Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Bo'ness Hustings Online #LEF #GE2010

Just before I took to the platform for this evening's hustings I was told that it was to be broadcast live to the internet. I just had time to tweet the url before taking my seat.

I was going to blog up the hustings but I was wondering when I might have the time. You may want to take a look here while I find the time to get around to a blog entry. Apparently it will be available all week.

But well done to St. Andrew's for getting their hustings out there beyond the confines of the building.

By the way, there was a question about the gaffe of the day from the Prime Minister.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Brown Admits to Arrogance of Labour - Your Turn Dave

So let me get this clear yesterday that I get a tabloid from my Labour oppenent, telling me that it is clearly a two horse race between Labour and the Conservatives for government(you can get more of this nonsense the back page tells me by following him at yourname).

While at the same time his leader was saying:

"It it's a clear result we'll accept it, if it's a different result then we've got to deal with it but don't persume what the people are going to vote efore they vote because that would be arrogant."

Parenthesis mine.

So let me get this straight all those Labour and Conservative leaflets about there being only two options for government are the arrogance of the two old parties? Is that correct Gordon?

Most opinion polls in the last 10 days have Labour in third place in the vote. Today's Independent poll has Conservatives on 32, Lib Dems on 31 and Labour on 28. So the people are telling them both they are being arrogant to rely on their votes.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Are You Voting Today? #LEF

Thousands of postal ballot papers across Linlithgow and East Falkirk (and indeed the country) will be arriving on doorsteps, including mine, over the next 30 hours.

Many people are likely to be filling them and sending them off when they receive them. I obviously want the majority of them to look like the above.

Read this blog, read the Liberal Democrat Manifesto to find out what I'm standing for if you don't already know.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hung Parliament Won't of Itself Affect UK Financial Position

You've heard the Tory scare stories:

  • A hung parliament will lead to us calling in the IMF
  • A hung parliament will lead to the UK losing its triple A credit rating
  • A hung parliament will lead to financial insecurity
  • A hung parliament leads to Armageddon
Not necessarily so. There are 16 countries with a triple A rating and as the Independent points out 10 of those had coalition governments. Indeed many of the governments that took the toughest action.

Indeed Arnaud Mares, lead UK analyst for Moody's ratings agency, said:

"A hung parliament does not in itself have direct implications for Moody's UK rating. The three main parties broadly agree on the desirability of fiscal consolidation on a scale that, if implemented strictly over the course of the next parliament, would be consistent with the Government maintaining its Moody's AAA rating."

So in the words of David Cameron on Thursday night in the debate "let's end the scaremongering".

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Tam Smith Plagarises Me and Fails on Facts #LEF

My SNP opponent Tam Smith has just posted a very familiar image on his blog.

Familiar because it is my image used on my blog on 12 April. Also wrong as Tam himself admitted in the radio debate on Thursday, which airs next week on Central FM, that three of us in our contest are opposed to wasting £100bn on replacing trident. So he is trying to gain political capital out of a deliberate distortion of the facts which he's even admitted in public.

As for Michael Connarty's letter to me yesterday, as I blogged yesterday he wrote to me that:

"As someone who has had cause to visit me at one of my regular constituent consultations or contact me by telephone within the past five years, I hope you will agree that I have done my very best to resolve the complaints or problems that you have contacted me with."

On further investigation I've checked that personal details given to the MPs on casework is not allowed to be used for political purposes unless there is some sort of disclaimer to allow their use. As a hoarder of emails going back to the last millennium I have checked that I have never signed such a disclaimer for Michael, or any other MP for that matter.

I've also just noticed that one two occasions the MP who said "I never give up until all avenues have been pursued on your behalf" failed to even acknowledge my concerns on tightening of our libel laws in 2008 or recognising Montgomery Scott Linlithgow's most famous future son. Also on prohibitive parking regulations for Livingston fans at Stirling Albion he failed to take action. As for his agreement with me when he said "I agree" he went through the wrong lobby for me and many other local voters.

Miliband Anti-Politics Attack is Thin Edge of the Disappearing Wedge

So David Miliband thinks in today's Guardian it is anti-political to stand up against the social injustices, the political corruption, stand up for our planet, economy and children. That is in essence what he is saying erroneously "Nick Clegg is only clear what he is against." Anyone who has encountered the Liberal Democrat manifesto and it is clear that David Miliband will know that isn't true.

There are plenty of constructive, progressive policies in there. There is also a big thrust to sort out the regressive nature of things that the Labservatives between them have managed to mess up.

  • The reversal since 1997 of the top 20% paying proportionately less of their income in tax than the bottom 20% can only be sorted out with the Liberal Democrats policy of fair taxation, even my SNP opponent agrees with me on that one.
  • The many inroads into our civil liberties over the last 13 years of Labour rule are going to be dealt with though a comprehensive Freedom Bill.
However, we have constructive plans for better arrangement for mothers and fathers in caring for their children in the early years. For our young people to get the training, qualifications or apprenticeships that suit them, not aiming merely to get 50% into University. There are plans to make the recovery one powered by greening our production, which also greens our planet and helps combat climate change and meet our progressive energy targets making energy production carbon neutral by 2050.

Heck if Billy Bragg the reddest of Red Wedges from my youth (and the last election I couldn't vote in 1987) is turning to the Lib Dems maybe it'll be up to David Miliband to turn out the lights on the Labour party. Billy Bragg is not someone who is swung by the superficial he is all about substance. You know I think even Bragg is now saying maybe I wanted to change the world, I was looking for a new Britiain, and I've found it now in the Lib Dems, as opposed to his 22 year old self.

Miliband claims that Labour have taken on the "forces of inertia", you know he may be right (in the first couple of years of New Labour) but inertia has not only won, but overcome and is dragging them backwards now.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Future of the Barchart Part Deux

Best not shout it too loud or Jeff and James will get uset.

I've seen the future of the bar chart and I've got goosebumps.

Campaign Diary: What Would Yoda Do?

I got home today to find amongst the mail a letter which says:

"As someone who has had cause to visit me at one of my regular constituent consultations or contact me by telephone within the past five years, I hope you will agree that I have done my very best to resolve the complaints or problems that you have contacted me with.

"I have not always been successful but I hope you will accept that I never give up until all avenues have been pursued on your behalf."

Well actually I wouldn't agree and as I get around the constituency, read my emails, open other letters I know I'm not the only one. As for giving up, I'm sure Yoda who like me you have mentioned in the house would say, "Failure to succeed have you, given up easy have you. The force weak in you is. Need someone who force is strong in after May 6th."

So as for the final line:

"I hope I can count on your support on polling day."

I'm sorry Michael, you can't I voting for the best guy for the job, as are thousands of others, maybe even thousands of others who have recieved your letter (I don't know how many you've sent), that would be Stephen Glenn.

Well that is at least one vote I know is in the bag.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

SNP Hypocricy Over Being a Voice About Fuel Prices

I have been nice about it, I have told him on at least two occasions that he is wrong to admit that his is the only party that is saying anyhing about it. However, this evening I notice that the SNP candidate for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, Tam Smith has again said on his blog:

"The failure of the London parties to act on fuel prices shows how little they understand of the key issues across Scotland.

"In Scotland, the SNP is the clear alternative to the Westminster machine and the only party with a real alternative that will prevent massive fuel hikes."

It wouldn't be too bad if the last time I raised the issue with him was less than 10 hours ago. If you actually look at page 80 of the Liberal Democrat manifesto you will find the following.

  • Introduce a rural fuel discount scheme which will allow a reduced rate of fuel duty to be paid in remote rural areas, as is allowed under EU law.
Now I don't know about you but that is doing something. George Lyon has been pursuing it in Europe and Alistair Carmichael actually secured a deabte on the issue of rural fuel prices on the 20 February this year.

In light of the fact that every single SNP politician seems to be appearing filling up a car at the moment. Claiming that they want a strong voice of local champions. But there wasn't a peep from any of the six* indeed not one of them even bothered to turn up to discuss an issue on which they appear to be pegging their campaign.

If we can't expect the SNP to speak up for their pet subjects in Westminister, what is the point of sending even more of them there?

* Salmond not included.

Nothing Wrong With a Geek #VoteLibDem #GeektheVote

As I pointed out yesterday I'm proud as a fan of Douglas Adams to be standing once against for the Scottish seat than when ranked in alphabetical order comes in at number 42. People will also see that the header to this blog still holds the comment that I know the "true meaning of 42" from the time that Labour fought to bring in 42 days detention without charge.
As Caron kindly pointed out via twitter, me reacting in such ways cements my geek status. I was of course referring to line in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy that the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. Now it appears that some fellow geeks have realised that the Liberal Democrats are the answer to a lot of issues and pointed out these parts of our manifesto for consideration.
Maybe it is time for me to rehash the Pet Shop Boys song to David Cameron "You've got the (airbrushed) looks, we've got the brains".
I especially like working with the original line "there are lot of opportunities, if you know when to take them"
Now may well be that time to take the opportunity to make that change.
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Qualified to Lead the Economy and Keep IMF from the Door

So Ken Clarke with his Law degree thinks that leaving the economy in the hands of Doctor Vince Cable (that PhD is in economics) and former lecturer at Glasgow University and the London School of Economics will lead to the IMF having to bail out the UK. At least that seemed to be implied as the Tories continued to say that only by giving them the keys to Downing Street as a block set will that be avoided.

I'm sure Clarke doesn't think that Alistair Darling a fellow lawyer is better qualified that the former Shell Chief Economist. So that must leave the modern historian George Osborne as the best economic mind to deal with an economic crisis.

It's ludicrous to think that voting for more LIb Dems will lead to a destabilised economy. Indeed one thing we have been saying is that we should get all the parties together to work out an economic plan to get us out of this. Looking at the manifestos of both Labour and the Conservatives one thing that is lacking is that clear plan.

Here's one that George and Ken may want to consider five tests before we start to cut the deficit and indeed possibly before the Tories might end up having to fall back on the IMF.
  • the rate of growth
  • the level of unemployment
  • credit conditions
  • the extent of spare capacity in the economy
  • the cost of Government borrowing
I'm sure both Clarke and Osborne will come across those ideas when they actually get back to scrutinising the Liberal Democrat manifesto* rather than scaremongering and spreading fear. It is the spreading of fear from the Tories that is actually causing the bankers to panic rather than a promise of hope to work through this economic strive together whatever the outcome on May 6th.

However, I guess the Tories are too short sighted to see things that way.

* Scottish version also available.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Where is the Labservative Substance this Week?

At the weekend both David Cameron and Gordon Brown said more or less the same thing this election is about substance not personality.

This morning Nick Clegg talked about radical reform in our schools, yesterday he talked about banking reform as well as fairness for rural Britain and on Monday he was talking about stimulating the green economy.

Now I may be wrong but all I've heard from the Labservatives is how they are all about change, or that they are the progressives. Unlike Nick they haven't been putting any substance behind those claims all week. Indeed the Labservatives have been talking about negative issues, usually part truths about the Lib Dems all week. Come on Gordon and Dave where is the substance? Or is that lacking because there isn't any real change, progressiveness or radicalism in what you have to offer?

Quote of the Day

"Do I think Labour delivered fairness? No. Do I think the Labour Party, in its heart, has a faith in civil liberties? No. They are clutching at straws."
If Brown thinks his party has anything to contribute to progressive politics in this country you only have to look at their regressive approach to civil liberties, their regressive tax policies when the poorest 20% now pay proportionately more tax from their income than the richest 20%, and their failure to deliver on electoral and Westminster reform some of which promises are thirteen years old and getting repeated.
If you want a referendum on new politics, you've should only consider voting Liberal Democrat, not what Labour and Brown are offering.
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Generals Back Clegg Over Trident

What do Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Sir Hugh Beach and Major-General Patrick Cordingley have in common? Well today they have all written to The Times backing the Liberal Democrats policy on not replacing Trident, that's what.

They say that the next government would threaten both front line Forces and global disarmament talks unless it considers different ways of spending the billions required to replace the fleet of submarines. They also express "deep concerns" that Trident has been omitted from the Strategic Defence Review scheduled for after the election. They argue that any review should look at the questions:

"Is the UK's security best served by going ahead with business as usual, reducing our nuclear arsenal, adjusting our nuclear posture or eliminating our nuclear weapons?"

The best defence the other side comes up with is this from Paul Beaver, a defence analyst:

"This is not a military programme. This is a national programme. It is about Britain’s place in the world. It is about our relationship with the United States most of all."

So there you have it folks Trident isn't military. If we do away with our nuclear Tridents America who is threatening countries gaining nuclear capability will no longer be our friend. I'm still trying to get my head round any logic in that statement, I've given up.

General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank however adds weight to the Generals' case saying:

"Do we really need the kind of effective weapon we had in the Cold War? There is quite an argument to say we do not."

I seem to remember Nick Clegg using almost that form of words last Thursday.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Time to Be Making Your Mind Up

It looks like those nice people at Total Politics have been raiding Mr Dale's record collection, at least I hope it was his and now mine. They've even picked up a Diamond and some Bucks Fizz.

But I see some of my favourite people in there. Some of the highlights, Harry Cole losing his skirt, Iain Dale failing his audition, plus Mark Thompson, Helen Duffet and others putting on their dancing shoes allegedly.

As nominations closed this evening the ballot papers will be getting made up shortly it really is time to make you mind up.

Oops Iain Did it Again

I see that Iain Dale is taking the line that the Liberal Democrats per-plane duty (PPD) is going to be a tax on holiday makers.
Here are some facts some facts currently the per-passenger Air Passenger Duty does not cover Air Freight, the Lib Dem proposals do. Second the reason the PPD on domestic flights is going to rise sharply is because alternative and less polluting alternatives are often readily available. Thirdly as we said in raising the personal tax allowance threshold to £10,000 the more you pollute the more you'll be taxed.
Whereas Iain strikes out that the average family will pay for their holiday, the average business traveller flies (apart from this week) far more often. They will be paying a higher proportion of PPD per year than most average families, even those that do have the ability to fly away for a holiday. As Nick Thornsby so astutely points out in the comments:
"when you include the policy to raise the income tax threshold, you realise that the family of four flying short haul would still be an average of £1200 a year better off, while the family flying long haul would still be better off by about £400 a year.

"And anybody that flies more than that won't be better off, which means they'll be paying for the massive environmental damage caused by planes. Or they might even consider using the train (probably not to America, though)."
Looks like another attempt of the Tories throwing an air punch into Lib Dem sensible policy making once again to me, picking out a specific area and missing the whole impact. Too bad Iain, but please keep set these things up so we can keep on explaining fairness to the population at large.
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Last day to Register to Vote

It is the last day to register to vote, or to register for a postal or proxy vote, but you are going to have to deliver your registration form by hand if you are going to do so. You can find out more here.
Less than eight hours to go to do it.

Oh Dear, Annabel Didn't Get the Memo

It appears that Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie didn't get the memo from CCHQ, yesterday she followed the daily mail with an attack on Nick Clegg rather than debating policy. She then read out, or on occasion misread out a number of Liberal Democrat policies from our manifesto.
She then went on to say:
"I think the public is going to wake up and understand that the election is about policies."
I hate to break it to you Annabel, I think they already have, starting last Wednesday, through Thursday and every day since that is what people have been asking me. They've asked me about the various lines of attack that you have been using and I explain how they fit into a bigger picture. At the end I'm getting a lot of "wow, that's really good", or "that is well thought out" and often "well you've got my vote".
So I'd just like the thank the Tory apologists for giving me such good lead in material to discuss issues such as Neighbourhood Justice Programmes, why a joined up Europe is good for justice and human rights unlike the Tory plans, why the fluctuations between pound and Euro have led to the uncertainty and sometimes wild fluctuations of food pricing in many of our supermarkets in recent years.
Keep up the good work in making the people look fully into what the Liberal Democrats stand for and getting the wow factor.
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The Scots Are Canny Even With Public Money

They often say that the Scots are a canny lot with money, according to John Curtice in today's Scottish Edition of the Times* it seems that stretches to Government money too.

He looks at the two YouGov Scottish opinion polls the first of which during the first week of the campaign had the SNP down at 21% the other taken from Wednesday to Friday last week had them at 20% only just ahead of the Lib Dems. In his conclusions he points out that the SNP malaise is not so much because of the Lib Dem surge nationally nor because of the exclusion from the debates as they were already down before the debate and only sank slightly.

What he does point out is another finding from that second sampling. The Nats slogan of "More Nats less tax" isn't cutting the mustard with economically savvy Scots. Only 25% agreed with the proposition while and overwhelming 52% disagreed. Just like their claim that they are listening to Scots on independence it appears that they have not listened to Scots about how to deal with the structural deficit.

The Scots know that without pruning of Government services we cannot hope to emerge strong from this recession.

* Cannot find an online copy yet.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Fact Checking the Daily Telegraph: The Full Story

I see that the Daily Telegraph have picked up on one of my tweets from Saturday, where I said I was taking the afternoon off to see my football team Livingston playing in what in the end was the important season deciding match.
Let me put the record straight. This was my first afternoon off in over 2 months from the election campaign, I do take one evening a week off, we all have to relax sometime. This was also my first Saturday afternoon at Almondvale all season, I managed two Tuesday night games earlier in the season. This is from someone who in the 2007-8 season missed only 2 games home, away or home pre-season, and who only missed the last 2 months of last seasons campaign in the run up to the Euro elections. Indeed my afternoon off wasn't totally off as many of the fans there were asking me about certain policies that the Liberal Democrats stood for, I am know on the club fan boards as 'our Liberal friend'.
In the last 7 days I estimate that I have covered a marathon distance in mileage walking for this campaign. So I'm sure the good voters of Linlithgow and East Falkirk will allow me the one football game all season.
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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Radio Debates in Forth Valley

Central FM 103.1 Forth Valley's local radio station is holding radio debates for main candidates together from Linlithgow and East Falkirk, Falkirk County, Ochil and South Perthshire and Stirling. They are looking for the people to pose questions which you can email to

I've been invited to a pre-recording for the Linlithgow and East Falkirk candidates on Thursday I will let you know the air time of the programme as soon as I know.

But you've seen the TV debates on the national stage now you can look forward to the radio debates for your local candidates, the people who want to be your next MP.

Lord Mandelson is Speaking in Parceltongue

Lord Mandelvort seems to be somewhat confused in what has actual happened since Wednesday/Thursday of this week. He says that the surge is because people are turning to 'the Lib Dems, whatever they might stand for'.Thing is that over the last few days they have seen that it is the Labservatives that are Dallying and are not clear about what it is that they believe in.

He then really does speak parceltongue that most confusing of languages to mere muggles in giving three reasons why people should vote.

For three reasons. Voters will be reluctant to embrace a party that would cut tax credits, scrap Child Trust Funds and even offer an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Second, a hung parliament may seem attractive to some but it may give disproportionate power to a small party holding the balance of power and bring its own danger. Important legislation, for example on fighting terrorism which the Lib Dems are likely to oppose, would be difficult to get through.

And third, in these uncertain economic times, we need a strong, centred and united government – not one that might be rocked from side to side by Lib Dems chopping and changing their point of view.

It Works! What the Tories Aren't Telling You About Lib Dem Crime Policy

The Tories say they are going to scrutinise Liberal Democrat policy but oops for a party that presents its manifesto like a hymnal it is taking lines out of it without context to what is around it.

Take for example the current line of attack on seeking non-custodial sentencing for less than six month sentences, which they are currently attacking us on. You would think that is all we have to say on that. Well you are wrong it doesn't even include the other part of that policy statement let alone other compatible parts of the crime policies.

Here is that full policy statement:

  • Introduce a presumption against short-term sentences of less than six months - replaced with rigorously enforced community sentences which evidence shows are better at cutting re-offending.

So it will cut re-offending saving court costs and supervision costs of dealing with the re-offenders sentences. Also it will cost less to start with as there won't be the prison costs. Also there is only a presumption against short term sentences, it doesn't rule them out for example in certain areas of crime that the Tories are going cock a hoop over or in the case of serial offenders.

Looking at compatible other measure for petty crime (which is what the short term sentences are for) we also have these policy statement.

  • Give people a direct say in how petty criminals and those who engage in anti-social behaviour are punished by setting up Neighbourhood Justice Panel (NJPs), like the one run by Liberal Democrats in Somerset where 95 of offenders have been turned away from further crimes.
  • Champion restorative justice programmes, like NJPs, which make offenders confront their behaviour and are more successful at reducing crime than the traditional forms of punishment.
Oh yeah and here's something regarding that prison reform it brings about savings.
  • 2011-2 £795m
  • 2012-3 £735m
  • 2013-4 £675m
  • 2014-5 £845m
So altogether these policies regarding the petty crimes in our society will cut re-offending, cut costs and rehabilitate offenders. All good reasons for voters to vote Liberal Democrat.

Tories Attacking on Their Own Weaknesses

Oh dear, oh dear. I see the Tories are running scared and trying to attack what they feel are weak points of Lib Dem policy. Let me look at just three of them.

Trident. The best defence of our policy not to replace trident was given by Nick Clegg in the leaders debate. It is a cold war solution to a cold war situation which we do not currently find ourselves in. Want to look at the practicalities we are worried about Iran and North Korea gaining a nuclear capability. How about this as a novel way for them not to pursue that goal, lets not threaten them with a nuclear capability that could blow them up many times over. Plus it frees up £100bn pounds that could be used on other things.

Short Prison Sentences Scrapped. The Tories are attacking something that the mastermind of their marriage tax breaks actually proposed as well. He did say never underestimate the determination of a quiet man, I think the Tories are also underestimating the sense spoken from their quiet man. It costs to detain people in prison, like Iain Duncan Smith suggests we can toughen up community service orders to make the alternative to jail less appealing as well. People will still do a crime and serve the time, its just a matter of what form that service takes.

While on crime let us not forget another attack that the Tories are throwing at us Europe. Out of their anti-Europe stance their MEPs have voted against European arrest warrants and cross borders powers. It means that they would be happy to allow criminals with crimes overseas to escape to the UK or for crimes that are carried out in the UK not to be able to be brought to trial. They have opposed means to enable police powers to act across boundaries. How is that being tough on crime?

Just with crime there are other things we need co-operation across borders about immigration, climate change, the banks (especially as some UK names are owned elsewhere in Europe), energy, these things already exist across Europe. We need to be in it to have a say over it. Yes there are things in Europe that need reform, but the Lib Dems have said that just like we have been saying about things here in the UK.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

SNP Dishonesty Over Structural Deficit

Ok in my last post I did allude to the opinion polls that have been flying all over the place with one common thread, the Lib Dems are up. In fact a bigger up than I can remember in one election campaign let alone 48 hours, so we cannot assume it is rogue polls, they are all saying the same thing.

So I'm not going to concentrate on the headline figures, if you're reading this you probably know that however in this morning's Harris poll for the Mail. It showed Nick Clegg as polling 81% for a strong leader and 90% for honesty, which are astronomical polling for a politician.

One of the key areas that the honesty lies in is how to deal with the structural deficit. There is as Nick said at the manifesto launch on Wednesday 4 pages of figures* from the Lib Dems on how everything will be afforded going forward over 5 years.

Now seeing as Nick pointed on the leaders' debate on Thursday night that Brown and Cameron are both not coming clean on how they will deal with it, let's look at Alex Salmond. He seems to deny there is any problem whatsoever, is not prepared prune back deadwood to bring about life to our economy. On the honesty stakes one wonders just where Alex and his SNP would actually come.

Ask any gardener about what is needed to bring about fresh growth and they will tell you it is a good hard look at what is before them, cutting back the redundant parts and letting the fresh shoots come through with all the resources that it can be provided with. This is what Alex Salmond and the SNP are denying the people of Scotland by stubbornly refusing to budge.

* Pages 100-103

We Are the Champions

No I'm not getting carried away with the opinion polls that are making the most exciting reading for this Liberal Democrat since he was old enough to vote.

I took an afternoon off the campaign trail this afternoon to watch Livingston suceed in being the first team to win the Scottish Third Division title for a second time. Although it wasn't all plan sailing, despite being the dominant team we conceded a penalty for handball in the last minute. However, Roddy McKenzie, who could some of us doubt that our player with most appearances would fail, saved it to the mass relief of the majority of the 1,621 crowd.

So I feel a little Queen is in order.

Friday, 16 April 2010

How About Some Science Fact Tom?

It looks like Tom Harris is having a go at Nick Clegg over policy regarding the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). He says:

"Hang on a second – "interfering in the advice they are given"? What on earth is [Clegg] talking about? If he means that literally, then he’s accusing ministers of changing the advice that the council gives them before they give it. Since this has never happened, I guess that what he actually means is that ministers – now brace yourself for this and have those smelling salts within easy reach – sometimes reject the advice they receive."
Err now Tom, I think you will find he is talking about the reality of the situation that is the implosion of independent experts prepared to serve on the ACMD, currently counting seven individuals either sacked or resigned since Home Secretary Alan Johnson sacked Professor David Nutt last October as Chair of the ACMD.

Don't take mine or Nick Clegg's word for it here's what Professor Nutt said at the time he was sacked:

"If scientists are not allowed to engage in the debate then you devalue their contribution to policy making."

Or look at what Polly Taylor's statements on her own, the sixth, resignation in March:

"The government's first response [to the guidelines] was highly unsatisfactory and appeared to justify ministers appointing and dismissing independent scientific advisers according to trust, which is an arbitrary and subjective matter."

Going on to add.

"I feel that there is little more we can do to describe the importance of ensuring that advice is not subjected to a desire to please ministers or the mood of the day's press."

Then look at Professor Nutt who was sacked by the Minister as Chairman of because he made a statement based on science:

"I am very concerned that too many scientists have been left in the position of having to decide between advising government and maintaining their scientific independence.

"I established the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs because I felt it was vital to develop scientific knowledge on drugs independent of the perception or reality of political interference. The new guidelines on scientific advice suggest to me that the government has still not understood the matters of scientific principle at stake, nor what it means to work respectfully with independent scientific advisers."

What the Lib Dems are saying and it is on page 74 of the shiny new Manifesto that landed on my doorstep yesterday:

"Always base drugs policy on independent scientific advice, including making the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs completely independent of government."

Yeah let's quantify that advise on scientific evidence. After all politicians mocked Galileo when he said the earth wasn't at the centre of the universe, they mocked Christopher Columbus when he said the world wasn't flat. Thank God there were both allowed independence to prove their theories and come up with the scientific evidence. It may not have always been what the leaders wanted, but it was accurate.

Under Labour without the facts we may well find ourselves on a disc carried on the backs of four elephants called Berilia, Tubul, Great T'Phon, and Jerakeen, carried on the shell of a star turtle Great A'Tuin

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Tory Warning in the Runes

Ok not quite the Runes although I do really want to know what the Druids do make of Dave's policies.
However, yesterday Gordon Brown said he's made a mistake over the banks, he listened to them and not to anyone else's opinion. Yeah listening to business telling you something is a great idea is not always the best way to form stable policy.
Now who is it that David Cameron has been promoting as being behind his tax policies? Oh yeah, that's right business. Is there another opinion? Actually yes. Over 50 economists are warning that Tories plans for cuts risk losing jobs and throwing the UK back into recession.
Something the Lib Dems and Labour agree on is that making cuts needs to be done when the time is right not as a result of political dogma. Indeed the Liberal Democrats have outlined a plan over 5 years at the back of our manifesto. But Dave is still going on with the dogmatic respond
I guess though this is one mistake that we won't hear Dave admit to tonight.
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Bizarre Feel to the Sky This Morning

Being able to see the approach to Edinburgh Airport from parts of the office there is a bizarre emptiness to the sky at the moment.There are not only no vapour trails but also no planes making their approach or take off from Edinburgh airport.
This is the result of the volcanic explosion in Iceland and although the thick doesn't affect mainland Britain, it may be marginal in the northern Shetlands, there is ash present in the air. International civil aviation is to declare a no fly zone as the ash, rock or glass in the air may affect aircraft engines. The rest of the UK will be affected by midday as the cloud heads towards the Netherlands and Belgium dissipating as it goes.
In the meantime enjoy the peace in the air.
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Debates on TV and Local to You

At the start of the Arnold Vinnick v Matt Santos debate in the final season of The West Wing Arnie while answering the first question says 'let's throw away the rule book and have a real debate'. I don't think that is going to happen tonight in the first of three Prime Ministerial debates on ITV, although I suspect that anyone brave enough to do so might just swing the vote in their favour. Instead we have the 76 rules to govern the three men who sek to be the next Prime Minister.

The thing is unless you live in Sheffield Hallam, Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath or Witney you don't have an actual vote on any of those three. Of course I'm hoping that many people vote for Nick Clegg, John Mainland and Dawn Barnes in those three seats. Unlike in America where there is an elected president our Prime Minister is by in large the leader of the largest party equivalent to America's Congress.

But many of the people who are voting in Linlithgow and East Falkirk have been asking me what I think about certain issues. I know that they also have been asking the other candidates, but this so far is all behind closed doors via email or on their doorsteps.

But there is a sense that you can be in the debates, local hustings take place all across the country of the people who are contesting to be your MP. I only know of one so far in Linlithgow and East Falkirk of 2 May at 7:30 in St. Michael's Kirk Hall Linlithgow, but I will keep you informed of others.

If you want a review of the hustings last time here are the words of my Labour opponent last time on the opening day debate of the last Parliament.

"In my constituency, we had debates on the hustings, and the general tenor was respectful and humorous. At the end of the day, we all felt our opponents had not dropped into the positions that some of the national leaders of the parties did as they conducted the election. Our electorate appreciated that. The question is: how we did it. Even the Conservative candidate had been against the Iraq war in the public prints for a number of years, so everyone on our platform was against the war and we all had things to say about it. I am sure I shall have things to say about it here in future."

Nick Clegg Raging Against the Labservative Machine

You may have stumbled across a Facebook Group We got Rage Against the Machine to #1, we can get the Lib Dems into office!.

The Group wasn't set up my Lib Dems on their page the founders say:

"the group wasn't set up by lib dems, it was set up by Ben Stockman. He sent Jon Morter (creator of the RATM group) an email asking if he would mention the group. Jon liked the idea... and that's how it started - now we're growing at over 35% a day and rising!"

And raging against the machine of the Labservatives is a pretty good metaphor for what the Lib Dems are standing up for this time. The two other parties have been blocking reform, as Gordon Brown announced yesterday he was no better than the Tories in giving in to what the Banks wanted without considering other soundings.

See the following video for just what a task Nick Clegg is up against. If you want change on May 6th you know where to put your X next to the name of your Liberal Democrat candidate.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Party Election Broadcast

The new Liberal Democrat party election broadcast has just aired again after the BBC news. You can view it below.

Very post apocalpyic in feel and music, maybe the Labour party did use this manifesto cover after all.

But all is well as Nick Clegg tells us that there is hope he walks past the car of Sarah Jane Smith's car, the Doctor cannot be far away. Thank god he has changed and no longer has the voice similar to the one over Labour's broadcast last night.

Also as Cllr Nick Barlow points out always better to use a party supporter's music* means they are not too Keane to disown the usage. Wonder if Professor Brian Cox will allow us the use of a certain other song for a more upbeat follow up

* Brian Eno's An Ending (Ascent) from Apollo used in the 28 Days Later soundtrack.

Do It Vince Cable's Way

You just have to love this.

If You Want Liberty Vote Lib Dem

Henry Porter has written an excellent piece over at the Guardian's Comment is Free following the launch of the Liberal Democrat manifesto.
He looks at what Labour has written in its manifesto about liberty:
"We are proud of our record on civil liberties, and have taken the DNA profiles of children off the database and tightened the rules around the use of surveillance – but we are still determined to keep our streets safe."
Yeah that is it in its totality, yeah he does point out that what follows after the first comma seem to be issued forth without the slightest hint of irony.
He says that the Tories do not have an ambitious portmanteau bill that would repeal Labour's attack on liberty. But does commit itself to rolling back the database state – ID cards, the ContactPoint children's database and the vetting and barring scheme will be scrapped or reduced – curtailing council surveillance powers of local councils, giving more power to the information commissioner, introducing privacy impact assessments on new legislation. However, says it does not go far enough regarding the DNA database plus pointing out the controversy of replacing the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights.
Then he points out that the Liberal Democrats are doing most to reverse the lose of civil liberties under Labour:
"The party will introduce a freedom bill, regulate CCTV, reduce local council surveillance, restore the right to protest, protect free speech, offer guarantees to investigative journalism, scrap ID cards, end plans to spy on email and internet connections, scrap ContactPoint, reduce pre-charge detention to 14 days and scrap secret evidence. The Lib Dems go much further than the Tories on the DNA database and offer wholehearted support for the HRA."
He asks is it fear of lack of conviction that is preventing the Conservatives going as far as the Lib Dems. I would hazard a guess it is the later liberty doesn't sit too well with the Conservatives.
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At Last a Manifesto that Addresses the Elephant* in the Country

Launching the Liberal Democrat manifesto this morning Nick Clegg said:
"We will hardwire fairness into British society."
He outlined the four key principles on which I and my colleague are standing and said:
"There isn't a line in this book that we haven't accounted for by savings elsewhere."
Going on to insist that he thinks it's the first time a political party has ever produced a manifesto with figures as comprehensive as these.
This statement came after Lib Dem economy spokesman Vince Cable had described himself as "the elephant man" the only one of the three parties economic spokesmen to speak about the import thing that is omitted from the other two's manifestos, how are we going to afford what we are promising people with out relying on Father Christmas like wish lists, which are neither plausible nor honest nor costed.
Carlsberg don't do political manifestos, let alone in the depths of economic instability, but if they did.....
And yes there is an App for this check out the site.
*Apologies I don't mean everyone's favourite pachyderm blogger.
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Brown U-Turns on Fault with Bank Regulation

Do you recall Gordon Brown the Prime Minister saying that the banking crisis was brought on my a world wide problem and nothing to do with Gordon Brown the Chancellor?

Do you recall Vince Cable warning both Gordon Brown the Chancellor and Gordon Brown the Prime Minister of serious flaws in banking regulation that needed to be dealt with?

You probably won't recall George Osborne nodding his ascent of the former and barracking the later.

Well in an interview to be aired tonight Gordon Brown has finally admitted that he was wrong.

"In the 1990s, the banks they all came to us and said, 'Look, we don't want to be regulated, we want to be free of regulation.' And everybody in the City was saying ... and all the complaints I was getting from people was, 'Look you're regulating them too much.' And actually the truth is that globally and nationally we should have been regulating them more."

As for the Tories he said they had urged him to be even lighter handed on the banks adding:

"You don't listen to the industry when they say, 'This is good for us.' You've got to talk about the whole public interest.

"And so we are tougher on the banks and tougher on the way they behave and we can be relied on to make sure the banks act in the national interest."

So who would you want in charge of the economy?

  • Someone who's taken soundings knows what he's talking about and is still saying we need to be tough on banks, like Vince
  • Someone who's prepared to act because one interest group have said it was god for them who then realises later, when it is too late, that other views are important, like Gordon
  • Someone who doesn't seem to know what is going on or realise how bad things are and is prepared to carry on, like George.
I know which of those three I'd rather have. The steadying yet firm hand, the foresight and forethought of Vince Cable stands out head and shoulders above the other options.

That's why a vote for the Liberal Democrats is not a wasted vote this time around on May 6th. It actually makes sense to vote for the party that's been making sense over our biggest problem for the last decade.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Harry Potter and the Vote for Liberal Democrats

Well now that Harry Potter and more to the point Daniel Radcliffe the star who plays him are over 18 it is the first time he can vote in a muggle election. The good news is that as the election approaches Daniel is more definite in who he will be voting for than last summer when interviewed in Attitude. According to the Daily Mail the young star said:

In next month's US edition of Vogue, Radcliffe – who will be able to vote for the first time at the General Election – discusses his affiliation to the party. 'I'll be voting Lib Dem, without a shadow of a doubt,' he said. 'Nick Clegg rang me and we had a good chat. He’s seriously impressive.'

A Lib Dem spokesman said: 'We are delighted to have Daniel as a supporter and it’s great he has said he is going to vote for the Lib Dems. Daniel’s fanbase reaches far and wide, young and old.'

Good to have the Harry Potter star onboard to expelleramus Labour.

Applying for a Postal Vote: Deadline Tuesday 20 April

If you are wanting a postal vote for the election on May 6th you have until Tuesday 20th to apply. Although as I have said before don't leave it to the last minute apply early to give the registration time to query any issues there may be with your form.

20th April is also the last day to ensure that you are actually on the register to vote.

If you live in West Lothian council area you can visit their website here for more information. If you live in Falkirk council area you will want to visit here

Forms for postal/proxy votes can be downloaded:

West Lothian

But remember time is running out to get your vote secured in the way you want to.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Just Which Sort of Future Business Gordon?

Earlier today Gordon Brown launched the Labour manifesto with the words, we're in the "future business". Now me being a sci-fi fan know there are two types of future as I tweeted*. There is the Utopian sort look at Star Trek for an example where the earth lives in harmony. Or there is the apocalyptic type see Mad Max for a prime example.

Therefore one has to wonder if these may well be the cover of their manifesto before airbrushing.

* Apoligies for the predictive text error at the start.

Nick Clegg Says Fair Tax

Did you know that the poorest 20% of the population are paying a higher proportion of their income in tax now than in 1997?

Did you know that the richest 20% of the population are paying a lower proportion of their income in tax now than in 1997?

So when Gordon Brown attacks the Tories for giving tax breaks to the rich he should look at his own record.

That is why today Nick Clegg is talking about a fairer tax for Britain. Lifting the personal allowance threshold to £10,000 putting £700 into the pockets of low to middle earners. Lifting 3.5m out of tax altogether. In a tax switch that will be paid for by closing loopholes that exist, cutting down on tax avoidance a mansion tax on the value of homes over a £2m threshold and aviation taxes.

Hey if everyone else is going back to the 80s with election material, I think we need these T-shirts.

Campaign Diary: Gather The Nominations While Ye May

Each candidate for a Parliamentary Election needs to be proposed and seconded plus gather the assent of 8 other individuals living in the constituency. While some parties may do this as a quick grab the first ten activists they can I think this is a time for a little bit of personal time with the members or supporters of the party that are going to sign.

It is a change of pace. When you are out canvassing you generally want to find out a few basic answers and more on to the next door. When you are delivering you tend to have checked out the location of the next letter box on your way up to the one you are delivering, and then are folding the next one as you make your way between them. With getting nominations there is time for a chat, sometimes a cup of tea (although best only to accept at alternate houses) and for the member to engage with you as isn't always possible in party events.

They get one (or two) on one time with you, and you do get a little bit of time to relax. Although you sometimes find yourself answering policy questions that you had voted on at some point in the last few years that are now in the manifesto.

It was time well spent though and I'm sure the members appreciated me finding out how they were and them being able to ask how the campaign was going. A temporary slowing down from the frenetic pace that the next 4 weeks have in store.

However, that was Thursday and now it is all go, go, go again. I own 4 clipboards, one is set up for canvassing, one for hustings, one has the paperwork for the council, the other is the diary, to do list and contact details. I generally have two of them on me at any one time, sometimes three.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Digital Economy Bill How Michael Connarty Performed

I've been kind of busy since the Digital Economy Bill was discussed and sadly passed in Parliament during the week.

Readers may remember that I stressed my concerns, and those of a number of constituents who had written to me about the various clauses in the Bill. On the day of the rushed committee stage of the bill many amendments were raised, spoken about and then withdrawn by the proposers purely as an expediency of time. That was the shameful way in which this complex bill was rushed through the elected house. If there had been sufficient times these amendments would have been properly discussed at committee stage and where there was dissent put to the vote.

I'd also stressed those concerns to my Labour opponent in the election, who is of course also my own MP. He responded initially with the response 'I agree'. When I wrote to him again earlier this week, he replied 'this is something that [he] will leave up to the front benches'. So how did he perform in the debate.

First up after a little bit of back of forth of pointless identifying which Star Wars © 1977 character various members of Parliament were he got called to make his first intervention.

"I am listening with great interest to my hon. Friend and I am a great follower of Star Wars. I realise now, however, that my hon. Friend has identified himself as Yoda [© 1981]."

You wonder just how much interest he was paying to the concerns of the bill or of his constituents that his first intervention was that.

I too am a great fan of Star Wars © 1977 , I also love the number of parodies that are available through YouTube etc. Heck even Doctor Who last night was again full of references to Star Wars © 1977 and indeed other other science fiction. You have to wonder would the BBC have to be shut down for blatantly stealing copyrighted material. The line "Help me Doctor, you're our only hope." being a prime example.

Ok Pete Wishart, got up to speak soon after. Pete is one of the few MPs of whom I have bought some of his copyrighted material, both as CDs and indeed to see him perform live. Other's do include Charles Kennedy, William Hague and Vince Cable, although theirs are merely books and haven't been copied unto my laptop, like Runrig, so I can listen to them wherever I am.

During Wishart's speech Connarty rose again to say:

"I am grateful to another vice-chairman of the Performers Alliance group in this House for giving way. Is it not a myth that co-operation, as we have heard, could somehow solve this? People are not talking about co-operating and sharing their own thoughts and content, but are stealing someone else's content and sharing that. There is an Armageddon, which has partially arrived in Sweden, where the Pirate party, whose leader is in jail, won seats in the European Parliament on the basis that everybody's work-including MP4's-should be free."

Therein lies an issue, these two are part of a Parliamentary group protecting performers rights. Thing is I am a performer, I've played in bands, I've written songs, poems and written a lot of stuff to which I hold the intellectual property rights and copyright. A lot of that I have given freely to public use. Some of it I still make a small amount of revenue from. But we see that Michael has sort of declared an interest there, he's also the chair of the Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, another vested interest in this debate.

His final intervention came during on of Tom Watson's contributions.

"I respect my hon. Friend's forward thinking, but he obviously has not studied his history. The enclosure movement took away the enclosures around small fields to make larger fields so that larger technologies could be used. When all enclosures were taken away in America, the ultimate result was that the wind blew the topsoil off the land and the people starved. I think that he has got his analogy entirely wrong."

I'm not sure but is Connarty telling the farming community that they better replant their hedges and make their fields smaller again here. He's also missing one thing that our whole world depends on, diversity. Options of what needs to be done has to meet the needs where the situation exists. Using the analogy of the American plains where the larger fields in tornado alley did have this effect does not apply to East Anglia where the vast fields still thrive. Thus it is with the move to a digital economy.

There are arguments that the technology that powers up most computers Microsoft's own operation system is actually stolen property from the University where the founders first came up with the idea. The same could be said of the largest search engine Google. In the enclosures that these projects first started out they were small and unlikely to get anywhere, once however they were unleashed by whatever means they have become essential to our everyday existence.

That folks in why the Digital Economy Bill fudge in the wash up period is bad for all of us. Also why my Labour opponent in 4 weeks time has clearly not got it over digital economic matters. He clearly should have sought better counsel than his own front bench.

In the end he voted for the Bill, hardly agreeing with me about the concerns within it as he emailed me initially.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

In the Interests of Balance

Here are the contact details of my Labour opponent taken from his official election literature

This from the man who in his first intervention in the Digital Economy Bill Debate said:

"I am listening with great interest to my hon. Friend and I am a great follower of Star Wars. I realise now, however, that my hon. Friend has identified himself as Yoda."

Hat tip to Love and Garbage who's also blogged about it.

Lech Kaczynski

Wszystkim Polskim mieszkancom Linlithgow i East Falkirk chcialbym przekazac moje wyrazy wspolczucia z powodu smierci Prezydenta Lecha Kaczynskiego i czolowych przedstawicieli swiata polityki. Lacze sie w bolu.

Translation for my English readers.

For all the Polish residents in Linlithgow and East Falkirk I wish to express my sincere sympathy for the death of your counrty's President Lech Kaczynski, along with other senior officials, earlier today.

Dave Only Has One Shaped Peg for Our Diverse Families

The Lib Dems are going to cut taxes for all working and middle class families not just the few. This comes as the Conservatives announce their marriage tax break.

The Tories are giving only £150 a year for couples who are married, the Lib Dems of course are promising £700 a year tax break to each individual who works and earns over £10,000 by raising the personal income tax allowance. Nick Clegg said:

"Modern families come in all shapes and sizes. One-size fits all policies like tax breaks for married couples are just not right for our times.

"Liberal Democrats will give all mothers and fathers the support and flexibility they need to spend time with their children.

"We will cut taxes for all working families on low and middle incomes, not just a select few.

"Following the birth of a child, we will allow parents to share leave between them.

"We will help fathers to share parenting, giving them the right to time off for antenatal appointments. And we will change the way tax credits are paid so you can rely on them and you don’t face the nightmare of having to pay back thousands of pounds when the government messes up your payments."

So as well as the tax breaks the Lib Dems are offering in our policies for families:
  • flexible parental leave between the mother and father as they see fit
  • free and universal childcare provision for children aged 18 months – five years for 20 hours per week, when resources allow
  • fix the payments of tax credits for six months at a time so payments are stable and predictable for families
  • set up an independent commission to agree a fair long-term solution to the problem of providing quality care to those who need it in their old age
  • provide affordable homes for the 1.8m now on the housing waiting list by bringing the quarter of a million empty homes back into use by offering grant or loans to those willing to move in and renovate them for their own use

So while Dave wants to shoehorn us all into the same homogeneous family type the Liberal Democrats are dealing with the reality of the flexibility of the UK situation, giving real solutions that are fair to all, at whatever stage of live.

Big Business Bosses Being Used - Says Cable

Vince Cable speaking in today's Guardian says that businessmen on inflated salaries lecturing the rest of Britain on how to run the country are "utterly nauseating" and "being used" by the Conservative party. This is of course in response to 80 of them signing the Conservative co-ordinated letter on the single issue of National Insurance contributions. As Vince says:

"I just find it utterly nauseating all these chairmen and chief executives of FTSE companies being paid 100 times the pay of their average employees lecturing us on how we should run the country. I find it barefaced cheek."

As is pointed out the fact that Cameron is also asking that senior managers in the public sector should not get paid more that 20 times that of the lowest paid in their organisation would mean that vast majority, if not all, of those 80 signatories would have to take a pay cut to meet such a cap*. Aiden Harvey of Tullow Oil would be top of the heap having to cut his pay by £27m.

Of course there is no mention of the private sector having to following the same restraints as the public sector, how else would Dave get them onside. But as Vince points out this is a dangerous game for a politician who would be Prime Minister to play: We've been there before and being at the behest of business and the city got us into the mess we are in now:

"Brown, having kowtowed to the City for the best part of a decade, and having tried to co-opt captains of industry into the big tent, is in a very weak position."

Vince Cable also says that in the first week of the campaign the Labservatives have not answered the important question of how they will cut the structural deficit the country faces. In other words they are still avoiding that question asked on the Chancellor's debate that only Vince answered with what and how, rather than the when of Darling Osborne. As he points out for six months before the election the Tories were saying the deficit was the number one concern.:

"[They said] we are going to have a collapse of sterling, lack of confidence, bond markets evaporating, but then in the first week of the election, instead of focusing on the deficit, they say waste and efficiency are going to be dealing with the deficit, so completely evading the main issue.

"I am all in favour of getting rid of waste and inefficiency, but what is now being shown by people looking at critically is that it is not an easy route. It is in fact cuts by any other name".

He has pointed out that the Lib Dems have highlighted £10bn above the Government plans that will halve the deficit by 2013-14. That is dealing with the macro-economics of the situation rather than Osborne fiddling about with the micro-economics to suit his parties suitors, as well as the Osborne and Cameron estates.

* The 10 FTSE 100 bosses who signed definitely all fail the public sector cap test.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Reason to Vote Lib Dem 127: Bankers Backing Dave

At present the two most hated professions in the public eye are bankers and politicians.

Bankers for who issue over the taxpayers having to bail them out while they still grant themselves multi-million bonuses. Politicians because of the expenses scandal, which has tarred all parties with the same brush, despite the Liberal Democrats record of fighting to clear this up even before the Telegraph started their round of articles exposing the worst last year.

Therefore the news that top bankers are backing David Cameron's Conservatives most be worrying. Maybe it is a sign that the Conservatives are softest on banks, softest on the problems with banks. If you thought Labour dealt with them poorly you may need to look long and hard at the Tories if then Banks want them in.

Don't forget the 'pinstriped Scargills' are the businesses who like the Tories not because of the fairness they bring but because of the benefits, especially to their profits that will be accrued.

The Question of Our Online Past

The removal of Labour's Moray candidate< Stuart MacLennan over comments he made last yearon Twitter whilst a student leads to an interesting dilemma for current and future campaigns. Candidates above a certain age don't have a history on online digital communication from their youth.

Indeed it is possibly candidates around my age who started to use email at University with our tiny allowance on the server that may well be the eldest to possibly have some of our youthful comments retained for posterity on some server or someone's hard drive. Not counting University my online presence goes back for over 13 years, there is a lot of backlog. I've been quite respectful about comments I've made about others, either on my own spaces or in comments on others. But I know many others are not so careful in the language that they use Stuart being one example, but many of my student friends involves in politics of all parties are not always a careful in what they post through Facebook, Twitter or whatever.

It leads to the question are such comments about other parties a new phenomenon or it is merely that the new generation converse in public rather than behind closed doors like their predecessors? The thing is having played chess in the Surbiton club for a while, or the occasion short mat bowls event in a working mans club I've heard the same sort of language used about opponents by Tory grandees and Labour politicians, I'm also not excepting my own party some of the discussions over a pint at a conference hotel can be bawdy as well. The thing is these conversations have always taken place, I suspect even in the Cabinet Room at Downing Street, they just haven't appeared on Twitter.

People use language in different ways, the generations communicate in different ways. Stuart had apologised for those comments made before he was a candidate, that should be enough. But Labour have gone to the extent of sacking him, possibly after he had gained the 10 signatures required to nominate him and will now be seeking a swift installation of a new candidate before close of nominations.

If this really is the first general election of the Internet age the party hierarchies really need to under the 7 ages of the children of the age of the Web. They are going to make many comments in public through social media that in the past were confined to closed doors. But they develop into an age of respectability (possibly) want to get more involved in political life and maybe even stand for election. Very few under 40s do not have a traceable online history, much of that is not the homogenised, controlled outpourings of some of our senior politicians who are trying to keep up rather than stay ahead.

Guess what the future is here.

We have people who have gone on uncontrolled, uncontained, unchecked, online rants in the name of their party, who now are seeking selection for that party. They haven't alwaysbeen careful with the language used and quite possibly may even have been tame compared to others in the discussion. However, if they are contrite and promise to be more careful in the future why should that hold them back?

People are wanting honesty in their politicians. Stuart MacLennan could have easily gone and deleted his Twitter account making is less easy, though not impossible, to find. He didn't and is now paying the price for such honesty not from the electorate but from his own party.

Lord Adonis Desperately Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Writing in today's Independent Lord Adonis the Transport Secretary says:

"To avoid a Tory government after May 6, it is vital to grasp now the fundamental Labour-Lib Dem identity of interest. This can best be served by Labour coming out of the election as strong as possible, able to form a government."

After I spat out my tea, wiped down my laptop screen and calmed down I asked myself what common identity of interest?

Labour have brought in 4,300 new crimes over the last 13 years. The Lib Dems are bringing forward a Freedom Bill to repeal some of the most ridiculous and superfluous of these.

Labour are going to running a big brother state and still want to bring in the ID Card. The Lib Dems have vehemently opposed these moves all the way and are saying the the ID cards should be scrapped and innocent people removed from the criminal DNA database.

The Lib Dems are saying we'll raise the tax threshold for Income Tax to £10,000. Alistair Darling in his budget just last month froze it at £6,745 despite a 3% and rising rate of inflation.

These are just the tips of the iceberg. I look through the policies on which I will standing for the people of Linlithgow and East Falkirk on the 6 May and those of my Labour opponent and I fail to find much common ground on the four key principles on which we are standing. Fairer tax, a fair start for our children, a fair, green, sustainable economy and a fair politics giving power back to the people. Even o the few issues that there is common ground on some of those Labour have been promising action for 13 years on occasion and have failed to deliver.

Maybe what Lord Adonis meant to say is that the Liberal Democrats share a common identity with the founding principles of the Labour party. Standing up for fair wages, housing and educational opportunity for the poorest in our society. Standing up for them against the ruling classes of whom Labour are now just another cog. Labour are no longer standing on that ground.

But if that is what he meant surely Labour voters who want the principles for which they joined or supported the party initially should be voting Lib Dem on May 6th. Then they will see the change that works for them to build a fairer Britain. Returning a strong Labour party hasn't done that for 13 years of failure

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.