Thursday, 8 April 2010

Campaign Diary: The Leader, The Press and The Poster

Today was one of those days that will be easier once the Bathgate to Airdrie extension in completed later this year. The word had gone from Andrew Reeves for us all to available at 9:30 this morning for the launch of the Scottish campaign for the general election. For me that means either going into Edinburgh and out or hoping on the X14 bus at 7:20 to head into Buchanan Street. I took the first option, it is quicker, even the time for mishap is smaller. So I planned on the bus hoping the M8 wasn't too congested this morning.

Last night while many of us were out campaigning we got the details sent to us. We were to turn up at Pacific Quay, Glasgow. For those of you who don't know that is the location of the new headquarters for both BBC Scotland and Scotland Television; in other words the hub of the Scottish television world. We were to be joined by Tavish Scott, Charles Kennedy and the leader Nick Clegg himself. The event was to unfurl the new poster campaign.

And what a campaign it is. Yeah a little bit retro but hoisting the Tories by a petard of their own previous making.

The Tories are actually going to increase your tax burden by £389 in VAT. Because of course George Osborne’s great idea, possibly while in the bathroom, on the eve of the chancellors debate was to half Labour’s future increase in National Insurance. He's going to have to pay for it somehow. No doubt in another of his trips to the bathroom he came up with that eureka moments.This is against the Liberal Democrat promise to rise the personal allowance for income tax to £10,000, lifting 3.5 million of the poorest paid out of tax altogether and giving people £700 back.

The Liberal Democrats tax cut is paid for by closing many of the loopholes that allow the richest to pay proportionately less than the cleaner in their offices on minimum wage, green taxes on polluters. The other thing about National Insurance and VAT is that they are regressive taxes which affect the poorest far more than the richest. Income tax being a progressive system an be made fairer to the poorest by differential tax rates or raising the limit at which they start paying it. Currently you get taxed on the £6746th pound you earn. Something that Alistair Darling didn't increase in his budget last month. Something that the Conservatives didn't notice until long after Nick Clegg had mentioned it in the debate; if only they’d been bothered to stay in the chamber to listen.

However, back to the event, before his arrival the press core that was travelling with Nick turned up, including that other Nick, Mr Robinson. Then from around the corner Nick and Charles headed towards Tavish who greeted him. Then with a parting of the press core the trio strode towards where we candidates were waiting next to the billboard. Nick said a few words and there were press questions to him often as one on ones at various locations around the area. The first journalist to actually come up to the hoard of Scottish candidates for Nick Robinson, his opening words were you’re just standing here getting ignored. He then went to grab his overcoat, while he joked about him being a soft southerner. Of course Nick Robinson is from the north, just the north that is south of Scotland.

There were a few press pictures as Nick came back to us to wish us luck and say his goodbyes, for now, then by the time our commitment was over, I’d missed one X14 back to Bathgate but had time to do a delivery for Katy Gordon in Glasgow North before catching the next bus. See even when your transport arrangements get messed up there is still a time, a place, a fellow candidate who is more than willing to use your services.

So home for a quick lunch before heading out unto the streets of Linlithgow.

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