Monday, 31 March 2008

Missing Presumed Mislaid by Government

What a decade it has been and I don't just mean lost data now.

1 Dept of Education car worth ££22,550 (possibly a Toyota Prius although the Chinese Government may shed more light on this than ours)
1 motorbike
1 Vitorian desk
12 rolls of gaffer tape
416 phones (including satalite phones and blackberries)
591 Laptops.

In total 1100 laptops have now gone missing, 503 of which have been lost by the Ministry of Defence, 234 by the Department of Health. How can we trust them to keep our information safe, if they seem incapable of keeping tabs on sources of data storage under thier remit which may well contain copies of some or all of the information we have entrusted to their care.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Lights Off to Google

In case you haven't visited Google today you will not have seen they have turned the lights out on their home page. Was a bit disconcerting as I banged in the G before finding my way to the search box.

The reason for this is that they are supporting Earth Hour which is encouraging people to turn off their lights today between 8pm and 9pm today. It is to highlight the need for greater energy conservation world wide. Sydney has already taken part turning the lights out on the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and many more locations will do so during the day.

Football Stadia Tour 8: Firhill

Between 26th January and 4th March this year one clash appeared on the schedules 4 times that was the Jags from Firhill, Partick Thistle, against the team who were once the Jags from Edinburgh, Livingston, formerly of course Meadowbank Thistle.

The first clash scheduled for Firhill was in the league and was called off, according to an official statement from Partick Thistle, due to one of the staff of the Glasgow Warriors Rugby Club who ground share at Firhill, forgetting to tun on the under soil heating. So on the 2nd February the two teams met at Almondvale in the 5th Round of the Scottish Cup, although it was a 0-0 draw Livingston had the better of the match and were unlucky not to proceed on the day. However, the replay on the 12th is the next stop on this tour of Football Stadia of this fan.

The season in the cup has not been a good one for visiting unfamiliar grounds. In the Challenge Cup we went to Cappielow to face Morton. In the CIS Cup we hosted Ayr before going to Dens Park for a thiller decided after 14 penalties all on target of which 3 were saved. The in the Scottish Cup we'd hosted Alloa Athletic, and Cowdenbeath before another trip to First Division opposition.


Firhill is not in the Partick district of Glasgow but in nearby Maryhill where they moved into Firhill in 1908. it is easily accessed from off the M8 providing neither of the old firm especially Rangers are also playing at home on the same day. However, the coaches do park up a steep hill behind the ground, and as the police were over officious on our trip there for the cup made some of the elderly and disabled members of our coach party walk up the hill to resume their seats after it being pre-arranged that they could be picked up outside the gate after the ground had emptied.

The Ground

Firhill is one of the SPL compliant ground in Division 1 as they played there as recently as 2003-4, before facing the humiliation of two seasons of relegations to end up in Division 2 before we both met up again for the first time since 2004 in Division 1 they as newly promoted we as newly relegated.

The Current capacity of the ground could be as much as 10887. However, the oldest part of the ground the Main Stand which has 2900 seats has not been in use since January 2006 due to the high cost of maintenance and stewarding of this area.

Opposite the Main Stand is the Jackie Husband Stand which can hold 6263. It was built on the site of the old enclosed terracing known as the shed in 1994. And now houses the home support.

The North Stand is the newest part of the Firhill built in 2002 to meet the old SPL criteria of 10000 seats and paid for by selling off land behind it to build student accommodation. This houses the visiting support. Opposite to the south is the now demolished terraces which the club had looked to build into a new stand but which Glasgow City Council never gave permission to be developed.

The Atmosphere

It was a cup tie to both sets of fans were well up for this. Sadly for visiting fans to Firhill the vast majority of their vocal support prefer to sit in the southern end of the Jackie Husband Stand and therefore well away from the visitors. However, there are pockets of home fans who do sit near the north stand and get involved in banter back and forth between the two sets of fans. As this match went to penalties which were taken in front of the North Stand the crowd in Jackie Husband did tend to filter over towards us making the atmosphere at that point of the evening quite intense.

Some of the younger Livi supporters were up for this and were Samba-ing around the stands at times. The noise got very loud especially towards the end of normal time in the extra time that followed.

The Programme

The Jags Programme is produced by the same company as Livi's costs £2.50 and is a full colour glossy paper production. A Cup Tie against Partick does have an added sense of history for Livingston as Partick are the only team to have faced the club in all three of its guises as Ferranti Thistle, Meadowbank Thistle and Livingston, and this was looked into in the programme on the night.

Pie and Bovril

Having been waiting outside the stand for a good 20 minutes before getting into the match many of us headed straight to the concession stands to warm up. There are also hot dogs on sale at £2.50 should you desire. The bovril was lovely and warm and a welcome heater on what was to end up being a long night. Cost Steak Pie £1.90 and Bovril £1.50 total £2.40.


Admission £15 (concessions on this night were £5, but under 16s were allowed in for free for the league fixture a few weeks later and are for the rest of the season)
Programme £2.50
Mince Pie and Bovril £2.40
Total £19.90

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Stirling £18.10
Queen of the South £18.60
Partick Thistle £19.90
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60
St. Johnstone £21.90

Match Report

Sadly the match was played on a pitch which could hold up the ball better than having 17 players behind the ball at time. However, having been the better side in the 0-0 draw at Almondvale Livingston started lively and the Jags Northern Irish Under 21 goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey time and again kept his side in the game making saves from point blank positions. He was finally beaten just before half time by Graham Dorrans.

Dorrans, Robert Snodgrass, Steven Craig all had chances to seal it up for the lucrative tie in the next round. But Tuffey earned himself a deserved man of the match awards between the stick. I counted at least 20 times he came to their rescue.
However, the only other goal came from the head of Partick's Mark Twaddle late in the game re-igniting the Jags support.

Into extra time and Craig James scooped one just over the bar for Livi, but the only Livingston substitution used was Steven Wier on for Snodgrass. The Partick defence looked dead on their feet. We had speed in youngsters Keaghan Jacobs and Leigh Griffiths on the bench. But still be plodded on in what was becoming an almost static game now.

Then the dreaded end of extra time and penalties. First up was Craig James who scored, but that was cancelled out by the first Partick kick. Graham Dorrans who'd been looking tired throughout extra time stepped up hit a well struck penalty to the keeper right post but it was saved, Colin Stewart though was about to do the same for Livi. 1-1 after two each. Liam Fox calmly put Livi's next one away, but so did the Jags. Then Steven Weir makes it 3-2. The Partick lad under pressure misses the target. Livi's regular penalty taker Dave MacKay steps up, we're all hushed but the ball instead of ending up in the net is parried by my mate Laurie stood beside me.

However, it's not over yet as Simon Donnelly has to score Partick's 5th or they are still out. Sadly he does. Experienced head Lee Makel is up next for Livi and makes it 4-3. Rowson then matches that for the Jags. Allan Walker steps up and places it wide beats the keeper but it ricochets off the post. Then Alan Archibald steps up to win it with the last kick of the game for Partick.

Final Score Partick Thistle 1 Livingston 1 (P (Partick: Twaddle 83, Livingston: Dorrans 41)

Next up we have the final away leg of this season's travels when we journey to Hamilton's New Douglas Park.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park, Cappielow, Broadwood, McDiarmid Park, Palmerstone, Forthbank

Friday, 28 March 2008

Weekend Can You Spot the Real Thing Competition

Hat tip to Dundee's finest Cllr Fraser Macpherson for setting me off on this treasure trove.

First off Spot Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond below.

Now spot the people trusted the other day with transporting young offenders from court to custody.

What do you mean you don't see a Reliance Van above? I'm sure Nicol Stephen is sure that Alex and Kenny know the difference.

Michael Connarty Won't Walk the Walk on Post Offices

Michael Connarty has been all over the local press in West Lothian and Falkirk recently about his desire to save local Post Offices and the services they provide.

Well that week there was a chance for him to suspend the closures he has been so adamaent about over recent months, when a Conservative motion was put before the House of Commons caling for a suspension of closures.

Did he walk the walk to back up all his talk?

Well no actually. In this week's Falkirk Herald he attempts to give his reasons.

"My problem was I didn't support any of the motions: the Conservatives want to break up the Post Office through selling it off, while the LibDems want mutualisation. However, I couldn't support the Government either and that's why I abstained. It was a difficult situation."

No forgive me if I'm wrong but as secretary of the communication workers' parliamentary liaison group he is bound to be privy to enough information to formulate his own alternative motion if the alternatives weren't good enough for him. As an elected Member of Parliament he would have been perfectly entitled to put forward his own ammendments to that effect. So why didn't he?

The answer is plain and can be summer up by his new slogan.

Michael Connarty cares about you local Post Offices just not enough to do anything about it except talk.

Clealy the Liberal Democrats are the only party that will genuinely save the local post offices of Linlithgow and Falkirk East.

Update: The story is now also available in the Linlithgow Gazette.

Labour Still Ignoring Whole Picture

Apparently Gordon Brown is going to carry on the Labour trend of picking out fictions about Local Income Tax rather that looking at the whole picture when he address the Scottish Labour conference in Aviemore this afternoon.

Even the press are picking up that Labour are using fictional figures. Nothing new there is was a tactic I first came across in the 2005 Genreal Election, then it really came to a head in the Livingston by-election and every election in Scotland I've been involved in since. Labour pick at random one set of people who will be affected at this moment by Local Income Tax and ignore the vast majority who will either benefit or not be affected.

At least not as much as they have been by 11 years of Labour Chancellors.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Independence Referendum - Do We Have an Approved Policy?

I have for a long time felt there was nothing wrong in holding a referendum that including looking at independence. Indeed I am very much of the persuasion that by calling just such a referendum and defeating the idea of a independent Scotland the whole thrust of the Scottish Nationalists could be blunted considerably.

Well it was pleasant reading this morning to see that my firend Iain Dale is also of that persuasion. Indeed to be totally democratic as Liberal Democrats ought to be he suggests we give four options.

1 Return to Westminster only governance.
2 The status quo
3 Increased powers for the devolved Scottish Parliament
4 Independence

He quite rightly also points out that the stance taken by our leadership in recent months has not be approved by a Scottish Liberal Democrat, party conference. He humbly says not to the best of his knowledge. I'm pretty sure if such a motion was before conference he would definitely have remembered it and indeed probably participated in it.

The Apprentice Polluter

Well the Apprentice got off to a new start last night, the 16 new potential Sugar portegees were sent straight from their boardroom finery off to sell fish. Nice way to bring them down to earth with a bang.

So after a long day of the boys alledging to sell Emporer Breen and Mackeral, as well as selling Monkfish Tails as far cheaper Turbot, and lobsters for £4.80 each. They clearly had a bad day and made just over £32 profit for their day, including selling off £100 of wholesale fish to a smooth talking solicitor who wouldn't budge from £50 in thier negotiations, why isn't that Islington lawyer on the show.

However, at the end of a long day smelling of fish. Sir Alan was generous to allow the three facing the fireing line at least one night in the luxery converted factory that is this seasons house, that was fine. But then the following morning the three of them each got into one of the people carriers outside to return to the boardroom. Why? Okay they had a private interview with each of them, but they had also done this at the house, could also have done this I'm sure arounnd Sir Alan's HQ so hardly a valid reason to have three vehicles used to carry three people from the same point A to the same point B. Especially as all three would also have to make the return trip.

Not very green of Sir Alan or the BBC on week one.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Gordon Brown: Freedom of Information and £100k

So after a Freedom of Information ruling to release 14 MPs and ex-MPs recent expense claims. We are now being told that a £100,000 court action has been raised to stop this disclosure.

My next step was to look up the voting record of the most senior today of those 14, Gordon Brown on public whip. Guess what there is no vote recorded next to the then chancellor on this legislation. Although as it was being championed by his cabinet collegue Jack Straw surely he would have been in favour, had he not been otherwise detained on 4 April 2000. Of course the Member for Witney, wasn't David Cameron in those days so also we have no definitive idea how he would have voted on that issue.

However, now with the backing of the Speaker of the House, these 2 plus 12 others are trying to by-pass legislation passed within the house. So they are going to spend even more tax-payers money to avoid disclosing just what expenses they have incurred.

Surely that is immoral at all sorts of levels. What are they so scared to give up? Surely it can't only be their addresses, surely if this is a security issue and current information that would be except from full disclosure. But the values of these expenses should not be kept from us any more. After three years of FOI consideration of this issue there were nearly given up, now we find our government is not so keen on freedom of information as they would like you to believe they are. Oh yes they want to have all your information but are not prepared to give anything back.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Oh Canada: That's My Plans to Visit Blown

Just was checking on up my referrals for today and found out that someone at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade managed to visit this humble blog by searching for the words 'hold them to account lib dems'.

Oh course they found my earlier post on the new hold them to account website.

Scarily Google (other search engines are available I believe) places my post on the topic above Guido, the official party site, various other Lib Dems, and the Gruniad's coverage of the launch.

However, if the Canadian Department of Foreigh Affairs are now aware of my views on the war in Iraq, I might have blown my chances of visiting my relatives over there. Ah well that's the price we pay for freedom, liberty etc.

Whoops: Hold Them to Account Ignores Boundary Changes

Updated: To take into account action taken since this posting.

I just followed a link to Hold Them to Account knowing full well the result I should have got for Michael Connarty my MP. Obviously the reason I knew was that his vote on Iraq was one thing we actually had in common at the 2005 election. However, on entering my postcode I got the following message.

Your Labour MP, Michael Connarty, was not a Member of Parliament at the time of the motion on the Iraq War, which was supported by both the Labour Party and the Conservatives.

I'm sorry Hold Them to Account but Michael has been a Member of Parliament since 1992. Up until 2005 he was the member for Falkirk East and since about 1:45 on the morning of 6 May he was returned as member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk. He was in the House when the vote was taken but voted against going to war with Iraq.

It makes me wonder how many of our Scottish MPs are actually able to be held to account on this site with every constituency being redrawn it is possible that none of the Scottish Members who voted to take us to war 5 years ago, may come up on their database as the constituency they now represent may not have existed in 2003 and therefore return the same result as above.

So I'm holding Hold Them to Account to account to get their data sorted out.

UPDATE: As you can see from the comments below it is all due to the naming convention of my new constituency but I am not alone. My new search does return the correct information namely:

Your MP, Michael Connarty, did not vote for the Government's Iraq War motion. However, the war was supported by both the Labour Party and the Conservatives and there are several ways you can hold Gordon Brown and David Cameron to account.

So well done to the Webmasters over at Hold Them to Account. Not only are Lib Dems the most wired party in the land but we're also pretty responsive to issues regarding our sites as well. I was about to say check out my local MP's website until I did just then and realised he must have someone updating that more regularly now.

Devine Intervention on Embryo Row

Here's a question for Cardinal Keith O'Brien, how much of the food he ate on this Easter table came from a hybrid source? And does he not also have any qualms about eating that?

When he got elected to replace Robin Cook you could almost sence that at some point Jum Devine would take on the church over some issue or other. Well yesterday the Roman Catholic, Celtic supporting member for Livingston did just that.

He said that Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Scotland's most sneior memebr of Roman Catholic clergy, had a "lack of insight" following the cardinal's comments in his Easter Sunday sermon, branding the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill a "monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life".

Strange that the purpose of the bill is allow research into diseases like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, no doubt if a breakthrough is found in anyone the church will not deny one of their communicants the right to benefit from the treatment that would restore their human dignity and human life. Or would they deny them the right to have such treatment resulting from Frankenstein experiments.

However, is there a biblical precendence for grafting as the embryo research would do. Certainly in Romans 11 talks the grating of cultivated olive trees being grated unto wild olives thus producing a thriving harvest. So if hybrid olives are a perfectly acceptable biblical precedent for prosperity what is the issue with hybrid embryo's which could be used to also benefit mankind.

The answer to the question at the top of this post is that from the meat, to the vegetables, to the olive oil that may have been used as dressing or to cook with, there was a very high chance that something that we all eat every day has been the result or manipulation by man. Yet we prosper as a result.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Feeling Old On an Easter Monday Morning

I stumbled, well he was actually shouting out from Lib Dem Blogs in the quietness this morning, across a very erudite, young, Liberal Democrat blogger this morning, and boy did he make me feel old. He's only 15 only starting his blog last month but he has some well worked out opinions already on selling cigarettes, Dafur and is going to make his take on The Orange Book, almost three years after some of us who are older and 'wiser?', did our best to try and avoid the TV cameras while trying to sneak in and buy our copy at the book stand at conference.

I used to think that at times the Alex Cole-Hamilton, Kevin Lang and Jo Swinson set of Scottish Liberal Democrats occasionally make me feel my age, although they are warm welcoming people every one. I recently read on facebook that Jo had finally paid off her student loan, which seeing as I took part in the campaigns against them as a student I objected to taking one out on principle. Well the lot named above were younger than Alasdair from Worcester is now, of course he hadn't even been born then. So he's a lot younger than my own political career.

Put I'll be keeping my eye out for him in the future. He certainly has a lot of the characteristics to get ahead in this party. Independence of thought, a broad range of interests and obviously a heart to let those be heard. Good for him certainly one to watch for in the future.

Handbag Flying Ends Rumours of Great Gnat-Con Alliance

Well the talk last week was of a possible link between the Tories and Scottish Gnats after the general election. However, Annabel Goldie has probably put and end to that strange possibility with a veritable rocket launch akin to the other Iron Lady of that ilk.

She attacks the SNP adminstration of finally starting to reveal their extreme left-wing agenda, even going as far as saying they make Scottish Labour seem more in touch with the people. Ouch!

She particularly pinpoints decisions taken on education, prisions, health and Scottish water as signs that what they kept carefully underwraps for election purposes are starting to unravel and reveal the Gnats true colours.

The decision to scrap the schools of ambition scheme she brands as socialist dogma at its worse. Seeing as how the Tories were one of the most ameanable parties to the SNP immediuately following hte election last May saying they would have no qualms working with them on a case by case basis it looks like there may be very few cases of such co-operation in the near future.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Glad It Wasn't Just Me

I try and avoid doing two football related post on the same day, as that isn't the main thrust of my blog, but today I do feel justified in making an exception.

Is this the face of the dirtiest player or just the unluckiest player in Scottish football? The stats for Murray Davidson's first team games makes poor reading. 2 starts, 2 yellow cards, 2 red cards. That is the bear facts. He has also twice received two standing ovations by the visiting supporters, as he has yet to play a home game for the first team, because on both occasions the fans felt that he was harshly treated.

His first game a start was against Dundee. Where he received his first yellow after it appeared that his opponent had stood on the ball. He did appear to talk to the ref so it may have been for dissent rather than the actual non-challenge that this card was given. But having stood in the middle myself you have to learn to give a little slack and let the players air their point providing it is done and dusting very quickly. Otherwise you could end up booking everyone on the park.

The second yellow card offence, allegedly simulation was fortunately captured on camera that night. Yes it was inside the box, yes Murray went over. The Dundee player was the last man. So quite possibly a red card should have been shown, if you look at that second pick you can see the Dundee player is totally shocked at the referee's decision as well. This may well have been the turning point in that game from then for most of the second half we had to make do with only 10 men on the park.

Yesterday, we'd already been questioning a few of the referees decisions but were close to celebrating a point earned, which could so easily have been the full three when yet again, Murray Davidson was shown red. He come on when Steven Craig was unable to carry on early in the second half having gone over while taking a shot late in the first half.

Murray had played a blinder he had gone for every challenge and if he'd not won kept after it to try and win it on the second or third bite of the cherry. The challenge that let to his stats looking so ugly happened in the centre circle both players Murray and Kevin Finlayson for Morton, both were committed and both slid in for the challenge. They'd been having that sort of tussle in the middle tough and fair all the second half. Davidson got up ready to carry on playing looking for the ball and there may have been a foot out from Finlayson which caused the lad to stumble.

However, there was stunned silence when the ref called play back and produced a straight red card. As Murray walked off even the Morton manager Davie Irons consoled him. This was in the 89th minute but a minute later the ref reached again straight for red for another challenge on the half way line, this time for Allan Walker.

It is refereeing like this can can turn the most pleasant of games into a hot bed. The same happened with two quick reds in the first half for us against Airdrie United last year. The ref had to face a full barrage for the second half that day. I in hindsight did feel sorry for the Airdrie fans that day sat 5 seats away from the away support. This time the ref had seconds remaining but our support for our team and wrath for the ref were made clear. There has been talk this week of referees deserving respect from players and fans following the Ashley Cole incident with Chelsea. However, they have to earn it same as anyone else. Sadly this season I've seen too many poor refereeing decisions, too many assistants not fit enough to keep up with play, it makes me wonder how they expect to make decisions that are right.

Davie Iron told the press that he thought both red card decisions were very harsh, and has offered Livingston the video footage of the game to take to the SFA to appeal these decisions.

Football Stadia Tour 7: Forthbank

I was amazed to find out who one of the biggest fans of this series on football stadium is. So for her sake I'm determined to get to the end before the end of the fitba season.

So I'm continuing to rattle my memory banks and going back to the game on the 19th January over at Forthbank the home of Sterling Albion.


Forth Bank is on the outskirts of the Stirling on the Eastern side of the city and is on the edge of a retail park. The club moved here from their old ground Annfield which was close to the city centre in 1993. It leads to the old trivia question of which two teams other than Liverpool have been based at An(n)field, answer at the bottom of this post.

The Ground

The capacity of 3808 includes 2508 seats is made up largely of two stands facing each other over the pitch. The West Stand houses the home support, hospitality, changing room and office facilities. The East Stand houses the visiting support, the press and police control room. There are terraces behind the two goals but these are rarely used at present, the south terrace would be used by home support and the north by visitors if the need arose.

The Atmosphere

Sadly Stirling Albion have one of the smallest supports in this league, and even though Livi can manage one of our largest travelling supports for the short hop over to Sterling with them being over the other side of the park the atmosphere is largely lacking.

The Programme

The Forthbank News cost £2. Apart from the outside and centre pages is entirely black and white. However, these are utilised well as inside the front cover is action shots, the centre fold contains more action shots. One of the centre pages is colour advertising but the other is the home team pictures. Inside the back cover is an attempt to get the team line-ups displayed pictorially. However, putting our left back at right back, right back at centre back, and centre back shunted to left back did sure a lack of research into how we'd been lining up when fully fit all season.

Pie and Bovril

At the start of the season there was much fund raising going on to get a new pie oven for the away end at Forthbank. This effort has been greatly appreciated as hot pies are available although a little tinkering with the recipe would be appreciated.

Cost of a pie was £1.10 and it comes served to you on a paper plate. Bovril is £1 in a Styrofoam cup. The case was a little too salty and too floury for my tastes, and there was only a mince pie no steak and gravy available.


Admission £14 (although £10 for concessions makes this an expensive outing for families)
Programme £2
Mince Pie and Bovril £2.10
Total £18.10

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Stirling £18.10
Queen of the South £18.60
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60
St. Johnstone £21.90

Match Report

Sterling got off to a sharp start in this game, getting an early free kick which Livi keeper Colin Stewart had to stop. But we'd seemed to settle down when a Eric Paartulu shot took a deflection off Cameron 'Cammy' MacDonald's heel and into the back of Stewart's net.

However, Livingston didn't look dejected having scored 8 goals in their previous two outing and hit two goals within 4 minutes just before half time. Firstly after Colin McMenamin failed to convert a Steven Craig cross, Graham Dorrans connected and a second deflection of the game saw the scores levelled. However, the next goal was a peach being lobbed in from 25 yards out Steven 'Stef' Craig fired it into the top corner giving Binos keeper Scott Christie no chance.

IN the second half Livingston continues to dominate. Graham Dorrans running the Stirling midfield and defences ragged, and right back 'Super' Dave MacKay was at his rampaging best getting forward whenever the opportunity arose. It was one of these runs that led to the third goal, coming from deep he penetrated into the Albion box, and rather than taking a pop himself laid it off for Stef, whose shot was cleared but it fell to an advancing Robert 'Snoddy' Snodgrass who powered it into the net. Craig just slotted a chance from a free kick wide from impossibly close in, but when Christie failed to cut out a Dorran's cross, Snoddy fought off two Stirling defenders with a strong back post finish.

Dorran's later hit the post and Liam Fox also slotted one just wide. But the livi fans left happy with an emphatic win on the road to keep a good run going.

Final Score Stirling Albion 1 Livingston 4 (Stirling: Paartulu 28, Livingston: Dorrans 35, Craig, 39, Snodgrass 58,65)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Livingston climbed above Morton into 7th place but Stirling remained rooted at the foot of the table in 10th.

Next up should have been a trip to Firhill in the League but we ended up there next anyway with a replay in the cup with an away tie against either Rangers/Hibernian on offer to the winner.

Trivia Answer: The two other teams based at An(n)field were Stirling Albion 1945-1993 and Everton, the original occupants of the Liverpool ground, 1884-1992.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park, Broadwood, McDiarmid Park, Palmerstone

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The Three Torchwood Tease

OK BBC Three moved their first look of Torchwood from Wednesday to Friday for last night's penultimate episod of series two Fragments. Goody I thought we get two this week and then finish off next week.

Then and this is not giving too much away for those who have yet to see it on BBC2, as its in the teaser at the end of the previous episode aired on 2 last night, loaded all the cast into a warehouse and blow them up. Of course we now that one character will have survuved all this as we know his death is a long time hence having seen it in New New York in Doctor Who. But what about Ianto, Toshiko, Owen (fragile at the best of times now he's a zombie) and Gwen. Well what we got last night was a missing piece of the back stories of all the other main characters. We get to see how Jack, Ianto, Tosh and Owen all come to end up with Torchwood in the first place.

It was an excellent very pacey yet well paced episode and the return of a snide Captain John at the end with a vendictive comment and threat to Jack. Only for us all then to find out that was the last episode of this series to be shown on BBC Three so we all have to wait until BBC Two catches up in a fortnight's time. ARGH!!!

My BBC they say, why do they treat me to two new episodes in the space of a couple of days then leave me hanging for a full two weeks. Very naughty of them I guess we'll all be chumping at the bit for a fortnight now.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Labour Barking Up Wrong Tree of LIT

Oh boy those guys at Labour never seem to learn as regards local income tax. They are now branding it unfair to adult workers who stay at home with their parents. Heaven forbid those of us who have spent most of our adult lives paying Poll Tax (based on the ability to breathe) and Council Tax (based on the ability to buy or rent property). Especially the later where the living alone discount is 25% therefore I've been paying considerable more than the couple of wage earners living in the flat next door.

Local Income Tax is based on the ability to pay. Therefore through lives cycle there will be times at present when you could get away with paying a local tax that you will pay it, ie when you are earning money and living in a household full of adults. Then there will also be times when you benefit, at times when you may find yourself out of work, or when you retire, when the current burden of council tax is too much to bear.

But of course Labour have failed to see just how unfair Council Tax has been to so many people and now that the SNP and Liberal Democrats are trying to get local taxation based on individuals ability to pay they are taking umbridge. The party of the ordinary people has long since lost that tag, they are cut off from reality and are merely putting the frighteners up people instead of looking at the wider picture.

Even accountants KPMG seem to have missed an important piece of the LIT plans of a cap on the maximum Local Income Tax bill. Labour are accusing LIT which will create savings to people on low or medium incomes who are being hit by the hike of fuel prices, food prices, various stealth tax rises introduced over the last 11 years. They are clearly forgetting that those on the lowest incomes are now pay a considerably higher proportion of their earnings in tax and the bear necessities of life now than when Blair breezed into Downing Street. They are only siding with the Tories to protect their nouveau riche supporters base and not the average family.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Salmond to Face the Music Before Full Parliament

Trumpgate is going to face a full Parliamentary debate at Holyrood, after the local government committee made the decision for its report to be before all MSPs.

The report looked into the SNPs actions over calling in Donald Trump's golf course resort plans for Aberdeenshire. After the local planning committee and Aberdeenshire council rejected them on environmental grounds the finance Minster John Swinney called the application in to Holyrood for review, alledgedly with Trumps team pulling strings behind the scenes. Also part of this particular report was a similarly called in application tyhis one for expansion of the Highland Aviemore Resort. The owner Donald MacDonald is a major SNP donor.

The SNP MSP Bob Doris tried to say that there was pressure on Parliamentary time. However, without a second chamber to hold to account the government this role has got to be filled by the Parliament itself. With this being the biggest possible abuse of power in the opening months of the SNP adminsitration it is quite right that this should be a full and frank debate not confined to some committee room.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Oh Dear What Can the NATter be

Just so that my fellow Scottish Lib Dems don't think I'm in bed with the Scottish Nats in more than the literal sense. I'd like to give a hat tip to Bernie Salmon for this story.

This time after the council have approved a local planning application for an ASDA supermarket in Inverness, this has been called in by the Scottish Parliament so that is can go to a public enquiry. After Trumpgate and the stance of the Nats not to allow local authorities the autonomy to set their own rates for the proposed local income tax, just what are the Nats trusting our local councils, including many of their own councillors to do?

The Nats seem to want to centralise their little independent Scottish Fifedom squarely at Holyrood. Yet they were always attacking Labour for wanting to do just the same thing. So just what is going on? How much control do they want to have? Is this a sign of just what way they are going to have to run things if they ever get their wish of independence?

Worrying indeed as they always said that once they had power the people would be in a far better position to realise what they could do if given independence. Well I do see that now, and I'm not liking what I'm seeing.

The Second Greatest Science Writer Has Gone

At the age of 8 I once wrote an essay in class called "Journey to the Moon". The reason I remember this particular childhood essay is that it took up 11 pages of my exercise book, normally they took a max of three and the comments at the end in red ink. 'Are we ever going to get to the moon or are you the next Arthur C Clarke?'

The reason for this comment was that despite 11 pages of an 8 year olds early attempt at science fiction he had not managed to get out of earth's gravity on this trip to the moon. The teacher had spotted at an early age my love for the genre, and sub consciously had attracted me to my father's bookshelves. These were full of Clarke and Isaac Asimov and my love for Sci-fi continued to blossom so much so that the unfinished novel on my hard drive is a sci-fi book of considerably more than 11 pages, but at least the ending has already been writing I'm just working on getting there through the twists and turns I've set in motion.

The great man, who himself said he had entered his 90th orbit around the Sun, passed away appropriately enough at the Apollo Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since Apollo 11, 12, 14 through 17 all achieved what that 8 year olds essay never did and reached the moon. It seems appropriate that a full circle seems to have been encompassed in the death of the "greatest science fiction writer in the world" in accordance with the Clarke-Asimov Treaty.

So the last of the big three, along with Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, and a truly inspirational and has finally thrown off this mortal coil. He will be free of the post-polio symptoms he'd suffered from since the 1960s but will this world ever see the likes of such great writers and visioniaries in my favourite genre again.

We can but try.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Gretna Coming to Almondvale

I'm sure joke writers somewhere are having a field day working out how Gretna's next two home games will boost Livingston's attendance figures now that they are to be played at Almondvale. Personally I'm glad that something is finally being done about Motherwell's Fir Park pitch even if it is a little late to avoid so much fixture conjestion.

So yes the current team in adminstration in the SPL is now going to be travelling even further to the last SPL to be in adminstration to play Celtic and Inverness. Cetic were the last SPL side to play a competive senior game at Almondvale putting us out of last season's Scottish cup whereas Inverness Caledonian Thistle are no strangers to Almondvale with 16 previous visits to West Lothian in every league on both teams progression up the leagues.

Gretna are still in business and it looks like my team is helping to ensure that their games can go ahead providing the much needed revenue to carry on at least until the split.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Intriguing Incoming Traffic

I've started to get hits from a new blog SNP Tactical Voting. Now all I gather so far is that the guy posting it is called Jeff and that he lives in Edinburgh North and Leith. What is intriguing is that I am the only Lib Dem blog that he links to.

If the name of his website is a reflection on what he is looking to achieve I trust he will therefore be supporting my friend Kevin Lang his Lib Dem candidate there at the next general election. Last time out we bit heavily into Mark Lazarowicz's majority and Kevin is aiming to overcome the remnants that are left whenever Gordon Brown decides to look for his own mandate.

I was out with Kevin's team yesterday on my return to pounding the streets and stairwells delivering. Everything is fine I feel fresh and alive this morning and am looking forward into getting back to doing more soon. It was good to see some old friends again and they seemed glad to see me.

To Talk or Not to Talk

There is of course a world of difference between keeping channels open with terrorist groups and giving in to their demands. In the past, Northern Ireland, Palestine and others have seen the former terrorist come within the fold and actually have some share of power over some regions.

It appears that Tony Blair is not averse to keeping communication channels open with terrorist groups. He had previously wanted to hold talks with the IRA Army Council, to keep the Northern peace talks on track. Now one of his senior aides, Jonathan Powell, is calling for the UK to start talks with Al-Queda. Although the Government is rejecting the calls to keep communication open with Al Queda. But the Security Minister Lord West says not talking is silly.

So who is right? One thing we're constantly hearing from Al-Queda seems to be that they hold a grudge that the West does not understand them. Surely to reach some understanding both of the wests leaders to them and vice versa is to have some sort of conversation going.

Who would ever have thought that Ian Paisley would ever have sat down with Sinn Fein, or that Nelson Mandela could reach and agreement with the National Party or that the PLO would ever have reached an agreement with Isreal. Admittedly that conversation still needs to be ongoing to resolve things but they all started to reach some sort of conclusion by diplomacy.

Our government seems to by rejecting the sensible call to talks taking an altogether gung-ho attitude, that is alien to the great triumphs of British history. Yes there have been times that war has been used, but all the time there was a hope of negotiation to resolve things, often with furtive meetings behind the scenes.

Maybe the government is calling our bluff. However, judging on current performance I doubt that, they just haven't got the poker face to do so.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

China Prove the Demonstrators Point

Well hats off to the Chinese authorities for actually proving a large number of the points that protesters have been, and will aiming at them in this Olympic year.

First the act of disagreement with the authorities is frowned upon, hence the curfew they set up in Tibet, the pressure they brought to bear on India to halt the march to India.

Second there is the misinformation or non-information. I was in the USSR when Iraq invaded Kuwait and didn't know about that until I returned to Berlin. Our interpreter got the newspaper every day and we didn't see anything about this. The same is happening within China the media is controlling just what the people get to here. Elsewhere in 1988-9 this was attempted as pro-democracy hit out across the communist world only in Beijing was the surge halted and brushed away.

Thirdly the generosity that those who give themselves up by Monday will be treated leniently. What does leniency mean in this case. The authorities have already been shooting to kill. So maybe the leniency will mean their lives are spared. It may not mean that they will not be placed in solitary confinement or possibly tortured to find out more information about the protests and fellow protesters.

So the protests being about suppression, and others against China's human rights record are being proven right now as having validity. I once condemned the IOC for awarding China this year's Olympiad, now in a way I'm glad as all media attention is now focusing on China. Maybe at last human rights will hold sway there as a result.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Clegg Calls for a Quarter Less MPs

With 150 less Members of Parliament the tax payer would be saved about £30m annually. Nuick Clegg has told Radio 4's PM programme today.

It was part of a reform programme to make our electoral system both fairer and more representative. Measures including more decentralisation, caps on donations to £25,000 per individual and a £10m annual spending limit per party.

Francis Maude of the Conservatives also said his party were striving for such reforms and that Labour was "the roadblock to reform" by refusing to accept a cap on Trade Union affiliation fees.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Is the This the Death of a Football Dream?

The Administrators moved in at Raydale Park home of SPL side Gretna yesterday and within hour they announced that unless £30,000 was forthcoming by lunchtime today the club would go out of business.

All through their progression through the league they were living the dream, but it appears they were also living in a dream world and not basing themselves on reality. Bills have gone unpaid and improvements to Raydale Park to meet Division 1 standards let alone the SPL criteria have not taken place. Miles Brookeson the Gretna sugar daddy is out of cash, the players and management are facing not getting paid and the football authorites in Scotland have already taken steps to avoid a repeat of the nightmare that Gretna have faced this season, no more groundsharing in the SPL being one, so grounds will need to be up to spec before promotion is gained.

However, it is always sad for any football fan when another team dies. The last time it happened ot a league side in Scotland it was Third Lanark back in 1967. Hopefully 13 March 2008 will not be the next occassion that a league side become extinct. Third Lanark at least had survived to the end of that season. But with the Inland Revenue, as ever in these situations, one of the big creditors after the club, and the club with few tangible assets, nor a sustainable fan base to cover the debts, it may not be long for Gretna now.

It could be a sad day for football, but fingers crossed that something might just save the little club even at the eleventh hour.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Just How is He Meant to be Discreet?

Mehdi Kazemi the gay Iranian nineteen year has lost his asylum bid to remain in the Netherlands and will shortly been returned possibly breifly to the UK.

Sadly our Home Office fails to accept that the Iranian regime routinely execute homosexuals. Indeed they take the attitude that that gay people can return to Iran safely providing they are 'discreet'. How they expect Mehdi to remain discreet is beyond me. He was named under interrogation of his now executed boyfriend, he's been all over the press due to our government and that of the Netherlands intransigence so his chances of discretion are next to nil.

The Foreign and Commowealth Office have papers that Mohsen Yahyavi, a senior Iranian politician thinks that the 'crime' of homosexuality deserves execution, torture or possibly both. The Home Office refusing to comment on this individual case but lie in their statement that:

"The Government is committed to providing protection for those individuals found to be genuinely in need, in accordance with our commitments under international law.We examine with great care each individual case before removal and we will not remove anyone who we believe is at risk on their return."

Clearly that wasn't the case last year when Mr. Kazemi appealed for asylum with them and was turned down. Jacqui Smith is clearly maintaining the Home Office mantra of not being fit for purpose if this man is sent to certain death.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Football Stadia Tour 6: Palmerstone Park

It just struck me that since I abandones blogging my trips around the Scottish first Division Stadium since the untimely death of Phil O'Donnell at the end of last year that I have since completed the cycle that I started out at with Dens Park. In fact Livingston are returning there this Tuesday.

So over the next few days I'll be playing catch up starting with the stadium we visited on that fateful day.


Way down in Dumfries you will find the only football team that is mentioned in the Bible Queen of the South (see Luke 11:31). Fortunately for bookies everywhere the bible doesn't give the names of their opponents or the final score.

Palmerstone Park has been home to the Doonhamers since 1919 when three local teams(Dumfries F.C., Maxwelltown Volunteers F.C. and Arrol-Johnston's works team) merged to form the new club. It is conveniently located just off the by-pass between Tescos and the town's Ice Bowl.

The Ground

The capacity of 6412 included 3509 seats. The majority of which are in the main stand adjacent to the Ice Bowl, where the Livingston fans were accomadated in the southern half, with home fans on the other side.

Across the pitch behind the dugouts is a more tradional stand with a seated section in the middle for the directors and hospitality surrounded by terraces.

To the North and South of the pitch are traditional terraces. The northern Portland Drive Terrace is the home section and houses Queens own drummer. The southern Terregles Street End was traditionally for visiting support but has fallen out of use and now only host the Queen's supporters clubs flags.

The Atmosphere

With a drummer not our own in the stadium us Livi fans really enjoyed ourselves. Doing our own chants to his beat. Also as whenever you share a stand with the rival supporters the close proximity leads to the usual banter across the divide.

Sadly the atmosphere in the stands didn't seem to lift the game on 29th December and it looked like everyone on the park was suffering a post Christmas hangover.

The Programme

Cost £2. Is largely in black and white but the colour pages were disappointingly given over to huge chunks of text or adverts without using this for action pictures. The manager, chairman and team captain all have a column. There were 3 pages of different stats, the division, players plus the game by game break down.

Pie and Bovril

The serveries at Palmerstone are looked forward to by travelling support for a different food group the spud, fried into a gorgeous chip.


Admission £14
Programme £2
Steak Pie and Bovril £2.60
Total £TBC

League Table of Cost
Morton £17.90
Queen of the South £18.60
Clyde £20.60
Dunfermline £21.50
Dundee £21.60
St. Johnstone £21.90

Match Report

Sorry to say this game was largely a snooze fest. Neither team looked up for it. and for most of the game it looked to have 0-0 written all over it. Sad thing was how often the Queen's players went over with the slightest touch, and more worryingly how often the ref blem up for it. Although he did miss what might have been been a handball decision against Livingston midfielder Lee Makel. Also Livi's left back Craig James was in my opinion lucky to only recieve a yellow card for a two footed challenge from behind.

In the end the only separation between the two teams came when yet another Queen's palyer went down. This time it was ex-Livi hero Steve Tosh to a challenge from Dave MacKay which looked dubious again. The resulting penalty was the only score in the match.

Final Score Queen of the South 1 Livingston 0 (QotS: O'Neill 83 (pen))

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Livingston slipped down one place as a result of this defeat as Dunfermline moved above them.

Next up it is a trip to Forthbank where you can see the Wallace Monument for the 19 January game against Stirling Albion.

Previous Stadia Dens Park, East End Park, Broadwood, McDiarmid Park

Friday, 7 March 2008

Asylum Laws Gone Mad

The laws governing who could claim asylum in the UK used ot be pretty straight forward. If you life was in danger from systematic persecution if you returned to you home country it was likely that asylum would be granted and you would have the right to abide in this country.

However, the case of Mehdi Kazemi from Iran shows just how stupid the Home Office has become over what are genuine asylum cases and what are immigrants, illegal or otherwise.

Mr Kazemi is 19 years old and in 2004 came to this country to study English. In 2006 his boyfriend had been arrested in Iran charged with sodomy and hanged, but not before under interrogation the police had got him to name Mehdi as his sexual partner. Fearing that the same fate would await him should he return he sought asylum where he was. Admittedly he did not enter the country seeking asylum, but other situations had changed while he was here on a valid visa. When he was turned down he fled to the Netherlands hoping to avoid exportation to almost certainly the gallows.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Columbia University last September that there were no homosexuals in his country, in reponse to a question about two gay men who had been executed there. Almost boastful he was met then by jeers and laughter. However, there may be some essence to his story if every time a homosexual is found they is executed, according to human rights organisations about 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran since 1979. So there will clearly be not many openly gay people left in his country, however, it does not mean they do not exist as the executions keep going on.

The Home Office admits that Iran executes homosexual men, but fails to see this as systematic persecution which would enable Mehdi Kazemi the right to claim asylum. Is this yet another case of them not being fit for purpose, even on the Brown watch.

There is a petition to sign to make you feelings known. Please feel free to sign it and do it fast as time is of an essence in this case.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Cruel Statistics of Fate

What is in a number? As someone who works with them all day analysing them, creating reports based on them quite a lot. But there are certain numbers, 42, being a prime example that will always breing a smile to me face no matter how hard the day has been.

Therefore when a number has double meaning it sticks out even more. Last night as you may well be aware, if not you must have avoiding all British Media outlets successfully, ammendment 293 of the EU (ammendment) Bill failed. It was a Conservative ammendment calling for a referendum on Lisbon Treaty. It was defeated by 63 members of the House, ironically exactly the same number as the number of MPs the Liberal Democrats have in the House of Commons. The party who imposed a three line whip no to vote.

It was like fate was pointing out something there. That one number would have had even bigger ramifications if all 63 of the Lib Dems had abstained, as then if the party had not abstained it would undoubtedly have fallen upon the Speakers Chair for the casting vote.

It first struck me last night when I saw the number flash up on BBC Parliament, but then numbers do that to me. However, I didn't post it earlier as I felt it would only have diluted the point of this mornings thoughts. But the more I went over it this morning the more the number kept coming back to me.

Were the Fifteen Truer on Principle?

Altogether yesterday fifteen Liberal Democrat MPs ignored Nick Clegg's call to follow the majority view of the Parliamentary Party to abstain on the issue of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. But did Alistair Carmichael, Tim Farron and David Heath resign from the front bench in vain or were they holding true to the manifesto promises? Did the 12 others who joined them on the two divisions get it wrong?

Personally I was sitting with 2005 manifesto in hand as I listened out the end of the days debate, which included my own MP who is also Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee. The exact pledge to the public that is at issue is:

European enlargement means the EU needs reform to become more efficient and more accountable. The new constitution helps to achieve this by improving EU coherence, strengthening the powers of the elected European Parliament compared to the Council of Ministers, allowing proper oversight of the unelected Commission, and enhancing the role of the national parliaments. It also more clearly defines and limit=s the powers of the EU, reflecting diversity and preventing overcentralisation. We are therefore clear in our support for the constitution, which we believe is in Britain's interest - but ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British Public.

Does the Lisbon Treaty not set out to do all the things listed above? Is not what 62 of those MPs, the exception being the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, myself and hundreds of others stood on just under 3 years ago? Isn't that what we our party approved at conference almost exactly 3 years ago?

In my view the three front bench spokespersons got it right along with John Pugh, Annette Brooke, Richard Younger-Ross, Martin Horwood, Greg Mulholland, Sandra Gidley, John Leech, Mark Williams, John Hemming, Paul Holmes, Andrew George, and Mike Hancock. We are a party of principle and these 15 maintained theirs.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Is Brown Feeling the Lisbon Heat?

It appears that the lackadasical start to Gordon Brown association with the Lisbon Treaty, being detained in London on the most whimsical of excuses while it was being signed are a thing of the past.

He is now turning up the heat on the other parties. On one hand he accuses the Tories of appeasement to eurosceptics, while simultaneously refusing to uphold his election pledge to hold a referendum on constitutional change required to ratify the traty. While on the other he is attacking the Lib Dems of doing nothing when in effect they are seeking to do far more.

Watch this space as no doubt others will be posting as events unfold this evening.

Paisley to Take a Back Seat

Well the news for anyone with connections to Northern Ireland today is that the Rev. Dr. Ian Kyle Paisley MP, MLA and one time MEP is to step down from front line politics in the province. What that means is that the 81 year old will step aside as First Minister after a year in that office in May and leader of the party he has led for 40 years the Democratic Unionist Party.

The old man of Northern Irish politics will turn 82 just before he steps down. So youngster John McCain, who secured the Republican nomination last night may quote him as an example. However, he will stay on both at Westminster and Stormont for the time being.

In May last year he did what many of us raised on Northern Irish political in-fighting thought would never happen, not only did he sit down with the Sinn Fein leadership but he formed a power sharing executive with them. In recent months he has made numerous appearances alongside his Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness and it is expected that the devolved powers in Northern Ireland can be sustained because of the bold step Dr Paisley made last year.

He has already got in a typical Paisleyesque dig when asked about who would follow in his wake by saying "This is not Apostolic succession" a clear referenece to Papal Elections, however the clear favourite would be long time Deputy leader of the DUP Peter Robinson. If Mr Robinson were to become First Minister I believe he would be the first person to represent the constituency in which the seat of power resides.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Give Blood a Chance

I'm all for giving our health service a fighting chance to do its job effectively. But last week one of the tools to achieve that turned up outside work. It resulted in my bi-annual ritual embarrassment of somebody at work.

The tool that turned up was the Blood Transfusion van. The embarrassment resulted in why somebody as fit and healthy looking as me was not signed up for a session on said van. Now currently I could have taken an easy option out and cited recent health reasons as the excuse, but I did what I always did and listed the reason for current life-time ban.

Up to about 9 years ago I regularly gave blood as my father and grandfather did before me, and my father continued to do until he contracted the cancer that killed him. However, those 9 years ago what stopped me being able to respond the blatent messages of the Blood Transfusion Service was that my first sexual partner shared something in common with me, their male gender. Thus ended by blood donating days, as I next read through the criteria on my next visit.

Now the blanket ban on gay and bi-sexual men (even those with only one such encounter) giving blood is back on the front-page news and under the microscope again. Partly because due to the shortage of blood here in the UK we now import blood from nations such as Australia where gay men are allowed to give blood and largely because the Welsh Lib Dems recently passed a motion calling for the ban to be lifted. It makes the policy of the National Blood Transfusion service a farce if on one hand they try and rule out what is stereotyped as "high risk" UK citizen donors based solely on sexual orientation rather than sexual practise, which is where the true risk lies. Whilst accepting blood from outwith their own testing where by definition the same group have been allowed to donate.

There is a new lobby group called Blood Ban who have recently been on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio Two. Their site carries links to petitions both national and Scottish to get this anomaly in words and practise resolved and sorted out

The Blood Transfusion Service say on their own website:

Keeping our rules simple

The rule about gay men is clear and simple. You can decide whether it applies to you without the need to discuss your personal life with our staff. The rule is based on an impartial assessment of available evidence. We ask that you observe it for the sake of blood safety.

Yet they are ignoring the rule themselves when they need to import blood to make up the UK shortfall. Surely the time is right to sort out the scare stories of the 1990s from reality. Then my perfectly good blood last tested within 3 months may be able to save someone's life as the adverts keep reminding me.

Scottish Highlights of the Rugby Season???

We're in the depths of the Six Nations Rugby tournament and the Scots would normally be gearing up for this weekend's Calcutta Cup match against the Auld Enemy England in high spirits.

But if the reaction to my getting on the coach to return from the football at Hamilton the last international weekend is anything to go by eyes are meandering elsewhere. For I boldly took off my Livingston top to reveal my Ireland jersey on arriving back at the coach around the 5 p.m. kick off time in the Ireland v Scotland game. Only for the initial comments of derision to turn in to comments I think you;ll at least be supporting one winning team today.

So with Scottish sporting hopes so low for this time of year step into the breath one Andy Murray. Yes in the depths of Rugby season and tennis is the saviour of the nations hopes. Yesterday he beat wold number 1 Roger Federer without once facing a break point.

Now admittedly in 2008 half of the tournaments Andy has played he has been knocked out in the first round. However, the other half he has gone on to win. In fact he has tended to alternate these two all year. So Roger should have known he was doomed from the start as in the last tournament Andy played in he was knocked out in Round one.

Of course gentleman Rog is not going to hold sour grapes. Ahem!

OK so he'll criticise the style of the youngsters play which he says hasn't changed since they first met in 2005. But hang on he's beating Roger twice in their last 3 outings, is in the top 10. Yes maybe he runs a player around and waits for the mistakes, but he has youth on his side and no doubt his style will change as he gets older. Is Roger getting worried? Methinks he doth protest a little too much.

Monday, 3 March 2008

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

With Apologies to Lennon and McCartney.

It was twenty years ago today,
A new party came out to play
They'd been two parties for a little while
The leaders’ puppets raised a ‘Spitting’ smile.
So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all those years,
The Social and Liberal Democrats that was.
We were Paddy’s Social, Liberal Democrats,
But we started off kinda slow
Cause David Owen and his splinter band,
Kept trying to have another go.
Charlies’ Liberal Demo, Ming’s Liberal Democrat
We're Nick Cleggs’s Liberal Democrats.
It's wonderful to be here,
It's really been a thrill.

You're such a nice electorate,
You listened to us on Iraq,
We'd love to have your vote.
We'd love to have your vote.

I don't really want to stop the show,
But I thought that you might like to know,
That the leaders’s going seek a vote,
On whether we’ should jump the EU boat.
So let me introduce to you
The one and only party brave
Enough to offer a EU Referendum.

Free to Fife: A Bridge Toll Free

On Saturday Livingston were returning to a football ground across the Forth for the first time since the removal of the tolls on the Forth and Tay Bridges. On this occasion we were returning to East End Park to take on Dunfermline.

Due to my personal arrangements now seeing me spend the bulk of my weekends in Edinburgh rather than Bathgate, it was obviously easier, faster and more convenient for me to drive there rather than back to Almondvale to pick up the suppoters coach. So I was going to experience first hand the change in getting over the Forth Road Bridge. The queues approaching the bridge were minimal and although the wind had dropped you still felt it a bit on the crossing, but I've never whizzed into Fifie quite so fast during daylight hours before. I was pleasantly surprised to actually park up near the stadium in less time that I have recently been taking to drive to where I park for home games.

The result was a 1-1 draw, although Livingston had more chances to win the match, one shot being saved by a defender on the line and Robert Snodgrass being clean through on goal one on one with the keeper just steering his shot past. My only real concern was that whilst the bulk of our fans were accomodated in Dunfermline's Main stand, this is inappropraite for disabled fans and their carers who were thus isolated in the East Stand. But also away at the far side well away from any set of other supporters, therefore missing out on the atmosphere that a football fan expects. So while they are accomodated under the circumstance they fail to get the full benefit of the match that the able bodied fans enjoyed.