Sunday, 30 December 2007

Phil O'Donnell 1972-2007

Regular readers of my blog will know of my love of football. Normally around this time of the week following a road trip this season I would be posting the latest instalment in my Stadium Tour of Scotland. This week I'll be postponing that entry.

The reason is that yesterday's trip passed two scenes of tragedy. Firstly just as we were starting out from our Stadium came the news that there was a major crash on the Westbound M8 which we would have to navigate around. As we passed the scene having come through Harthill on the Edinburgh Road we saw the Air Ambulance had landed, 5 ambulances, numerous police and three fire engines were in attendance. We knew it was a very severe incident even then. As we resumed our trip along the M8 the Clyde Health Special Operations van also passed us heading to the scene. A scene that was still being worked at as we passed again 6 hours later.

As we carried on our trip to Dumfries take us down the M74 from where you can see Firhill home of Motherwell. On our return trip this coincidence took on even greater significance.

For any football hearing that any other game has had a major incident treating a player that delays their finishing time is heart rendering. We all hope the player although obviously potential seriously hurt can make a recovery. So was our initial reaction when we heard that Phil O'Donnell the Motherwell captain had been the subject of 5 minutes of treatment on the park following a collapse as he was being substituted.

We continued on our way and past the still lit up Firhill, when the saddest news of all that a player who just that afternoon had been taking part in the game we loved had died. All talk of how our own team had done went by the way.

Bill Shankley famously said "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that". Sadly since Shankley said those at the time inspirational words on many occasions they have proved hollow and today is another day on which they are proved wrong.

If you wish to pay your respects to Phil or add you condolences there are many ways already set up to do that.

His club Motherwell FC have this page where you can email your tribute to the club.

The Scottish Fans Forum Pie and Bovril have this thread.

And I've also found this page as well.

I know there are others and your own teams site may well have one as well. If so post the link especially to one of the two above as football fans of every colour shirt and scarf will always tend to mingle at a time such as this in one community.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Will This Roll On Diana-esque for 10 Years?

Ok Norfolk Blogger is telling us that the cause of death of Benazir Bhutto may be a strange one. However, he is quoting Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema the Interior Minister, a close assosiate of President Pervez Musharraf, Ms Bhutto's opponent, who says she died from a a fractured skull as the result of banging her head on the lever for the sun roof. Now I'm not sure what speed the car was going at, due to the crowds it was distinctly slow so that would have had to be some knock to achieve what is claimed.

Now forgive me for being a little cynical of the Musharraf government at present, but the surgeon who treated her Dr Mussadiq Khan said she had died of a shrapnel would from the bomb blast. While Rehman Malik Ms Bhutto's security adviser who was at the scene said he thought she had been shoot. Now being someone who studies history I know the importance of first hand accounts which these later two are. Mr Malik is not the only one to speak of gun shots before the bomb went off.

The Daily Mail has Reuters pictures which do show blood on the handle, but an imapct wound of someone falling would not have produced quite so much blood so quickly on a sinking frame especially on a woman wearing a headscarf. They also show x-rays which show trauma to the head and a fractured skull. But what exactly caused that fracture would still be open to debate.

Maybe once the Diana enquiry is out of the way some paper will run with this for as long as Diana conspiracies has been hanging around. Though knowing our press and their coverage of world affairs I doubt it will last more than a few weeks, if that.

Is This Also the Burial of Pakistan Democracy?

As is the Islamic custom Benazir Bhutto has been buried before nightfall. With her death being so late that meant today. The Bhutto family are as much martyrs for their country as the Neru/Ghandi family across the border in India.

But what next for Pakistan?

At the moment there are three days of national mourning for the ex-Prime Minster the first female to hold such a position in a Muslim state and plans are still going ahead to hold the elections on 8 January. It is the plan to remain on track with the process of politics that is causing some concern.

Ms Bhutto's rival Nawaz Sharif, who was also a former Prime Minister who was also in Rawalpindi yesterday has said his party will boycott the vote if it goes ahead on in 11 days time in response to the attack.

The violence that has erupted around Pakistan overnight has almost claimed as many lives (17) as the initial attack which claimed Bhutto and her supporters (at least 20). Unrest is something that is unlikely to subside swiftly and this could still be having an effect on elections not too far away.

Obviously the best result for the region is to return to as much normality as possible as swiftly as that is sensible. But for President Pervez Musharraf maintains on track thinking it convenient and opportune, when the leader of the largest opposition party has only just been laid to rest, would appear to many eyes to be potentially self-seeking, but also may backfire on him. It may lead to enhance the anti-Musharraf feeling, and also without someone who was willing to at least move forward with him, although in recent weeks that relationship was becoming strained, he will need the support of more and less influential individuals to advance along democratic lines, especially with Sharif effectively ruling himself out of the equation.

Democracy is not yet dead in Pakistan, but if people aren't careful in the next few days it may suffer fatally under an overhasty stampede, but could also die of neglect if not advanced appropriately. The life support machine is heavily reliant not just on the actions but the timing of those actions.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Benazir Bhutto Killed in Rawalpindi Rally

In October when Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan only for her cavalcade to be subject to suicide bombers I did asked where next?

With the elections less than 2 weeks away on 8 January, she was out at a rally in Rawalpindi when yet again she was subject to a suicide bomber. At the moment this attempt appears to have claimed significantly fewer lived than the 130 who died on the day of her return from exile.

Reports as to Ms Bhutto’s own safety have slowly been emerging. Initially she was reported as safe, then injured, now reports from one of her PPP party security officials are saying that she is
badly injured.

Earlier in the day also in Rawalpindi 4 people died ahead of a rally that was to be attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.


The latest that is coming through from Reuters is that Benazir Bhuto has died in hospital following this attack.

If this is the case she came back to her homeland knowing the dangers she could face seeking to allow democracy to come to Pakistan and she has paid the ultimate price.

Update 2:

The latest according to the BBC's scrolling headline is that Ms Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest before the gunman became a suicide bomber. If that is the case there would have been very little chance of her surviving as her closest aides would also have been taken out by the blast of shots at the point of the blast as chaos ensued.

Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Football Stadia Tour 5: McDiarmid Park

After a week of freezing fog i the central belt some Livi fans were recollecting a previous trip to McDiarmid Park when the game was abandoned in the 80th minute after fog made it impossible for play to continue. We were glad when we arrived that although the car park was frosty that the lights in the houses on the hill to the south were still clearly visible.


The only league side in British Football to contain the letter J does not come from somewhere called St. Johnstone, nor should it be mistaken with Johnstone in East Renfrewshire. It is the team of the Fair City of Perth on the River Tay.

It is conveniently located just off the City's by-pass to the west of the City on land donated by local farmer Brian McDiarmid after whom the new stadium is named.

The Ground

Opened in 1989 it is deemed to be the first of the modern football stadia, with 4 covered seated, single tier stands holding a maximum on 10,673. There are no obscured views from any seat. Three of the stands are of equal height with the Main Stand to the West being a little higher. The South Stand is the Ormand Stand named after Willie Ormand the teams most successful manager to date. However, in recent years only the main and east stand are opened for league games due to attendance levels unless a big match is being hosted. For our visit we were seated in the Northern half of the Main Stand which is accessed half way up from the raised level of the car park on that side of the hollow in which the ground sits.

In the North East corner is an electronic scoreboard, which can keep excited and nervous fans updated of the scores elsewhere, and brought the news after full time in Perth last year that Gretna with a late, late goal had sealed promotion to the SPL instead of the Saints.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere was cracking as every at McDiarmid Park, and although we didn't have another fan run unto the pitch our fans kept singing for most of the game. Which when you get to the match report you'll find all the more surprising, especially if you've ever been to Almondvale.

The Programme

Cost £2.50. As expected not a match to last week's zenith, but still a worthy programme. 32 pages and this week featured an early St. Johnstone versus Johnstone game in a little bit of history. The opening notes commented that Colin Mcmenamin had yet to score on his return on loan from Gretna, and predicted that he didn't expect last season's top scorer in Scotland's maiden strike to be long in coming. He proved to be better than Mystic Meg 14 minutes into the game.

Pie and Bovril

£1.10 for hot drinks with the water steaming out of a tap in front of you from the servery counter. £1.30 for a steak and gravy pie. Mine was fine but one of my neighbours said theirs was cold on the inside.


Admission £17 (most expensive of the season)
Programme £2.50
(Bacon Butty) and Bovril £2.40
Total £TBC

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60
St. Johnstone £21.90

Match Report

Well it was pantomime season and I had jested with one Saint's fan on Pie and Bovril the Scottish Football forums, when he asked surely we couldn't beat them again, responded with oh yes we could, before laying a few conditions, based on our inconsistent showings thus far.

Well the game certainly started looking like oh yes we could. Livi started strong and started to dominate. Time and again getting into danger areas. Before Colin McMenamin got his head on the end of the ball and guided it into the back of the net. The old chant of his name at last resounded from the Livi choir in goal celebration, me very joyfully as I have the Livi number 9 in the sweep from the coach trip up.

However our joy was all too short lived. St Johnstone started to find their feet on the hard pitch and too often the Livi players started to lose theirs. Andy Jackson after some applied pressure got what was a deserved equaliser, but from the starts we were getting more and more anxious about the amount of space and opportunity that we appeared to be giving another team for the second game on the bounce. We were hoping for a goal ourselves, possibly from our other striker Steven Craig. When a Craig scored though it was Saint's defender Liam scoring his first goal for the club in the 41st minute. So for the second week on the trot we conceded a cheap but inevitable goal just before half time.

Livingston came out with a little renewed vigour at the start of the second half but it was soon snuffed out when Rocco Quinn burst through the non-existent defence to grab a third. Things then went from bad to worse and time and again the Livi players were leaving gaps on the park and two and sometimes three Saint's players had time space and no real challenge as they advanced.

We were just hoping there wasn't going to be a fourth goal from the home team. Livi have been in 8 games this season where 4 goals or more have been scored by one team, winning three 4-0, one each 5-0, 4-3 and 4-2, we have also been on the wrong end of 4-0 and 4-1 defeats. However with 18 minutes remaining Jackson scored again making it 4-1 followed 6 minutes later by a fifth from Peter MacDonald.

As I said before the fans were still singing backing their team and when chants of we want six appeared to be misconstrued by some of the players the chant was swiftly changed to '6-5 we're gonna win 6-5'. Just before the fifth goal Tam Pesir came unto the field and started to show the bit we'd been lacking for most of the game it was he who concluded the scoring more or less bang on the 90 minutes, sadly the ref didn't allow any additional time for us to attempt to get the three goal we still needed to draw level the spoilsport.

Final Score St. Johnstone 5 Livingston (St Johnstone: Jackson 22, 72, Craig 41, Quinn 56, MacDonald 78. Livingston: Colin McMenamin 14, Tomas Pesir 90)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Morton didn't need asking two weeks in a row their draw at Firhill lifted them back above Livingston who dropped back to 6th and it could have been worse if Clyde's pitch hadn't been frozen causing an abandonment. St Johnstone on the other hand benefited from Morton's result leapfrogging Partick into 3rd spot. Winning their game in hand over the top two to bring them within 13 points.

Next time its the third of three consecutive road trips as we head South to Dumfries and Palmerston.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park, Broadwood

Saturday, 22 December 2007

In Memorium

Today whould have been my father's 65th Birthday. Sadly in February this year he passed on at the Marie Curie Centre in Belfast.

Today's TV listings would seem to reflect his not being around. The last ever Parkinson a reflection by Michael on his career is tonight. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie, his eldest son's favourite sci-fi is on. Dad was a big sci-fi fan himself and I am working my way through his collection of books.

Also today I'll be heading off to Perth for the St. Johnstone game, another link on this day to my father as his mother was born in a similar sounding and spelt town in Ireland.

Thinking of you today Dad.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

The New Shadow Cabinet - The Scottish Perspective

Just had a quick scan through the new Clegg Shadow Cabinet and it is a mixed bag for the Scottish Lib Dem MPs.

For starters making room for Ed Davey as Shadow Foreign secretary is Michael Moore, who has been demoted within the same remit to Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. Ouch! Sorry giving him a change or field rather than sitting behind Ed would have been kinder. Although good to see the member for the only Lib Dem seat I've ever lived in getting recognition for his versatility.

Alistair Carmichael remains in situ as the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The two countries of the UK closest to my heart keep up the good work Alistair.

Danny Alexander whilst remaining as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is also Chair of manifesto group and the new Leader's chief of staff following Ed Davey. So a good day for one young Scottish MP.

Not so for another, Jo Swinson, who I recently watched in a excellent recent adjournment debate on allergies, has been Scottish Spokes person and then Woman and Equalities both roles she fulfilled admirably has been overlooked. I'm sure Jo will bounce back sooner rather than later though.

But our newest Scottish MP Willie Rennie has found himself in a new post that of Chair of Parliamentary campaigns team.

Archbishop and Moderators Son Back Clegg on Religion Answer

"It matters less to me than to know they are honest and reliable and that what beliefs they have they hold sincerely"

So said Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury on Nick Clegg's one word answer to the question in a Radio 5 interview about whether he believed in God. For the record the word was no.

And OK I'll admit the son is not that of the current Moderator of the Church of Scotland but our own former leader Lord Steel, whose father as well as being a former-Moderator was once the Minister of St. Michaels in Linlithgow. Who said of Clegg's response:

"He is very straight-talking. I think that is quite typical of him."

Tony Blair didn't want to reveal his true religious convictions in Downing Street for fear of being branded a nutter. Maybe that should have been the least of his problems, what with Carol Caplin, phantom weapons of mass destruction and obeying voices from the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Happy Christmas - Today's New Crimes

Press Notice from the Labour Party:

(Note to self not for publication, everyone, well everyone that votes and matters, will be too busy at Christmas Parties getting drunk to notice)

New Year Resolutions:

To make paying for sex illegal that'll take care of the oldest profession.

(side margin) Aye Right!

To fill up our overcrowded prisions with people using mobile phones while driving even if using a hands-free kit. We'll leave the terms of dangerous driving up to the discretion of our infallible Police forces.

(side margin still visible) Does Jacqui realise just what she might be opening herself up for if she gets this through?
(reply) The Private Office is hoping she hasn't, is two years really long enough?

Now have a nice Christmas everyone, and don't panic we can't do anything about any of this until the new year.

Now where did I leave my bottle of Chardonnay.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Charlie Says No to 42

Lord Falconer the former Lord Chancellor, who originally backed Tony Blair's plans to extend the period of detention without charge limit for terror suspects, has said there is no need to extend it from the current 28 day limit to the 42 which now appears to be latest Labour ultimate answer.

He now joins the former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and the Parliamentary committees on Home Affairs and Human Rights to criticise such plans.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secrtary say she will be looking for a compromise but if even some of the former 90 day supporters are not sure of advancing further it looks hard pressed that this will be forthcoming.

Football Stadia Tour 4: Broadwood

We're in the depths of December but at this point of this seasons Odyssey of the Irn Bru Scottish Division 1 grounds we wind ourselves in one of the coldest most exposed locations imaginable; Broadwood home of Clyde.


Clyde currently play at Cumbernauld, although they were originally from Rutherglen. You can see the fast Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line from the stadium and Croy station is the nearest station, although getting from there to the stadium can be a chore. However, there is amble parking around hte stadium, although the signs for the away fans parking does disappear just at the crucial roundabout if heading south past hte stadium. Just remember once you pass the floodlights at the next roundabout turn right, you'll see the only sign on the exit and then mind the speed humps on the approach to the stadium.

The Ground

Has the air of being unfinished about it largely because there are currently three excellent stands and a big hole to the north with a corrugated iron wall behind that goal line, over which many a ball disappears into the marsh beyond. The Main Stand to the East of the pitch and the opposing West Stand were the first two to be completed at Clyde's third permanent home, after Barrowfield Park and Shawfield Stadium. And were first used in February 1994 after an almost 8 year wandering first to Firhill (Partick Thistle) and New Douglas Park (Hamilton Academical) who will feature later in this season's travels.

The three stand put down is often aimed at Clyde fans on message boards, that plus their current distance from the Clyde. But it is one of the many first division stadiums that meet the current seating requirements for the SPL, although they would have to install a good undersoil system if they ever were to find themselves in such a position. (Ironically the game the following week was called off to a frozen pitch)

The Atmosphere

Both sets of fans were housed in the Main Stand, which although it left vast areas of empty seats did concentrate the fans atmosphere to close quarters. Shouts and gestures were easily aimed at the rival support in this game where both teams held the upper hand at times.

The Programme

Cost £2.50. This is award winning stuff, and rightly so has been the Scottish Football programme of the years every season since the 1995-6 season. It is 76 pages from multiple contributors on a whole range of issues, history, form, stats etc. It also has 8 pages dedicated to the visitors which was thoroughly researched and up t date.

Pie and Bovril

Good steak pie served here and an excellent cup of bovril. I forgot to note the price so will have to check on the second visit later in the season.

Edited: Pie £1.70, Bovril £1.40.


Admission £15
Programme £2.50
(Bacon Butty) and Bovril £3.10
Total £20.60

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60

Match Report

Having watched our Lions beat the league leaders the week before the away support was pumped up for more of the same. The proximity of Cumbernauld to Livingston making this virtually a Derby match also meant there were some unfamiliar faces in the travelling support.

And the Livi Lions carried off where they left off against Hamilton. Playing flowing football which was rewarding in the 8th minute by another Graham Dorran's goal, when he headed in a Robert Snodgrass cross. Somehow the stadium announcer and subsequently Clyde fans believed that Snoddy had scored as a result of his own cross. If he did I've never seen anyone move that fast. We may not have a 20 goal a season striker but Graham is almost on track to be a 20 goal this season midfielder. After the goal went in we continued to apply the pressure for maybe another 12 minutes but didn't find that elusive second goal. Then the home side started to wake up to the fact that their long ball and hope tactics weren't working and looked for more productive ways to get into the Livi half. Unfortunately our defenders and midfield started to give Clyde the room and time to refine these tactics more carefully.

Having not had that second goal our early joy turned to anxiety as we hoped that we might hold out under this sudden arrival of pressure until half time so that the manager Mark Proctor could pull the team together with some words at half time. Sadly Clydes Craig McKeown finally got what was a deserved equaliser in the 43rd minute and the Clyde support suddenly came back to life.

The second half it appeared that only one team had come out to play. Livingston didn't seem to be wanting to get back ahead. With 15 minutes to go with the Livi goal under increasing pressure the inevitable happened and Neil McGregor ran past our defence and slotted home what turned out to only be the winner. Colin Stewart managed to pull off three spectacular saves which prevented the scoreline being worse than it was. 2-1 in the end flattered Livi another case of Jekyll one week Mr Hyde the next.

Final Score Clyde 2 Livingston 1 (Morton: McKeown 43, McGregor 75. Livingston:
Graham Dorrans 8)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Morton lost more heavily than Livi so our spot in third was actually strengthened from goals scored to goal difference. Clyde however, jumped over Queen of the South into 7th place.

Next time it's off to last season's happy hunting ground of McDairmid Park, Perth home of St. Johnstone.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park

Sunday, 16 December 2007

A Probe of Their Own

Well they like lauching probes look at their one into cash for Honours and now it looks like the SNP are about to be probed themselves. The Lib Dems in Scotland are to call for a Parliamentary enquiry into the SNP's governments handling of the Donald Trump golfing resort planning application over recent weeks.

We need transparancy and confidence in our planning procedures and just how the Government at Holyrood can get involved. There is a tangled web of subdefuge and different stories from different sides to allow this to exist at present.

Obviously the SNP are up in arms about all this. But just what were Swinney who called in the application and the First Minister Alex Salmond doing and talking about at luxury locations with Trump represnetatives and the man himself on 3rd and 4th December.

However, the man whose planning application caused all this political fallout has shown a far greater sense of honour and responsibilty than the Government. Donald Trump has apologised to Martin Ford the former chair of Aberdeenshire Council's infrastructure services committee for the way things worked out. Mr Ford was the man whose casting vote vetoed Trumps plans the other week.

The latest twist in the Trumpgate saga now is that the pressure group Sustainable Aberdeenshire are looking at mounting a legal challenge against the Scottish Goverment's decision to call in this planning applicaation a mere 5 days after it was rejected by the council committee.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

People in Glass Houses Shouldn't Push so Hard for Golf Courses

Before I post the rest of this I'd like to point out two things.

1. In most committees should a vote be tied the Chairman's casting vote is normally cast to maintain the status quo and not to effect change.

2. Also local representatives on planning committess have always been left free to vote as they see fit on each local decision, and any hint of bullying or bribing a decision is usually investigated fully.

So now we get to the crux of the matter. The SNP are accusing someone else of sleaze over a issue they are far from clean on. The Scottish press seem to be letting them get away with their own misdemeanors The Herald is quiet and the Scotsman after initially pointed it out ran a balance piece today which is laughable, Trump as the new Carnegie don't make me laugh.

Somehow on Monday Alex Salmond met with a certain American Billionaire, who starred in the US version of a show fronted here by Alan Sugar, before 24 hours later one of his cabinet, alledgedly without his knowledge, called in said billionaires planning application for review at Holyrood. Now either Alex Salmond has far more developed Alzheimers than Terry Pratchett or he really does believe he has inherited the moniker of Teflon off the early Tony Blair years.

Apparently the accusation is that Nicol Stephen has accussed a senior civil servant of lacking integrity because he called the chief executive of Council where the planning issue was overturned while representatives of the Billioniare's where in the room with the civil servant. The minister who made the decision to call in the plan for review had been at a similar development by the Billionarie in America 48 hours before the announcement on Tuesday, and only the day before his boss met with the Billionaire himself.

There are two many links between the largest party in Holyrood and this organisation to make me content to expect the environmental concerns to be looked at with the same serious as the local council planning copmmittee. A committee which told the Billionaire this area needed to be addressed and if done so his application could be re-issued for thier approval.

Sadly one side is trying to prove they can bring investment to this country early in their administration, as they look to push for independence. Sadly they seem to be wanting to do so against the concerns of the nation they have been given custody of to look after.

How SMART is the Bali Agreement

Ok so the American's have come up with a compromise that means that unlike Kyoto they have signed up to the Bali Agreement. But at this time of year when many of us are undergoing our annual performance review and setting objectives for the forthcoming year we are all aware that a good objective is a SMART objective, one that is Specific, Measureable , Achieveable, Realistic and Time Bound. So how does what has just been agreed in Bali measure up against these criteria.

Specific: Ouch we don't start well. Apparently we have agreed to curb climate change. But all we have done is enter a new stage of negotiations over the next two years in order to achieve that. Admittedly we do still have 4 years to run on the Kyoto Protocal which many of today's signaturies had signed up to, but not the USA, Russia and China the big three polluters. So we have no real specifics yet and at the end of negotiations we'll probably find oursleves back where we are now with a reluctance by the USA to set specific targets and China saying that reductions will affect their economic growth.

Measureable: It appears that the only measure is that in two years we will have reached by negotiation a new set of emmission targets. Judging by some of the major stumbling blocks from even getting to agree to negotiations I don't see these limits resulting in a greater reduction than was laid out in Kyoto, and that just scares me.

Acheiveable: Can we expect the USA and China, to be able to agree with the rest of the world who do seem to want to achieve something that something can be done, in just another two years. I'm hoping for a Democrat win in 2008 as that might be our only hope of at least one of those players coming on board in that time. As for China they seem to be geared up for an industrial take over of the world, which finds them lagging behind other's largely due to their terrible recent history of the Cultural Revolution squashing all their own nations intellectuals.

Realistic: Part of this sadly I do see as being acheiveable, having the nations talking for two years about this subject is definitely realistic. After all we've been trying to persuade others for the last ten years. Coming to an agreement that will be helpful at the end of that two year chat now that is where realism goes out the window. The USA were almost on board with Kyoto under the last Clinton adminstration, and would have probably signed up but for some hanging Chads. What is going to happen in the next 12 months Stateside is going to have a massive impact on just how realistic it will be to have a Global agreement at the end of that timeframe.

Time-bound: Well yes this is time bound, two years to come up with new emmission targets, which gives a 2 year lead up peirod for those already on board to gear up for the next stage.

Personally I think that the same old unwilling participants in this whole process are again dragging their feet, digging their heels into the ground and holding on to what they have always had. I'd love to be proved wrong in two years time but somehow I wouldn't hold my breathe too much.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Pratchett Not Doing a Mark Twain

As has been noted before on this blog I am an avid reader of the novels of Terry Pratchett. So it was with shock that I read this morning, that not only had he had a minor stroke but had also be diagnosed with a rare form of early Alzheimer's.

The Author says he still has a few books in his yet. Nation is nearing completions and Unseen Academicals (possibly based on Saturday's performance at the football) is well annotated ready to roll. I shall be treasuring these and however many more he can produce from now on. I just hope they can find an equivalent of Dried Frog Pills with which to treat him.

Having had a Grandmother who suffered Alzheimer's I know that if they have diagnosed him early he may well have many years and many novels left in him yet. However, for those who want to know more or want to know how to give to research into trying to find a cure for this yet incurable disease I have provided two UK links below.

The Alzheimer's Society

The Alzheimer's Research Trust

Cable Not Going as Quiet as a Mouse

T'was the PMQ's before Christmas and all round the House nothing was stirring not even a mouse, the members and press were waiting for killer Cable's last stab to the heart.

He started by merely asking which of the disasters that have battered the infant Brown Government would haunt him over his Christmas sprout. Brown tried to side step the issue, thanking Vince for his contributions as stand-in leader in recent weeks, but speculating that with the rate of change in the Lib Dems he might be back there for Prime Minister's Questions soon.

Vince then uncoiled another killer put down, "Given his [the Prime Minister’s own position, he might not be wise to speculate about leadership elections." The opposition benches let rip their laughter, the Labour side looked like they'd only found an empty box under the tree for decorative purposes.

I'm not so sure about Vince Cable for Strictly Come Dancing, but Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You might have another Lib Dem who could follow Charles and Lembit.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Make Way for the Cowboy Builders of Independence

The white van pulled up outside Holyrood yesterday the words Salmond and Co covered by layers of dirt that have been being picked up recently. Out hopped Nicola Sturgeon to size up the job at hand. With a pencil firmly wedged behind her ear she eyed the place up. From the Borders to Shetland, from the Hebrides to the North Sea, she saw a juicy job that her contracted firm could carry off.

It needs fixing up and we’ll have to take down the connecting walls to the neighbours. But don’t panic you’ll still be living in a nice European community. All we need is you mark on this piece of paper and leave the details to us.

Now I know designer make-over shows are all the rage, and I know that these are done with very little consultation as to what that will entail. However, comparing the move to independence, or the move to devolution, to one is not the same. For a start with devolution there was a whole consultation period, but the SNP would like to gloss over this due to their non-participation in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which met from 1989 to produce its final report in 1995. So when people came to vote on devolution they weren’t totally in the dark as to what it entailed, just as the Good Friday Agreement was but to referendum in Northern Ireland for the establishment of devolved power there.

Yet on the front page of the Scottish Edition of the Time today the SNP are not prepared to lay out in advance what Independence is going to mean, merely ask the Scottish public to vote yea or nae and leave the details of what all is going to be involved until later, in negotiations between the Scottish and Westminster Governments.

Well I’m sorry but that is a case of we don’t want to people to know what we’ll be doing but expecting them to vote for it anyway. Now we know the truth SNP don’t trust us with the detail of independence to make up our minds. In which case people of Scotland should all vote no 100%, until we can be trusted to vote on detail and can make an educated judgement.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Fore! Big Eck Tries to Trump Council

I wanted to digest this news before passing comment on it and now I have reflected here is my take.

Now I'm sorry dispite all the protestations that come out of Linlithgow's most powerful son, he is anything but a mere constituency MSP, in the same way that the MP for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath is anything but merely and MP.

Imagine the uproar there would have been if say a certain billionaire with dubious taste in hairpieces had been turned down by Fife council for a £1bn pound proposal in an environmentally sensitive area, say near Burntisland. If the local MP had taken a key interest in trying to overturn such a decision I would gaurantee that the Scottish Nationalists would be up in arms about abuse of power.

Alex Salmond can rant on about cash for honours, but he must realise that what he appears to be doing is not as a mere mortal of an MSP looking after his constituents. He is using his standing as far more than just that to attempt to steamroller one level of democratically elected government to appease a very wealthy man.

Now I'm not saying that I either agree with the council or Alex over the issue. I have not studied all the papers. I know there were environmental concerns, which even some of the objectors have said if these were redressed in an appropriatee manner and resubmitted may lead to a new golf complex being established. The local planners have seen the full proposal, they have come to a close judgement which was only decided by the casting vote of the chairperson. So there obviously are benefits and costs that are finely balanced.

If the SNP are truely looking out for the best interests of Scotland and its people they'd better start acting like it. Let the people decide what is best for them, they are started to appear as control-freakish as Labour, if they call this in. They are prepared, it would appear to steamroller, over environmental concerns. This hardly surprises me as they intend to fund an independent Scotland largely on oil money, harder a greener Scottish pound if they get their way.

So take heed, watchout for golf balls flying from Bute House, as Alex practices in his official residence to be ready for his new 'friends' golf venture, but also watch out for just how an independent Scotland will affect Climate Change. Either one could hit you and leave a lasting effect.

Monday, 10 December 2007

2-0 It's Just Like Watching Brazil

Hamilton, the league leaders, came a visiting at Almondvale on Saturday. Now they play in red and white hoops so I have no idea why they felt the need to change into their change strip, but change they did, and it looked somewhat familiar.

Their Nike shirt was yellow with green trims on the cuffs and collar, their shorts were a very familiar shade of blue and the socks white. My initial reaction as with those around me is isn’t it a bit precocious to dress like Brazil.

Well they may have worn the clothes but they weren’t Brazil. They didn’t even threaten the Livingston goal in the first half and all the action was heading towards Bryn Halliwell in the Accies goal. The only Livi player who didn’t look up to speed was Robert Snodgrass who had been out for the last two games. Heading towards half time Mark Proctor had signalled Keaghan Jacobs to get out there and warm up so it looked like even the manager was thinking of making a change at half time, something that Snoddy later confirmed was the intention.

That was until Snoddy unleashed almost on half time a magnificent cross into the box which was just an inch or so ahead of the incoming head of Colin McMenamin, who is still looking to get of the mark on his return on loan from Gretna. This was to be Colin’s best change of the afternoon.

The second half started and the Accies at least seemed to have turned up a little but Livi’s keeper Colin Stewart handled everything that was thrown at him. But a beautiful build up down the right flank by Graham Dorrans, Dave MacKay and Thomas Pesir was worthy of Brazil and the cross in fell for Snoddy for his first goal on 52 minutes. He added a second latter and had a couple of other decent attempts to get his hat-trick. When Mark Proctor finally made a substitution triple. Snoddy didn’t realise he was coming off, or maybe didn’t want to, looking for a change to earn his first senior hat-trick.

So seeing as Hamilton brought the who analogy up with their team colours and position on top of the league. We may have played like Brazil, but it was like beating Brazil.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Football Stadia Tour 3: Cappielow

Sorry if I’m bit late in the week updating you on my footballing travels through the Irn Bru Division 1 grounds, but I’ve been a bit busy at work recently what with settling into my new position and everything. So here’s is my summery of my second trip of the season to the home of the Ton, Greenock Morton.


Cappielow is in Greenock along the road that runs along the south bank of the River Clyde. As a seasider by birth it is closest I get to having the smells of home whilst watching my football.

Like our trip to Dunfermline the expected delays beyond Harthill on the M8 failed to materialise so yet again all our coaches ended up at the ground a lot earlier than anticipated. But this most have been welcome news to the Chippie at the NE corner of the stadium who did a roaring trade in his fine chips at other things to the hungry masses of Livi supporters.

The Ground

The Livi fans were one again seated in the Main Stand at Cappielow, which is the southern side of the stadium. Although unlike our Challenge Cup visit earlier in the season we were allowed less seats based on where the lines of segregation tape where placed.

Cappielow is a real throw back stadium maintaining a lot of old features and attributes missing from modern all-seater venues. The two ends are open to the elements. The Western End is the Wee Dublin End, and has unbacked seating formed out of the former terracing. The Eastern end is the Sinclair Street end where ardent Morton fans stand on the exposed terracing however on Saturday this was largely empty.

Opposite the Main Stand is the Cowshed, which is largely terraced but has a small section of seating at the front on either side of the halfway lines.

However, the toilets the away fans have to use are situated down the back of the Wee Dublin end and the gents leave a lot to be desired and I’ve been in toilets blocks in the Soviet Union when it still existed that were luxuriant in comparison.

The Atmosphere

Sadly although Morton have a large support for this level their support were not very vocal when we visited on Saturday. Although this may have been down to the way their team performed especially in the latter part of the match.

The Programme

Cost £2.50. Is made by the same printers as Livi’s MDP. However, the visiting team details although slightly altered from our first visit had some factual inaccuracies due to not being thoroughly checked from the first time the pen pictures were used. Sadly as if to appease the Old Firm supporters in their midst both Celtic and Rangers achievements in Europe featured in the opening pages.

Pie and Bovril

Not a static servery but a mobile van is located in the corner between the Main and Wee Dublin stands. Very reasonably priced £1 for a Bovril and a variety of freshly grilled options available as you would expect from such a van.


Admission £13 (excellent and only £4 for juniors)
Programme £2.50
(Bacon Butty) and Bovril £2.40 (Excellent)
Total £17.90

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60

Match Report

I was confident going into this game on the sweep stake on the Coach over I had drawn the clubs two leading scorers Graham Dorrans and penalty taker Dave MacKay. So I was hoping for one of these two to clean up early so I could relax and enjoy the game. In the end Graham did score in the first ten minutes but only to equalise 3 minutes after Chris Miller got on the end of a ball send over from just in front of us from around the penalty spot. Dorrans a few minutes later made a run on the Morton goad and got a slight deflection to score from 20 yards.

For the first 20 minutes or so both teams were doing their best to take the lead. But with a lot of effort and little to so for it, but slowly Livi started a domination of the game that was only briefly broken when down Morton's left Ian Russell found space between youngster Keaghan Jacobs and Dave MacKay to allow he to swerve one in from all of 25 years that seemed to confuse Colin Stewart in goal by heading in at the last minute.

However, once again Livi weren't behind for long when Dave MacKay sent a cross into the box where Jason Kennedy made amends for being ruled offside the last time he netted here in August by equalising again.

The second half was all one way. Livi's Manager Mark Proctor if he'd brought the kitchen sink would have thrown it on as every else was being aimed at McGurn in the Morton goal.

On loan Colin McMenamin still looking for his first goal since his return to the Lions was clean through on a raking run, beat the keeper only to see his shot bounce off the outside of the post. Thomas 'Tam' Pesir scorched one in from all 20 yards which dipped enough to hit the topside of the crossbar only a moment later. One corner resulted in 4 or five stops from Morton keeper and defenders. A close range header from Dave Mackay and shots from Pesir and Dorrans were all somehow kept out by McGurn who surely should have been Morton's man of the match.

So we all came away from this trip sad not to have taken all three points. But if you'd asked us at the beginning we would have taken any result that earned us at least a point.

Final Score Morton 2 Livingston 2 (Morton: Millar 7, Russell 38. Livingston:
Graham Dorrans 10, Jason Kennedy 42 [ironic looking at today's other post])

Effect on the relative teams' positions. This week in Division one the top two teams beat the bottom two while the other six all managed to conjure up draws meaning the whole table stayed in exactly the same positions Morton 5th and Livi in 6th.

Next time it's off to Cumbernauld the latest home of Clyde.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park

Is this the Ultimate Answer? If So Panic!!!

For many years as a Douglas Adams fan I have long known that the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything should be 42. However, I’m quite sure that as a sci-fan fan who was also brought up with Star Trek that the question was not 'How long should the British police be able to detain a suspect without charge?'.

For this sadly is the new number that has been arbitrarily picked by someone at the home office, following the failure of 90 and 56 to be the figure that people might love to up the ante from the original 14 days a few years ago, which itself had been an increase from 7 which itself was 3 more than the police had at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Newsnight last night did a pastiche of the Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy to explain the whole story leading to 42 days. However, it looks like the graphics have got worse over almost 30 years, so much for CGI at the Beeb, or at least in the news department.

42 to me has always been a nice friendly number just like the words ‘Don’t Panic’ were on the guide. To have it associated, and I hope only briefly, with another attempt by Labour to extend the time frame in which humans can be held without charge is another backward step.

Now I don’t always agree with the former Tory Chancellor Ken Clarke but last night on Question Time I did, he said that the Government had yet to prove a need to extend, let alone double, the period that was so recently reached only as a compromise. All they point out is that one or two cases have reached the end of he period but to me this is not a valid reason to extend. This is merely an example of Parkinson’s law, where work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. It doesn’t mean that any more time is needed for the task, it may even mean that the task could be completed sooner to the same standards if less time was available and more concentration exercised on it earlier.

Personally if 42 does somehow become the Government’s answer to this question I’d remove the word don’t and say PANIC!!! Because while the US has to charge within 48 hours not 42 days, they do have an interment camp at Guantanamo Bay so the Isle of Man may be partially returned to its WWII status if we not careful and Brown tries to imitate Bush too much.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

The Rose Go Marching On 2

Yesterday saw the second round of the OVD Scottish Junior Cup which saw mixed fortunes from the West Lothian sides. A couple of the matched did have some Lib Dem political significance to them.

In the Battle of the Lib Dem Blogs Linlithgow Rose, whose ground I have canvassed and delivered leaflet all around, carried on their defence of this trophy beating fellow Blogger Iain Dale's Irvine Meadows 4-2. I hope that if Iain got to the match at Prestonfield that he did actually enjoy it, even if the 6 goal-fest didn't go in his teams favour.

In the Linlithgow and Falkirk East vs Dunfermline and West Fife Parliamentary constituency match up, Whitburn Juniors whose ground is in the first ward I stood for beat Crossgates Primrose 3-0

Stoneyburn Juniors from where I first lived when I came to Scotland lost out 2-0 to Kelty Hearts from the home town of the Willie Rennie MP.

Other West Lothian wins were:

Bo'ness United 7 (seven) Dufftown 0
Troon 1 Bathgate Thistle 3
Harthill Royal 3 Longside 0

Before any pedants point out to me that Harthill is in Lanarkshire I'm claiming their locality as West Lothian because their Gibbshill Park is in Greenrigg and therefore just on the West Lothian side of that particular urban area.

However, for another year it is farewell to local sides Armadale Thistle, Broxburn Athletic, Livingston United and West Calder United who all lost out by a single goal.

Personally If I Were The Nats I'd Run

I doubt this is the same Labour Party that most Scottish politicos know. Apparently the latest about face from Labour is that they are now claiming that Scotland could survive independently.

Now the Nats I know who are politically active are unlikely to be taken in so lightly by this sudden U-Turn approach. However, is this another case of the many flavours of Labour which leaves them rudderless, directionless and attempting to be all things to all people and failing miserably to keep their eye on the ball. Personally I see this as a cynical attempt to claw back votes before Gordon Brown, the most famous hater turned lover of Margaret Thatcher, turns to the people for his own mandate to govern.

Why do I think that? Well for a start I think that one reason why we did not face an Autumn election as was so widely tipped all summer was because while Gordon attempts to be as English as mustard and horse radish sauce with a roast is still very much the proud Scot. With the softening of opinion towards the Nats policies if not their stance on indepedence is rife, Labour are looking to lossen up that soft vote back to themselves. You only have to look at the stances they have taken or failed to take more accurately in the last 15 years to see this shift from being a party with ideology to being a party with your and your and your ideology.

Many people may thing the grass is always greener on the other side. Only Labour seem intent on pulling enough wool over enough eyes to make people think they own all the grass.

Football Stadia Tour 2: East End Park

Carrying on my tour of the Irn Bru Scottish First Division Stadia this weekend I returned, for the first time in two seasons, to another familiar stomping ground East End Park in Dunfermline. Not only have I blogged about games attended and missed here before but I also saw the crowd from numerous angles and vantage points during the Dumfermline and East Fife by election.


East End Park in conveniently placed along the Halbeath Road to the east of the City, so cars and coaches are best coming off the M90 at junction 3 and coming straight into the city. It is only just outside the city centre and not too far a walk from the train station.

Unlike our trip across the Forth Bridge a fortnight ago yesterday there were delays in crossing as the road works have been completed. So masses of Livi fans who allowed time for the bridge again found themselves congregating out side the gates of the East Stand well before the gates opened at 2:15.

The Ground

Last time I visited EEP was in the SPL days and we were accommodated in one half of the North Stand. It was also the match that our club chairman Pearse Flynn still in a dispute with Dunfermline's Chairman John Yorkston was sat in the stands with the fans, in fact only about 2 rows behind me. However my mate who was sat beside me, missed the goal as he was sitting behind one of the posts holding up the commentary gantry. This time however all the Livi fans had uninterrupted views of the action from the East Stand.

Across from us was the Norrie McCarthie stand. To the right of this stand is the tunnel where the officials and players emerge like at Old Trafford from the corner of the pitch. The Main Stand to the south has the director's boxes enclosed just behind the dug outs.

Disabled facilities are good in the East stand there is a raised viewing platform but at turnstile level where 5 wheelchairs could have access. As each disabled ticket holders helper is given a hi-vis jacket on entering, even the visiting support.

The Atmosphere

Last time I was here for a match we were taking up half of the North stand and only divided by a barrier from some of the most vocal home support, real see into the whites of their eyes stuff. This time we were somewhat separated from any of the home support. The vocal mob from the North Stand did direct some chants in our direction. But even the fans in the main stand were quite far away and didn't make much noise for most of the match anyway.

That being said I was up near the back of the East Stand and the acoustics did seem to have an effect later on we did get both Mark Proctor and Curtis Fleming plus all the subbed players to respond directly to our chants. Having said that the atmosphere in the Livi end was buoyant for most of the game and all the later stages, whereas the most noise that the Pars fans created was at he end when they booed off Stephen Kenny and his players.

The Programme

Cost £2.50. One highlight for me was to see Willie Rennie's smiling face advertising his surgeries from the advertisement pages. It had two pages dedicated to the visitors and a random selection of players selected for profile, and surprisingly for a first visit of the season not more emphasis on some first team regulars. There was a two page interview with one of the home players, on this occasion local boy made good Steven Crawford. There was a section looking back at one of the Pars great games from the sixties. Also there was a section looking at programmes from the past which in a tribute to the visitors also mentioned the first programme between Meadowbank Thistle and Dunfermline on 25 September 1976 at Meadowbank.

Us away fans did play a quick game of Play Your Cards Right with the previous two games reports. For the record the winners went lower, higher. However, tow downsides the first page of the programme did call our manager Martin Proctor. Plus the Dunfermline players were listed by their UEFA cup squad numbers. Not only a fling back to the Pars SPL days and a slight slur on the rest of the clubs in the league, but also now never to be used again this season, except for identifying who the subs were replacing the team stats section.

Pie and Bovril

There is only a scotch pie not a steak pie at EEP, however, why quibble when almost every away fan looks forward to the steak Bridie which at £1.90 is gorgeous. Added to this the Bovril is only £1.10 and you are saving 60p on Dundee. For those not used to a bridie think a little like a beef stew stuffed into a Cornish Pastie pastry. The bridie on offer was exquisite the meat was lovely and tender, and just enough gravy to hold it all together. My bovril was lovely and warm especially as I didn't even start to drink it until 10 minutes after I bought it.


Admission £16
Programme £2.50
Pie (Bridie) and Bovril £3 (Excellent)
Total £21.50

League Table of Cost
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60

Match Report

The first half looking at the scoreline would have suggested a very even game. However, Super Mario in the Livi goal was hardly troubled and didn't have to make a save. With Dave MacKay back at right back he started running overlaps with Graham Dorrans and provide all sorts of option. Jason Kennedy surging forward from midfield and Lee Makel distributing from there were creating all sorts of havoc for the Pars defence. All that was lacking was a finish. However they kept hounding the Pars box. Steven Craig once getting to the goal line but without support for a lay back before being unceremoniously dumped off the ball for what could have been a penalty. Later on he again broke the offside trap (which was a tough act for him yesterday) and was through into the box when Bamba pushed him over the ball, but the ref failed to blow for an even clearer penalty. However, Craig finally got on the end of a Tomas Pesir cross to head home the first just before half time.

The second half couldn't have got off to a much worse start for Dunfermline when 4 minutes in when two Dunfermline defenders managed to collide in the centre of the park allowing the ball to trickle past them. Steven Craig needing no second thought pounced on it to punch away his second of the afternoon. This must have dumbstruck the official as for the next ten minutes they didn't flag him for offside, and when they did it was some time after Dunfermline had cleared a ball and it was being passed around on the half way line. Livi didn't sit back though and continued to make advances on the now largely static Pars midfield and defence. At one point managing not just a 1-2 but a 1-2-3-4-5 between two players who didn't even move. Mark Tinkler, who along with new signing Julius Raliukonis have made no error in central defence, finally put a seal on the game and possible the Dunfermline managers tenure with a great strike on 66 minutes, which would probably have not even been stoppable without the slight deflection it received. Finally on 90 minutes almost 3 months after he hit the back of the net only to have it ruled offside Jason Kennedy finally found his name on a Livi scoresheet.

Final Score Dunfermline 0 Livingston 4 (Steven Craig 44,49, Mark Tinkler 66, Jason Kennedy 90)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Dunfermline drop from 6th to 8th one point above bottom spot . Livingston move out of the play-off 9th spot to replace Dunfermline in 6th.

Previous Stadia Dens Park

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

SNP Vote not a Vote for Independence

The Scottish Centre for Social Research has announced findings that must be putting a dampener on things at SNP HQ.

While they took 32.9% of the constiuency vote in May from a survey carried out by the SCSR only 23% of the respondents to their survey were in favour of an independent Scotland. So it would appear that somewhere about one third of the SNP vote must have come from unioinists. It also appears that the SNP was better at winning the nationalist vote than in previous election. 75% of those who favoured independence had voted for them compared to 50% in 2003. This was reflected in the loss of support and seats for the Scottish Socialist Party and the Greens who both also advocate independence.

The main reason those unionist voters turned to the SNP appears to be that they saw Alex Salmond as a better option for First Minsiter than Jack McConnell who was then leader of Labour in Scotland. 44% rated Alex 7 out of 10 or better compared to 23% for Jack. The party scored more highly on showing it reflected the interests of Scotland with 24% saying they did very closely compared to 7% for Labour.

One of the policies that was pinpointed as a main reason for support to the SNP was a devolved parliament with greater fiscal autonomy especially over its tax raising powers.

So if Alex does suceed in getting his referendum White Paper through the Parliament he looks like he is heading for about a 75-25 defeat on his hands. As I've said for some time, let him have his referendum and then we can blow this independence argument out of the water for some considerable time and get on with the business of running Scotland as well as we can.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

The Rose Go Marching On

Well the Scottish Junior Cup holders are making the most of the new set up for the Scottish Cup.

Following up their 6-0 win down at Newton Stewart in the first round Linlithgow Rose took on East of Scotland League side Spartans. Spartans are no slouches in the Scottish Cup. In 2005-6 they beat league sides Berwick Rangers and Queen's Park (sadly not at Hampden) before holding St. Mirren (who went on to promotion to the SPL) to a goalless draw at home before losing at Love Street. And in 2003-4 they claimed the scalps of Alloa and Arbroath before losing out to returning former tenants of their City Park ground Livingston who were at that time in the SPL who were heading to the Semi-Finals and CIS Cup win that season.

But the Junior Cup holders didn't show any fear for one of the regular giant killers of recent years. Instead they carried out their own act of giant killing. For it was the home side that lifted the crowd at Prestonfield when Bradley scored in the 24th minute. A lead they maintained until the half time break, when the result earned almost as big a cheer as the Dunfermline losing scoreline announcement at fellow West Lothian side Livingston's ground.

In the second half Spartans did strike back on 54 minutes with a penalty strike by McLeod. But t he little teams lead was restored 4 minutes later when Donnolly scored their second. With just over 10 minutes to go Rose then killed the game off with two strikes in just over a minute from Tyrell and Hogg.

Linlithgow Rose make it into Saturday's draw when big local rivals Livingston of the Iron Bru Scottish Football League Division join many of the other SFL teams in the draw.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The Very Model of a Modern Post Master General

I always marvel at the relevance of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, the latest Making Money is about Moist van Lipwig who we first met in Going Postal when Lord Vetinari appointed him the new Post Master General for Ankh Morpork. He has now been given control of the biggest bank and mint in the city because he has turned around the post office making it reliable, efficient and profitable. As the title suggests he has now been charged with making money.

It appears that possibly Terry in his infinite wisdom has taken a look at the current Labour government's policy on Post Offices and twisted it towards this logical conclusion. Yesterday when I returned home after writing about the closure of Post Offices coming to parts of Scotland I turned on the news to be bombarded my 'loyal' Labour Glasgow MPs being up in arms about the reduction of access to their constituents of much needed services, especially the elderly and those without access to private transport.

But what have they stood on at the last three elections as far as Post Offices are concerned. (Parenthesises mine)

In 1997 Labour promised in their manifesto:

'We will ensure that self-financing commercial organisations within the public sector - the Post Office is a prime example - are given greater commercial freedom to make the most of new opportunities.

'Life in our countryside

'Labour recognises the special needs of people who live and work in rural areas. The Conservatives do not. Public services and transport services in rural areas must not be allowed to deteriorate. The Conservatives have tried to privatise the Post Office. We opposed that, in favour of a public Post Office providing a comprehensive service. Conservative plans would mean higher charges for letters and put rural post offices under threat.'

In 2001:

'The Post Office and postal services

'We are committed to high-quality, universal postal services, and a dynamic Post Office which can thrive in a world of technological change and increased competitive pressure. Labour is working with the banks to offer a new universal banking service. This will allow all benefit and pension recipients to receive their payments, at no charge, in full at the post office after the switch to Automated Credit Transfer in 2003.

'We also intend the local post office to become an invaluable resource for access to government information. There will be increased incentives for people to take over and modernise post offices. Business customers, representing by far the majority of the Post Office’s turnover, want a full range of express, parcels and logistics services. We have given the Post Office greater commercial freedom in the public sector. It needs to be able to gain an advantage in the new postal market and become a leading force in domestic and international postal services through alliances and joint ventures. We want to help the Post Office keep up with the best in a fast-changing market.

'Rural life

'Labour is pledged to a rural services standard to set out specifically what rural people can expect from 21 public service providers - with annual auditing and commitments to service improvement. The rural school closure programme has been ended; 3,000 new, affordable homes a year are on the way; a £30 million police programme will help cut rural crime; £239 million over three years has been set aside for rural transport services; and the Post Office is now obliged to prevent closure of rural post offices except in unavoidable circumstances, with £270 million to help achieve this and recruit sub-postmasters.'

And in 2005:

'Thriving rural areas

'Since 1997, Labour has made it more difficult to close rural schools, put in £750 million to support rural post offices and introduced a 50 per cent rate relief on village shops.Through our £51 million Rural Bus Subsidy Grant we have delivered over 2,200 new bus services in rural areas this year.'


Not only has Labour been saying less an less about Post Offices over the last 10 years they have also clearly not been delivering on their own promises. Promises about how important the post offices should be, how everyone should still be able to get their benifits in full from their 'local' post office and that the Post Office will become a leading force in industry to take but three.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Most Flummoxed Cold Caller Ever

Chris K has just posted about his Worst Cold Caller Ever and like Chris I too work in a call centre environment so know a little of what the person on the other end of the line goes through.

So I'd like to nominate my most flummoxed cold caller ever. It was shortly after the Labour/Lib Dem Scottish executive had introduced free personal care for the elderly, and if I remember correctly I was in full General election mode of highlighting our sucesses. This is how the conversation went.

Caller: 'Hello can I take a few moments of your time to ask a few questions?'

Me: (unusually) 'Certainly.'

Caller: 'Have you heard that the Scottish Executive have introduced free personal care for the elderly?'

Me: (grinning in anticipation of the next question) Yes

Caller: 'How did you hear about it?'

Me: 'When it was debated at the Liberal Democrat conference.'

Caller: 'Oh..... I don't know how to put that down....can I ....put you down as read about it in literature.'

Me: (now unable to supress the giggles) 'Well I suppose I did see it in the agenda first, so that's fine.'

Caller: 'OK I have some further questions...and you probably know more about this than I do....'

And so the questions continued about the details and whether or not I agreed with various things. Quite a fun call but you sence the caller was panicked to actually find someone with a greater knowledge of the subject matter than their brief training probably involved.

The First Cut is the Deepest

Sadly it appears that the pound speaks more highly than the need as far as the Post Office is concerned.

The announcement of the first Post Office closures in Scotland are being announced today. The Post Office Ltd is announcing these in phases and the first trance of these for Glasgow, central Scotland and Argyll are a lot deeper than expected according to the Scotsman.

24 of the 44 offices earmarked for closure are in Glasgow, while rural areas in the Cental Belt and West have come out least scathed. What is apparent is that the cuts appear to have been based on the type of business each office carries out rather than the reliance on such business the local communities may require of their post office. Therefore most of the cuts appear to have come in the poorer areas.

Last month the National Consumer Council issued a report which highlighted that found that people most reliant on post offices, such as the elderly and unemployed, were the least likely or able to lobby for them to stay open. These cuts announced for Scotland seems to bear out this that the Post Office is hurting still further those most reliant on their services but is favouring those who keep them most profitable.

There are now fears for the rest of Scotland including Lothian following this first look at what services will be cut.

Monday, 22 October 2007

After a Weekend of Sporting Disaster

As a Scottish member of the BoSox nation, for those not au fait with Baseball that is what us fans of the Boston Red Sox are known as, I had a sleepless night last night.

Game 7 of the American League Championship Series fell on Five's normal Sunday scheduled basball night. So having recovered from 3-1 down during the week to take the series to the deciding game us UK fans were guaranteed at least one more look at the Green Monster, an iconic 37 foot high wall, at Boston's Fenway Park for this year. The Sox starting well getting the first hitter in each of the first 3 innings unto base and scoring a run as a result. However, two double plays (that is a hit that results in two men getting out) helped keep the Cleveland Indians in it as many runners were left on base. At the same time Boston's Japanese Starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka retired the entire Cleveland team in order for no hits.

The Middle three innings saw Cleveland fight back with two runs scoring. But there also controversy in the fifth when after collecting the ball off the Green Monster in his ungloved hand, fired it to second base, where the umpire ruled that Kenny Lofton had been tagged out by Dustin Pedroia. TV replays showed that the tag did not occur until after Lofton's left hand was securely on the bag.

However, after a solid defensive game and series by both teams the errors started to happen in the final third. An error by shortstop Julio Lugo allowed Kenny Lofton to finally make it to second base. From there he set off when Franklin Gutierrez hit a line drive down the third base line, but it ricocheted off the photo boxes and out into the outfield where Manny Ramirez was bearing down on the ball. Lofton was held up. But Japanese reliever Hideki Okajima got out of his own mess without allowing Cleveland to trouble to scoreboard operator.

The bottom half of the inning again saw Pedroia take centre stage. After Casey Blake possibly worried about Jacoby Ellsbury's pace allowed the rookie to ease to second base when he should have been held at first, up stepped Pedroia. Relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt, after giving up his first hit of the series to Ellsbury, then could only watch as Pedroia leaned back and let one rip up into the first row of the Monster seats, the smallest man in the game had come up with the biggest hit.

There was more to come in the bottom of the eighth when first Kevin Youkilis fired a homer which hit the Coke bottle part of an advertisement over the Green Monster for a home run double. Before Perroia followed up with the bases loaded to hit a drive through the centre to score three more. Making the final score 11-2, if the Red Sox repeat their World Series win of 2004, which wiped out the Curse of the Bambino, in the year that 4 time winning manager Joe Torres walks from fierce Divisional rivals the New York Yankees many hope it is the start of a transfer of power in the AL East, that might last as long as the curse.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Football Stadia Tour 1: Dens Park

I've returned to my blogging just in time for the second quarter of the season in the Iron Bru Scottish Football League Division 1. So maybe this is an opportune time to start my personal take on the various venues that I come across on my travels. For the rest of this season there will be nowhere new to visit as the first quarter including the cup games has taken me to the strange fields once before.

Therefore this weeks venue was Dens Park home to Dundee.


As any football trivia buff will know Dundee's Dens Park is just along Tannadice street from Tannadice home of Dundee United. And therefore is one half to the trivia question which two league grounds are closest in the UK. In fact as away fans are located in the Bob Shankly stand, named after one of five footballing brothers the most famous being Bill, the end closest to Tannadice much supporters coaches catch sight of Dundee United's stadium first before they see Dens Park once they turn the corner into Tannadice street.

Getting to the ground cars and coaches are best to take the ring road and then come off down either Clepington Road or Strathmartine Road to get in towards the stadium. Unfortunately is two miles uphill from Dundee's railway station, so for a visiting fan who is looking after their carbon footprint the best option really is to grab a seat on one of your visiting clubs supporters coaches, as unless you can work out the bus timetables you'd be relying on getting a taxi up from the station.

Although with the ongoing work to the Forth Road Bridge, we spent 25 minutes on our coach staring toll booths before getting to them, 18 of which were on the roundabout on the approach from Kirkliston, so we turned up only 15 minutes before kick off.

The Ground

As already mentioned the away fans are housed in the Bob Shankly stand behind the eastern goal and is a single tier. There is dedicated wheelchair seating at entrance level with a companion seat beside the wheelchairs' slots. Which yesterday afternoon gave us a brilliant view of Dundee's spectacular first goal by Bob Davidson a screamer from 30 yards into the top right hand corner. The late evening sun at this time of year did start to get in our eyes towards the end of the match, so much so that I was considering urging Dundee Council to move one of the tower blocks, to the south of the stadium, slightly further east to act as a sunshade.

Opposite behind the other goal is the nearly identical twin to the Shankly Stand the Bobby Cox stand. To the right as away fans view the pitch is the Main (North) Stand, which is unusual in that it is the one section that remains of the old oval ground, meaning that those who sit on the halfway line are actually furthest away from the action on the park. It is two tiered however, there are very few seats in the lower tier, with the majority being in the upper tier.

That leaves the Southern Enclosure known locally as the Derry. Nobody has yet explained coherently to me exactly how this stand came to be known by the name of the city of my father, outwith the connection to a sectarian style chant that has had the words altered subtlety from the original Loyalist connotations. This though is where the most vocal Dundee supporters congregate in what was the last terrace; the Derry Boys and Dark Blue 62 Ultras.

The Atmosphere

Fortunately the design of the two goal end stands does add to the atmosphere as the ability to make a great deal of noise is greatly enhanced. As my previous visit was for the CIS Cup game that went to penalties this was definitely the case in a tense tight game. As with many grounds the vocal home support is close to the away support which adds to the atmosphere as the banter does flow between the two adjoining sections.

The Programme

Cost £2. Had four pages dedicated to the visitors profiles. As well as a four page interview with one of the home players. The centre was the season stats section. With a great deal more stats than some other clubs include. There is a collector's section which this week featured the 1947 Great Britain versus Europe programme from Hampden Park.

Pie and Bovril

There is a bridie or macaroni pie available. But I went for the steak and gravy pie to accompany my bovril, cost £2.10 + £1.50. The steak in the pie was gorgeously tender, the crust was cooked just right and wasn't too thick or burnt, and the gravy while hot wasn't scalding, excellent fayre. However, by Bovril wasn't warm enough so I'm quite glad it wasn't really the depths of winter when I rely on it as much to warm my hands as my insides.


Admission = £16
Programme = £2
Pie and Bovril = £3.60
Total = £21.60

Match Report

Livingston started strongest and could have been up even before Czech Thomas 'Tam' Pesir scored in the 14th minute but Kenny Sampson had pulled off a spectacular save. Livingston continued to dominate even though Bob Davidson released his spectacular equaliser 6 minutes later. However, a combination of poor finishing and more saves from Sampson, some of which a poacher might have lept on as they bounced free from the keeper, kept the scores level at half time.

At the start of the second half Livingston continued to have the lions share of territory, possession and chances. But shots seemed to be nowhere on target. Then Jan Zemlik got on the end of a move started by Dixon who found McDonald in the box who laid it off for the second Czech to beat Mariusz 'Super Mario' Liberda in the Livi goal.

The third Dundee goal came seven minutes late in the 68th minute and was a second for Davidson, who made a run across the penalty box. It was clear from the away end that he pulled on Dermot 'Des' McCaffrey's shirt in order to get past him to get his shot in, but the goal was allowed to stand effectively killing of the game as a contest. Five minutes later it was as Derek Lyle on a a substitute for Zemlik made it 4 for the home team. Although there were calls for offside and protests after the goal from Livingston.

Final Score Dundee 4 (Davidson 20, 68, Zemlik 61, Lyle 73) Livingston 1 (Pesir 14)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Dundee remain in 2nd Livingston remain 8th.

Friday, 19 October 2007

We Need a Third, or Should That be Second Way

We now have our second, white, middle classed, Westminster and Cambridge educated, Englishman, both of whom are economic liberals and contributed to the Orange Book. Not that I'm holding any of that against any of them. I've met both in person and have had conversations with them.

What I, and it seems a number of fellow Liberal Democrats, have issues with is just where is the voice that represents me and where is the difference going to come from. Now I've watched the Consevatives who I used to pillor in Kingston move closer but not that close to my opinion and I've watch Labour (with the occasional exception of some of my MP's views) who I now face move through my position and out the other side, I must have blinked at some point.

Now if all we have to offer after all my time in the Liberal Democrats, roughly the lifetime of the party in its current form, is a shift in the same direction as Labour and the Tories have shifted what is left of those principles that I once so staunchly defended in Economics and Politics tutorials. Now I know from the traditional left/right graphs of where our party has aligned at General Election times that the last time we were this right of centre in outlook we were looking at lean times. Though we have made our gains over recent elections by being seen as being left of centre; so where is that voice? Is it left crying in the wilderness or possibly at a Westminster AA meeting? (And yes readers of this blog will recall that I was called by the BBC on the day of the previous resignation of a party leader was imminent because I was still supporting him)

For the moment put me down in the undecided column, not because I don't know who would make the best leader of our party at this time, I'd had a short list of three, but because I don't know yet which of the two slices of white bread on offer are must digestable.

Pakistan: Where Next?

What a contrast a few short hours and miles makes. Benazir Bhutto arrives to great celebration at Karachi airport to thousands of supporters but as the party atmosphere of many filled the streets an hand grenade followed by a suicide bomb attempt killed upwards of 130 people many of them part of Ms Bhotto's security detail. She had only made half her intended route to a rally marking her return.

Her return is an attempt to return democracy to Pakistan and rein in the militancy that has grown there since 9-11. Of course she knows the risks she has taken, Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden have both issued death threats against her should she return.

In a area of the world sadly reknowned for politcal assasinations this stands out as the greatest single act of carnage in Pakistan. Even General Musharraf said the attack was a "conspiracy against democracy". So the war against democracy has a new target, this time close to their hinterland, and has taken yet more innocent victims.

If a Pakistani who says enough is enough and is seeking to change the outlook is targetted we know that our own leaders have to try harder to understand and seek a solution which doesn't cause total antagonism. If that moment has not already passed.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Well that was short lived

Well it looks like my post this morning was being written at the same time as Steve Webb was preparing to announce he would not in fact be standing in the leadership campaign.

It looks like the campaign will now be shaping up into a two horse race unless something is stirring under the waters of which nobody has yet caught a sniff. Let us not forget that at one point the last leadership campaign looked like being a coronation of Ming before Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and briefly Mark Oaten took up the challenge. So maybe Messers Clegg and Huhne shouldn't be preparing just yet to face just the one opponent.

Although to be honest at present after all the declarations of non-intent it is becoming harder to find out just where a serious challenge may yet come. Having said that many of didn't expect or know much of Chris Huhne in early 2006, yet look at what he acheived back then. Still a couple of weeks yet until nominations close and there are still plenty of MPs who have not committed to one candidate unlike the hoardes around Ming early on last time.

After Weighing up the Options

Much as I like both Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne I think they are much of a muchness as a choice for party leader, they are from similar groupings within our diverse party. As my dear friend Caron puts it the current choice is like picking between Red Leicester and Cheddar. So where is the Gorgonzola or Brie?

Simon Hughes was to some extent that the last time around but he has already ruled himself out of contention. John Hemming is just too ripe a cheese for many of us to consider as leader, no offence John. Charles Kennedy although not ruling anything out seems to suggest that it would take a Damascus Road moment to bring him around. So where is the variety going to come from?

That brings me to look at who the press are already considering the third potential serious candidate in this embryotic contest, Steve Webb. He has already blogged that he has consulted Parliamnetary colleagues and has enough backing to throw his hat into the ring. Unlike Cameron who has turned his back on the manefestos he has writen Steve would not have that problem as our policies are ultimately decided by the party members. What we need is a leader to communicate those views to the public rather than railroad over the memberships views, from what I've seen of Steve his is capable of that and diverse enough from both Brown and Cameron to stand out.

For the sake of igniting the debate, without all the sexual revelations and ageism of last time, I would encourage Steve to take that step and if he does he would have my backing.

There is already a Bloggers4Steve site up and running and I have added his button to my blog.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Return to Mayhem

Ok so I've been away doing my best to get my old self back healthwise. I have also buried my dad in the process and had earmarked this week to return to blogging as the next stage on that road.

Of course come Monday evening I decided to postpone that return just a little bit. I didn't want to be accused of burying news. Nor did I want to return in the midst of all the post about the leadership campaign, not seeing as how I've been largely only a lurker in the blogsphere for over a year now.

So I'm not going to make any statements of substance today just posting that I will be returning to this space shortly once I can put some coherant thoughts down that are worthy to appear.