical Officers. So far they have unanimously agreed to help cover the costs of a bake sale raising money for an HIV charity as well as covering the printing cost for tickets to a charity evening for African relief. Sutherland stated after his election that “This trust fund will then be open to students, club and societies of the University to bid into for charitable projects.” Commenting on how the state of the fund, Sutherland said that: “Hopefully the charities that have benefited from the money will let us know how much money they raised at their events and this will allow me to gauge how successful the fund will be over the year.”
AUTUMN ELECTIONS AT THE QUEEN Margaret Union (QMU), held on November 4, were marred by low turnout and lack of interest for the positions. This follows on from the Autumn elections held by the Students' Representative Council (SRC), which saw voter turnout fall by 45%, a several-year low for the organisation.
Eleven new members were elected to the QMU’s Board of Management, while a vote for Events Convener was postponed due to a lack of candidates for the post. Of the available seats for Ordinary Board members, three were first-year only positions, with one six-month position won in an uncontested vote by Ryan Brownlie and two yearlong positions won by Joshua Taylor and Alice Stearn, with James Doherty and Robin Callaghan-Creighton missing out. Jani Helle
A rare event: QMU's ballot boxes receive a vote
Three further six-month positions were taken up by Joel McAnallen, Bateman McBride and Ben Mervis, with no other candidates in the running. Hannah Butler, Colum Fraser and Karin Brims won the final three yearlong ordinary board positions, defeating Laura Jamieson, who had served on the Board in previous sessions. Fraser Ross gained a Former Student Member seat for six months, while Chris Hall won the same role for a year. Both positions were uncontested. The election returned three losing candidates altogether, with most positions having the same number of candidates as there were seats, raising questions about the levels of interest among students in participation in the union. The only nominated candidate for the Events Convener position withdrew prior to the election. A second by-election will be held on November 18 to fill this position as well as to elect a new Assistant Honorary Secretary, a role which is now vacant due to the recent resignation of the current Assistant Honorary Secretary for personal reasons. Turnout for the election featured approximately 260 votes cast, equating to around 5% of the union’s membership. Iain Smith, QMU President, remained positive about the turnout, claiming several other factors played a part in reducing the number of voters. “I'm pleased that the voter turnout has remained comparable to previous years given the timing of the election and the weather on the day, which, while we still use paper ballots, can have a significant impact on voter turnout.”
16th November 2010
In photos: How the demonstration lost control Pictures: Nick Sikora
(continued from front page) the Conservative Campaign Headquarters, who rent floors inside office building 30 Millbank. The first sign of disorder came when far-left protestors broke off from the march at around 1:30pm, setting fire to a pile of placards stacked in the complex’s main concourse and creating a bonfire that attracted the attention of other protestors passing along the route. The growing crowd quickly began to outnumber the 20-30 police officers initially posted to guard the premises. Swelling numbers of protestors eventually overpowered the police presence, taking the opportunity to smash windows on the
lower floors of the building and proceed into the atrium, where they ransacked surroundings. A large number of students proceeded unhindered to the roof, where they waved anarchist flags, vandalised the upper floors and sprayed fire extinguishers in celebration at the crowd below. Although riots were directed toward Conservative Party buildings, coalition partners the Liberal Democrats were also a focus for the protesters’ anger. Chants included ‘Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on the top. Put the Lib Dems in the middle and burn the fucking lot,’ and ‘Nick Clegg, we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too.’
Protestors occupying the building eventually triggered fire alarms, causing emergency access doors to unlock and allowing greater numbers of students into the building. In addition to dangers posed by rioters throwing debris including bricks over peoples’ heads, a fire extinguisher was thrown from the roof of the building, missing the heads of police by inches. During the scheduled rally intended to close the demonstration, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt incited anger within the crowd, leading chants of 'Tory scum' before reminding the crowd of promises the UCU believed politi-
16th November 2010
cians had broken. This was followed by NUS President Aaron Porter, who also gave a speech to the crowd. Despite their actions at the rally, the UCU was keen to distance itself from the violent nature of the demonstration, which the UCU had quickly lost control of. General Secretary Sally Hunt said: “The actions of a mindless and totally unrepresentative minority should not distract from today's message. The overwhelming majority of staff and students on the march came here to send a clear and peaceful message.” Roughly 300 employees in the building were evacuated for their safety by police, however 80 – including Conservative
Party Chairman Baroness Warsi – stayed at their desk. Protestors ultimately failed to reach Conservative Party offices within the building. The Metropolitan Police only regained control of the situation at around 5:00pm, several hours after the building had been stormed, when hundreds of extra officers armed in riot gear and equipped with armoured vehicles were dispatched to the scene. The Met apologised for what they termed an ‘embarrassment’ to the organisation. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said: “This was an embar-
rassment for London and for us. We cannot accept this level of violence. It was totally unexpected. "We have to ask 'should we have anticipated it better' and a thorough post-incident investigation will establish this and bring all those responsible to justice. "It must have been an awful time for the people inside that building, and I'm terribly sorry for what must have been a traumatic experience. We cannot allow thuggish behaviour like this again." The actions of protestors were roundly criticised by student and university organisations, who claimed it undermined the event.
16th November 2010
Supermarkets, Santa and Slavery
With the Christmas shopping boom fast approaching, Aimee Pratt investigates the ringleaders behind human trafficking for supermarket goods
undreds of miles from the cocoa farms of South America and the tobacco plantations of Africa, British supermarkets, orderly and polished, open their doors to the public. Down their bright aisles walks the typical British shopper, alert for special deals on their favourite top quality brands. But whilst many shoppers believe in the benefits of buying ‘home-grown’, the label does not separate them from becoming part of a vicious cycle of labour exploitation. Included in the price of third world produce, is an issue which exists far closer to home than some consumers may like to think: Trafficking Jagjit Singh was a gangmaster who provided agricultural labour to food suppliers of Tesco. His company operated under the name ‘Sapphire Trading’. In 2004, he was accused of systematic exploitation of his workers and was consequently stripped of his gangmaster license from the government regulated Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA). Singh reportedly forced his Polish employees to work in conditions which potentially placed them at injury or death. The migrants worked illegal hours and were paid below the minimum wage. Housed in accommodation deemed dangerous for human habitation, the workers claimed they were terrified to speak out against their relentless boss. Three years later, forty Bulgarian workers were found labouring in a field. Packing vegetables eventually destined to be loaded onto the lorries of British supermarkets, they claimed they were forced to “live like pigs on scrap” when their gangmaster allegedly withheld their pay for 34 days. Whilst we may be used to hearing similar stories of workers in developing countries being coerced into labouring under such appalling conditions, it may be a surprise to learn that the examples above in fact took place in the green fields of Britain. With many similar stories now beginning to surface, it is becoming increasingly obvious that severe exploitation is not just characterised by sweatshops. With the demand for Christmas goods fast approaching, the problem will inevitably worsen with demand. Supermarkets reportedly buy 80% of all freshly grown produce in Britain. Many gangmasters are employed by farming companies, who in turn are sub-contracted to British supermarket chains. As a result of intense price competition
between the supermarkets, farming companies are expected to provide fluctuating levels of produce, depending on projected customer demand. Gangmasters are subsequently put under pressure to offer flexible and cheap labour. As a result, naive migrant workers are often found buried at the bottom of the supply chain, facing brutal working and living conditions. According to a 2003 UK Government Food and Rural Affairs Committee Report the volatile relationship between the supermarkets and their suppliers is a, “significant contributory factor in creating an environment in which illegal activity can take root.” Nevertheless, when confronted with the claim that their battle for profit is contributing to the underworld of migrant labour, British supermarkets conveniently pass the buck. They have been accused of hiding behind a subcontracting barrier. Repeatedly bosses of Asda and Tesco have claimed that whilst they are ‘shocked and appalled’ by stories of exploitation amongst gangmasters, and state they are not accountable, as workers are not
directly employed by them. Mark Boleat, chairman of the Association of Labour Providers rightly claims that regardless of who is to blame, supermarkets should be checking their subcontracting chains far more thoroughly than they already do: "Malpractice is generally covered up with subcontracting; it's known that's how it is hidden. Retailers should be monitoring them". Regardless of who is at the epicentreof the supermarket blame game, new cases are emerging all the time. As recent as a few weeks ago, migrant workers were reportedly found picking spring onions in a Worcestershire field. They were children, aged from as young as 9. Inspectors found welly-boots in the field, estimated to fit the feet of a 5 year old, suggesting that children of an even younger age could have worked there. The GLA claim it was the first time that evidence of child exploitation in the food industry had been identified in Britain. According to a recent report by the international child protection charity ECPAT, 215 children from 33 different countries were officially identified as having been trafficked into the UK between April 2009 and June 2010. Almost one hundred were brought in specifically under concerns of labour exploitation. In the past two years alone, the British equivalent NSPCC claim that they have experienced over 100 cases of people being trafficked into the UK for ‘slave-labour’. These fresh figures have naturally unearthed concerns surrounding the British governments somewhat indolent efforts to tackle human trafficking. Is Britain, a country so often characterized by its belief in fair play and progressive working conditions slowly slipping back to its 18th century slave trade traditions? When reading about the experiences of Hsiao-Hung Pai one would certainly be driven to believe so. Pai is the author of the book ‘Chinese Whispers: The Story of Britain’s Hidden Army of Labour’. The book delivers a chilling first-hand account of how hundreds are exploited in the UK in ways unimaginable. Pai writes, “I talk about their struggle: their once in a lifetime decision to migrate for work; their journey in Britain; moved on from job to job to fill the need for temporary seasonal labour; the way they cope with daily exploitation and marginalisation in a country that needs them but doesn't recognise their rights.” There are currently around 1 million people in the UK estimated to be living this slave-like experience. With 10,000 gangmasters currently operating in the UK, one can picture how the lives of Britain’s invisible migrants can easily slip into rogue hands. Looking to the future Pai asks, “What should Britain do in order to protect and uphold the rights of workers, regardless of their immigration status?” Although this question is one that should be urgently addressed, the current government funding cuts are expected to halt any progress that is likely to be made. With the GLA facing a 29% cut on resources, investigations into Britain’s greedy gangmasters will be far from few in the coming years. However, fresh campaigns are surfacing to tackle the exploitation faced by Britain’s silent slaves. Famous faces, such as the actress Juliet Stevenson, combined with charities such as Anti-Slavery International are petitioning against the government’s decision to ignore the EU directive. Currently, their petition has 13,000 signatures. Despite the future offering limited optimism to Britain’s underworld of migrant labourers, it is hoped that growing pressure from the public raised by this campaign will encourage the government and the supermarket chains to act against this emerging illegal subculture. Well, it is true what Tesco placates, “every little helps”.
The Millbank Media 16th November 2010
The events at Millbank provide a rare platform for anti-cuts demonstrators to be heard. By James Foley.
Two weeks ago, they said it was impossible to resist the cuts. But after the spectacular eruption of student protests in Central London last week, it seems realistic to demand the impossible. Already they are calling it 10/11, and Ground Zero was the plush headquarters of the Conservative Party, 30 Millbank on the bank of the river Thames. Rolling news featured wall-towall images of broken windows, barricades, and injured cops as a stupefied procession of pundits took grim views of it all. Undoubtedly, the protests have pushed student protest to the front of the public agenda. As the BBC's home affairs editor Mark Easton admitted, "The emotional drama of an oldfashioned student demo turning ugly provided pictures which shunted the story of a protest march against tuition fees from a few paragraphs on page 17 to the front page of every paper." But the added publicity was not to the liking of mainstream student leaders. National Union of Students (NUS) president Aaron Porter called the rioters "despicable". NUS Scotland president Liam Burns added that he would do nothing "to defend the actions of a few hundred idiots". The notion that the peaceful protest - which numbered some 50,000 - was unjustly sidelined by a tiny band of "extremists" from elsewhere (some crazy foreign country, perhaps?) was common currency. Tommy Gore, president of Glasgow University Student Representatives' Council (SRC), agreed that the Millbank protest "was around 200 to 300-strong", but stressed that "there weren't any Glasgow University students involved in the violence". Tommy should be corrected on both counts. I was at Millbank with a group of students from Glasgow University. We were surrounded by a sea of protesters, at least 5,000 strong, and aerial footage confirms this. Guardian reporters have subsequently observed that talk of cynical provocateurs was "nonsense" and that the protest was made up of "ordinary students who were viscerally angry." This was certainly my experience of the demo, and of the many thousands who expressed their fury at Millbank. When individuals took mindless actions, like throwing a fire
extinguisher off the roof, the crowd as one chanted "stop throwing shit." While I welcome the work Tommy and Liam have put into building an anti-cuts movement in Scotland, I feel it is time to take issue with their tactics and their handling of the media. Their failure to account for and sympathise with the passionate anger of thousands of ordinary students risks splitting the movement beyond the activist milieu and a cosy inactive bureaucracy. This is for two reasons. Firstly, by spreading the hearsay that Millbank was the work of agent provocateurs, they have allowed character assassinations to spread through the right-wing media. This has led to individuals from the anti-cuts movement being singled out, harassed, and victimised in cases of trial by media. On the bus back from London, I was warned by sources close to the BBC and the Daily Mail that I would be the victim of the one of these media attacks. As it was, they picked on another Scottish target, Bryan Simpson, who stood as a presidential candidate at Strathclyde University last year. Bryan is a popular political leader at Strathclyde and he has not been convicted of any crime. The media have singled him out in a truly reprehensible fashion, and misleading statements about the size and the causes of Millbank from Tommy and Liam do nothing to help him. Secondly, their understanding of the workings of the media and its "news values" is out of touch. As Mark Easton and a host of commentators have noted, a procession of 50,000 students may be worthy, but it makes for dull television. The real message of mass demonstrations is almost always lost because the mass media prefers to ignore "peaceful" actions. To take an obvious example, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC) called an anti-cuts demonstration in Edinburgh three weeks ago, attracting 25,000 people. This received paltry media coverage. As far as viewers, readers, and listeners were concerned, the STUC protest never happened.
Of course, this shows how little trade union and student leaders have moved with the times. It is not enough to take 50,000 for a walk through Central London. These days, the media demands that we use our mass numbers to effect, to create visible signifiers of public fury. The Millbank demonstrators were merely supplying this, something the pedestrian likes of Aaron Porter are singularly incapable of providing. Aaron can moan all he likes about this, but he should blame the game, not the player. The actions of Millbank now give the leaders of the anti-cuts movement a platform to explain their case to the public, if they are willing to use it. And this is now the key test for Tommy, Liam, Aaron and their colleagues in student representation. Will they throw in the towel at the first sign of a vicious right-wing backlash, or will they continue to fight for tax-funded education and learn the right lessons from Millbank? I really hope that our student leaders will use the platform of Millbank to explain this context to people. But the evidence so far is not promising. Instead of pushing forward the battle of ideas, I sometimes feel like the Tories are facing up to a gang of shrinking violets who will do anything to avoid the glare of the media spotlight. Before Millbank, many of us felt a sense of earnest fury at the biggest public sector cuts since 1919. But it is only now that we know how vulnerable the state really is. Effective leadership, talking up our strength and building the morale of our forces, can affect massive political shifts in our favour. Millbank is a golden opportunity to explain that we do not have to take the assault lying down. We should embrace it as such, not kowtow to the gutter press.
Two faces of liberalism
16th November 2010
Liberal Democrats of the centre left face a battle for the soul and the survival of the party, argues James Maxwell . British politics has not witnessed for some time a u-turn more brazen than that recently performed by the Liberal Democrats on the issue of tuition fees. Under the leadership of current Glasgow University rector Charles Kennedy and his predecessor, Menzies Campbell, the party was uncompromising in its opposition to the introduction of higher-education charges. Nick Clegg, too, apparently right up until the moment he assumed the office of Deputy Prime Minister, was critical of the LabourTory consensus, which favoured transferring the increasing cost of obtaining a degree from the state to the individual. Famously, Clegg even had himself photographed signing a petition stating that, if elected to power, he would abolish fees altogether. So when he announced last month, in light of the publication of the Browne report, that he fully supports plans to allow universities in England and Wales to raise annual course tariffs to as much as £9,000, many of his supporters, including huge numbers of students, were shocked and appalled. Rightly, they viewed this spectacular reversal as an epic betrayal of trust. Clegg has been cast in some quarters as a sap and a Tory stooge, passively submitting to Cameron and Osborne’s ferocious assault on public services. This characterisation isn‘t entirely unfair. In interviews, at the dispatch box and at press conferences, he often appears painfully doe-eyed and earnest. It is hard to imagine him in cabinet meetings forcefully articulating robust centre-left solutions to the challenge of reducing the UK’s immense deficit. But Clegg’s acquiescence to the Conservative's ultra-Thatcherite programme reveals a wider truth about the Liberal Democrats as a whole, rather than merely the temperament of the man himself: the party has been marked since its inception by an ideological fissure that is yet to be properly addressed but is growing deeper all the time. The Liberal Democrats were the eventual
product of a split in the Labour Party that occurred three decades ago. In 1980 a rogue group of Labour MPs, among them Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins, began to voice their discontent with Michael Foot’s leadership, which they correctly perceived as being too radical for the moderate sensibilities of middleEngland. After months of dispute, they finally departed, setting up the Social Democratic Party which fought Labour, not without some success, at the 1983 election. As the decade progressed and Labour began the indelible march back toward the political centre ground, shaking off in the process the legacy of Foot’s old-school socialism, the SDP’s popularity waned. In a bid to salvage their break-away movement, Williams and co merged with David Steel’s Liberal Party and created the Liberal Democrats. Before Mrs. Thatcher‘s laissez-faire revolution, the Liberals had been the foremost party of classical liberalism in Britain. It viewed the advance of individual freedom and economic
the party has been marked since its inception by an ideological fissure that is yet to be properly addressed but is growing deeper all the time. freedom as a single cause, pursuing with considerable vigour the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality as well as the fortification of private property and free-trade laws. The fusion, then, of the Liberals with the SDP in 1988 represented the coming together of two traditions of liberal political thought: social democracy, which, as a function of its base in the industrial working-class, is intractably hostile to unfettered capitalism, and 19th century liberalism, which, as the preferred ideology of a reformist element in the British establishment, is both socially progressive and fundamentally pro free-market. Of recent Liberal Democrat leaders, almost all - Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and
Menzies Campbell - have identified with the social democratic wing of the party. They have each sought to locate the Lib Dems, as a matter of strategy if not always of principle, to the left of Labour, advocating a graduated tax system,
the Orange Book faction, 21st Century torch-bearers of Victorian-era laissez-faire capitalism, are in control of a party that for twenty years sought to define itself as a centre-left alternative to Labour. attacking the introduction of private capital into the provision of public services and, of course, resisting the privatisation of higher education. In Nick Clegg and his team, however, the party now has a leadership whose redistributive instincts are barely detectable, if they exist at all. Clegg and ministers Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and Chris Huhne seem comfortable working with a Conservative administration committed to dismantling the welfare state for one very simple reason: they are. In contrast to liberals of the centre-left, there is nothing in their political DNA that tells them it is wrong. In 2004 the now disgraced Liberal Democrat MP David Laws edited and published an extended pamphlet, The Orange Book. Among its contributors were Clegg, Cable and Huhne. It calls for an increased role for the private sector in providing services like health, education and transport, an undertaking which has traditionally been reserved for the state. The public sector, it contends, is an obstacle to market dynamism and wealth creation - a burden to the entrepreneurial spirit. It interprets the previous Labour government’s authoritarian social and security measures - ninety day detention without trial, anti-social behaviour orders etc. - as a necessary result of its belief that the state has a duty to regulate the excesses of the market in the name of economic parity. With this in mind it is not difficult to explain why the present generation of Lib Dem chiefs -
those, that is, who rose to prominence after Nick Clegg was elected leader - should subscribe so unreservedly to a deficit reduction plan that aims to slash public expenditure by as much as 40 per cent. As it stands, the Orange Book faction, 21st century torch-bearers of Victorian-era laissezfaire capitalism, are in control of a party that for twenty years sought to define itself as a centreleft alternative to Labour. Generally speaking, though, the Liberal Democrats have not abandoned social democracy. A number of senior figures in the party, including Kennedy and former party president Simon Hughes, have confessed that they are uneasy with the Tory coalition. (Indeed, it is highly likely that if Kennedy had remained as leader there would not have been a coalition at all.) A majority of ordinary party members and activists sit well to the left of the new elite, too. Their growing frustration with the direction their party is being taken is palpable. Moreover,
That the party's poll ratings have halved since they entered government and continue to fall is a striking illustration of where the true sympathies of most Lib Dem supporters lie. as many as two thirds of Lib Dem voters want and expect the party to act as left-wing counterweight to Labour and the Tories. That the party’s poll ratings have halved since they entered government and continue to fall is a striking illustration of where the true sympathies of most Lib Dem supporters lie. Yet, with cast-iron self-confidence and unshakable ideological certainty, the free-market dogmatists have set the party on a course from which it will not be easy to escape. But one thing is for sure: if the Liberal democrats stick with Clegg and his Orange Book colleagues they will be annihilated at the ballot box. A battle lies ahead for liberals of the centre-left, not just over the soul of their party but for its very survival.
16th November 2010
Demo-lition 2010: Right or wrong?
>> Jimmy McMahon
>> Reece Peck de Laughe
‘Our generation is being systematically and unapologetically screwed to the last’ Last week’s colourful student protests at Millbank Tower in central London, home to Conservative Party headquarters, were met by the national print media with near uniform hostility and condemnation. The Times led with the headline “Thuggish and disgraceful”, while its downmarket sister-paper, The Sun, branded the most aggressive of the protesters “Brainless”. The ever predictable Daily Mail laid the blame for the confrontation between activists and police with “radical leftwing and anarchist groups” hell-bent on destruction. Even for those few publications broadly sympathetic to the cause that drew more than 50,000 young people onto the streets, many for the first time, the emphasis was very much on the allegedly inflammatory and sometimes illegal actions of a subversive minority. However, focussing principally on the most controversial aspects of events, this sensationalist coverage failed to adequately address one critical question: why were so many nice, normally law-abiding, middle-class youths driven to such extremes? Many students in Scotland leave university with debts upward of £12,000 and enter a job market in which their employment prospects are distressingly low. In addition, they are being told, on the basis of false claims that the British economy is on the brink of bankruptcy, that they will not have access to public services operating with the same level of funding, and hence at the same level of quality, as those used by their parents.
Further, their chances of being able to purchase a first home before the age of 35 or enjoy a financially comfortable retirement or secure a loan to start business are slim and falling by the day. Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, of course, do not have the Scottish luxury of a government that will pay their course fees for them. If the Lib Dem-Tory coalition follows up on the recommendations of the Browne review, they will soon have to contend with the reality of spending the first third or half of their lives heaped under stratospheric debts. Our generation is being systematically and unapologetically screwed to the last. Not a single one of David Cameron’s millionaire cabinet paid for their university education, yet do you see even the slightest wince or flinch of regret in their faces as they force us to pay for ours? The real yobs are those Tory MPs who called out for ‘More! More!’ cuts to vital frontline services in the House of Commons as Chancellor George Osborne announced his emergency budget some weeks ago. Under the weight of these burgeoning economic pressures, and in the face of such infuriating political obstinacy, it is hardly surprising that students are channelling their anxieties and frustrations into increasingly destructive acts of resistance. At any rate, a few bruised police officers and broken panes of glass are as nothing compared to the vandalism the Tories are preparing to wreak on all our futures. Nick Sikora
Students, many of them masked, stormed the atrium of Millbank 30 before ransacking the building from within
‘If politics is a battle of hearts and minds, destruction of property is the quickest way to lose both’
Out of the window, somewhere in the big, beautiful beyond, someone is lucky to be alive. On November 10, amidst the chaotic scenes of 30 Millbank, beset by masked student demonstrators and violent pseudo-anarchists, a person took it upon themselves to hurl a fire extinguisher from the roof of a tower block onto a huddle of uniformed officers standing on the ground below. The object, weighing several kilos and falling from a height roughly equivalent to the top of the University library, missed the unsuspecting officer by a matter of centimeters. You can forget riot gear and protective helmets - such a weight, falling from such a height, would be instantly lethal, and it is mere fortune that the man or woman who would otherwise be in his grave chose to stand just feet from where the item fell. Given the nature of the act, it is not surprising that this is the event that marked out the November 2010 student protests for much of the country’s media. Rightly or wrongly, history will look back on the political action of our generation in years to come and recognise not the actions of a few groups of students interested in the future of British education, but a rabble of violence-hungry young criminals, more concerned with smashing windows, attempted murder and getting their face on television than the ramifications that any of these actions might have on governmental policy. Why did this happen? Why was an event intended to promote the funding of higher education ultimately undermined to such a degree? The police should certainly play their part in taking much of the blame, as they were the ones charged with keeping public order. But it is the students themselves, their representative unions and the officials they chose to lead them that should bear the brunt of responsibility. The 2-3000 people who comprised the baying mob congregated around 30 Millbank were almost all enrolled in educational institutions, and despite having boo’d the single protestor responsible for throwing the fire exinguisher, all were complicit in the damage that took place to the Millbank building over the course of several hours. The footage taken at Millbank, syndicated across a plethora of rolling news channels, published and republished in newspapers across the globe, is incalculably damaging to the reputation of students and the goal that some are fighting for. Violent behaviour does not, has not, and will not benefit the student cause. If politics is a battle of hearts and minds, destruction of property is the quickest way to lose both. Have the actions of students present at the demo killed any hope they might have had at effecting reform? No. Have they made it more difficult? Almost certainly. The Conservative government, having had the fight taken to the very core of its organisation, cannot now back down from its plans even if it wanted to. The events at Millbank turned in the minds of many what was originally a campaign against opposing political opinions into a battle of loggerheaded factions. If the Tories back down, they’ll appear to have cowed in the face of criminal violence - something nobody would accept. Whilst students opposing the cuts shouldn’t feel that the battle is over, and it is certainly a cornerstone of British democracy that citizens are afforded the right to hold and express beliefs, fence-sitters in the debate are loathe to side with a group known to the public as thugs. Meanwhile the public, fuelled by images portrayed in the media, now see students in a poorer light than they ever did before. This outcome - whether you oppose the cuts or not - is bad for all students the world over.
16th November 2010
John McIntyre Building University Avenue Glasgow G12 8QQ 0141 341 6215 email@example.com www.glasgowguardian.co.uk
NUS has a lot to answer for Lie back and protest When scenes of violence emerged from Londonâ€™s recent anti-cuts demonstration, NUS President, Aaron Porter, was keen to absolve himself from the firing line. In a statement, he insisted that only 200-300 people were congregated at Millbank, and that few of them were students. Surely the blame could not be his. For those of us who were actually in attendance, however, such a statement can only be considered farce. Police estimates place the real figure at nearer 2000 people, ten times his claim, and the vast majority of those arrested following the event were proven to have come from university or college backgrounds. So why does Porter insist on denying the scale of the riot? Perhaps self-interest plays a part. The office of NUS President has long been a vehicle for careerists to gain a smooth ride to the top of the Labour Party and Porter, himself a Labour Party member, no doubt has his eyes on a career within the party. Or maybe NUS, battered by recent scandles in Durham after it tried to aggressively censor a member union,
is worried that two major PR catastrophes in a year will hurt its institutional agenda. Either way, such denial of the truth does nothing for NUSâ€™ reputation. So, with no explanation coming from the union, we have to ask; why did NUS choose to stir up anger with their speeches? Why did they fail to anticipate the violent reaction? Why did they schedule the protest to last only two hours, finishing in the early afternoon with nowhere for angry protestors to go? Why did they not realise such an event would bring trouble? Why was the route even planned to pass Tory HQ? Regardless, it is now impossible for the government to change their stance without seeming to have bowed to violence. The damage has been done. NUS, ineffectual as ever, have once again proven themselves to be a liability to the student cause. It will take a lot to repair studentsâ€™ tarnished reputation following these events, but perhaps some honesty from their representative organisation would be a start. Unlikely, but one can dream.
Amidst this current blaze of mobilised anger it is very difficult to step back and take a look at the nature of what many of us students are doing. Allow me for a moment to call to mind Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler, and take an alternative view on protest. It is too widely (and unquestionably) accepted that an attacking force met head on validates your being and - in this case - political conscience. But on closer inspection in can be noted that the feelings that motivate the reaction of protest have also their contrary siblings that are not far away: hate, a form of love and more importantly resentment, a form of dependence. A small paraphrase from Tom Hodgkinsonâ€™s writing gives us a better understanding as to his point - â€˜If you look back over the very many protests that have been launched on the prevailing order, one canâ€™t help concluding that physical protest, as an agent of positive change is singularly ineffectual. It may even have precisely the opposite effect.
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Just as the cocaine dealerâ€™s best friend is the tabloid press for constantly promoting his product by salaciously and pruriently attacking it in their pages, so the anti-government protestor or anti-corporate protestor may in fact be their stated enemyâ€™s most effective ally.â€™ This mode of thinking asks whether or not taking to the streets with placards and banners is really the most effective course of action. Perhaps doing nothing at all is far more subversive. Or perhaps not. The torrent of students that swept along the Thames on Wednesday transmitted a collective sense of discontent that ultimately made me feel reassured by how many students felt incensed by the new potential legislation. It showed the much maligned student as a motivated character, unwilling to have their futureâ€™s blighted by further debt. Or perhaps, â€˜rather than trying to destroy our neighbours castle, we ignore it, and build one of our own.â€™
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Weâ€™re behind you.
16th November 2010
To the Editors… Militant atheism: a force for human progress? (October 26 2010)
Sir, As a proud Humanist and Atheist I read Jenny Sis’s comments on ‘militant’ atheism with a familiar sense of despair. After quickly dismissing thousands of years of religionfuelled conflict costing an unknowable number of lives, from the Crusades up to present day Iraq (where conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims is widespread), Sis argues that ‘the real work of religion lies in the charities that give to the poor’. In what sense is this the ‘real work’ of religion when religion itself, as in the instance of Roman Catholic countries such as the Phillipines where contraception is banned, can contribute to issues such as mass poverty and the spread of HIV and AIDS? Furthermore, there is nothing inherently ‘militant’ about atheism, despite Sis’s best efforts to trace the multiple abuses of Stalin’s dictatorship back to his often atheistic beliefs (Stalin was, in fact, raised religious, and that he was an atheist at all has been an issue of much debate), and history has clearly demonstrated that militant religiosity is much more dangerous than militant atheism, if such a concept exists at all. After all, whilst religion is founded on opposition, discrimination and an unquestioning obedience to sacred texts; Humanism and atheism are based on empiricism, and the belief that we need not make recourse to the supernatural in order to both explain the wonders of the world, and live moral, altruistic lives. Tom White Sir, James Maxwell asserts that militant atheism is a “resolutely secular” phenomenon which “does not seek to physically coerce individuals into abandoning or betraying their faith.” If only this were true, those of us who profess a religion would sleep much sounder in our beds. The frightening reality is that Richard Dawkins is nothing of the sort. Richard Dawkins claims that parents who instruct their children in a religious faith are guilty of “child abuse”, the clear implication being that they should not be allowed to raise children. Whether this is to be accomplished by an Australian-aboriginal style “stolen generation” of religious children raised by the state in care homes, Chinese style installation of sterilisation clinics adjacent to Britain’s churches and mosques, or Soviet style gulags of the faithful, Dawkins doesn’t say. Nonetheless, the sentiment is chilling. Dawkins has also said that he would like to see the abolition of faith schools and the institution of “free-thinking” schools in their stead. As a parent myself, and in a spirit of genuine secular pluralism, I am quite happy to let Professor Dawkins’ children be educated in
26th October 2010
Emma Ainsley discovers the proﬁle of David Fincher's The Social Network
The Space Race gets sonic as This Is For All Mankind lands in Glasgow
Browne Review: University fees set to rocket
Potential impact for Scotland's universities ‘huge’ Adam Campbell THE BROWNE REVIEW OF HIGHER Education funding in England and Wales has been published, just weeks before the Scottish government prepare to act on university funds. The independent review of higher education funding and student finance, published on October 12, was chaired by former BP head Lord Browne. The proposals contained within it outline several key changes to the current system of higher education funding across the rest of the United Kingdom, and will likely influence further decision-making for policymakers in the Scottish Government. Key proposals include removing the current cap on tuition fee payments - which currently stand at £3, 290 - in a move to enable universities to decide on the value of tuition. It is hoped that the proposal will lead to universities charging varying levels of fees, creating competition and encouraging high standards at British institutions. Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime-Minister, has insisted that tuition fees will still be capped, a move backed by Business Secretary Vince Cable who had said that he was considering a cap of £7,000. The Russell Group of universities, of which the University of Glasgow is a member, agrees
with the original proposals set forth in the Browne Review, which had called for ulimited tuition fees. At present Scottish students studying within Scotland do not pay tuition fees. However, critics in Scotland argue that it will have a knock on effect on the education that their students will receive. Tommy Gore, President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), outlined the impact he expects it to have. He said: “The SRC are extremely concerned by the effect of the Browne Review on higher education in Scotland. Whilst Browne doesn't impact directly on funding, the implications are huge. “The two major issues that arise from Browne are firstly that an increase in the amount that English Universities can charge in tuition fees will result in an increase in their income. This means they can pay top researchers and lecturers more than Glasgow will be able to, as well as providing them with better equipment and materials; obviously, therefore, the fear is of a brain drain from Scotland as all the top academics leave to go to better jobs south of the border.” He continued to argue that Scottish universities risk being swamped by students from across the border, attracted by cheaper tuition. (continued on page 4)
Editors: Dominic MaxwellLewis & Nick Sikora News Editor: Adam Campbell Features Editor: Yasmin Ali Sports Editor: Joe Mclean Music Editors: Jean-Xavier Boucherat & Nick Biggs Arts Editor: Jeni Allison Film Editor: Michael GrayBuchanan
Ota-gone?: Students take to the streets as the fight to save Otago Lane heats up
Lifestyle Editor: Jo Shaw Picture Editor: Jonathan Nicholson Photography: Olivia Vitzakova, Jani Helle Reporters: Louise Wilson, Jennifer Campbell, Allan McKinnon, Philine Apenburg, Linda Weber, David Lyons Contributors: Aimee Pratt,
Jamie Maxwell, James Foley, Laura Stockwell, Tom Bonnick, Max Horberry, Emma AinsleyWalker, Sean Greenhorn, Josh Slater-Williams, Lauren Martin, Sophia Platts-Palmer, Jimmy McMahon, Reece Peck De Laughe, Andrew Houston Distributions Officer: Matthew Nicol
The Glasgow University Guardian is editorially independent of the SRC and University. All complaints should be adressed to the editors, who can be reached via the contact details above.
This newspaper is funded through and supported by the Glasgow University Students' Representitive Council.
whichever way he as a parent thinks best. I am even prepared to help finance it through my taxes. That however, is not enough for Dawkins - he wants to force my children to be educated there as well. Is this really the separation of church and state, or merely the annihilation of church by state? In similar fashion, Italian Catholics have never seen the need to physically disrupt Dawkins’ freedom of travel in their country, despite the “Protest The Pope” coalition’s attempted to impede the Pope’s recent visit to the UK. There is a sinister undercurrent to the actions of the militant atheists. Richard Dawkins, Polly Toynbee, Johann Hari, and indeed those who were so enraged by our university’s recent
award of an honorary degree to Archbishop Mario Conti, seem to be very selective in their targets. I wonder how comfortable they would be with a “Protest The Prophet” march. I also how wonder how many of them would be content to see other central aspects of the human person limited solely to the private sphere, such as political opinion or sexuality. How long before the religious are in the same oppressed position formerly held by sexual minorities - “You can do what you like in your own home, just don’t shove it down our throats”? How long it will be before we need the first “Religious Pride” parade? Chris McLaughlin
Fees. Student Fees. Should students pay fees? This is far from being simply a financial issue. The UK is now sits in an unenviable financial mire due to the crash caused by mismanagement of the world’s banks. This country’s huge deficit has led to a wave of vicious spending cuts across nearly every sector. Our University is already beginning to feel the true force of these spending cuts- a litany of projects have been put on hold indefinitely as the University looks at how it can reduce costs to avoid a descent into critical debt. The tough position this University, along with nearly every other institution across the country, now finds itself in is not intended to be solved in the near future by any introduction of student fees. The cuts the Conservative chancellor George Osbourne has rolled out aim to bring the deficit back under control by 2014. New fee measures, if passed, would not come into place until 2012 and would likely be in place far beyond the 2014 date the chancellor has set for reigning back the deficit. As proposed fee measures would stay in place far beyond the time when such actions could seem necessary the thrust behind increasing fees is not simply financial. Cutting the amount of public money the government awards to Higher Education and increasing the amount students pay moves away from the ideological position that education should be free, and shifts the weight from public funding of Universities to private funding of Universities. At stake, and slowly being degraded by these measures, is the idea that education should be free. Whether or not the state could move back to the system many of our parents enjoyed, in which it was held as important that education should be free is debatable. It certainly isn’t as impossible as some would have you believe. But whether or not students should pay fees, and education shouldn’t be free is an issue that extends way beyond the current financial crisis and differences between Holyrood and Westminster. We as the executive of the SRC have our own views, but as heads of the council of students which represents YOU, the students, to both the University and wider world, we also think it’s important to hear your views as well. Should students pay fees? Join the discussion at www.facebook.com/glasgowuniversitysrc under the ‘discussions’ tab, and let your views be heard. It’s important.
16th November 2010
Results breakdown Glasgow University Sport American Football
Glasgow 1s Glasgow 2s Glasgow 21s Glasgow 19s
1-0 2-2 3-3 3-1
Wigtown Westerlands Erskine Dunbarton Harp
Glasgow 1s Glasgow 2s Glasgow 3s
6-3 2-4 1-4
Dundee 1s Grange 2s AMN Hillhead 4s
Queen Margt. 1s
Glasgow Mens’ Glasgow Womens’
SUS Team Championships:
Glasgow Mens’ 1s Glasgow Mens’ 2s Glasgow Womens’
Champions 8th 4th
Glasgow Mens Glasgow Womens
Drew Zinder Michael Fenton Ben Searle Stuart Campbell
Novice Men - 1st Advanced men - 1st Elite men - 1st Elite Men - 3rd
Glasgow Glasgow Glasgow
Fencers put up a fight Joe Mclean
The University of Glasgow Fencing Club had a successful weekend at the recent Scottish University Sport competition. The men’s team maintained last year’s form by equaling their achievements and coming second in the Scottish Conference Men’s 1A division. Meanwhile, the women’s team managed to go one better than their previous year’s performance, boosting themselves from last year’s third place and come second in the Scottish Conference Women’s 1A division. The year’s results are all the more remarkable when analysing the strength of the previous year’s competition and teams. At the 2009 competition, the Fencing Club achieved their best results on record. But 2010 has seen the club go through a transitional period, with the men’s A team hit hard by graduations and the inevitable departure of key members of their team. Resultantly, they entered a team almost entirely comprised of “fresher” fencers, who just started university in September. Even with that disadvantage, the team managed to draw with Aberdeen 119-all, the same team who beat the 2009 Fencing team, but unfortunately they lost to a strong Edinburgh team 117-135. On day two of the event, Glasgow beat Heriot Watt with a fairly convincing 131-116,
to come out second overall. The club is proud of the men’s achievements and how far they have come in such a short period of time, with credit going to the coaches for building another competitive team. The women’s team fielded a similarly strong performance, managing to comprehensively beat Dundee 111-104, St Andrews 124-108 and Edinburgh 133-90. Unfortunately the Aberdeen side proved too strong and beat Glasgow 108-114, causing the university’s team to miss out on first place by only 6 points. This still proved cause for celebration, however, as the result was considered a major improvement on last year’s score. Unfortunately, the impact of graduations on the club led to Glasgow only able fielding a men’s B team of 3 people, which proved to be a challenge both mentally and physically on the team. A further loss to the club occured on Saturday, when an injured player left the B-team unable to compete. Despite this setback , they put up a good fight and the club Captain said they “showed a lot of potential for promotion to the A team next year”. On this showing both teams will be hoping to maintain and hopefully improve on their recent form, and continue to represent the University competitively in Fencing tournaments across the UK.
Dundee Boys Dundee Girls
Granite City Womens’ Waterpolo Tournament: 0-2 3-3 5-5
St Andrews Aberdeen RGU
Get involved: Guardian explores the world of fencing Joe Mclean
The University Fencing Club are a large but friendly group who welcome members of all abilities to come and try this ancient and noble sport. The club train twice a week at the Kelvin Hall International sports arena and state all you require to take up the sport is to bring “yourself, trackies, a t-shirt and trainers” along to a training sesssion. All equipment to get you started is provided by the club including the foil, epee, and sabre, with all the training under the guidance of experienced, professional fencing coaches, perfect for new entrants to the sport.
The club offer beginner’s courses and group lessons and they also train new members up to competition standard. This allows students to have the opportunity to go on and compete for the University at beginners only competitions - a great confidence giver and a chance to represent the University against other fencers at the same level from across the UK. Fencing combines physical activity with skill, control, aggression and a sophisticated mind-set and is often described as a form of physical chess. The sport is well known for requiring the attributes of speed, tactics, competitive agression, technical accomplishment, balance,
timing, enthusiasm, aim, strength and fitness, and if these interest you then fencing may well be the sport for you. As if that wasn’t enough, the club offer a try-before-you-buy offer, in which the club allows students the chance to try the sport before paying for a full- or half-year membership. All novice and beginner fencers can attend four training sessions at the Kelvin Hall as a trial period, for both the club and the sport, to see if it's for you before the full membership fee is required. Glasgow has a strong record in student competitions, thanks to the clubs top-class coaches Dave Rollo
and Ian Hunter, and they strive to give everyone the opportunity to enter team and individual competitions at all levels. These range from inter-club “friendly” competitions (as friendly as you can get when you’re wielding a sword!) to the Scottish student beginners, all the way up to the BUSA Individual and Team Championships. New members are welcome all year round, with an introductory course running from September to Christmas. So whether you want to try fencing for the first time, get back into the sport after a year or two away, or continuing fencing at the highest levels, the University of
Glasgow fencing club may be for you. Membership costs £35 per year or £20 per half year and all club income goes towards the upkeep of club kit, paying coaching costs, competition entry fees. The club also subsidises travel and accomodation for all members competing at competitions. As with all other GUSA sports clubs, for insurance purposes you must be a member of the SRS (The Stevenson Building Gym) before joining the club. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.gla.ac.uk/clubs/fencing/
16th November 2010
No squeeze for Glasgow University Squash Club GUSC crowned Scottish champions in dramatic university competition. David Lyons reports.
The University of Glasgow Squash Club have enjoyed a successful weekend, with the first team coming out winners of the recent Scottish University Squash Championships in Aberdeen. The final had got off to a great start for Glasgow, with David Lyons and Stuart Tennant comfortably winning their ties 3- 0. The fourth and fifth seeds winning meant that only one of Glasgow’s other players needed to score a victory to secure the Championship, and the team appeared to be cruising. However Herriot-Watt dug in further up the order and at one point Liam Dickson, Glasgow’s second seed, and Rob Adam, Glasgow’s third seed, were 2-0 and 2-1 down respectively. Nerves were clearly setting in amongst the Glasgow players and supporters alike as it appeared that number one seed Peter Halliday was going to face an
extremely tough title deciding tie. Luckily for what remained of everyone’s fingernails, Dickson and Adam pulled through to win their tie’s 3-2. Adam worked hard to reclaim dominance of the court and manoeuvre his impressively mobile opponent into positions he couldn’t defend. Adam clinching his tie, and therefore the title, allowed Dickson to relax into his match and cut out the errors that had hampered him in the first two games. This allowed him to attack with more confidence, and heaped pressure on his opponent. By the end Dickson had secured a win in what was probably the best individual display of the tournament. Despite the university match being over, Halliday’s number one seed tie was fiercely contested with both players losing their tempers with themselves and the marker at various points. Halliday eventually emerged the victor of another 3-2
epic, completing the 5 – 0 score line which didn’t quite reflect the tension and drama of the final. As number one seeds Glasgow had gone into the weekend with high expectations. This privileged position also bought them a bye through the first round of matches on the Friday night, meaning they only had three matches across the weekend rather than the four that all the other teams played. The quarter finals on Saturday morning brought Glasgow’s first and second teams together. Although the eventual win for the first team was somewhat inevitable, the seconds put up an impressive display with Shaakir Salam and Oliver Blakemore taking games off David Lyons and Rob Adam. The second team were unlucky to finish an eventual 8th in the tournament, having pushed Robert Gordon 1sts and Dundee 1sts very close but not
quite being able to force a win. They were widely regarded as the best second team present, their performances emphasising the strength in depth that Glasgow are currently enjoying. Having safely avoided a potentially embarrassing defeat at the hands of their club-mates, the first team went on to play Aberdeen 1sts in the semi-finals. Despite fielding a strong team, Aberdeen were competently seen off 4-1 setting up the final with Herriot-Watt. Despite the decisive final result, Glasgow Uni Squash 1sts were forced to battle through a hard fought final to claim the title. Victory in the tournament, hosted by Aberdeen Squash Racquets Club, was Glasgow’s second Championship win in three years. Three of Glasgow’s five players had to come from behind to defeat their Herriot-Watt opponents, but in the end the Glasgow team showed greater
resilience and emerged 5 – 0 victors across the five matches. The win was no less than Glasgow deserved for their dominance throughout the tournament; only one of the first team was beaten in an individual tie all weekend. After the final, celebrations were only mildly tempered by the discovery that there would be no gold medals to bring back in triumph, as they were lost in the post. Victory in the University Championships will now elevate the squash team into the top tier of BUCS knock-out competition, where they will face much sterner tests than they did at in Aberdeen. For now though, Glasgow will be satisfied with enjoying their win, even if it’s currently a postman who’s enjoying their gold medals.
Inside: Sabres at the ready as Guardian gets to grips with fencing also: Squash Club reign as champions
16th November 2010
GUBC set to bag the league Glasgow 74 - 52 Aberdeen Joe Mclean
The University of Glasgow Men’s Basketball team maintained their unbeaten run this season, when they lined up against title rivals Aberdeen at the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena on Wed 10th November. Glasgow, who top the BUCS Scottish Conference, had previously won all four league games this season against Aberdeen, Stirling, Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt Universities. A fifth straight victory has set Glasgow up for a historic league title win. A lot was resting on the outcome of this game and as it tipped off it was clear that Glasgow were nervy. This seemed to come as a bit of a surprise to the home fans who came along to cheer on their team. Glasgow started this crucial tie at a slow pace in the first quarter, and it seemed as though the pressure and importance of this game was starting to show on Glasgow’s players. They were struggling to run their half of the court and were making basic mistakes, many of which proved costly. A nervous mixture of disappointing attacking play as well as some poor defence resulted in the quarter ending with the score tied at Glasgow 14 Aberdeen 14. In the second quarter Glasgow picked up the pace and started to work harder defensively. The coach’s words of encouragement must have been ringing in their ears as they started this quarter, as whatever he had said was starting to work - Glasgow showed real fight and determination throughout the team. The side started to dominate their home turf and in turn started winning more rebounds, which gave them a 6 point lead going out at half-time. The break gave Glasgow a chance to regroup and get their title focus back on track. As they emerged for the second half, home fans could see the title in Glasgow’s sights and got behind their team. The home side picked up on this and their coach’s half time team talk, as they looked a renewed and revitalised group of players. Glasgow really came into their own in this third quarter, starting to push the ball much better, thanks in part to some excellent play from Steve Archer. This mix of confident attacking play continued into the fourth quarter. Throughout this second half Glasgow showed just why they are Conference title challengers and they were now playing like champions. In the end Glasgow’s strength and fitness showed through and they ran out eventual winners 74-52 over Aberdeen. The top scorers on the night for the home team were Kubisz with 13 points and Spangevicius with 20. The home win means that the BUCS Scottish Conference title can be secured by Glasgow for the first time in 15 years, if they win to Stirling this Wednesday. Elsewhere the GUBC caused a huge upset last weekend in the Scottish Cup, by knocking out last years winners, Falkirk Fury in the 1st round. Top scorers in this game were Keliauskas with 27 and Archer with 21.
Photography: Rosie Blake
Visual Art/Exhibitions Until 13th November Interference with Twigs @ Mary Mary Until 20th November Neil Clements @ SWG3 Until 30th November Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre @ Trongate 103
arts IETM Plenary IETM held its annual plenary in Glasgow this year from the 4th-7th November. The focus was on performances conceived and executed by Scottish companies, artists and performers. The events were open to both the public and to the IETM delegates which came to Glasgow from various cities around the world. Unfortunately, from my point of view, there seemed to be very little publicity relating to the event – as studying at an art school I would have expected to hear a great deal more about it than I did. Here's some of the events which stood out...
Image Curtosy: Jacek Hubner
Anna Krzystek- Figure This
Watch It! – Room2Manoeuvre
Until 12th December Subodh Gupta @ Tramway Arthur Zmijewski @ Tramway
Parallel Lines - The Arches
CCA Jeni Allison
CCA Jeni Allison
Until 18th December Alex Pollard @ Sorcha Dallas
Just in case the dark November weather was not enough, Parallel Lines offered its viewers the chance to immerse themselves in a room of darkness and an altogether haunting atmosphere. On entering this mystical room, one found themselves walking in a maze created by stones which appeared to float above the ground. Strange, you may say but the overall effect was actually very moving. When you first enter the exhibition it was very confusing and hard to know what was going on. But, as you followed the maze slowly around the room things started to become clear. We were actually observing a love story. And a very sad love story to say the least. The tale was about a girl who had suddenly ran away from her boyfriend while in a restaurant and swam out to sea. She was never seen again. As you progress around the maze, certain items relating to the story are placed on the ground, all centered around the image of the sea. Throughout the room, audio from both boyfriend and girlfriend was played which added to the surreal-nature of the experience. The boyfriend, told his tale of loss and sadness while you were able to study the artifacts left by him at one corner of the maze. Whereas, she spoke to us from the future, the year 2030. In her detailed monologue she spoke from the afterlife, about her adventures of life and placed in front of the viewer here were clues to maps of her adventures, as well as pictures and letters from her life. Despite the disperate nature of the story between the couple, the inclusion of strands of the story past and future gave a striking cohesion to the narrative. As an experience, Parallel Lines was moving, emotional, and one of inspiration. Despite the morbid and depressing subject matter, the audio, objects and atmosphere certainly evoked positive emotion in the observer and allowed one to enter into a private pilgrimage about what it really means to be alive.
Whilst waiting in the queue for Anna Krzystek's Figure This I was surrounded by what I could only describe as an army of lanyards. It seemed that everyone here was a part of the IETM festival. I felt like a cheat being there, as if somehow this wasn't for me. Not Krystek's fault in the slightest, but the fault of lack of advertising straight to members of the public regarding the festival'. This lack of advertising is a massive shame, as actually the show was really interesting. Figure This is a lesson in repetition. Krzystek executes a series of movements, then repeats, repeats and repeats. Far from being monotonous you begin to attune yourself to the game, and get lost in the movements. Your mind wanders, but you don't feel guilty, as you've learned what the movements. In this way Figure This acts much like a structuralist film – its a contest of duration, but which we cannot possibly be expected to endure. The audience are frequently brought back by the sound of applause (it's digital), at which Krzystek stands, hand on hip, soaking up the applause and looking accusingly at our (the real audience's) silence. It is brilliantly confrontational, and moare than slightly unnerving. I have to admit, I am writing my dissertation on Avant-Garde dance, and therefore came to this event forewarned. Repetition in postmodern dance is a learning device, a way to teach the audience the language of the performance (as with dance the movement disappears the moment it is executed). Repetition is therefore a way of saving it. I saw Figure This with my flatmate, who is not doing her dissertation on Avant-Garde dance, and her reaction was less positive than mine. I suppose that perhaps this is a case of being involved in something that you can relate to with foreknowledge of the movement and as such it could be said that such an overly IETM membered audience was no bad thing.
Watch it! is a sensory overload of dance, video-montage, animation, set and lighting; detailing the love/hate relationship dancer Tony Mills (and by extension the public) has with television. You almost don't know where to look... which is exactly the point. While Mills' body makes sweeping gestures across the stage, a montage of sensationalist television clips play. You do desperately want to watch Mills, but the images of floods, terrorism and girls in short shorts exercising inevitably pulls your attention away. Mill's pleads, “mate?" but our attention is not, and could not be on him. I am reminded of that feeling you get in a pub, when you realise you haven't been listening and instead have been reading the rolling news headlines on the telly. Why is it that we are drawn to inane moving imagery rather than savouring the 'live' (and indeed life) that we have in front of us? Why watch unrelated images flash up on a screen when you've paid to see a dancer? Why leave the house just to watch the TV? Mills continuously draws on both his breakdance background as well as pedestrian gestures to present work which is both visually stimulating and relatable. At one point he runs, on the spot, while a video projection simulates a (surreal) moving corridor of the inside of a television. Mills is updating a practice that began in the late 1960s, early 1970s when choreographers like Yvonne Rainer began introducing activities like walking and running into their dances. The mix of these 'ordinary' motional actions with video is used to further a narrative, albeit a fantastical one (where a man is inside a television in order to fix it.) Watch It! Is massively enjoyable, and thought-provoking. It is also one of the few pieces of dance I've seen that has so successfully married dance with technological 'Las-Vegas style' theatricality into something that isn't cheesy. Definitely better than whatever was on the telly.
19th November - 20th December The Glasgow Girls @ The Glasgow School of Art 20th November to 17th December Simon Starling @ Modern Institute Theatre 22nd November - 27th November Thriller Live @ Kings 23rd November - 27th November The Habit of Art @ Theatre Royal Comedy 21st November Ross Noble @ Kings 29th November Al Murray @ Royal Concert Hall 1st December The Boy with Tape on His Face @ The Stand (this was massively well recieved at this year's fringe - GO SEE IT! Dance 17th November Moscow Ballet - The Nutcracker @ Royal Concert Hall Multi-Disciplinary 17th-19th November Stag Nights: Boom and Burst @ Stereo
PA G E
arts In Praise of a Reprint >>Tom Bonnick
tephen Vizinczey’s 1965 novel In Praise of Older Women, reprinted now as part of Penguin’s estimable Modern Classics collection, seems to be at once both remarkably timely, and yet also somehow a little dated. This may seem like exactly the kind of maddeningly contradictory opening statement critics are wont to open reviews with, but let me explain. Timely because, above all else, Vizinczey’s novel was – and remains – a startlingly assured and impressive debut, a feat that never goes out of style. It is a daring, clever book, whose story is a little like a polar opposite of Lolita. Andras Vajda – born in the same year as Hitler’s ascension to power– is a sort of pre-adolescent Casanova figure. By the age of twelve, he is working as a pimp in Austria on an American army base, and when he leaves, he finds that girls his own age are of no interest – they are just that, girls, and he
is interested in women – and he embarks upon a series of carnal encounters which take him across Europe and eventually to Canada, as an exile from Hungary after its uprising in 1956. And timely also because, for a work whose principle inspiration appears to be the sexual revolution of the 1960s (the momentous political events unfolding provide little more than background scenery, a conceit that works surprisingly well), In Praise of Older Women feels an awful lot more forward-thinking than much of the last decade’s worth of literary erotica. The most grievous sin committed in the name of the genre in recent years was 2005’s Memories of Melancholy Whores, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a novella grotesquely obsessed with virginal nubility, whose only redeeming feature was its relative brevity, and whereas that work trampled over every piece of enlightened gender politics with the pervy male
gaze of an over-the-hill Nobel laureate, Vizinczey’s novel gloriously and unabashedly revels in the complexities of its titular heroines: older women. Nonetheless, there is a sense that pervades throughout a modern reading of this novel that, in the intervening 45 years, everything contained within has been said again – rarely better, but occasionally in a style which sits more comfortably with contemporary sexual attitudes. Of course, this is by no means necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that Vizinczey’s book now seems confined to the status of period piece – a dangerous thing for a work whose power lies in its perceptive abilities. Still, there is no place with room for more eternal truths than the amorous liaison and the romantic novel. If it were written today, Vizinczey would probably have to call his masterpiece ‘In Praise of Women of a Certain Age’, but as a monument to another era, it stands tall.
"Darling, I don’t know how to tell you this..." Max Horberry discusses the treatment of race in the domain of entertainment
lack comedian Stephen K. Amos made a joke during a stand-up gig that he would have to wait for Lenny Henry to die before he could get involved in the BBC. Funny as he may be, Mr Amos has a rather truthful point. In comedy there is a concept known as ownership. You can make jokes about an ethnic group if you belong to that group. However, in mainstream film this rule seems not to apply. We live today in a culture that feels the need to prove how forward thinking and accepting it is; but by doing this, is indirectly racist. We might not notice a rather large amount of hidden racism in films and television, but it's there. We all remember the Ikea scene in (500) Days of Summer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are having their mockromantic scene through the kitchens and bedrooms of the store and, when falling on to the bed, the scene turns for a moment from mock-romantic to actually romantic. Then the famous lines are uttered: “Darling, I don’t know how to tell you this... but there’s a Chinese family in our bathroom.” The camera cuts to the image of a family, who we can only presume are Chinese, watching them. The image acts as a punch line, undercutting the romantic build up of the scene. Everyone laughs. But why is this funny? I do not want to be disrespectful to anyone but here is why, for a
Western audience, that scene is funny; the romantic flow of what becomes an intimate scene is undercut by the reminder that they are in public. But it’s more complicated than that. If it was simply that it would not have to be a Chinese family. The reason Chinese was chosen is it adds to the humour. The reason the image is funny is because from Western eyes they all look the same, they all have the same expression. The joke essentially makes fun of another race because they look different to our own race. This, ladies and gents is hidden racism. It seems, however, that there are only a handful of races that suffer from this indirect racism. I’ve found that Indians suffer from a similar form of racism. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film in which an Indian (or an Asian) character was not mentioned in the script directly as an Indian (or an Asian). In fact I can’t remember the last time I saw a film in which an Indian or an Asian actor played more than just a side role, a role with no real depth. It seems they will always be destined to play the friend. Again we stray into the realms of diversity policies. Take the Indian landlord in the lighthearted comedy Run, Fatboy, Run. What kind of depth is that character given? None, because he is not a character, he is a Western stereotype that can be used for
easy laughs. What is so funny though? If it’s the funny way he talks, is that not racism? If it is his strange social customs, is that not racism? What is funny? Take Notting Hill for example. The joke was once made that the film deserved an award for best CGI effects as it seemed to have blanked out any racial minorities. I would go one step further. There is no reason why Hugh Grant’s character should not be dark-skinned. There are plenty of men living in that area of London of the same financial level as he, who are black. And have you ever heard of the Notting Hill Carnival? An annual celebration of the African-Caribbean community in the area. There is a different story when we return to stand-up comedy, where generally race, nationality or religion is used as a root to humour. Take Shappi Khorsandi for example who far from appearing as "the friend," uses her Iranian roots as a basis for her comedy. Similarily, if Frankie Boyle didn't play on his Scottish roots there would be little left of his act. And with the recent surge in popularity of John Bishop, whose routine at this year's fringe seems to be soley based around that fact that he is from Liverpool. And Matt Kirshen, who far from feeling sidelined as a Jewish comedy embraces it to brilliant effect. Perhaps the problem lies in the tendancy to fail to see people for their career
and instead for their race. Take last week's X-Factor for example, where Louis Walsh compared a black singer to a 'young Lenny Henry' - a comedian. It is perfectly fine for race to be used in humour but what is unacceptable is to have this kind of hidden racism in a society that is so self-righteous about being politically correct and culturally accepting. There is no reason as to why people of do not play as many male protagonists in comedic films as white actors. Have they not loved or cried or lost or been through trauma or had moments of self-destruction or selflessness or anger or violence or pity or shame? (This feels slightly reminiscent of Shylock here.) Are they not capable of going through the same emotional journeys that their caucasian colleagues are depicted taking in almost all the films that we see? Modern directors should take a lesson from George A. Romero, director of the 1968 budget-horror classic Night of the Living Dead, in which Duane Jones, an African-American, plays the leading role not because the script calls for an African-American but because Jones was, as Romero has said himself, the best actor for the job. That was is in 1968. Surely today in a culture that prides itself on the mixing of ethic groups we should see more racial realism in films and television.
Glasgow Uni Anti-Cuts Action Network AGM at Boyd Orr Building Room 507 on 17th November 5pm FIGHT CUTS! FIGHT BACK!- General Meeting will be held at Glasgow School of Art: Vic Assembly Hall on the 18 November 路 17:00
Image: Sophie Dyer Words: Jeni Allison
Students from the Glasgow School of Art Sophie Dyer, Andrew Marshall and Maeve Redmond staged this projected 'protest' alongside the much less placid student protests in London. The slogan was projected on the side of the Glasgow School of Art's famous Mackintosh Building to highlight the fact that with resources at the Art School already frightenly stretched, the cuts will only worsen the situation.
'In the Company of Wolves' Andrew Houston
The fashion scene in Glasgow has rare opportunities to showcase its real abilities. However, they have found a fantastic avenue in Ally Turnbull and Claire Stuartâ€™s 'In the Company of Wolves'. The event has been presented twice at Sub Club and showcases new designers, jewellers, milliners. This month it also showcased the work of new artists in Glasgow, with all the proceeds being received by Glasgow Women's Aid. This month's event was a visual treat. The show was themed on the iconic televiPhotographs: Rosalind Blake sion show Twin Peaks by David Lynch, and here they certainly took advantage of one of Lynch's most celebrated (and wonderfully kitsch) works. The space was cleverly utilised, turning the well-used Sub Club into an intoxicating and immersive atmosphere. The space was divided into three sections: the back space of the venue contained work by visual artists Claudia Nova and Rachael Sharpe, both students at GSA. The installation Dream Space offered a reaction to the setting with visceral paintings by Sharpe which depicted surrealist imagery partnered with a dark, Gothic aesthetic. The piece by Nova was a sculpture which directly referenced the Twin Peaks theme, depicting a hand emerging from a mountain constructed of colour and glitter. The work gave an interesting new dimension to the space, and was a clever addition to the event which enforced the idea of escapist decadence. The event presented work from a vast selection of designers. As the lights went up and the show began, the first designer being Lilly Wigglerâ€™s beautiful hand made corsets. This was followed by Sally Ann Provan, Jennie Loof, Jane Gowans, Catherine Aiken, Ten 30 and Anna Whyte. After a short intermission in which attendees could socialize with the designers, models walked for Chou Chou couture, dazed Dorothy, Hilary Lang, Oui designs, Betty Spoke, Mee Mee Couture and Mark Conlin. The styling was fantastic, the models' hair and make-up (by Rainbow Rooms and LCR make-up) evoked a new-age sense of romance; exotic and yet unfailingly ethereal. The stand out collections included Jane Gowans' 2010 'Matchstick' which included beautifully made and innovative jewellery. I was also impressed by Ten 30's heavily embroidered and well structured garments and Mark Conlin's innovative use of material and pattern. The work was of an exceptional quality and the collections were both intruiging and innovative. Having attended the previous 'In the Company of Wolves' in the spring, I had high expectations. However, I was surprised again by the extensive attention to detail, aesthetic consideration and overall success of the event.
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film Parlez-Vous Anglais?
The contemporary cinema experience Sean Greenhorn scrutinises the disposable nature of the modern multiplex “A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it” – Alfred Hitchcock
>> Emma Ainley-Walker
tudying a year of A Level French taught me many things. Firstly, that I do not speak French well, nor will I ever understand its grammar. Nevertheless, it did teach me to love French cinema. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I do know that the French know how to make great films. In recent years, French cinema has been going from strength to strength in all aspects. Most notably, Amélie in 2001 became the highest grossing French language film in the United States box office and Marion Cottilard won the 2008 BAFTA for her performance in the Edith Piaf biopic La Vie En Rose. So why the sudden rise in popularity for French cinema? Partly, I think, it’s due to the recent influx of talented French actresses in Hollywood films: Marion Cottilard (Public Enemies, Inception); Juliette Binoche (The English Patient); Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code); and Clémence Poésy (In Bruges). The versatility shown in acting in two different languages and cinematic styles is pretty impressive and I can see why, after watching In Bruges for example you’d be inclined to check out some of Poséy’s projects in her native language. However, I’d like to think it takes more than just one actress to make a film successful; so what are the other pulls to French cinema? For me, I can sum it up with the first French film I ever watched – Belleville Rendezvous. A silent, animated film, it’s a good way for nonspeakers to ease into the French cinema culture. But the moment that made the film for me was a seemingly insignificant scene in a restaurant where the waiter was literally falling over backwards to help. This attention to detail is personally one of my favourite things about French cinema. Of course, my tastes – and to some extent my language skills – have matured at least a little since then, which brings me to the hilarious Bienvenue, Chez les Ch’tis, a comedy directed by and starring Dany Boon about a postal worker who accidentally gets transferred from the beautiful South of France to the cold far North with its incomprehensible dialect ‘Ch’tis’. Typical of any comedic film based on geography, he fears for his life and his sanity based on the disturbing things he has heard about the area but, unlike many a Hollywood blockbuster, the stereotypes are destroyed, rather than reinforced to further the humour. This is what I enjoy the most about French film; we get to see the truth. The same can be said about the French World War II film Days of Glory. It doesn’t instill a sense of brotherhood and compassion the way many Hollywood war films do; instead, it shows us the awful conditions for the troops and how unjust war can be. So the next time you’re stuck looking for a good film to watch, stop and give French cinema a thought. There’s something for everyone’s tastes and I promise they are excellently subtitled!
inemas are changing. The actual physical place of exhibition underwent a revolution with the emergence of the multiplex in the 70s and 80s. These mammoth, populist and faceless entities directly provided an alternative to the ‘good film’ experience that Mr. Hitchcock is referring to. Catch an earlier showing (no need for the babysitter), buy some nachos, maybe a hotdog and enjoy the latest iteration of the same story (now in 3D!). When was the last time you heard someone refer to Cineworld as a ‘theatre’? These chains hold back the audience from engaging with the stunning aesthetics or narrative mastery that film can offer. A further threat to film appreciation comes from the proposed premium Video-On-Demand, which studios are looking at as a way of countering both the flailing DVD market and piracy. On 3 November, Time Warner announced that they wish to employ this tactic very soon, with Variety speculating that huge releases (The Hangover 2 and The Green Lantern) are being used to ‘make a splash’ in this new marketplace. Viewers will never have to leave the indentation in their sofa or their well stocked refrigerator. Audiences who value film on a higher level, fans of the medium who find great
joy within it, now have fewer places to appreciate the art. A way of not only creating a community of film fans but also exploring films through a deeper experience is through more immersive film events. By making the practice of film exhibitionism more of a unique one it should make the experience not only special, but more engaging as well. If the correct aspects of a film are explored, hidden depths can be found among layers of meaning and (most importantly) a level of enjoyment that aren't evident in a home viewing experience and would be tough to find in a large faceless multiplex. This is obviously not a radical new idea and is built upon the immersion experiences already on offer in certain locations, set up by organisations such as Future Cinema’s ‘Secret Cinema’ or Jameson’s Cult Film Club (in their own words, they are ‘staged to transport our members into the film’s universe’). We can take it even further back in history, right to the start of film exhibitionism; way back in 1906 ‘Hale’s Tours’ capitalised upon the escapism that film was discovering, the cinema’s stylised like train carriages and offering viewers the chance to see ‘the colonies or any part of the world (without luggage!)’. Although I am not proposing that we immediately create these substantial events, I think slight additions to the experience go a long way. Take, for instance the GFT’s ‘Late Night Cult
Classics’; screenings of classic films on a Friday night that alone adds atmosphere. Or merging cinema with another event; the upcoming ‘Thunder Disco’ club event at the SWG3 gallery is putting on a screening of The Warriors beforehand. By extending the experience simply beyond the passing of time with a few flickering images we can strive to deepen our enjoyment, collate our opinions, elevate the works’ meaning and (in accordance to Hitchcock’s statement) make sure that the cost of it is all worth while.
In Profile: Screens GU
Josh Slater-Williams takes a look at the University's foremost film appreciation group.
creens GU is Glasgow University’s very own society for the appreciation of film, as well as the occasional bit of great television. Each Thursday afternoon sees the society present, on one rather big screen, a cinematic treat for your viewing pleasure. Dedicated to the showing of an eclectic selection, each semester has screenings of films from a wide array of eras, styles, genres and countries of origin. Currently in the midst of a November dedicated entirely to foreign-language cinema, Screens’ line-up this academic year has so far included such diverse choices as Dr. Strangelove, Suspiria, Strangers on a Train, À l'intérieur, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. We’ve also had a screening dedicated to contemporary TV comedy - which included an episode each of Brass Eye, Arrested Development and 30 Rock – and films still to make an appearance in the coming weeks include Raising Arizona, Men in Black, and I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK. Each Thursday screening takes place in the Andrew Stewart cinema in the Gilmorehill Centre (aka the building for Theatre Studies and Film & TV, just opposite the GUU) on campus between 3 and 5pm, and it’s absolutely free. As is society membership; delightful deal, that. An enjoyable on-campus filmic distraction is not all we provide on a weekly basis. Tuesday nights involve a Screens cinema trip to catch one of the latest big(ger) screen offerings. These usually have us visiting the Grosvenor Cinema
Screens GU's screening of The Wave
on Ashton Lane. Why there, you may be asking? (Although you probably aren’t.) Why, it’s because all student tickets at the Grosvenor cost just £3.50 on a Tuesday. On a similar note, every so often sees a Friday night group trip to the Glasgow Film Theatre for one of their ‘Late Night Cult Classic’ events, where student tickets cost just £4.50. Past screenings have included Halloween, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Warriors, The Room, Blue Velvet, Akira, and The Big Lebowski. Need more incentive? Well, dear reader, your Cult Classic ticket will also grant you free entry to Nice ‘n Sleazy for some after-film mingling with us. Outside of its weekly events, which also include a regular Wednesday night pub trip for
some team-based quiz action, Screens hosts various parties throughout the year, as well as having organised outings during the Glasgow Film Festival in February. We’ve also, in the past, had chances to participate in TV show recordings and Q&A/brainstorming sessions at BBC Scotland. The society is always looking for fresh blood, and is populated by a friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic bunch. To sign up, e-mail your name and matriculation number to email@example.com, and we’ll add you to our mailing list. Additionally, you can join our Facebook group: just search for ‘Screens GU’ on there. Or just come along to one of our weekly events; like I said, everything’s free. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?
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Who do you think you are? We Are What We Are Dir. Jorge Michel Grau On general release now
>> Michael Gray-Buchanan
e Are What We Are deals with the subject of patriarchal loss in a way which is slightly out of kilter from most conventional storytelling; after the death of their main bread-winner, an impoverished Mexican family are found struggling to maintain house and home, and put food on the table – a task made all the more difficult by their insatiable appetite for human flesh. Imagine, if you will, Gordon Ramsay preparing a rather delectable course of luncheon for Hannibal Lecter; a kind of Come Dine With Me (But Tonight, You’re the Appetizer) experience. Still, a family that eats together stays together, right? Over the past decade, Mexican cinema has been experiencing something of a renaissance, with directors such as Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón breaking out internationally. However, there has also been a tendency in the country’s more recent homegrown cinema to confine its focus on the violence and drug addiction that has afflicted the major cities. What firsttime director Jorge Michel Grau attempts in We Are What We Are, unlike many of his contemporaries, is to satirize the class divisions and conservative family structures of a modern-day Mexico City. In the opening scene, Grau presents the
disheveled father shuffling along through a shopping mall – in a similar fashion to one of George A. Romero’s zombies – before stopping to gawp through the window of a lingerie store, only to fall down dead coughing up a black goo; within seconds the mall attendants are cleaning up the mess and the place is looking as shiny and soulless as it did minutes before. Grau’s wonderful social commentary on consumerism and class snobbery blossoms throughout the film, which proves itself to be a slow-burning tale of family duty and tradition. What some may be surprised to find in a film
about cannibalism is the distinct lack of gore, or even horror, although Grau’s distinct and beautiful directorial style is itself similar to Romero’s in its political essence. As the bereaved widow, Carmen Beato puts in the film’s standout performance portraying a deranged and tyrannical maternal figure. Enrico Chapela’s score is equally bewitching, with the frenetic stabbing of viola strings adding to the building tension and mounting insanity. However, despite the exquisite aesthetics of We Are What We Are, its pacing will be an issue for most audi-
ences; the film requires great patience with little reward, and confounds itself with several subplots which are either irrelevant or uninteresting. Grau’s debut feature is certainly an unusual and at times challenging piece of filmmaking, and as a work of direction it is perhaps even significant. As a director, Grau has demonstrated great potential with We Are What We Are, although his methods of storytelling and narrative structure will require considerable finesse before his next foray into filmmaking.
iently dipping in and out of relevance. However, despite the best intentions of these performances, Philips – who co-wrote the screenplay – puts the characters into numerous situations of questionable decency; at one point Highman alarmingly punches a small child, while Tremblay recklessly endangers the lives of everyone on the highway multiple times. Instances such as these threaten to push the audience away from the protagonists in disgust. The characters are reeled back in, not only through the leads’ charm but also through the constant movement that the road trip
setting provides. Philips, obviously having learnt that a little can go a long way, echoes the much talked about cameos in The Hangover with a plethora of recognisable faces. With each one we get new interactions and violent confrontation, as has become standard with the physical nature of the comedy. The film is far from a classic, but with the two stars being at the height of their popularity and Planes, Trains and Automobiles being just past the double-decade anniversary it is a bawdy, amusing but ultimately forgettable trip between Hangovers one and two.
On The Road Due Date Dir. Jorge Michel Grau On general release now
>> Sean Greenhorn
resh from setting the box office alight with 2009’s The Hangover and before next year’s inevitable sequel, writer/director Todd Philips once again teams up with funnyman Zach Galifianakis to bring us this odd-coupleon-the-road tale of fatherhood, patriarchal loss and masturbating canines. Playing the straight man to Galifianakis’ man-child Ethan Tremblay, is household name and Ironman himself Robert Downey Jr playing the uptight expectant father Peter Highman. First meeting on arrival in Los Angeles airport, the pair are then reacquainted when Tremblay is bumped up to first class and then subsequently manages to get them both removed from the aircraft. Wallet-less and on the no-fly list, Highman decides that his best course of action is to join his new acquaintance on a nationwide road trip to witness the birth of his child. Following several standard plot contrivances and brash character decisions, we begin a journey on the road with the bickering duo. As many will immediately notice, the film
bears more than a passing resemblance to John Hughes' 1987 Steve Martin and John Candy vehicle, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Like Hughes’ semi-classic, Philips’ movie blends both the dialogue heavy, character based odd-couple dynamic and the madcap road-trip genre. As far as the character based comedy goes, the humour lies squarely upon the shoulders of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis. The challenge that Philips gives these two gifted performers is that of crafting their characters’ fairly despicable personalities into ones that the audience can not only just bear, but actively route for throughout the film's 100 minute running time. Fortunately the two actors easily rise to the challenge, with Downey Jr’s witty everyman quickly becoming justifiably exasperated with Galifianakis’ witless, but endearing wannabe actor (whose aspirations stretch as far as to desire a part on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men). The ridiculous events and personas are grounded by giving the two leads something real and emotionally complex in which to set their cross-country escapades around; these are quite literally matters of life (the birth of Highman’s child) and death (Tremblay carries with him his departed father’s ashes) that have an obvious through line, each of them perhaps too conven-
An Ocean of Noise
Sound of tha Police
Jean-Xavier Boucherat goes to see Grouper, and talks with Room 40's Curator
t could be that I’m growing up but lately, I find the image of a room packed full of people listening to a performer in attentive silence more arresting than that of the youth dislocating each other’s arms and egos. I remember the final show at the now defunct ‘Posi-Crypt of a Thousand Drunks’. As well as Edinburgh hardcore party Shields Up, it featured a performance from Timothy C. Holehouse. Crouched in a corner surrounded by pedals, his minimal noise-drone and haunting, looped vocals froze the otherwise high-energy crowd to the floor, which was pretty refreshing in an age of musical ADHD. When twenty lives simultaneously come to something like a halt, the screeching is pretty intense. This is what’s happening tonight downstairs in a full-to-capacity Sleazy’s, the silence so complete at times that the more delicate moments of the performance are threatened by a beeping drinks till. Not that any of the noise junkies sprawled about on the floor care at all, some gazing up at the stage in reverence, some clearly utilizing the waves to engage in some ferocious introspection. Tonight, artists from the Australian-based ambient and experimental label Room 40 come to Glasgow; Rafael Anton Issirai, Label Curator Lawrence English, and Liz Harris, AKA Grouper. Grouper is headlining tonight’s bill. After helping English to finish his fantastic, physically-draining set, she sits at a table centre stage, cradling an electric guitar, and facing a pair of mics, plugged into various pedals at her feet. On the table is a selection of audio tapes, and four walkmans plugged into a mixer. Throughout the set, Harris mix and matches the tapes, a selection of field recordings and ethereal noise which occasionally falter and betray their analogue format. Over these, she strums and picks at her densely layered guitar, murmuring, crooning and whispering in an impossibly gentle, indistinct wail. The result is intoxicating, and before long I’m fairly much lost in a centre-less soundscape with no points of reference, except maybe for Harris herself – as a friend remarked, there is something about watching her at work that is like watching a musician in their bedroom. This is the kind of awkward intensity which you get scared of looking away from, for fear of missing one subtle act which could define the performance. And before I know it, the tape runs out, the guitar cuts off, and Harris just has time in the ensuing silence to utter a curt ‘thanks’. No pretension here whatsoever. Just an honest exploration of truths we already know. This tour celebrates Room 40’s 10th anniversary. ‘Hopefully we’re just as good-looking as we were back then' announces Lawrence English. Trust me, he is. Here’s had he what to say to us; Do you think people respond to your labels music, or ambience and noise in general, in the same way they did ten years ago? Whilst there's been a lot of changes in the way people listen, how they interact with music and what they value about music - I feel fairly strongly that the relationship of most people who interact with the label is the same now as it was then.
Do you think younger listeners, say my age, have the same sort of patience? A good question, and I think so for the most part - I mean age has little to do with how people might listen and engage with the music. Like all things, the longer you explore the more you get from it. To someone who might of never heard any of Room 40's releases, or anything vaguely experimental, they might associate terms like 'ambience', 'noise' or field recordings with inactive processes, something that belongs in the background. How d'you think your music in particular escapes this? Do you think it does at all? I guess this is a very personal thing. For some people, when they hear a pop song all that really focus on is the voice, the lyrics - they sing a long
use that makes their work so deeply engaging. Music and sound is absolutely a two way process, the more you listen the more you hear. Is there anything in particular you like to see at your shows on the part of the audience / the live experience in general? I like for people to get lost in the sound and to have a sense of the two ways of listening - with the ears (higher frequencies, cerebral sound) and with the body (low frequencies, physical sound) sound isn't just about little membranes in your ears vibrating, it's about the whole body. Aye. Physical Experience. I thought my ribs were gonna cave in. Ever had any truly unique reactions at shows because of that? There's been a few shows that have been really special - due to sound system or space.
and perhaps never listen with any focus on the bass or drums sections in the piece, when in fact it's these parts that give the piece it's rhythm and pulse. For my music it's the same thing, if you let it seep into you, the detail and the depth of elements like field recordings or textural elements come into focus (as do the other musical elements) and suddenly you hear a whole other universe of sound you perhaps might not get from music that's concerned with more 'pop' related formats. For me, what excites me most about music is when I hear people explore the details of the sounds - take Grouper for example or Tujiko Noriko or Tenniscoats - even though these musicians work with recognisable structures, voice, electronics and other 'familiar' sounds, it's the way they work with them - the depth and subtlety of sounds they
In Brisbane I made parts of the ceiling fall away once this year - everyone become covered in a fine white powder as I vibrated the ceiling. Also in Russia last year the sound system was so powerful I was able to make the entire room vibrate with the most unnatural intensity, really felt like the makings of an earthquake. I have to say vibrating a bottle of booze off the bar was a first in Glasgow! Cathartic stuff indeed. I was stupid to ask Lawrence if he saw the label going another ten years from now; “ 'Most certainly' he said, 'it's a true pleasure to spend time working with such wonderful artists'. Go to www.room40.org to check out the latest news and releases surrounding the label. For more interesting, exotic gigs in Glasgow like this one which you should really be going to instead of Viper, take a peek at Cry Parrot on Facebook
>>Jean-Xavier Boucherat Here’s what Arika say – Music is always about more then just music. Don’t get them wrong there’s no sort of pretentious sentiment here, just an honest to god admission that any tune you hear has more behind it then the commercial interests imbedded in it. This isn’t too hard to understand, all the influences that define your life have an impact on any sort of creative endeavor you undertake. For a while, Arika have been keen to trace those influences, running internationally renowned festivals such as Kill Your Timid Notion, and this weekend, Instal Festival in Tramway. There’s a few things going on tonight, but what stands out for me is Chris de Laurenti's performance, entitled N30: Live from the WTO 1999. I’m wondering into Tramway theatre One, sit myself down on the floor, and after a much needed welcome from Laurenti himself, the lights get dimmed. What follows is a heady mix of field recordings from the infamous counter-action directed at the Seattle World Trade Organization conferences of 1999. Above us, across what feels like a stereophonic stratosphere, is a collection of time-indexed police radio-chatter, both censored and uncensored samples that Laurenti had issued to him by way of what we would call freedom of information, and illegally garnered recordings. Over the course of the hour you hear a lot of things. A prominent feature of the field recordings are the drums. Amid the throng of Laurenti’s recordings are samba percussion bands, marching bands, blazing house music, and more spiritual offerings in the form of bells, gongs, and harmonies. It’s a entirely unsettling experience when the drums cut out, the radio chatter growls menacingly, and violence breaks out. Rumours of rubber bullets being fired fly through the crowds, people appeal to the police and each other for peace, and anger erupts in response. Here’s what the performance makes me think; Imagine you’re involved in something so activated as a protest, or a demonstration. At the time, all you are really concerned with are two things; Firstly, whether or not you are having any kind of effect. Secondly, and in some courses of action more importantly, whether or not you are going to get arrested. What Laurenti’s performance primarily highlights is the circle of information and events that you rarely consider. Whilst a collective of hippies beat their drums and chant tired slogans, a whole network of terribly oppressive, under-paid cops scheme away at the fringes, containing and exposing the protestors. Laurenti's superbly executed sound piece is an exploration of how we are informed and ultimately controlled, falling right in line with Arika's quest for the bigger frame behind radical music. Emotive, brave, and fully prepared to engage in some serious civil disobedience.
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music Wholesome Prison Blues
Why So Serious, Glasgow? Lauren Martin on how to have fun - Joker, Girl Unit, and James Blake at Numbers
cannot remember the last time a Numbers event in Glasgow was quiet. Their nights seem to thrive on word of mouth and hype alone, which speaks volumes to the ear-to-theground bookings from the Numbers collective. If there is a DJ tearing up a club somewhere in the world, or a bedroom producer about to go stellar, Numbers snap them up for a performance that leaves people bragging about “that time I saw so-and-so in a basement club years ago”. The triple booking of James Blake, Girl Unit and Joker provided another of these on-point events, as the residents took the night off to hand over the reins to three of arguably the hottest producers in
and his set is perfectly timed in every respect – his label Night Slugs has been dropping impressive releases for months, and his own record Wut is something of an unofficial party anthem at Numbers already. The crowd are dying for him to play it and, after an hour of banging techno and bass-laden gutter anthems, he drops it. And it gets re-wound three times. The grin on Girl Units face when he sees hundreds of faces scream in anticipation over one of his own productions nearly bursts at the seams, and it is all anyone can talk about afterwards. This is the kind of crowd reaction that makes DJs love playing in Glasgow. Joker is on last, but his set is short-lived as the
The grin on Girl Unit's face when he sees hundreds of faces scream in anticipation over one of his own productions nearly bursts at the seams, and it is all anyone can talk about afterwards. This is the kind of crowd reaction that makes DJs love playing in Glasgow. the UK. By 11.30pm - typically an awkward time where people only slowly begin to trickle in from the neighbouring bars - the Sub Club is heaving. People are buying doubles to avoid queuing twice for drinks. The Numbers crowd of boys in backpacks and new eras with girlfriends in leopard print leggings and gold hoop earrings are out in force – styled but not fashion freaks, eager music fans rather than head-nod snobs – and they're fighting to get to the front of the DJ booth. James Blake is the baby-faced darling of down-tempo electronic music thanks to his stunning releases on R&S and Hessle Audio, and it is his two hour set that opens the night. He builds the atmosphere with his own productions mixed in with off-beat dubstep, eerie techno and two Beyonce hits chopped and screwed into ambient electronica. Those were for the ladies, clearly. But it worked. His new single Limit To Your Love - a cover of a Feist song of the same name - rings through the soundsystem and gets a great singalong, but it would have been all the better performed live to break up the DJ set and create a 'one to remember' moment. Girl Unit is up next,
fire alarm goes off before he can play more than a few records. With the Sub Club evacuated for over half an hour - and a slew of sweaty topless guys and half-cut girls waiting out in the freezing cold - the vibe is somewhat killed. Once back inside however, Joker's set is extended until 4am to make up for the unexpected break, and the punters get more than their fair share of wobbly dubstep bangers and Joker's own productions, such as 2009's hit Snake Eater. It feels though that Joker hasn't made a new record in a long, long time, as his own sounds feel slightly dated in comparison to the fresh offerings of James Blake and Girl Unit. For a club so keen to push new exciting sounds, Joker seems like a relatively stale booking in with the rest of the line up. The night however is a hot and messy success, and Numbers prove once again that they are one of the best nights in Glasgow by a very long mile. James Blake's CMYK EP is out now on R&S. Check him out at www.myspace.com/jamesblakeproduction. Girl Unit's I.R.L EP is also out there on Night Slugs, get them at www.myspace. com/girl_unit.
The GGM Playlist 003 - Movember Madness Motorhead The Ace of Spades Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Love Bomb Queen Flash Gordon Beirut Gulag Orkestar Frank Zappa Mudshark Hulk Hogan I am a Real American Jimi Hendrix Spanish Castle Magic Stevie Wonder Don't You Worry bout a Thing Metallica One Prince Purple Rain Malcolm 'Diamond' Wilson Email us your playlist to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is prison really so bad for a musician’s career? Sure, losing their human rights is bound to be a bit of a downer, but in return they get plenty of time to write new material and some colourful experiences to liven their next work. Heck, they might even sell a few sympathy records. On the 4th of November Lil’ Wayne completed an eight month spell in Rikers Island Correctional Facility. He seems to have handled this potential ordeal well. He delayed his sentence a week to get dental surgery (just the eight root canals, and a couple of implants). Whilst inside he got his hands on an MP3 player, was treated to private custody, and was able to read his fan mail over the internet. He even released a new album, I Am Not A Human Being, selling over 250,000 copies to date. Of course, Wayne will have missed his freedom, his money, his four children, and his superstar lifestyle, but perhaps this could be the start of something bigger and better for the young rapper. He is by no means the first musician to do a stint behind bars. Can Wayne gain hope from others’ experiences? Recently, admittedly, prison hasn’t served the musician-come-detainee so well, although that’s probably to do with the charges associated. Phil Spector’s nineteen year sentence for 2nd degree murder is unlikely to do the former Beatles producer any favours; partly because he will almost certainly die in prison, but mainly because we’ve now seen the miserable state of his toupeeless hairline. Peter Doherty’s stretches haven’t fared him much better. They haven’t so much convinced us of his rebel-till-I-die-attitude, as to what a boringly predictable junkie the ‘libertine’ actually is. Luckily for Wayne, there’s nothing so sinister about his charges, and he hasn’t yet made getting caught a boring habit. Possession of drugs and firearms actually seems understandable, mundane even, compared to the kind of thing Gary Glitter and Michael Jackson were allegedly up to. If Wayne had, for instance, been accused of having ‘relations’ with minors, I can’t imagine his fans would have been so forgiving. Lil’ Wayne’s ace in the hole might just be his genre. Hip-hip has been extremely kind to its incarcerated crusaders. Tupac’s Me Against the World was released with its deviser firmly locked away, yet enjoyed unprecedented success, clocking 240,000 sales in its first week. Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan made light of his time behind bars, contributing Wu-Tang lyrics via the prison telephone, before going on to escape his rehab facility to “record on the run.” Of course, these two men did die almost immediately after their release: a coincidence, surely? So, not all the omens are bad. As long as he doesn’t murder an actress, become a walking parody of himself, molest any minors, or die within the next six months, I’d say Wayne may yet do very well from his time away.
Goddamn You Harajuku Girls Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday Young Money/Cash Money/ Universal Motown, November 22nd 2010
Trash Talk 19/11/10 The Captain's Rest
ap is a notoriously divisive community. It stems from the very nature of the MC battle, pitting one rapper against another in a showdown of charisma and skill that has spawned from the blueprint of the freestyle to now infiltrate every aspect of the genre. Rap is a competition; between record labels, neighbourhoods and individuals. 'Beef' fuels much of the lyricism, allowing for displays of witty bravado and less than subtle arrogance that spits yes, I am better than you. I'm faster, sharper and hotter than you. Most importantly, a rapper is 'hot' when they garner controversy, and no-one has basked in the glory of such controversy recently as Nicki Minaj. Signed to Young Money (the label owned by rap behemoth and recent Rikers Island veteran Lil Wayne) and voted the 6th Hottest Rapper In The Game by MTV this month, Nicki Minaj has utterly divided the rap community. She is, in a word, bizarre. Well, superficially bizarre. She wears candy coloured wigs and calls herself the Harajuku Barbie. She only signs her female fans breasts at shows and there are even rumours that her behind is silicon-enhanced. She was also one of the most popular Halloween costumes in the U.S this year - which speaks volumes. I'm under no illusion that it is only female rappers that have a style carved out for them to portray a certain media image; male rappers have an equally powerful visual presence, such as front row darling Kanye West for one. To call her fake because of her outlandish image would be lazy and hypocritical, and would only mirror the venomous attacks against Lil Kim, Remy Ma and Foxy Brown in the mid 90s. How dare a woman invade such a hyper-masculine genre in platform heels and not much else to go nose to nose to rap about sex, violence and super-ego with a bite often harder than that of their male counterparts? As a woman and a fan of rap music, I feel I am naturally predisposed to defend female rappers in this sense. But I cannot defend Nicki Minaj. I resent that she is being portrayed as the female voice of rap. It is not about her skill, her appearances on the Come Up dvd series early on in her career prove that her flow punches hard and her lyrics are at turns tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious. It is that her debut album Pink Friday is a culmination of all that has left a bad taste in my mouth from the American commercial rap scene in recent years. It started with T-Pain's auto tune phenomenon, and it reaches a sour plateau with Pink Friday. The production credits on the album are limp and some truly great opportunities have been missed here. No one should get Will.I.Am to produce their record. Her sampling of Annie Lennox's No More I Love You's on Your Love and The Buggles' Video Killed The Radio Star on Check It Out are grating and unnecessary. This somewhat twee attempt to merge rap with
Gigs & Club Nights Go and see Trash Talk. Their brutal four piece hardcore-party is one of the most righteous you'll see all year and almost certainly the last chance to catch them in a small venue. Sun Araw 22/11/10 Art School (Vic Bar) Go and see Sun Araw. His other-worldly dubbed up journeys through the fog are some of the most righteous you'll see all year. With support from local maniacs Blue Sabbath Black Fiji.
superficially opposing pop culture references comes across as a poorly executed mash-up rather than a clever sample. Minaj's once biting New York slang shifts between alter-ego gimmicks and exaggerated impersonations of various accents that leaves your head reeling for all the wrong reasons, and her venture into romantic R'n'B on Right Thru Me succumbs to the inexpressibly awful merging of brash electro-pop and rap that has seen Rihanna recently morph into the black Katy Perry. There are a few tracks on Pink Friday that display Minaj's characteristically cheeky sense of humour, with Blazin' one of the few times on the album where she sustains a verse without cracking into her lip-curling barks. Lyrically
however the flame is dull. When she sneers “If I had a dick/ I would pull it out and piss on 'em”, she's barely hanging onto that brashness that she visually portrays. If one of the few women in rap can only brag about her prowess in relation to the countless men in the scene, then apparent girl-power message she's been touting falls a little flat. When Minaj explodes through the stratosphere this year as she is predicted to she'll probably divide opinion even further but in rap, that's hardly proven to be damaging. This one is for the haters.
Tallest Man on Earth 22/11/10 The Arches Perhaps the most misleading monicker in entertainment since The Never-Ending Story, libel cases would most likely follow the 5'7" Kristian Matsson everywhere were it not for his bitter-sweet acoustic anthems, which, as you might of guessed, are among the most righteous you'll hear all year. Shrinebuilder 28/11/10 Oran Mor
Lauren Martin Go and see Shrinebuilder. Their monolithic stoner-doom-metal riff-fest is one of the most righteous you'll see all year. Featuring Dale Crover of the Melvins, and Al Cisernos of Sleep and Om. Wolves in the Throne Room 30/11/10 The Classic Grand Go and see Wolves in the Throne Room. Their ethereal eco-anarchist black metal trip is one of the most righteous you'll see all year. Facepaint encouraged, but not mandatory. CLUBS Feadz, Shaun fae Solar vs. Sam Vitamins 19/11/10 Art School Uffie's ex banging out a maddening mix of hiphop, electro and techno. Scientist vs The Upsetters, Loefah, Pinch 21/11/10 Art School Remember Dubstep? These chaps do. Come and remind yourself.
Get yo Towels Out Matthew Nicol goes surfing with beachcombing noisemakers Wavves
t was fitting that the Arches played host for the first night of San Diego three piece Wavves’ European tour. The usual sound problems that so often blight the Arches fit into the band’s careful but somewhat haphazard ethos. Having started as a lo-fi internet based project in Nathan Williams' bedroom, and with their instruments lost somewhere between Chicago and Glasgow, the do-it-yourself mood was further bolstered by poorly judged levels that can only of resulted from a lack of sound checks. Though this would perhaps be understandable for the support groups, Glasgow’s own Paws and the impressive OtherPeople, it surely is not too much to expect that the headline act would be afforded a task as simple correct sound preparation. Regardless of any sound quibbles, Wavves put on an energetic and entertaining show, despite being obviously inebriated. Fortunately there was no repeat of 2009’s infamous set at Primavera Sound, which resulted in Williams fighting with then drummer Ryan Ulsh, being pelted by the Spanish crowd and a hasty statement the following day of an alcohol addiction. In truth Williams struck a much more relaxed figure than when he last reached these shores, and if drunken dialogue between songs and a half-arsed rendition of Blink-182’s Dammit is the worst eventuality of his drinking, it hasn’t been the hardest fall from the wagon. Wavves’ form has undoubtedly been improved since the hiring of a new rhythm section, with Williams now ably backed by two members of the late Jay Reatard’s band; drummer Billy Hayes and bassist Stephen Pope. Hayes and Pope were also on hand for the recording of recent L.P. King of the Beach, and this extended period of being in close proximity of one other was betrayed in the genuine camaraderie that the three shared. The lion’s share of the set list was taken from King of the Beach, with a particularly angst ridden rendition of Green Eyes and a commanding version of Super Soaker with an extended outro that saw Williams and Pope rolling about the floor whilst still playing their instruments in a commendable fashion being notable highlights.
Wavves were loud and noisy throughout, heavy reverb and modulation par for the course for both vocal and guitar, but the well thought-out dynamics that are the cornerstone of so many of their songs shone through. Their brand of Californian surfer-punk may seem quite simplistic, however their style is one that has been developed from a fine command of their instruments. Much of the
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first two records’ difficult distortion and unpolished charm was replaced with a much more accessible, almost pop-punk, sound with their third L.P. and this has been extended to the live arena also. Nonetheless, the disaffected inertia of Wavves’ earlier work was not lost in this better developed style, and the stoner indolence of So Bored of the second record combined well with current single Post Acid for a frenetic and fevered finale. Such was the fervour that three young locals stormed the stage adding a faux wrestling ruckus to the night’s conclusion. Event security were powerless to halt this sideshow, and as the I’m just having fun refrain of Post Acid faded into another bitter Glasgow night, a small but entertained, satisfied but drained crowd filed away with ears that will probably still be ringing when Wavves return.
Stephanie Becker Jonathan Burke
Nothing Wild about Wild Nothing Wild Nothing Arches 9/11/10
Sharese Ann Frederick
love going to gigs, don’t get me wrong. But the one thing I hate when reviewing live music is that tense moment beforehand. You say your name at the door, and the girl (who, incidentally, always seems to be, in the immortal words of Kimya Dawson, the ‘skinny pretty girl who likes to talk about bands’ type) looks blankly at the guestlist. Your heart stops for a moment. I am not willing to get shot down by another girl prettier than I am, it happens enough in normal life, and I don't want it happening on the job now too. But then, a sigh of relief, I’m in. Now it’s time for the obligatory head bobbing and feigned look of aloof coolness, when really all I’m thinking is, ‘do I look like a loner alcoholic?’ I tell myself to channel Lester Bangs and just enjoy myself. During the first support act, Crayons, the audience adopt this awkward, and I’m sure for the band, slightly demoralising cluster at the back of the empty room. With an admirable spirit, however, the à la Alex Turner front man does his best to coax at least a sway out of the 15 odd people there. There is a generic NME slant to them, apparent in their baby faces (they look about twelve) and the fact their entire set consists of songs rife with teen angst. However, credit where credit is due, they are punchy, and Belle Laide is a lovely sweet song about young love and on a personal note I must admit, I do like a bit of a Scottish regional accent poking through a singing voice.
From the sight of a straight laced looking female violinist, the second support act look promising as soon as they first step on stage; the addition of a classical instrument in a modern indie band always seems so unnaturally cool. Kill The Waves don’t live up to my expectation: imagine Radiohead, but without being able to pull off the whining. There was far too much feedback and not in a good ‘lo-fi No Age kind’ of way. The set dragged on and the only redeeming quality of the entire performance was Heather Thicky’s hauntingly beautiful violin accompaniment. Wild Nothing’s dreamy synth-infused, shoegaze pop, and a now much larger, more buzzing audience fill the underground cavern that is the Arches. They sound like what your head feels like when you’ve smoked too much in a park with your best mates on a summer day. Jack Tatum’s melodic vocals, which during the first part of the set cause my head to keep screaming 'Kate Bush, he sounds like Kate Bush!’ by the end take on a drawling but emphatic tone, similar to that of the majority of American indie bands, such as Surfer Blood or Women. The set is pleasantly lengthy but doesn’t drag, as Wild Nothing’s whimsical sound does well to whisk you away into a world of your own, making you forget that you’re in a dirty, crowded Glasgow venue. Although not genre defying, if they come to town, Wild Nothing are worth a visit, and I recommend adding Chinatown (which is by far their best track) to your summer BBQ playlist before they, as bad I feel for saying so, fade into obscurity. Michael Gallagher Sophia Platts-Palmer
15- NOV 19 2010
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