Friday 30 September 2005

How can you trust... MP who's election team ignore local by-laws which govern the election?

Ignore a direct call from the returning officer's team to take action? (Especially as other parties did)

Who has avoided the tough questions, in person, for his new constituents?

Who has used mob tactics at various opportunities instead of relying on democracy?

I feel these are questions for my new MP to answer.

Wednesday 28 September 2005

Scotsman Thinks Labour Activists Deserve an ASBO

Labour activists were at their worst again yesterday on a Charles Kennedy walkabout, The Scotsman likened it to anti-social behaviour. Whereas Labour still mob attack places (although not yet to take down their illegal posters) the Liberal Democrats tend to go in small groups so that hte candidate can meet the public, difficult to do this with a baying mob doing their utmost to prevent the democratic process.

At last night hustings in Deans South Jim Devine turned up late after everyone was seated, surrounded by minders and left early so as to avoid any contact with real voters. Livingston does not need an MP who is not prepared to meet angry voters who will run scared at every sign of opposition. It is clear that Devine is no Robin Cook as Robin would have been in there to listen to criticism and take action.

In less than 24 hours the people of Livingston must start making their choice. They can either elect the Ostrich wearing the red rossette or an MP who is prepared to meet them, listen to them and campaign on their behalf, not of his Union or Party and be distant.

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Labour Blame Wind for Delay in Complying with Council Edict

The Labour Party have apparently claimed the wind as the reason they have yet to comply with the order to take down their oversized posters in Livingston. While speaking to the Lighting Officer on the council Rory Cameron he said that this is the reason they are having difficulties complying with the deadline set.

I informed Mr. Cameron that I ahve yet to see any party use ladders for the taking down of posters and said this is usually done by a blade on the end of a long pole. I even offered to lend Labour the Liberal Democrat pole if it would make things easier for them.

The longer the Labour party exceed this deadline the greater a traversty of local democracy Livingston will encounter. There has been no action today at all from Labour dispite The Liberal Democrats and SNP teams being seen putting up posters throughout the day.

Don't Let Devine Near Your Schools!

Not only is size an issue with Labour posters but also positioning. These should not be placed on central reservations, traffic islands or lamposts carrying street furniture giving warning or information to car drivers.

All across the constituency these rules have been widely broken by Labour postering teams. Some posters are on speed limit signs, some on give way signs. But the image of Devine on his election communication surrounded by children is greatly embarressed by his posters being the only ones present on not just one, but almost every warning of a school in the constituency. The following picture is just one example taken in Broxburn. However, from Fauldhouse to Winchburgh. Bridgend to Murieston the story is sadly the same.

Warning Devine about.

Labour to be Cut Down to Size

Following a formal complaint the Labour Party has been ordered to remove thousands of posters they have put up during the Livingston By-election. It was spotted that the Labour Party posters were twice the size of the permitted maximum.

Today, following a written complaint the West Lothian Council reacted swiftly and have ordered the Labour Party Campaign manager to comply with the regulation or face action. West Lothian Councils said:

"We have received a complaint and as a result we have ordered the Labour Party to comply with our regulations which were clearly stated before the election began. We have therefore ordered them to remove all oversize posters by the end of Tuesday."

Today's Times quotes a spokesperson for the Lib Dems responding:

"The rule for posters are very clear and are designed to give all parties an equal opportunity."

Sunday 25 September 2005

Labour use Hartlepool Leaflet Story in Last Week of Livingston By Election

Here is the story that Jim Devine carries on the fron page of his election leaflet going into the last week of his election campaign. The wording is strangely familiar subtitute Jim Devine for Ian Wright and Livinigston for Hartlepool and you have Labour's new leaflet. Here is hpoing that the electorate are not so easily confused this time around as to who are the challengers in this Labour seat.

Interestingly Labour have been trying to distort the truth and now are digging up old distortions to obviously fend off what they see as their most serious challenge a challenge they must see as coming from the Liberal Democrat candidate Charles Dundas.

We live in interesting times. Especially this week.

Saturday 24 September 2005

This makes Early Mornings Worth It

For your and my satisfaction here is a shot of the main street in the shopping area of Livingston at 7:45am this morning.

Labour were first spotted postering at 1:30 pm and the SNP have yet to put up a single poster. At this time this morning it was clearly Dundas or UKIP.

Friday 23 September 2005

Blog Reader joins campaign team!

I'd just like to congratulate Peter Simpson from Colchester on being the first reader of my blog with no other connection to me in the past on being the first person to mention my blog to me who has joined the growing list of volunteers helping in Livingston. He will be with us until polling day.

Where do you get a strong write in campaign?

Jim Devine has claimed on his latest election literature that thousands of people have responded to his survey that drugs is the major issue they are facing here in Livingston.

Strangely in yesterdays West Lothian Courier it only said that hundreds had said that.

Even stranger most people that I or Chrales Dundas or other members of the campign team are meeting are saying services at the local hospital at St. John's are the main issue.

However, most strange is that at the same time last year as we entered the final week of the Hartlepool by-election exactly thte same story appeared on the front page of a Labour leaflet almost verbatim with obvious changes to make it sound local.

Strangely there Jody Dunn the Lib Dem candidate was similarily finding that the local hospital under the corresdiction of a Labour Minster was the major issue.

Someone quick call for Mulder and Scully.

Thursday 22 September 2005

No quite a pleake but...

...Paul Leake has resigned from his party because of comments made on his blog. This is not being referred to as pleaking (thanks to Will Howells for pointing this out.

So what you you guys think if an elected official of a ruling council party posted this to a representative of another party on a public forum.

"I do think you guys will come second though and that for the [other party in contention] would be real bad.
For info there has always been a good vote [for your party] in my area for Westminister Elections and a few hundred in [my ward] for local elections."

Your comments are not only welcome but requested this time.

Brown and Davis Good for Lib Dem Fortunes

Political Betting had an interesting review of hte week yesterday. Apparently an ICM survey had top-line figures of LAB 40: CON 31: LD 21. But when asked how they would vote if Labour was led by Brown and the Tories by Clarke the vote shares change to LAB 38: CON 30: LD 25. So both Labour and the Tories go down and the Lib Dems go up.

So on top of the votes we are working hard to gain on the ground the favourites to be leader the other main parties will be adding addition support to our cause. I'm really lookingforward ot the next few years then if that is the case.

Wednesday 21 September 2005

Blunkett Admits Pension Problem While Visiting Livingston

Today's Scotsman carries a report that says that David Blunkett has admitted that Britain is facing a pension problem. This is something that the Lib Dem candidate Charles Dundas already knew and is seeking to address if elected.

What is Labour's solution?

"We need a debate right across Britain, firstly about the nature of the problem and the challenge of the future, but secondly about how we're going to contribute."

Firstly David the people of Britain can already tell you the nature of the problem you and your chancellor have been misappropriating their National Insurance contributions. You have raised those conribution by more that you have increased the state pension. If Gordon Brown is such a great Chancellor ask him to explain the maths.

Secondly how you are going to contribute is look after those who are vulnerable, don't means test those who cannot comprehend what you are asking of them. Don't ask them to re-evaluate all the time nad stop changing the goalposts. Oh, and stump up more for those who have contributed to our society and now are in need and don't tax them what they can ill afford through a fixed rate council tax for all.

Interesting Election Faxctoid 7 Not so much a factoid more a question what with Blunkett, Brown and Darling in the last few day plus others. When was the last time so many Government activists turned up in a by-election contest when they were supposedly defending a 13,000 majority?

Are labour scared? The buzz on the streets seems to suggest they are.

Tuesday 20 September 2005

What has Loganlee Done to Deserve This?

Loganlee is a snall former mining village to the South West of the Livingston constituency. It regularly holds hustings meeting prior to Parliamentary elections.

Last night it held its postponed hustings for the by-election. Eight of the Ten candidates turned up but for the second time this year the Labour candidate did not give the people of Loganlee present in the Miners' Welfare the courtesy of his time.

In April the agent stepped in. In September the MSP turned up. Is this a sign of the continuing withdrawal of the candidate from the public face of the campaign?

Interesting Election Factoid 6 The Labour agent who stood in for the Loganlee hustings in April is now the candidate.

Monday 19 September 2005

At Least the Winter Gardens are Dry

Today was my birthday an event that usually clashes with the Lib Dem Federal Conference, like this year. However, this year I am not raising my arm every so often to vote on vital issues from the body of the hall. Or trying to get a speaker's card accepted to speak in a debate. Regular readers of my blog will know why.

Today was not a dry birthday the drizzle pursued me while I was out delivering for the Westminster by Election in Livingston. Then got heavier when I moved on to Uphall for some more deliveries. At least sitting in the Winter Gardens would have been a dry alternative and I don't meant the speeches. Looking at today's debates I can imagine my fellow Lib Dems where anything but dry.

Meanwhile our candidate Charles Dundas took the challenge to Labour over their latest by election leaflet. Their candidate says that he will clean up the streets of Livingston. Strangely something that is not a major issue on the doorsteps, but is in the control of the local Labour Run Council. So we offered some new brooms for him to help his colleagues to succeed where he says they are failing.

Strangely these were turned away by a quite confrontational mob at their headquaters. Maybe we'll be able to do something about it when we have a Liberal Democrat MP in a few days time.

Sunday 18 September 2005

What do Lib Dem Conference Reps do Instead of Going to Conference?

Just been catching up on events today at conference from the Party Website and from my fellow Lib dem Bloggers, at least those who have posted during the day before hitting this evenings fringe.Cllr. Louise Alexander asked an interesting question today, my title is the alternate universe of Liberal Democracy this week.

This morning I got up came downstairs and saw my voting rep badge and conference programmes still sitting on the coffee table. along side this was a letter from Nicol Stephen asking me to go help in the Livingston and Cathcart by Elections. Don't worry Nicol I'm sure you have seen me there enough times to know I'm already unto that.

So it was off to Uphall to start delivering with initially five bundles. Another volunteer turned up and was shipped out bringing three more. Two more volunteers were later sent out carrying two more bundles for us to complete Uphall. So instead of antoicipating 2 hours out in Uphall after about 3 we were heading back. But progress was being made. Then after a well earned roll or two it was off to Mid and East Calder to complete the latest leaflet to go out there.

Another return to the office then off to do two runs which included our Labour MSP. I happened to see him sat on his sofa watching TV.

But while I would dearly wish to be with fellow Liberal Democrats at Blackpool I know I have very important work to do up here in the next week. Next year I should be back at conference in September. Shame the Labour Party had to go and rush through these two by elections to ruin my democratic right to vote and speak at conference on such important issues.

Saturday 17 September 2005

Not Going to Blackpool

A lot of my fellow Lib Dem bloggers have mentioned that plans for heading off to Blackpool today for conference. I shall not be joining them instead there is more delivering to be done in Livingston.

However, if my fellow bloggers read this from one of the free internet portals that are set up at conference can I just ask them to leave having displayed this page. That would be just great.

Friday 16 September 2005

Blogging the Lib Dem Way

In the pre-conference edition of Lib Dem News Jonathan calder has an excellent article on the proliferation of blogs within the party from all levels of activity our MP's, councillors and activists. he obviously was unable to name check us all and give a note on the content. But his sample is a pretty far cross section.

Peter Black AM however does mention some of the newer bloggers, including me. I think I will have to let him off adding the extra 'e' on Livingston, being a Welsh elected representative being able to you vowels may be a luxary that happens all too rarely.

However, I'm not the only blogger active in the Livingston by election. I've already mentioned the one by the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Well the other Socialist (though denied by the SPGB) Steven Nimmo of the Scottish Socialists also has one. However, the SPGB belive in a faceless campaign, having seen their candidate I can understand why. However, if they want people to understand what they stand for surely it helps if people know who they are asking to become their MP, I anticipate that a 3 figure vote count will come their way if they are lucky.

Last night was the first hustings meeting of the campaign. News is that the Labour Candidate did not go down well at all. Also both the Labour and SNP candidate cold shouldered Charles Dundas. That sort of body language can only mean one thing the confident front that the two 'big' parties are trying to portray in the media cannot be what they are seeing, hearing and feeling on the streets. Charles Dundas really is a real threat to both of them in this by election and they know it.

Thursday 15 September 2005

Wednesday 14 September 2005

So England Beat Australia...

...cast your mind back to last summer.

remember this

Thought not!

Ireland beat the West Indies...AGAIN.

Now which team was the first to beat the English Rugby World Champion's. Lets see if the ECCB arrange a match in Sion Mills soon.

Tuesday 13 September 2005

Ex-Tory to Stand as Independent

Mev Brown who stood in Edinburgh East for the Conservatives in May has announced he is to stand as an independent in the Livingston by election.

Interesting Election Factoid 4: Mev Brown stood against the 2001 Lib Dem Candidate for Livingston, Gordon McKenzie, in Edinburgh West in May.

Interesting Election Factoid 5: The last time Gordon Lindhurst stood for a Parliamentay seat, the 2003 Scottish Election in Linlithgow, he stood against Gordon McKenzie's predecessor in the Livingston Westminster seat, Martin Oliver, who stood in 1997.

For those attempting to keep track that is 10 parties or individuals currently showing and declaring an interest in standing. Lib Dem, Labour, SNP, Conservative, SSP, UKIP, Green, Socialist Party of Great Britain, The Common Good and one Independent. Nominations don't close for another couple of days yet.

Monday 12 September 2005

Delivery to the Point of Exhaustion

Anyone who has ever seen me in action on delivery runs especially during campign may be shocked to hear that I hit the wall yesterday evening. To be fair there is not a lot of hilly runs in the Livingston constituency but yesterday in heat of the afternoon I took on Kirknewton.

Kirknewton has brilliant vistas you can see into Edinburgh, Fife and the Forth Bridges from here. The problem is the houses to the north side of the village are built on a steep slope and steps down or up to front doors are numerous. I had already done 200 leaflets elsewhere on my way to the office and took about 600 in the Kirknewton bundles out for more. This however did not break me it was the next 500 or so in Broxburn that I did in the evening when I finally hit the wall.

People will be glad to know I was back out today with no ill effects. Most of the focus has now gone out. We're ready for the next publication.

Sunday 11 September 2005

Devine Thinks It Is Childsplay

In today's Mail on Sunday Jim Devine was wooing young people, aged 18 months to 10 years. So no worry there as these people won'd be able to vote for him for 2 elections.

Far more worrying for Jim must be the number of adults who are telling the Lib Dem team that they voted for Robin Cook but don't like Devine and are therefore going to vote for Charles Dundas and the Liberal Democrats.

Saturday 10 September 2005

Socialist Party start to Blog

Brian Gardner, The Socialist Party Candidate, as apposed to the Scottish Socialist party, has started a by election blog.

So I take it that is another candidate throwing their hat officially into the ring to join the Lib Dems, Labour, Tories, SNP, SSP, UKIP, Greens. Making 8 so far clearly with names.

Every House I've Ever Considered Buying I've Delivered To.

Last night in the persistant drizzle I completed a goal I never though I ever would. As a Liberal Democrat in West Lothian I have delivered to each of the houses I ever seriously considered buying.

Last night while out in Fauldhouse I completed the set. The house when I last saw it was overgrown with ivy through the upper floor no bathroom a terrible kithcen and a number of trees threathening to reek havoc.

Last night it had a beautifully landscaped garden, including decking by the burn, a conservatory, impressive modern kitchen. Of course if we had managed to buy it, it probably wouldn't have looked quite so good as we'd probably still have been working on it but quite a transformation.

Last night was really encouraging as a number of people I meet said they would be voting for Charles, or 'Charlie' as they knew him, as they had seen him further up the street. Last night it was campaigning for a very local candidate.

Thursday 8 September 2005

1-0. I Still Don't Believe it.

Last night I came in to be told the Northern Ireland had beaten England 1-0. I'm still coming to terms with this, that is up there with beating Spain by a similar scoreline in the World Cup of 1982. Or Ireland beating the West Indies at Cricket in in the 1969 at Sion Mills.

Now all I need with the campaign kicking off is to win a Lib Dem MP as well. That would make my month.

Wednesday 7 September 2005

Tories Name Candidate!!!

With just over 3 weeks to go to the Livingston by Election the Tory party were the 8th or possibly 9th party to indicate the name of their candidate for the Livingston by election. The reason for the confusion is that the Socialist Party of Great Britain have also indicates they will stand a candidate.

However the Tory candidate is Gordon Lindhurst who was their candidate for Linlithgow in 2001 and the 2003 Scottish Parliamentary election. This means that Alison Ross has the unfortunate distinction of being the only candidate bar the deceased not to represent her party again only four short months later in the by election.

The list of paties currently in the running: Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Tory, Scottish Socialist, Green, UKIP, Socialist Party of Great Britain and The Common Good. More may yet emerge.

Tuesday 6 September 2005

With a LIttle Help from Our Friends

What would do if a gaggle of MSPs volunteered to come and visit your campaign office in Livingston? Well we didn't stand up and walk out on them. We sent them out with clipboards in hand to go and talk to the residents of Livingston and the reports back were very good. We hope to see many of them back out in Livingston before 29 September. It's nice to encourage your elected representatives at times.

On personal note my fiancee handed in her notice for her current job yesterday having accepted an offer of the better job on Friday. This might nessecitate a move on both our parts but we still have to see what is the best solution. In the meantime it has caused an appraisial of what my political aims should be over the next few years. All of this during a busy by election campaign on home soil. Things never seem to come in the calms but amidst the storms.

Monday 5 September 2005

The Fog Lifts! Or Does it?

The morning that was a thick fog hanging over the Almond Valley. Waking at 7 o'clock looked like I was up at about 5:30 instead it was so dark. So the journey into work was a murky affiar.

However, as the fog was lifting a different fog descended on Livingston. Yes! UKIP have named their candidate. At least I think he know's that Blackburn is a town largely within the constituency and not soley a large conurbation in Lancashire. Having followed the UKIP forum on the by Election it will be interesting to see that 'European and local issues' he deems inportant and how he tries to get them across. Watch this space.

Finally we have some news from the Tories, maybe they were panicing that there are already seven declared candidates for the by election. They are due to announce their candidate early this week.

Sunday 4 September 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy

Been a busy weekend turned up at the Livingston campaign Office at 9:00 yesterday morning and was kicked out with my first set of leaflets for the day at approximately 9:05. At various times yesterday I was in Deans, Eliburn, Bellsquarrry, Mid Calder, and Kirknewton. With occasion stops off at HQ for much required liquid and food breaks. Finished the last run of the day at 19:30, but I was ready for more.

Up again first thing this morning and was out again to East Calder when who should we meet after being out an about for 2 hours but the Labour Candidate on his mobile phone, the MSP and a group that wouldn't look out of place manning the door to Club Earth (the nightclub in Livingston) on a Saturday night. They did not appear to be moving as we went back past them about 5 minutes still stood in the same location.
Have since rattled off the whole of Dechmont and am now treating my feet to a footspa.

I have received the SNP leaflet which says I'm Local, I'm Vocal. I'm sorry Angela but that gives a vision of Rosie Kane the SSP MSP not nice, quiet you.

Great result for us one of the supporters on the football club website had said how she had not recieved anything from any of the parties. Well yesterday she said she had recieved her first leaflet and it was delivered by me first thing yesterday.

Still nothing through my mail box from Labour although I hear there is a leaflet out there.

Friday 2 September 2005

Full List of Runners and Riders...So Far

I find that Political Betting are actually a little slow off the mark. For example this morning there was a piece listing the four declared candidates for the Livingston by Election. When that article went live there were 4 and now there are six. So in alphabetical order to appease the masses here they are.

Angela Constance SNP born in Blackburn (that's West Lothian not Lancashire or Aberdeenshire) and a local councillor and candidate in May's General Election. Claims to be the only hope to beat Labour, yet only in May recorded the SNP's worst result in Livingston for 18 years. Lost % share of vote and actually votes on an increased electorate.

Jim Devine Labour also born in Blackburn. Is a Unison big wig and was Robin Cooks Agent and best man at his second wedding. Interesting Campaign Factoid 2 Jim stood in at a General Election in Addiewell for Robin in April and attacked the tories ignoring both the SNP and Lib Dem candidates. Strange to attack the forth party in Scottish and West Lothian politics but there you go.

Charles Dundas Liberal Democrat born in Fauldhouse where his parents and siblings still live. was the biggest gainer in the May general election up 5.4% on the nominal 2001 result.

Steven Nimmo SSP the third of the General Election candidate to be reselected. Born in Torphichen but now lives in Bridgend. Replaced Colin Fox as convenor of Lothian SSP after his election to Scottish Parliament. Has seen the SSP in West Lothian decline in May depite almost having hte highest profile in local media.

David Robertson Green a 46 year old former Biology teacher. Employed by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). He is married to Morag who is a primary school teacher. Interesting Campign Factoid 3 a Morag Robertson who was a Primary school teacher stood for the SSP in Edinburgh South in the General Election hopefully not the same person.

Dick Rodgers The Common Good. A doctor and clergyman from Birmingham with Northern Irish roots (nothing wrong with the roots). He contested the European election in the West Midlands Region in June 2004 winning 8650 votes or 0.6% of the vote. Got a meagre 91 votes or 0.3% of the vote in Hartlepool By-election in September 2004. In the General Election in Birmingham Northfield Constituency where he lives attracted 428 votes or 1.6%.

UKIP are apparently unveiling their candidate over the weekend.

No news from the local Conservative Party or the Official Monster Raving Loony Party yet.

There are also rumours of a local Reform West Lothian Party fielded a candidate.

And We're Off. 4 Weeks to Polling Day

The date has been set for the Livingston by election, 29 September. So we have four weeks of intense activity to come now.

Just like last year when Jody Dunn turned up at conference I expect we'll be sending Charles Dundas down to Blackpool to encourage key people to tell their activists how we are doing. I unfortunately am going to have to make apologies to a number of events that I have been invited to at conference. I'll just have to wait until the next Election to get invites to so many thank you events for being a candidate.

Thursday 1 September 2005

Usual Suspects II. Or should that be III Usual Suspects

The Scottish Socialist Party announced that Steven Nimmo will be statnding as their candidate in the Livingston by election. That makes three of the candidates from May returning to the fray.

Charles Kennedy said, on his visit to Livingston today, "We are acutely conscious of, and share the sensitivities involved. It would not be correct in the current circumstances to be overplaying partisan politics against that kind of backdrop." Referring to the fact that the town is still shocked by the murder of 11-year-old schoolboy Rory Blackhall.

Labour Peer Admits Fire Charge

Labour peer and Glasgow Cathcart MSP Mike Watson has pleaded guity the starting a fire at the Prestonfield House Hotel last year. He defence team have said he intends to resign from the Scottish Parliament prompting another by election, maybe this is why Labour have yet to move the writ they are hoping for a London bus effect of a number coming along at once minimising the effect

As reported here earlier the last time I was at Prestonfield House I was waving off Charles Kennedy on the last day of the General Election campaign. Ironically Prestonfield House and Charles Kennedy campaigning will be on the news again today. At this moment the Charleses Kennedy and Dundas are out and about in Livingston as the first party leader visits in advance of the by election. I'll get to see the pictures alter as I am stuck in work at the moment.