Friday, 28 July 2006

Only A Cricket Team More

James Graham's worthwhile pledge to point out the error of his ways over theyworkforyou is nearing its deadline. We only need a cricket or football team more of people to sign up to reach the century.

I notice Stephen Glynn, another policital poster I'm sometimes confused with, has joined me and also signed up and there is quite a cross party mix on there. So if you think that theyworkforyou is an effective tool for highlighting the work of your representative at Westminster get over to Pledgebank and take the pledge now.

BTW Latest Score from Old Trafford England 357-7.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

Jim Devine is No Robin Cook (2)

Robin Cook was a. Jim Devine said in the run up to his by-election success last September that he was no Robin Cook. Robin for a great advocate for proportional representation including at fringe events at Labour Conference. However his belief that First Past the Post is best in the debate on Boundaries, Voting and Representation (Scotland) last Thursday shows again how his has pulled the wool over the eyes of the Livingston electorate.

Devine did suggest that people should have only one vote but his intention was to make the small parties have to come up with deposits for every seat in a region to get the same representation that they have on the second vote. Jo Swinson can up with the ideal solution to Devine's protestations that STV as advocated in the Arbothnot Report would do away with all the problems that Devine was pointing out about losers being winners, two votes by the electorate and two types of MSPs. Devine's Labour colleague Mohammed Sawar agreed that this would be a positive step forward.

Beckett in Half Way Half Hearted Appeal

So Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is protesting about the use of Prestwick Airport as a layover for arms on route from the USA to Isreal. However, she is prpepared to call for an immediate ceasefire in the region to allow agencies to get supplies through to the civilians who have been struggling since the Isreali attacks on Lebanon started over 2 weeks ago.

This government appears to be trying to play it both ways not wanting to help add to the destruction of Lebanon and Gaza yet at the same time not standing up to the disproportionate attacks Isreal has made on two of its neighbours. The whole area is threatening to implode and the King Abdullah has sent out a warning that the entire region may be on the brink of war.

Strangely Tony Blair's government claim they wanted to get UN backing before esending troops into Iraq but now do not seem to be prepared to listen and back the UN when it calls for a ceasefire.

The question has to be asked does Tony Blair respect the authority of the UN? On the eveidence of the last few years the answer would appear to be no. Unfortunately a sad, tragic and scarey conclusion for our country.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Portillo Backs Tory Policy Vacate Approach

Last night I was watching my recording of The Worst Job In British Politics: The Leader of the Opposition from Monday night and I could not believe one utterance I heard from Michael Portillo. He said about David Cameron that he did not have any policies but that did not matter so much these days.

Well excuse me Mr, I didn't quite become leader of my party, Portillo but is making policy decisions not what being in Parliament and especially if you are seeking to lead it. Portillo also later went on to say that he didn't think Cameron would become Prime Minister at the next time of asking but would do well enough to be retained to win the election after that.

Can we face almost a decade of no policy from the Tory party? I know I'd quite enjoy that especially as there is nothing better than asking Tory contacts (yes I have a few even here in Scotland) what they plan to do about X, Y or Z. Well if the huskie/hoodie hugging leader of the opposition wants to test Portillo's theory he should carry on.

To counter the argument Alistair Campbell at least had the sence to say Cameron is not the new Tony Blair, if anything he is the new Alistair Campbell, ie all spin and no substance. Campbell said that it looked unlikely that Cameron would survive the hurly burly of a general election and would possible suffer the same fate as William Hague.

UN Observers Killed in South Lebanon

Isreal and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are at odd following the death of 4 military observers when their observation post was hit by a Isreali air strike.

Apparently the observation post had already been shelled 14 times before the final destruction killed the UN officials from Austria, Canada, China and Finland. The rescue team that tried to clear the rubble were also shelled. This lead Kofi Annan to claim that the Isrealis had been deliberately targetting this observation post, something that the Isrealis have denied.

However, seeing as Unifil have been operating in the area since 1978 surely the location of their observation posts should have been well know to the Isreali military. So to have 16 attacks on the same location must either be down to very poor armaments or poor intelligence or a deliberate attack.

The first looks unlikely. If it is the second then there should be a immediate cessation of all military action from Isreal as they have been taking out other civilian targets. If it is the last and a deliberate attack against the UN and the resolutions which control action in the region Isreal have stepped over the line and can expect to be hauled back forcible. The language used by Mr Annan suggests that is not too far away.

All the while our Prime Minister seems more concerned about junk foodies and smokers at home than making a statement on the latest international crisis.

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Is Prescott Domed?

I read the news today, oh boy, it appears that the Millenneum Dome, owned by Philip Anschutz whose ranch John Prescott visited, is topping the Super Casino short list. Quel surprise!

The panel have just announced their provisional rankings for the first time and instead of answering questions it leaves a lot more unanswered. Just how much Government influence was brought to bear on this decision? Did Prescott's relations with Mr Anshutz have anything to do with Anschutz either shaping his bid to best fit the criteria or to allow influence on the panel from the Deputy Prime Minister?

The news is that in the 8 criteria the Millennium Dome scored 67 out of a possible 80 points. It did not acquire a perfect ten in any category but scored considerably high in all 8 not scoring lower than an eight. In all possiblity it may have been a very well put together bid without the shadow of Prescott looming on the horizon but in the public perception we may never know.

The panel have also reopened the shortlisting process to council who feel there may have been confusion over their handling of this process. Why do they feel the need to do this? Is there something lurking in their processes that they want to bring out in the open amongst all this confusion. Certainly the Government are not happy about such a development.

With this revelation about the prominence of Greenwich as the possible site what does it spell for Prescott? Are his days numbered? Can he ride this latest storm?

Friday, 21 July 2006

What is Getting up Straw's Back?

Well James Graham has launched a pledge to help educate him and find an answer.

Last time I looked our MPs were elected as representatives of the people, i.e. they are elected to serve all the people of their area no matter how they voted for him. Therefore is it not wise for the people to have a good idea of just what that elected representative is doing or saying at the place he was appointed by such people. Unlike most employees MP dod not have an annual review but they must face one at least once every 5 years unless they resign, retire or die in office.

Therefore sites such as They Work For You which keep a track on their speeches, questions and voting behaviour are mush easier to assimilate that knowldge than Hansard the official reporting of business in Westminster.

However, this is the straw that is threatening to break Jack Straw's back. He thinks people look at such things for 'quantitative rather than qualitative measures'. Well actually Jack, as it does give us a record of our representatives contributions from the floor and also shows us their voting records. Therefore we can see just when they may say something to us in person and then do the reverse when facing a party whip.

theyworkfor you have already launched a consultation to look at the way their measure MPs work. Maybe, as James suggests, Mr Straw would be good enough to get involved in that process. AFter the heated comments he has made about how they operate he clearly thinks some issues should be addressed and should make these known. Or will he do what he is accusing others of doing for the sake of stats and send only his researchers instead.

If You Believed...

They put a man on the moon.
If you believe there's nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool

REM Man on the Moon

Well 37 years ago today Neil Armstrong took his one small step and 12 years ago the man who is running out of tricks up his sleeve once known as Teflon Tony was elected leader of the Labour Party.

The last line of the REM song before the repeat of the refrain is 'Hey baby, are we losing touch?'. Or in today's language of choice on the world stage 'Yo Tony, are we losing touch?'.

The response will probably go something like. 'Well George. You and me are in constant touch and at least the UN haven't been accusing us of War Crimes unlike elsewhere so we must be in touch with reality.'

Well actually Tony and George one thing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, is saying about the situation in Isreal, Gaza and Lebanon is that is responsibilty on all parties to respect the "principle of proportionality" and the need to protect civilians. Applying the same strenuous measures to Afghanistan and Iraq would be interesting, however still we have silence or lack of condemnation from the US and UK governments for the disproportionate killings of civilians by Isreal in both Gaza and Lebanon.

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Has Bristow Muldoon Really Thought Through His Council Tax Rebate?

Last month Bristow Muldoon MSP for Livingston announced that he was challenging the Liberal Democrats tax policy. Something, which I said at the time, was due to a lack of understanding that we were aiming for fairness in taxation and not higher taxation. I asked the question then just what has Labour done to lighten the tax burden for the average citizen.

Now Bristow is starting to offer piecemeal insights into his thinking starting with a reduction in council tax for pensioners. He admits that his proposals, unlike the Liberal Democrat tax proposals, have not been costed. However, he is in a bit of the quandary by saying:

The Scottish Labour Party believes the council tax is the best method of local taxation but recognises it could be improved.

How can something be the best system for doing anything if it needs improving? If it is the best system surely there should be no problems.

He acknowledges how unfair Council Tax to pensioners:

For many pensioners, there can be a high proportion of their income paid in council tax.

Of course there is Bristow that is what the Liberal Democrats, SNP and SSP have been telling you for some time now, glad you are catching up. The reason for this Bristow is that the council tax system is based on the value of the property that the pensioners live in and no relation necessarily to the income that they have. Most pensioners who are owner-occupiers will have bought their current house many years’ back in their working lives when they could afford the mortgage etc. They probably spent a lot less on the house than it is worth now especially if the 25 or 30 year mortgage is paid off. They are nowhere near earning proportionately the same to their house value now as when they first bought it. How do we know this because house prices have been inflation busting and pensions have not been anywhere near keeping up with salaries or inflation.

So Bristow and his 25% rebate is offering the appearance of being a knight in shining amour but is really not doing all that much. This would still result in a high proportion of their income paid in council tax especially if compared to an MSP living in Murieston.

He also says that this rebate will not be paid for my other council taxpayers but will be covered by the Executive. Now Bristow is saying the 1.5 million Scottish pensioners should on average be saving £300 on average. So somewhere Bristow is expecting the Executive to find £550 million. So the people of Scotland are going to have to pay for this somewhere.

So all this means that can only mean that the exempt students and non-paying children will have to take this cut from their budgets. Is that really what Bristow was saying?

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Ming on the Middle East

Sir Menzies Campbell in today's Guardian offers a voice of reason to George W. Bush's posturing.

How can the leader of the free world say that OK you can carry on for a week but after that we'll need to look at it again, when he himself is weilding his might in Iraq, Afghanistan and threathening others with force? Looks like Syria is now on Bush's radar along with Iran and North Korea.

In added his voice to UN Calls for a ceasefire Ming is evenhanded in apportioning blame for the latest eruption of violence:

The indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hezbollah is wholly unacceptable, as is the targeted destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon by the Israeli Government.

Yet while he recognises that Isreal has a right 'to live in peace within recognised and secure borders' he is saying that people in authority including the Foriegn Secretary are not doing enough to condone the disproportionate action being taken.

While Isreal has taken illegal military action, Hamas and Hezbollah equally are detailing Isrealis without authority. Ming also quite rightly points out that all this unrest in the region is liable only to strengthen the militants which in the long term will only make Isreal feel even more insecure.

Sadly neither Bush nor the UK Government seem prepared to point out to Isreal that if they are looking for peace they have to be actively seeking it rather than hoping for it to emmerge from the embers and rubble. Ming sums this up in his conclusion:

The priority must be to ensure an immediate ceasefire. It is only once a ceasefire has been delivered that we can look towards solutions. Long-term solutions should be delivered through a regional conference...that engages all the states in the region.

Cost Benefit Analyisis of General Election

There is an interesting table accompanying the Scotsman's report on the state of the various party finances. Basically it is a cost benefit analysis of the spending on the General Election last year for the return of votes and MPs. Being Sottish it obviously also includes the SNP but the results are still interesting.


Number of Votes 9,566,618
Amount Spent £15.1 million
Seats 356
Amount spent per vote £1.58
Ammount per MP £42,416


Number of Votes 8,785,941
Amount Spent £15.7 million
Seats 198
Amount spent per vote £1.79
Ammount per MP £79,293

Lib Dems

Number of Votes 5,985,414
Amount Spent £4.9 million
Seats 62
Amount spent per vote 82p
Ammount per MP £96,538


Scotland only

Number of Votes 412,267
Amount Spent £262,972
Seats 6
Amount spent per vote 64p
Ammount per MP £43,829

What is very telling is that of the three UK wide parties we are most cost effective per vote. Almost half the cost of each Labour vote and even better against the Conservatives. Obviously our spend per MP does not reflect this and highlights the fact that not everyone's vote has the same value. While we spent only half of what Labour spend to garner each of our vote we have to invest more than double to get an MP.

As the only party that ended the year in the black, and therefore worked within the party's means, and working against a system that is inherantly unfair and reproduces a sizable majority of seats with a considerable minority of the votes cast something clearly needs to be done.

If the Tories and Labour continue to exist beyond their means what is the end result going to be. Matthew Parris wrote an interesting piece at the weekend suggesting we might end up back with a House full of independent MPs if the party structures were to implode under the pressure of debts and unredeemed loans.

Clearly in both Labour and Conservative head offices questions should be asked about is the ammount of debt £27.3 million for Labour and £26.4 million for the Conservatives sustainable for an organisation of their size. Compared to £9 million and £5 million respectively in the last general election year 2001 will either party be able to afford the next campaign as these debts will surely increase unless addressed promptly.

Maybe this could be one reason why a snap election might not be called immediately after the current Prime Minister steps aside. It is possible that neither of the two largest parties would be in a position to contest it due to their largesse in 2005 as soon as the heavily muted date of autumn 2007.

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Flummoxing a Market Researcher

Last night I had the great pleasure of flummoxing a call calling market researcher on the phone. The opening question of his survey was 'Have you heard about the Scottish Executive policy of free personal care for the elderly?'. Well as a good Scottish Liberal Democrat I had to say yes.

His second question was 'Where did you hear about this?'. Well, I told the truth and told as someone who stood for the Liberal Democrats in last years general election I first heard of it while we were preparing the manifesto for the 2003 election. The poor guy did not have a box to tick for this. There wasn't even other for him to fill in. So the closest he could find was heard from council.

Unfortunately, the only reason I have heard from my local council about free personal care for the elderly was when they were found to be charging pensioners for their meals service.

Anyway the poor researcher rattled off his questions and was getting total agreement to all the questions he was raising. But it possibly made his day to have someone able to answer so succinctly and precisely to the questions he was raising instead of asking 'what do you mean?' every so often.

How Healthy is Blair's Green Energy Committment?

So we've all heard Tony Blair talk the talk:

I am not saying that nuclear is the only answer—of course it is not. There are renewables, energy efficiency and everything else.

Hansard 14 June 2006 Column 764

So why if is and Jack McConnell the Scottish First Minister do we read today that a renewable energy firm is in danger of closure due to lack of orders.

Some people have complained that all we ever seem to have on the renewable agenda is wind farms yet here is Camcal doing great work to harness wave energy under threat of closure. Where is the promise to a balance portfolio of renewable resources? Is Camcal just the tip of the iceberg? Is the Prime Minister's nucleur myopia going to have ramifications on orders for the renewable energy industires that are trying to make a difference to how we generate our power?

Monday, 17 July 2006

West Lothian Versus North Antrim

You know who your friends and enemies are. Or least it is becoming apparent if you live in a devolved part of the UK. Also you would think in times when patronage of the Lords was under such scrutiny that David Cameron would not make any policy decision on the hoof which might be miscontrued as patronage within the Commons. If you did you would be wrong.

In his hurry to come up with an answer to the West Lothian question about the rights of Scottish MPs to vote on affairs at Westminster over which they have no overall control, he has entered the quagmire of Northern Irish politics. When John Major had a wafer thin majority in the 90s, and some of that was rebellious, he could normally rely on the Unionist parties from Northern Ireland to dig him out of a whole. David Liddington, the Conservative's Shadow Northern Irish Secretary, has refused to extend their proposed voting ban on English issues of Scottish members to those of Northern Ireland. This is fast becoming referred to as the North Antrim question, so named for Ian Paisley the DUP leader's constituency.

Some have accused the delay on the Tories to bring about the same conditions on all devolved areas as hypocritical, merely a way to ensure that should the votes be close after the next election that the Tories could squeeze through legislation with the help of their Northern Irish bretheren. However, the entire restriction on any MP's voting rights might just be under threat from the very Unionists that David Cameron is attempting to cosy up to. As Jeffery Donaldson the DUP MP for Lagan Valley said:

'We would oppose any proposal to deny Northern Ireland MPs full voting rights at Westminster. That right embodies the very concept of the Union. The House of Commons is not an English regional assembly.'

Surely if the DUP mean this they would also oppose the restriction on Scottish and Welsh MPs as well.

But is Cameron playing into the hands of the 31% of English who want independence from Scotland. Typically of Alex Salmond who ignores the view of the majority who did not want separation he said that:

"Clearly this is the future. This growing support shows that unionist politicians are on their way out and the argument for independence and self-respect is on its way in."

Strange then that the level of support for England to separate for Scotland is actually higher than his own party has actually scored recently in Scotland something which is nowhere near their peak, and we all know what that has meant for the separation of the Union.

Friday, 14 July 2006

A-lististo Selected but Does not Increase Diversity

I have previously condemned the A-listisos contesting Folkestone and Hythe for that their lack of impact to replace Michael Howard during the nomination process. However, the final three were Harriett Baldwin, Damian Collins and Laura Sandys, A-lististos all, sa.

Harriett was PPC for Stockton North in 2005 and is a pensions and investments manager for J P Morgan, Damian was candidate for Northamptonshire North in 2005 and is managing director of an advertising, part of M & C Saatchi and Laura is the Chair of OpenDemocracy and daughter or the late former MP Baron Duncan-Sandys, Churchill's son-in-law.

So did the people from the seat of the former leader take a radical step and ensure a mature woman with a business background should follow in the steps of Michael Howard.

Nope they went for Damian who like Howard they have selected another officer of the Bow Group. Howard was Chairman in 1970 and Collins was Political Oficer in 2003.

So he is white, male, an establishment Conservative and at least nine years less experience than his female competition. Just how experienced does a Tory woman have to be to get selected?

Dear Mr Robinson

I have just tried to pass comment on Nick Robinson's latest blog entry but have been told I'm not allowed to post comments. Is this the same BBC that rang me on the very morning that Charles Kennedy resigned looking for a supportive comment? Is this the same BBC that I have spoken in support of in the press and in conference debates?

Obviously I want to know why the BBC or possibly Nick Robinson is not prepared to let my comments be posted to this part of their operation. I can happily post elsewhere and often do.

I have just sent the following email of complaint to the BBC.

I have just attempted to post a comment on Nick Robinson's blog on the BBC news site. I was attempting to point out to other readers and Nick himself that his throw away linking the words Michael Brown, Lib Dem donataion and police investigation could be misconstrued in light of the general flow of the blog entry.

As a Liberal Democrat candidate from May 2005 and a fellow blogger of Mr Robinson I find it very disconcerting that I got a message that I was not allowed to post comments to Mr Robinson's blog.

I would like to know why I have been denied the access to pass comment to and correct Mr Robinson which other people clearly have. Especially in light of my personal knowledge of the field in which Mr Robinson is your editor.

Now previously I have posted to Mr Robinson's blog with a link to my blog. I wonder if Mr Robinson is becoming vary of all bloggers following his incendiary remarks about bloggers last week. Nick if you wish to comment you can do so freely on this site.

UPDATE: Word is coming through from a few friends and fellow Liberal Democrats that they are experiencing similar difficulties in countering some of the insinuation on that blog entry by Mr Robinson. Is this censorship of a particular political view point by the political editor of the BBC?

The Unusual Suspects

What the cops never figured out, and what I know now, was that these men would never break, never lie down, never bend over for anybody. Anybody.

quote from Verbal in the Usual Suspects (1995)

Well Scotland Yard are widening their circle of questioning regarding the cash for peerages investication. Soon they will be calling on Number 10 to ask the Prime Minster, aka Anthony Charles Lynton Blair aka Friend of George, a few questions. It is the first time a serving Prime Minister will be interviewed by police in a corruption case. Tony is probably hoping the men in blue don't follow the same way of taking him in for question as Lord Levy aka Lord Cashpoint, Labour's chief fundraiser earlier this week.

Other key figures in the Labour party are also facing questioning as the net broadens in this investigation. So far 48 people have been questioned 13 under caution but John Yates, an assistant deputy commissioner at Scotland Yard has said that so far the majority of these have been Conservatives.

It looks like we know what stories are going to occupy the press while Parliament is in recess this summer.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Home Office Not Fit to Deliver Passports

Oh dear another bad new s day for the Home Office and their computerisation. This time is is the online application of passports that they are unable to deliver. 5000 people are still awaiting for their passports which are still being processed out of a mere 18,000 applications.

The system was only begun on 18 May and was withdrawn on 20 June with the promise that all applications would be delivered within three week. So we have 5,000 still waiting 5 weeks after the system was shut down which suggests that a sizeable number of the other 13,000 also fell outside the anticipated turnaround times for processing.

This system is being run by the same organisation that will have control of the government's ID card scheme. If they are having problems processing a mere 18,000 how on earth are they going to cope with the government's big brotheresque dream of compulsory ID cards? The answer is simple they can't and they won't.

But at least the Home Office are continuing to live up to the Home Secretary's appraisal of them shortly after he took office that they are no fit for purpose.

Monday, 10 July 2006

Home Office Not Fit to Deliver ID Cards

Well as Charles Clarke has already told us his department is not fit for purpose it appears from leaks that they are messing up Ton'y Blair's ID card agenda very well.

As many people pointed out before implimentation not a single large scale government computer system has been fully operation by the time scheduled. IN the leaked e-mails David Foord, the ID card project director at the Office of Government Commerce said it was "a project continuing to be driven by an arbitrary end-date rather than reality". The government's timetable and the structure of the massive IT project means "we are setting ourselves up to fail."

And Peter Smith, the acting commercial director of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) at the Home Office, which is responsible for the ID card scheme, said he had no argument with those conclusions but also in an even more damaging email to Labour revealed his staff were planning for the possibility ministers will scrap the ID card plan altogether. Because of that, he told Mr Foord that the Home Office was making sure contracts for projects linked to the ID card scheme were being designed to survive if the bigger scheme is dropped.

So with Tony Blair being the big advocate for ID cards is the heir apparent Gordon Brown less in favour? Therefore as a result is he liable to scrap the costly and irrelevant project once he takes over at a date, largely expected to be, before the implimentation date of the government's 'voluntary' ID card scheme?

Friday, 7 July 2006

Is it Time to Call SNP's Bluff?

Brain Monteith MSP, former of the Conservative Party, raises just that interesting question in today's Edinburgh Evening News.

He looks at the relative strength of the pro-independnce vote in Scotland over the recent pass it looks unlikely that any referendum in the near future would be successful. The SNP would say that every vote for them, the SSP and the Greens is a vote for independence but as Monteith mentions there are many reasons why people vote for one of these parties and the reason may not always be independence. Some people vote SNP tactically to get or keep Labour out. Some people who vote Green do so for environmental reasons and are not aware that they are for an independent Scotland, this is bourne out by Green supporters I have meet while canvassing.

So Monteith proposes that the Unionist parties Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats calls Alex Salmond's bluff and call a referendum. There can even been three options and a transferrable vote. He suggest the following options.

1. Independent Scotland
2. Home rule within the UK
3. Abolish Scottish Parliament and return to UK wide rule only

If the referendum is lost where would the SNP go, their cheif plank of existance would be removed from beneath their feet, and he muses would their leading lights seek to find their home in another party for the good of constituents.

Even if the referendum did come down on the side of independence as Monteith points out Ireland didn't come out too bad, admittedly it took them about 50 years to become the Celtic Dragon we now know. But Scotland would be starting from a higher comparitive skill and industrial base than Ireland had in 1922.

It is a interesting and intriging proposal. Why should the SNP the only ones to think of calling a referendum on Independence? If a no vote were to scupper plans for the SNP and their strength would not this benefit the other parties? Typical of Monteith's new found freedom outside the Conservative Party that he should think outside the box.

I wonder what hs take is on the West Lothian Question?

Is George Foulkes Future in Lib Dem Hands?

That is the question that is posed by The Hearld this morning. The Labour peer and former Hearts chairman is top of the Labour list for the Lothian region, a position that no MSP has thus far been elected to Holyrood. The reason being that in 1999 they secured 8 of the 9 FPTP seat and in 2003 that dropped but only to 6 when David McLetchie won Edinburgh Pentlands for the Tories and Mike Pringle won Edinburgh South for the Lib Dems.

So while the Herald does mention that the SSP leader Colin Fox in vulnerable due to recent showing by his party this one slip off the list is not enough in itself to elect Foulkes. He will be relying on Labour colleagues losing some of the vulnerable seats around the region. The thing is that Foulkes has already said that he will be fighting for his colleagues in the seats vulnerable to a Lib Dem capture next May.

Elsewhere in list news how my Lib Dem colleague, friend and fellow blogger Alex Cole-Hamilton can stand against Gordon Brown in last May's election almost doubling our vote and be considered an unknown by the Scotsman is beyond me.

Thursday, 6 July 2006

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

The media circus is round on John Prescott again and Prezza is doing his best impression of US General George Armstrong Custer. His relief from colleagues seems far away and not going to reach Mr Prescott's personal Little Big Horn any time soon.

His denial that he is going to resign following the latest allegations over what he did or didn't say with Dome owner Philip Anschutz over 7 different converstaions is just the latest in a long line of instances that cast doubts over his suitablitiy for his current role.

He is obviously a flustered man as his appearance on the Today programme this morning shows. Another sad sign that Prescott may be facing his onwn last sign came at the end of the John Humphries interview. The BBC were bold enough to proach the subject which has been circulating around the blogosphere that Prescott has had more affairs. A simple no would have put the matter to rest. After referring to Iain Dale's appearance on Newsnight and telling that these romours about other affairs appeared online Prescott then said:

There's no truth in much of the stories that are made in the papers...

Now his muddling over technology didn't hide the fact that Prezza is au fait enough to separate the press from the internet and bloggers. Dispite how he tried to look like a technophobe, there is clear demarkation in his comments. However, his answer only addresses one area, but make to denial on eight separate occasions to the allegation.

In desparation he asks Humphries if this is going to be edited. It wasn't and the transcript is fully available on the BBC Website. They obviously feel it is an important enough event to make this publically accessable for scrutiny to cover their own backs maybe following the Jonathan Ross interview, but also to show the public the extent to which the Deputy Prime Minister is in a corner.

I hope his friends are advising John Prescott to make a exit through the kitchen door, because we all know the fate that befell George Armstrong Custer in Montana in 1876.

Power Station May Silence McConnell's Plans

Oh dear what can the matter be, poor old Jack has had a catastophe.

The First Minister said that he hoped to extend the life of the Torness and Hunterston nucleur power stations. Only for the aging reactors to say dear Mr McConnell we really are starting to crack up a should be allowed to retire gracefully.

The nucleur safety watchdog has uncovered cracks at six reactors across the UK including Hunterston B in Ayrshire. They have warned that a radioactive leak could be "inevitable" if action was not taken about these. There are claims that this should halt any suggestion of extending the life but British Energy deny this is the case. However David Howarth, the Liberal Democrats' energy spokesman said:

"This could spell an earlier end to nuclear plants, rather than an extension of their life-cycle that the government had hoped for.

"The evidence is mounting that the government is taking a huge gamble by pushing for a new generation of nuclear power plants.

"Over-reliance on large, centralised and risky nuclear plants could seriously threaten our electricity supplies if one or more reactor is shut down due to these sort of safety concerns."

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Lothian List Placings

The order the Liberal Democrat candidates for the top up list for next year's election in the Lothian region have been counted and verified and the placings are:

1. Mike Pringle MSP
2. Simon Clark
3. Gill Cole-Hamilton
4. Mike Crockart
5. Charles Dundas
6. Jacqui Bell
7. Derek Young

Quite a could wealth of experience and committment on that list. A good team to be going out to challenge for seats in Lothian.

As one of the above stated on their election literature 100 years ago the Lothian region was largely represented by Liberals. Ironically the only seat we did not hold in the year of the Campbell Bannerman landslide was Edinburgh West now one of the safest Lib Dem seats in the country.

Now it is two in Holyrood and we'll just have to see what happens in the others next May.

How Green Is Your Party?

David Cameron hosted his Summer Party on Monday night but apparently he did not not keep his guests enraptured with his plans for a Conservative greener future.

According to the Mirror during his speech:

"he lost his audience the moment the words "climate change" slipped from his mouth and a murmur of chatter rose up.

"Tories, it seemed, were more interested in filling wine glasses than reducing emissions."

So for £400 a head it looks like you can lead a Tory to a bar but you can't make them think.

Tale of Two Stories

The editor of the Italian sports daily Gazetto Dello Sport must have been one of the Italians who partied shortest last night. When his nation won 2-0 against the hosts Germany in the World Cup he must have taken great joy in shouting the Italian for 'hold the front page'. Instead of the call to relegate 4 senior teams including Juventos and AC Milan he was able to celebrate the Italians regular 12 yearly reaching of the final.

While England fans are upset that it has been 40 years since their team won and reached their only final the Italians seem to have established a regular timetable since 1970 they have reach the last two every 12 years. In 1970 they lost to Brazil in Mexico, in 1984 the won in Spain, in 1996 the lost in the USA. And now 12 years on they're back thanks to Fabio Grosso and Alessandro del Piero scoring two goals in the final minute of extra time.

Now as a Livingston fan I saw my team concede a number of late goals last season, but never that late. So I can appreciate how gutted the German supporters were as Alessandro turned away to celebrate his late decisive strike.

But as Terry Venebales said moments before the goals went in it was a classic example of a thrilling 0-0 120 minutes.

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Scotland Yard to Investigate 3-Jobs Bob

Oh dear Bromley and Chislehurst may not have elected a new MP last week. It appears that both John Hemming-Clark the independent candidate from the by-election and UKIP has contacted Scotland Yard regarding the election of Bob Neill the Conservative candidate last week.

In a press release from Mr Hemming-Clark he says he has recieved a leter which has confirmed that an investigation is now underway to ascertain whether 3-jobs Bob has a case to answer. Mr Neill on his nomination declared that he was aware of the provisions of the House of Commons Disqualifications Act 1975 and to the best of his knowledge and belief he was not disqualified from membership of the House of Commons. However, as both Mr Hemming-Clark and UKIP have challenged at the time he signed the declaration he was a member of the North East London Strategic Health Authority, a post that MPs are not allowed to hold. If he has made a false declaration on his nomination it would be a breach of election law and if upheld would result in a further by-election in Bromley and Chislehurst, where the Tories saw a 13,000 majority reduced to 633.

The investigation may take some weeks while the Boys in Blue contact Bob Neill, John Hemming-Clark, members of UKIP (who have prepared a legal opinion) and the Returning Officer for Bromley Council, among others.

Monday, 3 July 2006

Labour's Nucleur Future for Scotland

Labour MSP Dr. Elaine Murray has spoken the words that Jack McConnell has feared to say in saying that her party will rule out a veto on new nucleur power station in Scotland.

While the Scottish Party is alone in Scottish politics on taking an official stance on the subject Dr. Murray told BBC Radio Scotland yesterday that Scottish Labour had no objection in principle. She said:

"The position of the Labour Party going into the Scottish Parliament elections will be that we would not, on principle, block an application for a new nuclear power station in Scotland.

"We would consider any planning application on its merits."

Last week the First Minsiter had said he wanted to see a "massive expansion" in renewables. However, there were the first hints of expanding nucleur reliance as Mr McConnell refused to downplay nucleur as a potential future provider in Scotland.

Already Torness and Hunterston nucleur stations have been muted to have their lives extended.

From the Bahamas with Love...

...good luck.

Well it appears that Sir Sean Connery thinks that young Andy Murray might have been up celebrating reaching the third round at 3 a.m. before his win on Saturday against number 3 seed Andy Roddick. However, his call if probably more likely due to the elder Scot forgetting the time zone difference.

However, as young Andy said there is "nothing cooler than being woken up by James Bond". Even though he went back to sleep and let the answer machine take the message. Good job it was about an important message.

One problem with Saturday's match, apart for the murmur around the court as England failed in the penalty shoot out, was that both players were called Andy. So the cheers from the stands were for Roddick or Murray instead of Andy which could have lifted both players simultaneously. Thankfully that will not be replicated this afternoon. Although the Scot will be facing a Cypriot in Mediteranean conditions it looks like Andy is better conditioned to counter such things this year than last.

Come on Andy.