Monday 31 October 2005

Not A Treat for The Local Constabulary

I have just had a visit from two of Lothian and Border's finest.

Unfortunatley upon returning from the gym and my weekly grocery shop I was 'treated' to a smashed rear patio window. There was glass all over my kitchen floor, in the dogs water bowl, amongst the laundry that was drying out. Apparently I am not alone and hundreds of calls have been made about smashed in windows across the area. My back garden is not overlooked and a pathway leads to a business park so the tricksters who carried out this costly act had clear access.

I live just 1 minute from sheltered housing indeed the sheltered houseing would have been facing unto the location that the stone was thrown. It is a shame that Halloween has become Americanised and Trick or Treating has replaced Guising. Trick or treat is the precurser to Shock and Awe so maybe we should not be too surprised about President Bush's actions in the war on terror.

However, if my small area is having hundreds of call outs how many of our elderly and vulnerable are quaking at the moment, with the lights out and the television off? How many incidents are going unreported, with people not looking to claim for damage under their insurance? How much will the insurance companies have to pay out?

This is something that need to be covered in citizenship classes in our schools the cost of Trick ot Treating too far. A 7 foot by 3 foot sheet of double glazing is not cheap.

Second Tory Leadship Battle in the Offing

David McLetchie has resigned as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party following continued pressure over the taxigate scandal. He had spent £11,500 on taxis during the first five years and there has been intense scrutiny and questions asked of him about the legitimacy of some of these claims.

It of course means that two Davids will not be leading the Scottish Tories the other will not be elected for a few weeks yet as the national leader.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen said:
"This is clearly a major blow to the Conservative Party.

"However, if David McLetchie believes that he can no longer defend his position, he has clearly done the right thing."

I Want a Recount

The BBC have posted a sample Citizenship test. According to their result:

You got 13 right!
0-5: Seat in Heathrow arrivals.... 6-10: Seat on the district council......11-14: Seat in Parliament.....15: Seat on the throne

I should now be seating in Parliament.

Is it too late to demand a recount in Linlithgow and East Falkirk?

Sunday 30 October 2005

My Century

I suppose as this is my landmark 100th post in my blog I should come up with erudite passage of literary greatness. I'm sorry my muse fails me having just got back from the gym and watched the latest episode of West Wing.

However, highlight of the week may be the maiden speech of my new MP who spoke on Tuesday on the Electoral Administration Bill at 5:46pm.

I cannot fault him on his tributes to Robin Cook, nor his support of a total ban on smoking. However, his contributions to the debate were full of half truths. He said:

I have ideas on how we should improve turnout. From my experience in the by-election, one idea is about political honesty and political debate.

This is from the man who failed to engage one on one with the electorate at two of three hustings meetings that were held during the campaign, failing to turn up at one and arriving late and leaving early from another. This from a man who ten day before polling day said that the number one issue that people were talking to him about on the streets was drugs. This was the 'tabloid' banner on a leaflet that went throughout the constituency. Yet on the eve of poll in The Scotsman said:

The issues are the bread-and-butter ones - health, education, jobs.

I ask him where did the drugs issue go from 10 days before?

His team also on two separate occasions hindered the Liberal Democrat candidate from actively engaging with the electorate. Once while attempting to point out an anomaly in one of Mr Devine's leaflet and once to meet the people in a village main street.

Mr Devine if as you claim dishonesty alienates voters, and is why people do not participate in the political process maybe you should look at your own house first.

Having re-read this maybe I was erudite after all.

Friday 28 October 2005

20 per cent Less Pubs to Serve Food

While doing abysmally in this week's BBC 7 days 7 questions quiz. I mean I haven't seen the latest Harry Potter film yet! One of my wrong answers brought up a very worrying statistic.

Under the fudged smoking policy that Patricia Hewitt tried to defend yesterday 1 in 5 publicans have said they will stop serving food to get around the legislation. So instead of having food to mop up the alcohol you will be 20% less likely to find food served in the pub and 20% more likely to find smoke instead. So much for defending the nations health. Fortunatley my excursions south of the border are less frequent these days, I'll be enjoying clean atmosphere in Scottish Pubs is a few months.

Hoon Promises to Put Police Before Liberty

I've just got around to reading the Hansard Report of Wednesday's PMQs. So further to Wednesday's post I find this quote from Geoff Hoon worrying:

The police have made it clear what they require: they would like to have a three-month period in which they can hold suspected terrorists before charge

Bear in mind this comes from a government who say that their 'war on terrorism' will not lead to a police state.

So why would the police require a 3 month period of detention in custody? This could only be to gather evidence which means that the suspicions on which somebody could be arrested must be pretty sketchy. What the Liberal Democrats have proposed instead of ID cards is more police to carry out their investications and the facilities to aid them. This is a worrying development but thankfully the is a real alternative and the Liberal Democrats ahve set upa campaign page for people to show support.

Wednesday 26 October 2005

Classic Movie Test, Scotland Wins and Smoke Over the Border

Jonathan Calder and Peter at the Apollo project came out as Apocalype now. I'm

As reported earlier Andrew Murray was off to a flying start we Tim Henman rallied and made a mathc of it. But hte boy from Dunblane won in the end on a tie break in the 6th set. Two good things about this match Murray did not lose his way or nerve too much with so much riding on the result. Tim Henman showed there is live in the old boy yet he may have a couple of years left yet.

When is a smoking not really a smoking ban? When it applies to England (but not Wales as I previously wrote, thanks to Peter Black AM for pointing that out).

It is a shame that Patricia Hewitt was forced to back down in her stance for a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces for England and Wales. Even though she had watered this down herself to allow smoking carriages her steps would have been substantial. The excemptions for private members clubs, pubs that don't sell food does not go far enough to protect the publics health. Unlike in Scotland and Northern Ireland where there will soon be total bans on smoking in public these exceptions will still give people who work in such locations no option but to enhales other's smoke or little incentive to cut down or stop smoking themselves.

Ironically John Prescott thought a compromise of a workplace ban was enough. What about those who have to work in the establishments that allow smoking John? Or don't those workplaces count.

Scot Takes First Set in Battle of Britain

Latest from Basel youngster Andy Murray has taken the first set off British No. 1 Tim Henman 6-2.

Hoon's PMQs Finishes on Time Shocker

With Blair propably off preparing for the EU mini summit tomorrow Geoff Hoon was at the dispatch box for Prime Minster's Questions today.

Unlike last weeks debacle he seemed to run on time. But if the best he could come back to David Heath about Labour's over draconian anti-terror laws was that the Liberal Democrats should start living in the real world it may be some time before he allowed back.

Let's take a look at the real word. Someone heckles a speech at the Labour Party conference he is arrested under the over draconian anti-terror laws. Animal rights protesters are now under threat of the over draconian anti-terror laws.

What next? Our right to assemble in protest against a draconian governemnt; will they round us all up under over draconian anti-terror laws? What if there is a motion against a Labour policy at conference next year will they arrest everyone in the hall for making noises against the government?

Watch this space.

Tuesday 25 October 2005

Tories + Opposition = Backing for Labour

Chris Black asked on his blog a couple of days ago if we care about democracy.

Well today's debate in Westminster on the Electoral Adminstration Bill is a case in point. The Tories are worried about broadening democracy saying it will allow fringe groups to get more access, although they were relieved that it helped their survival in Scotland.

The thing is that extreme groups will be open to more scrutiny if they are in the national picture. The only thing the Tory's and Labour should worry about is there lack of direction and ideas in such a system. Indeed the Tory have shown today how to act as official opposition. Have doubts about part of controversial legislation but back the whole. Will things change in 6 weeks? Doubtful.

Monday 24 October 2005

Scottish Winery

Yesterday I spent a wonderful afternoon at Cairn O' Mohr a winery in Perth. Yes! Scotland does produce wine and these are award winning fruit wines.

Really pleasent surroundings and did the whole tour the Elder platation, the winery the work. Of course the best part was the tasting and this also took the largest part of the day. But was very enjoyable.

Saturday 22 October 2005

Liam Fox is Shown Yellow Card

Liam Fox is taking his beating in the Conservative Leadership election badly, he has just been booked in the SPL game away to Livingston.

Liam Fox is booked at Livi

Liam Fox defeated in Conservative Leadership Elections

Hoon Not 'Short' of Talk

I find it disgraceful that the Leader of the House Geoff Hoon should talk out Claire Short's private member's bill to make the government accountable to parliament before sending troops to war. It must be a sign of how concerned the government were that they could not whip their own back bencers to the no lobby.

The fact that Hoon serves as leader of the House with his main duty being the handling of the business of the House makes this episode all the more galling. It makes it all appear to be a deliberate attempt by the government to stall further democracy within hte elected chamber and try an maintain the semblance of Presidential leadership enjoyed by Tony Blair.

At least one recent octogenerian at least maintained cabinet government and respected the House of Commons whatever her faults in policy.

Friday 21 October 2005

Going Out on a Limb

The next leader of the conservative party will be David.

This of course is being cursed by political editors across the country as there goes the David v Goliath headline. Although that would only have applied if Clarke had made the run off as I don't see any paper calling Liam Fox a Goliath of the Conservative party.

At least the party has maintained some semblance of democracy as David Davies has not stepped aside to allow a coranation. If the Tories had actually taken the whole decision out of the hands of their MPs there might have been a very different top two. But maybe that is a discussion for the next century when they look at modernising the Conservatives.

Thursday 20 October 2005

The Love of Politics and the Politics of Love

Some of you have noticed that I have been a little quiet in blogging since the end of the Livingston by election. There are two reasons for this.

First obviously is the fact that the by election itself took a fair amount out of me, as it also did the rest of the local party activists.

Second however, is that within a week of the by election my fiancée of five years sat me down to say that while she still liked me as a friend she no longer saw herself as able to remain my fiancée.

While I admit having two Westminster campaigns in twelve months is not ideal for a non-political partner this was not the reason for the spilt. As aluded to in an earlier post she has started a job over on the west coast which had led me to think about my future. Mainly this thinking occured whilst out actually delivering leaflets as this was the only time I had for such activities.

Whilst I was prepared to consider making a fresh start in a new region and new local party she said this wouldn’t be fair to me, to her or to the local party here. She said quite rightly that I have built up in my four years in West Lothian a good network both in the local party and indeed in Edinburgh. That I am standing at the edge of possibly winning an election, for the local council, in a couple of years. She knows that while she hates the amount of time that political campaigning takes up to be good and successful I need to put that amount of time in, because is the kind of caring politician I am.

She got engaged to me when she was young, she was still at University, while I was a good few years older. While I had already found out who I was and what my passions were she had never really had that chance to be her own person away from her parents or from any other connection. She is seeing this opportunity eventually to move to live on the West coast with her new job as a chance to do just that. She hasn’t ruled out that I might be the anwser she is looking for but she also can’t rule it in.

She still loves the fact that if I commit to something I give my all to it. That was one of the things that attracted her to me in the first place. However, she does not share that passion and while she knows it is important to me she cannot yet bear to have that as a regular occurance every two years.

So what does that mean for me? Well quite possibly I’ll being giving more time than even I was planning to to the 2007 campaign; giving myself an even better chance of getting elected. So I will continue in my quest for the council seat I’ve been pencilled in for since 2003. I’ll be looking for the party to achieve as many Lib Dem councillors in West Lothian as we can manage. Currently we're on the outlook for a few more good people to fight the new wards and to represent them after that.

But I still also have a very good friend who has been the biggest part of my life for the last five years. Who encouraged me to get involved with the local party while she was studying and working elsewhere and who has still promised to act as my devils advocate on areas of policy. Who also has more faith and hope in how far I can go than I do at times

If You want My Vote Tell me Why

Like every other conference rep I got my Federal Party Committee Election papers today. One thing that constantly upsets me is that some candidates don't seem to be able to apply their experience to what they can bring to the post.

These are elections where to be fair most of the electorate have a pretty good chance of knowing a number of candidates. In fact a fair few of the electorate propably have no difficulty is putting down enough prefeerences to fill all the potential palces and possibly then some. After all the electorate does tend to largely congregate twice a year, or at least those most likely to vote do. The electorate also is pretty au fait with electioneering.

So if you want to grab my attention and I haven't had the priveledge to meet you in say Harrogate or Bournemouth in the last year or so you need to tell me why you deserve my vote. The same is probably true for a large number of other reps. Some candidates did manage make me pay them attention, some made it easy for me not to even give them a preference.

To be fair to all, especially as I was otherwise occupied for Blackpool this year, I have actually read every single manifesto. Now I may be on the approved candidates list but I also what committee members that are good for the normal party member. Especially if they show concern for those from around here who aren't prepared to travel for 13 hours to get to a South Coast conference. Some of our candidates had good idea for inclusion.

I want candidates who clearly have thought through the objectives of the committee or committees for which they are standing and how they can benefit that committee and the party. Again some of our candidtes demonstrated this very clearly and left me in no doubt as to their suitability.

Some however, made me wonder what sort of campaigns they have actually been involved in. Having working in target seats, by election and even in so called black holes I shudder at what some of these people are expecting to acheive through literature. Even getting some other people to look at it before sending it off would have given them enough feedback to re-edit.

Anyway I waded through since getting home from work and give preferences as far as I thought merited my vote and my ballots are now winging their way to Cowley Street first class.

Wednesday 19 October 2005

Wow! I Becoming Google Famous

Someone told me that I was shooting up the google search list again. So overcoming my modesty I put my name in and found I had shot up to number 2 behind a non-existant site.

I'd better keep up blogging to keep my position.

Friday 14 October 2005

Return to the Gym

Well I've just been to my induction for my new gym. This is the third gym of which I am a menber and this one gives me access to all of West Lothian sports facilities across the county which is good.

The equipment is on a technokey so there is no skiving, not that I as an ex-athlete would attempt to try that.

I'm now sure how I'll be able to hours of delivering leaflets but I'm sure I'll soon find out. However, I'm not sure the system could have handled walking, hig intensity, duration 12 hours for 29 September. Even though that is about the long and the short of what I recently did on polling day.

Wednesday 12 October 2005

Linlithgow Heading for Snarl Up

Further congestion is all that Linlithgow residents can look forward to for the foreseeable future. The Scottish Executive has announced a blanket presumption against new motorway junctions as part of its Scottish Planning Policy. The means that the must hoped for all way-junction on the M9 at Burghmuir, to the East of the town, appears dead and buried.

Neither West Lothian Council nor the Scottish Executive are prepared to put up the funding required to meet the growing demands of development in the town funnelling extra traffic through town to reach the local approach for traffic to the West.

A 1993 report by Halcrow Fox predicted a 25 per cent reduction in traffic through Linlithgow High Street if Burghmuir was made an all-points junction. Considering the increase in population in parts of Linlithgow since 1993 and the plans for more these figures may very well be underestimates by now.

Much as I campaign for public transport I realise that the way the road management around Linlithgow was initially planned, and has since been developed, is proving to be a farce. It is just another example of one consideration for Livingston at the heart of local governemnt and another for the outlying council areas.

Thursday 6 October 2005

Livingston Upon Reflection

I've taken a few days off posting as a well earned rest. I'm sure nobody will begrudge me that. After all when I returned to the office after the count by right ankle had swollen up and not moving in any intelligent direction, but I still got up the following morning to start removing the posters.

How did we do?

We held our share of the vote up from the may election, without the backgraound data and party machines that both Labour and the SNP have in place across West Lothian.

We were not squeezed. Traditionally in Scottish seats when we have faced these two party's they have gained all the media attention (something they largely did this time), they have the press talking about them as potential winners and us as nowhere (this happened again), and our vote share goes down often to close or actually losing our deposit. That did not happen here so we acheived our promary objective.

The SNP got roughly the same vote they acheived in May. As I said above they have the data to know exactly who their vote is, they appear done a good job in getting that vote out. The fact that I saw them from late morning chapping (knocking for the non-Scots) their vote up shows that even to do that they were stretching themselves.

We didn't close the gap on the SNP here as a result. That was disappointing as people were telling us on doorsteps that after voting for Robin Cook they were not sure about Jim Devine and were thought or intended to vote for us. It appears that a number of those traditional Cok voters just did not bother to vote at all and are waiting to see how the new MP does before returning to the polls.

The canmpaign was busy, lively and fun to work on. It could have been busier if more people had come to help out. If we'd had more people and or had what we had earlier the literature would have gone out faster allowing more time for meeting people on their doorsteps to get down to the nitty gritty of telling them why we were the best alternative for them.

In the areas we did put a lot of work our vote increased considerably from our samples. This is a very encouraging thing especially as we are going to be fighting the 2007 council elections under Single Transferable Vote.

So I think we did what we could but with more support we could have done better. But hats off to a big thank you to everyone who did help we couldn't have done as well as we did without you.