Friday 27 October 2006

Livingston MP Shows True Sporting Colours

Well Jim Devine is showing his true sporting colours in a charity event tomorrow.

While local team Livingston are away in Dumfries against Queen of the South, he will be parading the SPL trophy currently held by his beloved Celtic at the Almondvale shopping centre, without earshot most Saturdays of the Livi drums.

While the event is to raise money for charity it is said that the local MP is encouraging teh support of non-local football teams within his own community. Livingston FC have for the 11 years of their existance been fighting an uphill battle to encourage local people to support the local team. The youngsters of West Lothian are the best hope for the local team to survive in the long term.

Expenses at Different Ends of Scale

The list of MPs expenses until the 31st March puts the two West Lothain MPs at different ends of the chart. Michael Connarty for Linlithgow and Falkirk East is the 8th Highest in Scotland 14th in the UK with £151,852, while Livingston's victor Jim Devine is 57th of the Scots with £92,297. Only the Speaker Michael Martin and the other, later By Election Willie Rennie claimed less than Devine.

Connarty however is not the most expensive MP in the Lothians that dubious honour is retained by Edinburgh South's Nigel Griffiths.

Although the evening news is worryingly telling us that Jim Devine is MP for Linlithgow. Is Connarty aware of this?


The break down of how the expenses were accrued for Connarty and Devine are now on just don't tell Jack Straw.

Connarty's expenses are up £11,476 on last year. While making savings in stationary, computers and staff travel. It is his incidental expenditure which has shot up by £9,461 or 51% on last year which is the bulk of his increase.

Extract From the Minutes

There was an article about De Loran sports cars in the motoring section in today's Scotsman. But clearly this was a car that was time travel complient as the following note from the future was just visible on the dashboard I have enlarged it for my readers benefit.

Minutes from 2007 AGM of the IRA Old Boys Assosiation

Hon. Life President Adams: (rose) Welcome to the 2007 AGM of the IRA Old Boys Association. I wish to express a vote of thanks to our speaker this evening and inspirational founder David.

Dave: Actually call me Dave.

Adams: Sorry Dave Cameron for agreeing to address us tonight for the Bobby Sand’s Memorial Lecture. I also would like to say how smart we all look in our new ties. Our crest of a Balaclava over crossed Kalasnikovs did cause a slight stir at the tie designers. But eventually the owner agreed providing we didn’t tell the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge Old Boys Association. I hand over to the Secretary for some announcements.

Secretary McGuinness: Thank you Gerry. Next Saturday we are having a Pimms and strawberry evening in Falls Park. We shall be gathering at the Divis Flats memorial end. A bouncy castle will be available to entertain your children on the slope overlooking the bowling green. Members who are supervising their children are asked to remember that the Old Boys Association condones throwing stones unto the green irrelevant of the opposition teams religious make up.

Member from the floor identity hidden by balaclava: (raises hand) But we’ve always done it.

McGuinness: As our speaker has shown in his words and actions in the last years, just because you’ve always done it doesn’t mean you keep on doing so. It’s all in the image, do whatever makes you popular. Now other events upcoming....

Thursday 26 October 2006

It's a Family Affair

The election for Edinburgh South in next May's Holyrood election has taken another interesting twist. Already the former council leader Donald Anderson had been selected by Labour to take on Liberal Democrat MSP and former city councillor Mike Pringle again in the contest.

Now in as a replacement for Graham Sutherland, who stood down earlier in the year for personal reasons, is one of Mike Pringles own kinfolk has been selected to stand for the SNP. Robert Holland who has been selected is the son of the MSP's cousin.

Mr Holland has alrady surprised Tory voters in Edinburgh South by telling them that their vote is a wasted vote and only he can beat Labour and the Lib Dems. Fighting talk from the party that was in 4th place in 2003 and had an even poorer showing last May when then managed to lose half their votes in the larger Westminster constituency.

While Mr Holland head may be up in cloud cuckoo land, as not even his leader Alex Salmond has this seat on any list of potential gains, Edinburgh South is already gearing up to be another fight between Liberal Democrats and Labour. Although this time for a pleasent change the defender is not a Blair lackey.

Tackle Climate Change Take a Plane - Labour

Apparently the best way government guidelines tell us to tackle underused railways is to take a plane.

Are these planes going to stop at request stops along the line of the rail route? How are they going to tackle the stations in the Highlands or rural Wales which surely must be amongst those targeted? I mean it will be difficult to built airports next to every conceiveable station. That is before taking into account that taking off is the most carbon heavy point of a planes emmissions.

If there are not going to airports at every stop how are passengers going to get to their final destination? In some of these underused rail lines there is no realistic alternative to make the journey from Rannoch Station to Fort William being a prime example.

So not only is Tony Blair not prepared to set annual targets for cutting carbon emmissions (when he has them for everything else), he looks like adding to them non-sensically.

Wednesday 25 October 2006

Not Quite a Rarity

Thanks to Peter Black for pointing out this one. So I find that there are only 163 people sharing my first name, 53rd most common, and last name, 572nd most common. Some of these American Stephen Glenns I have located in the past via google.

My Brother is rarer only 94 matchs. My nephews have 423 and 7 for their Old Testement fist names. My dad has 945 matchs and mum 25. However my sister-in-law is the rarest of the bunch with only 6 American's sharing her name dispite it being the same as a cartoon character but she was rarer under her maiden name with only 3 mathces.

My ex-fiancee who's birthday was yesterday always said she was a rarity 17 people match her name. If we'd have been married however she would have had only 1 American sharing her name with the correct spellings.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Volunteer to be a Nuclear Dumping Ground

David Miliband the 'Wayne Rooney' of Tony Blair's cabinet want to sweep the issue of the waste created by nuclear power station under the carpet, or at least under the ground in a willing local authority.

Obviously after decades of consideration weighing this up this has been considered the safest option open to the government. That is clearly why they will be offering hte willing local authority a multi-million pound bribe, sorry, investment incentive to volunteer. Of course the officers of the local authority who agree to having the nuclear depository built in their area will propably be long out of office by the time it comes online, as it is expected to take 40 years to construct the at least 500 metre deep dumping ground. So obviously it will be as 'safe' as houses then.

The previous attempt to try and get a deep nuclear dumping site established was scraped in the 1980s due to public resistance. Of course then public awareness was far more worried of nuclear fallout coming from the sky if America and Russia got a little too heated.

Of course the best way to avoid having to dispose of nuclear waste is to avoid creating new nuclear power stations. There is plenty of options for other energys to be utilised that will reduce our countries carbon footprint and be safer and cleaner to use.

Tuesday 24 October 2006

West Lothian Answer Revisited

Looks like I published rather than saved as draft earlier than I intended and a number of people have already read only a disjointed opening paragraph. So here is the full version for your consumption.

Iain Dale has thrown his hat into the ring over the West Lothian Question or more to the point the answer to the question. Following the backing of Canon Kenyon Wright for an English Constitutional Convention (ECC), similar to the one he chaired for Scotland it looks like a serious attempt to seek the West Lothian Answer.

The West Lothian Question is not a simple one to answer otherwise there would have been a definitive answer a long time ago. So the ECC may well be a way of finding the enigma that has been circulating since Tam Daylell first raised the issue. The ramifications are far reaching ie there should not be two levels of MPs at Westminster, we already have seen some friction about the two types of MSPs in Holyrood. The issue of who can vote on what issues is largely impacting on plitics both North and South of the border. Also the issue of funding and the Barnett formula is well overdue revisting.

So I would say now is probably a good time to ask for an ECC. Rather than glibbling throwing out policies like banning Scottish MPs for voting on English only matters at Westminster an ECC would look at all the ramifications in detail. It should have a remit to look at the issues that devolution has raised for England and have dialogue between the parties to reach the solutions.

I hope that if Iain Dale and other signatories of today's letter go into an ECC they will do so with open minds seeking the best answers rahter than merely rubberstamping of their own ideas. The letter already rules out options for regional assemblies for England which the ECC would have to look into to meet the fullest remit to see if it is beneficial for local accountability, responsibility over issues or not.

Monday 23 October 2006

Yikes I'm a Nerd.

Considerably more so than Iain Dale but not quite as much as Joe Taylor.

I am nerdier than 86% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Fearful Tactics by Scared Republicans

Having just acquired series seven of the West Wing I watched episode three 'Message of the Week' last night, in which Arnie Vinnick attempts to appeal to Matt Santos's latino base. While his attempt to shift his opponent unto ground he was avoiding for the fear of appearing to be a minority rather than mainstream candidate that is nothing compared to this.

Letters that have been sent out to 14,000 registered voters with Spanish surnames in Orange County California, saying that illegal immigrants cannot vote in Federal Elections and could face jail or deportation. These letters have been traced to a Republican candidate facing Loretta Sanchez, an Californian born Hispanic Democrat incumbant.

Now we all know the Republics are worried that latest polls show they are in danger of losing control of both Houses in next months midterms but this is a step too far. What make this worse is that ironically the Republican candidate, Tan Nguyen, arrived in America aged 8 after his parents fled the regime in Vietnam.

Friday 20 October 2006

Mission Accomplished - Don't Go Lawrie

Lawrie Sanchez said when he took over as Northern Ireland football manager that he's love to overtake the Republics team in FIFA's world rankings. Well this week it was announced that hThis was mission accomplished.

Northern Ireland have risen 13 places to 45 while the Republic have slipped 6 places to 49. Now our next mission must surely be to built on the start to the European Championship Qualifiers and get to the Finals and then even if we fail to pick ourselves up again and aim for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I hope that Lawrie stays with the team to accomplish missions 2 and 3. After all Tom Cruise made MI-3 did he not.

Wednesday 18 October 2006

Is Oath a Barrier Too Far?

Yesterday's cancellation of talks between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams is down to the ability of one man to say an oath.

Martin McGuinness is widely tipped as Sinn Féin's chosen candidate to become Deputy First Minister is power sharing can be agreed. However, he is a former commander in the IRA and their is a doubt over his ability to swear an oath in support of the police and rule of law should he take office.

While some press only mention that Peter Hain stepped in to postpone the meeting the Belfast Telegraph has no qualms about laying the blame on Paisley's door. Dr Paisley is quoted as saying that the Oath should be taken by both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister at the time they assume shadow responibilty upon their designation on 24 November.

However, a senior source in the Northern Ireland Office pointed out that this would appear contrary to what the DUP were striving for at the St. Andrew's talks. The DUP's stance during those talks was to avoid the appearance of actually taking up office on 24 November. Comparing this dilemma that Dr Paisley is creating the source added:

"It is analogous to an oath of office being taken by any MP. You don't take it when you are nominated or even when you are elected. You take the oath when you actually take up your seat."

So the question to Dr Paisley must be do you want an appearance of taking up office on 24 November or do you want to carry out what you negotiated for in Fife?

Moray MSP Caught in Green Lie

The SNP at their recent conference moved into the green arena and echoed Liberal Democrat calls for micro-generation of renewable energy.

However, the MSP for Moray decided he would back up these calls with action. He invited the press to his home in Forres to witness solar panels being installed on his home. He claimed in his press notice that he was the first MSP to install micro-renewable generators at home.

Whoops! He should have asked around a little more because without any fanfare Andrew Arbuckle the Liberal Democrat MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife has had them on his Fife cottage for 5 years. Also mentioned were two of the Green members also have had wind turbines constructed near their homes which supply the excess to the national grid.

So congratulations to Mr Lochhead for catching up, but no praise for trying to be a massive self publicist to boost the green credentials of a party playing catch up on action.

Monday 16 October 2006

Lib Dem Blogging Connections Get Smaller

Neil Woollcoot is joking that he is out and about to stalk fellow Lib Dem Bloggers at least it would appear until he gets their picture taken. As a fellow Kingston University Alumni I joked that I would have to watch out at any Alumni events I might decide to drop down to then.

Neil has taken this in the good spirit it was intended. But it leads me to think how many other bloggers have I met since I started blogging.

Only at the weekend I bumped into Bernie Hughes for the first time at the Conference in Dunfermline. Earlier on this year I met and sat beside Will Howells at the leadership hustings. I also ran into Pink Dog when he was up 'running' the show at the Dunfermline by Election, I just am not saying what show. I've known Alex Cole-Hamilton before, during and after his all too brief but excellent sorjoin into blogsphere. As for Caron Lindsay well it's hard to avoid the other blogger in you local party especially when they acted as you agent in the General Election.

There may be more but for the moment I cannot think of actually meeting them. However, I'm not sure whether it is encouraging or scary when people you have known for years come up to you at conference and say that they read you blog. I take it to be the former as not one of them said a bad word about it.

Scottish Autumn Conference 2- What Happened

Well here is the agenda for this Autumns Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference, held in the Lib Dem held Westminster seat of Dunfermline and West Fife. Many of the delegates ahd been in the city at some point earlier in the year so Willie Rennie opened hte conference by thanking those of us who had come to make this a Lib Dem held seat. Something that Menzies Campbell and Nicol Stephen amongst others later added their thanks.

Basically the business of the day started with the motion on Tackling Serious Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour the admentment was the only issue causing any debate, also the fact that some crime was not covered was raised but did not affect support for the motion as a whole. In the end it passed unammended.

The second motion on Scotland's Burghs, Towns and Communities only had one speaker against the motion. Her view being that putting in another layer of governance was a backward step. Whereas others including myself had spoken about hte benfits to community councils etc on various of the levels that the motion laid out. This motion was clearly carried with the admentment taken on board.

Bright Future - A Vision For Scotland was the least controversial of all the debates of the day. As we discussed our pre-manifesto many of our brightest young people and candidates took to the podium to express they enthusiasm for various strands within the document. As this pre-manifesto is full of Liberal values it was passed unanimously.

The final motion of the day proved the most controversial. Two years ago at Autumn conference we had a tense debate about whether banning smoking in public places was a liberal action protecting the health of other or illiberal as it prevented freedom to a vast swathe of the population. In the end the ban was passed by a majority vote. This year we wer faced with the following motion:

Conference is well aware of the dangers of both smoking and passive smoking.

Conference notes that the law stipulating the minimum purchase age of 16 date back to 1937, a time when the dangers of smoking were unknown.

Conference therefore call upon the Scottish Executive to take steps to raise the Minimum age of Purchase of cigarettes in Scotland from 16-18 years.

Before I even turned up to conference I had difficulty with the last paragraph of the motion. We are proposing a pre-Manifesto which is giving young people more of a say in their own and their peers actions. Yet at the same time we were considering taking a choice, however bad it may be for them, away from them. During the day the feeling I was getting was that a number of others felt the same way I did.

Many of the speakers both for and against the motion mentioned that many people had already started smoking before the minimum purchase age anyway. So therefore raising the age restriction may not be the prime concern anyway but effectively managing the sale to, or purchase on behalf of, underage smokers may be a more valid motion.

Most of the speeches against the motion pointed out that this was different from the Smoking in Public Places debate as while the first affected others, this was a matter of personal choice. If there was a clapometer present I feel it would have been swiging towards defeating the motion more and more as the speech went on the the already quite busy room filled up more ready for the vote.

It was one of the final pleas in the summation that showed most how the room was considering voting. When the summator for the motion said that not one of the speakers against the motion spoke about lowering the age of alcohol purchase. Considering there is a dicothomy of two laws one that you cannot purchase alcohol before you are 18 but are allowed to drink it with a meal in a pub or restaurant from the age of 16. There were audible comments where I was sitting that this wasn't what the motion was about and mentioning the above.

So when it came to the vote this final motion of the day was defeated by a confortable majority.

Scottish Autumn Conference 1 - Quote of the Day

From the members there were some glorious quotes, the following are my subjective picksof the best.

Rod Ackland

My favourite was from Rod Ackland who during the debate on the Pre-Manifesto referred to a leader of a certain party as:

Wee Davie the lead singer of the Tony Blair tribute band Blue Labour

Honourable mention goes to the final comments of Kevin Lang against the defeated motion to increase the Age of Purchasing Cigarettes to 18:

All day we been talking about young people and giving them more responsibility. If we vote for this illiberal motion we're bloody hypocrites.

Friday 13 October 2006

Target Date Set For Northern Irish Devolution

Reports of the Northern Irish Assembly may have been greatly exaggerated by the BBC earlier.

No party has yet rejected the Governments' plan for progress. They have until the 10 November to respond to the plan which gives a minimum of 14 days after that to appoint the First Ministe and Deputy First Minister.

If, and it is still a big if, this paln is accepted and followed the Assembly should be up and running again by the 26 March. I seem to remember one of the previous changes of devolution and direct rule happening around St. Patrick's Day as well, but I may be wrong.

Time is ticking for Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams then.

Footie Tonight

I'm off to Almondvale tonight to see my beloved Livi take on the Accies in the league. It is an experiment in Friday night football at the club to see if juniour club supporters and Old Firm, Hibs and Hearts supporting dads might accompany their children to a Livi game.

Anyway it means I'm able to see my team play and still attend the Scottish Lib Dem Conference on the same weekend which I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, to thank you Pearse Flynn for chosing this weekend for this experiment. It also means that for this conference at least I'll be relaxed during the afternoon sessions as other delgates from rival teams may be fretting over their teams performance (in recent years some good friends have been supporters of relegation rivals).

DUP Says No! Again!

The headline on the BBC news site has just changed to DUP rejects Government plan. I expect the story will catch up soon.

Also nothing yet on the Ulster Unionists Blog of the talks.


3:00 pm
Headline has been reset to 'Hope Rise in NI Talks Agreement. Who knows what is going on? Such is the nature of Northern Irish politics.

3:19 pm The UUP blog has now said that while they expect to leace at 5:00pm anything is possible. They were just going into the plenary session to hear what the deal is laying out apparently. The BBC may have jumped the gun somewhat.

The Army Says No!

Well as I wrote yesterday the US Army said the situation in Iraq is too unstable to foresee a withdrawal of troops before 2010. Well British Army Cheif General Sir Richard Dannatt can tell them why. It's because we are there!.

This is most forthright statement from inside the allied forces military which says that far from being the peace makers in Iraq our troops are seen as occupiers and a cause of the tension, which will only continue the longer we stay.

So not only has he called for an immediate plan for an exit strategy, but he has also hinted that the way we went into Iraq, i.e. not invited, may be affecting how we are viewed in certain parts of the world.

President Bush wants us to stay until 2010. The British Army says no.

Thursday 12 October 2006

Northern Irish Football 20 Years of Hurt. Is It Over?

England's Tormentor David Healy was at it again last night
The last time Northern Ireland qualified for a major football tournament finals was the 1986 World Cup. Which brought to an end legendary Pat Jennings career against the most worthy of opponents Brazil.

Who would have thought that in this international week that the best performers of the home nations would be Northern Ireland with a win last night against Latvia and a good away draw against Denmark. The last time Northern Ireland had such a good chance in international football Scotland were also riding high so the current parallel in performance must be a good omen.

2010 and All That

So now we know something about the withdrawal strategy from Iraq, 'It ain't gonna happen before 2010. The US Army have announced that new indications show the situation is too unstable to foresee an end to the 'war' (yes they used the word war) in the next four years, so they are going to have to maintain troop levels at least until them.

So Iraq War 2003-2010+? will mean that the US/UK alliance are gearing up to occupy Iraq for longer than Germany occupied Europe from 1939-1945. Strange that this new intelligence must come from the same sources that told Bush and Blair that the Iraqi regime had weapons of mass destruction. Well at least the country has them now even if they are in the hands of the occupying forces.

Wednesday 11 October 2006

It's Good To Talk

Dr Paisley...Deal or No Deal

The seven parties that won seats in the Northern Irish Assembly are meeting for talks in St. Andrews for the rest of the week. This is probably the last change saloon for the Assmebly which has been in suspension since 14 October 2002.

The parties have until 24 November to come to an agreement on power-sharing or else the whole process will be mothballed. As this would be the third time that an attempted devolved Northern Irish assembly would fail these talks take on added importance.

Will there be progress this time? It is hard to tell howver the signs are looking up. Last week it was announced that the IRA are now incapable of carrying out a sustained campaign. Then earlier this week the Rev Dr Ian Paisley sat down to talk with the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland Archbishop Sean Brady.

Two big questions need to be answered. Is it possible that Sinn Féin will accept the Northern Ireland Police Service. If they do, is Dr Paisley's DUP party ready to share power with Sinn Féin? If the answers to both questions is yes than this Friday could be even bigger news than the Friday that the Belfast Agreement was signed.

Romours that Noel Edmonds is heading to Fife with a van load of boxes waiting to ask his famous question are according to sources totally unfounded.

picture hattip to Brother's Bar

Saturday 7 October 2006

Is Jack Straw a Head Gear Hypocrite?

Now before I start I must say Jack Straw is fully intitled to make a gaffe as much as the next man, we life in a country where there is freedom of speech. However, one of the reasons he gives for asking women to remove their veil is that he thought we lived in a society where watching facial expressions was important for contact between different people. Look over your shoulder on the right Jack, there on the doorstep of Downing Street is an example of a person who has to communicate with people in our society: a policeman. That picture is a graphic example that it is not possible for someone to see the full facial expression of the bobby on the beat the eyes,the window to the soul, can be obscured or in shadow as a result of the helmet.

The counterargument that has been put by some is that the people have the right to observe their own religious observances, without having to conform. However, the picture below is just one example of Jack Straw conforming to fit in with religious leaders. So he is not prepared to offend the believes and practices of others by not conforming to their expectations but he is prepared to cause possible offence by asking others to surrender theirs.

Picture from

Interestingly in conclusion when he famously visited a arab state on the brink of civil war in his previous job with a female dignatory from a special friend it was Jack who felt his head should be covered while Condi went bareheaded.

Picture hattip to Raw Carrot

Majority Support Green Taxes

According to today's Scotsman a survey by the BBC shows that 565 of people support green taxes even in air transport and motoring become more expensive.

Since Gordon Brown has been Chancellor green taxes have fallen from 9.3% to 8.3% of total UK taxation. He also talked of the threat to our planet from climate change at the recent Labour Conference but failed to say what he would do about it, so Brown isn't green.

'Dave' Cameron's NuTories the next large election his party faces is for the Scottish Parliament but looking up tax on their site brings not one mention of any plans for green taxation. Considering this is the time that the parties are starting to get thier points across for next may surely he needs to get his party talking about it, even if the policies are looking like being in place in the next century.

As for Alex Salmond's SNP they very publically slated the Liberal Democrat's tax proposals as soon as these were passed last month. Not recognising that the full proposals were redistributive and even the green taxes are not going to affect thepoor adversily.

Some people would argue that surely the Green party have addressed the issue of green taxation. They may well of but they do not seem prepared to tell people what they have planned. Indeed all they had to say in last years manifesto about taxation was:

The Greens will implement a tax system to encourage environmental sustainability and the reduction of material inequality. This will deliver real economic security. Taxation can and should be used to discourage social and environmental harm and promote equity between individuals.

Sadly this is like David Cameron lovely rhetoric but lacking in substantive ideas in how to implement it.

Therefore at present the 57% of the people of Scotland who support green taxes really only have one party that is prepared to say honestly what it is seeking to do, aiming to implement and prepared to stand for and that is the Liberal Democrats.


Friday 6 October 2006

Pledge to Make Student Endowment History

In the Scottish version of today's Times comes the welcome news that the Scottish Liberal Democrats have released a policy paper that will do away with student endowments.

Many in the party have been campaigning to take this next step to do away with students having to pay for their education. However, the SNP spokesperson (unnamed) asks why haven't we done this earlier while we were part of the executive. Well the answer is simple policy making and passing has to be an evolution rather than a revelution you cannot change everything overnight and as the junior partners in a coalition we have had to take the steps we have been able to to get towards the goal we hold unto, maybe this is something that they will eventually realise if they get to be in a position of actually making legislation.

Thursday 5 October 2006

Do the Tories Carbon Offset?

Found out that Iain Dale is saying that basically all the majors parties produce the same ammount of carbon emmsions from the surveys carried out at conference.

Now considering a number of LIbs Dems have already carried out an environemntal survey they possibly did not need to at conference. My results from last november were actually over three times better than Mr Dale's result. Also the Liberal Democrats offset the carbon emmisions produced at their conferences, although many of us do it a lot more, do the Conservatives do the same for their conference? Also an interesting comparison would be what percentage of the various parties actually carbon offsets their emmisions.

Editors note I know today is national poetry day but I could not find a easy way to put this into verse.

Limerick for Lord Advocate Presumtive

Carrying on the theme for poetry in this National Poetry Day annother little verse in honour of Elish Angiolini.

There was a top lawyer from Glasgow
Who Jack has now let all the world know
Is his choise to install
As the top Scottish lawyer of all
An' she's a lassie an' isnae a beau.

Calm...err Chameleon - A Song by Dave

Today in National Poetry Day so in honour of Dave Cameron's impersonation of Lord of the Rings star Sméagol/Gollum what better schizophrenic identity is more topical to sum up in poetry today. So here is a poetic take on chameleon Dave's words yesterday.

Read my lips and hear my voice
It's just a lot of vacant noice
I'll tell you who we want to be
But the route is shrouded in mystery.

Are we Blue or Green or Red?
You don't know I have said
We will not make promises we can't keep
We don't do anything that deep.

I'll talk and talk in platitudes
I'll talk about our attitudes
Put I'll avoid the policies
Hoping people miss our falicies.

So as I wind up this hot air
You wonder am I Cameron or Blair.
Are we Blue or Green or Red?
You don't know I have said.

Wednesday 4 October 2006

First Liverpool, Then Scotland, Next...

Boris Johnson is at it again. First he insulted the people of a city Liverpool, now he is taking on a country, Scotland.

While his leader Dave Cameron is tring to revive the position of his party north of the border, Boris has stampeded in with a bulldozer that is likely to scupper Scottish Conservatives' slim hope of any breakthroughs next may. Boris Signled out two Lib Dem policies when he spoke at a fringe meeting.

"The Scots should not get free university education subsidised by us in England. They shouldn't get free nursing care."

The thing is Boris the people of Scotland are turning in droves to the party that came up with these policies and away from the party that governed Scotland disastorously through the 80s. Something that Dave had to apologise for recently.

Also Boris despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament has the power to increase taxes, it has yet to do so to meet these obligations and instead is just being prudent with the pursestrings and is providing public services. Considering the Tories actually cut health spending in their last year in government I'd be careful what you bring to the fore Boris.

As for a Scot not being good enough to be Prime Minister the Earl Home and the Earl of Aberdeen must be turning in their graves.

Tuesday 3 October 2006

Scotland's Climate Shocker

I hope Professor Bjorn Lomborg has seen the headlines in today's Scotsman. The report from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) shows what has already happened in Scotland. The summary on the front page of today's paper makes harrowing reading.

In the last 10 years Scoland has experienced:

A one degree celcius increase in temperatere

67% increase in rainfall

An increased occurance of landslides

And a 37% decline in Scotlands most vulnerable species.

One of the few positives to come from the report is that pollution has declined. At least Scotland is on target to cut carbon emmissions and is aiming for even higher goals. Unfortunately we cannot act unilaterally on this issue as climate change does not know or recognise national boundaries. The most important issue is that the worlds largest producer of carbon emmissions the USA is run by a former oil tycoon with very strong oil lobbyists pulling his strings.

Monday 2 October 2006

Tories to Use Lunar Technology

Grandees at the Tory Party conference at Bournemouth were so impressed with possible Republican Presidential candidates John McCain speaking at their conference last night that they are looking at another American solution. There are rumours that they have called upon Peter Shann Ford, who recently discovered that Neil Armstrong did say the word 'a' in his famous speech when he stepped foot on the moon, to check Dave's speeches on taxes to see if the word cut was not actually inaudible to human ears.

Why is Dave Copying Willie?

Ok so the first WebCameron cast has Dave at the kitchen sink washing up. Now I have to own up I'm currently reading John Campbell's "Margaret Thatcher- The Grocer's Daugther" otherwise I'd have to admit I'm too young to remember this. But apparently to counter Mrs T's feminine side in the 1975 Tory Leadership contest Willie Whitelaw retaliated by making a broadcast showing him, guess where? Yes, that's right at the kitchen sink washing dishes. So is Dave still trying to live down his Jonathan Woss experience with Mrs T.

Mind you I think Dave is setting himself up for imitation from other politicians. You never know, we might have politicians attempting to cook in there next.

Let Me In I need to Save the Planet

Oh dear, it appears that David Cameron's Environment Guru A-Lististo Zac Goldsmith has been lying so low recently that he was not instantly recognised when he turn up at Bournemouth. According to The Time's conference diary Zac was unable to take his spot as a keynote speaker at the "Quality of Life" fringe event last night. He was still trying to negoiate the queues of people still waiting to gain their accreditation.

Scottish Blogging Round Up

Well it's finally happened there is a new Scottish Blogging Round Up thanks to CouriousHamster and doctorvee.

A number of fellow Lib Dems earned references and they referenced two of my stories from last week. This will make interesting reading over the next eight months in the run up to the elections and beyond.

Friday 29 September 2006

New Improved Blogger

Ok I've just made the switch to blogger beta which has some new advanced tools from the version I've been using until one. One new function is the ability to add labels to my posts another is the ability to edit all posts rather than just the last 300.

As a result I am working on backdating my labels and sorting out the rogue errors in some of my early posts that I so far have been unable to rectify. I might also play about with some other options we shall see.

Catch That Pigeon

There may be a pigeon problem down at Holyrood however if you see any of these guys at the foot of the Royal Mile

I'd advise you to run away as fast as possible. But beware of the Laws of Cartoon Physics.

The Nutty Professor

Sometimes I cannot believe what some scientists produce in the face of overwhelming counter evidence. Today step forward this article in the Scotsman about Professor Bjorn Lomborg wrtier of the Skeptical Environmentalist.

OK I agree with him on one point that we need to spend more on tackling global poverty. However, how does he expect us to be able to do so if we are unable to support ourselves properly by not simultaneously tackling climate change.

Here are some flaws in that article:

He says a two degree increase in temperature would benefit developed countries like Scotland.

1. How does he intend to stop it after only a 2 degree rise. Has he discovered and patented some magic switch than can stop the trend.

2. He says that 2 degree increase will be beneficial to developed countries, does he fancy saying that to the Netherlands, Belgium, Louisiana, Florida or the people of East Anglia for starters.

3. The two degree estimate is a global average. The environmental impact possibly on Scotland might be reversed. We enjoy current good temperatures courtesy of the Gulf Stream will that flow of warmer water still end up at this latitude if global temperatures increase by 2 degrees, the last time this happened was during the time of the ice fairs on the Thames. Therefore Prof Lomborg may be condeming more Scots to death due to cold weather rather than less.

Ironically he says that what is needed is for Scotland to set aside National Parks, he's obviously forgetting the Cairngorm National Park (3800 sq kms) and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs (1865 sq kms). But in setting these aside he also says we should set aside over fertilisation and industrial pollution.

Now hang on. If we cut down on industrial pollution especially emmissions are wwe going some way to combatting climate change? Now I don't know how much Environmental and Economic Studies Prof. Lomberg did during his Political Science studies, however, he would have been studying the same experts on that subject as I did at the end of the 80s and early 90s. Since then the trend has become even more strongly in favour of tackling climate change.

Professor Lomborg says tackle global poverty and forget climate change. I say what is wrong with doing both, concurrently and sucessfully.

Thursday 28 September 2006

Tony May be Getting Nostalgic but...

...look what Guido Faulkes had dug up. Yes is is the Prime Minster's attack on the Tories when he first stood in Sedgefield in 1983.

He attacks them for closing hospitals. Whoops!
Also on health he attacks them for increases in prescription charges of 700%

On defence he attacks the Tories for getting us into the Falkland's war which cost us billions. This from a future Prime Minister who would take us into an illegal war in Iraq. Add in the war in Afghanistan and the war on terror that's a cost of £4.9 bn for 2005

He also attacks the Tories for planning to spend £10bn on Trident instead of trying to stop the arms race. He on the other hand is preparing to spend between £25 bn and £76bn on the replacement less than 20 years later, with the cold war over, to do what use it as a terror threat over rogue states instead of encouraging them there is no need for a nuclear arms race.

Does Labour Know What They Want?

Bernie Hughes highlighted an article in yesterday's Herald which states that the MPs Ian Davidson, Jimmy Hood and John McFall amongst them who want restrictions on new migrant worked from Bulgaria and Romania when these state are welcomed into the EU next January. They are fearful of the impact a second wave of migrants could have on Scottish job markets, wages and services.

However, this is in direct contract to the views of Labour's Scottish First Minster Jack McConnell who earlier this month said he wants Scotland to be the sole beneficiaries of the new influx of migrant workers.

So just what is the story? Where do Labour in Scotland stand on this issue? Does anyone really know? Is Labour listening to themselves?

Tuesday 26 September 2006

Let Them Watch Some Tele Tony

I have come to the conclusion that Tony is preventing his MPs from watching too much Television.

If you remember last week Harriett Harman said she had other things to do rather than watch Sir Menzies Campbell's speech at the Lib Dem conference. Now possibly that would have been pass remarkable only she was appearing on Question Time that evening and surely even the most junior researcher working for the Labour Party would have be able to remind her to watch it as cribbing for that evenings appearance on a national TV show talking about the politics of the week.

However, last night on Newsnight Scotland it appears that David Cairns MP from Inverclyde also appears to have had his television rights withdrawn by Head Boy A.C.L. Blair. If his comments are to be believed he is mistaking what Labour are currently spurting out as being the only radical policy that is coming out of Scotland. He must have missed how much of what the Scottish Parliament has acheived in the last 7 and bit years has actually not come from his party's policies but from the Liberal Democrats. He actually went on to alude to two items strangely missing from the 2003 Labour Manifesto for Scotland, however you will find them here.

Image from 'Campaign Against Climate Change'
How I think he's been missing being allowed to turn on the television is that he singled out the Liberal Democrats saying we were unable to make hard decisions. So he must have missed out how Jo Swinson set out those hard decisions made and acted on my Lib Dems in Scotland at last weeks conference. He also must have missed the news that the Lib Dems are the only party to have set out plans for taxation to tackle climate change. Considering how little detail and how much waffle the Chancellor of the last 8 and a half years had to say about this issue I think objective observers will know just who is avoiding making the hard decisions.

Brown's Speech in Full

Poor Peter Brookes The Times cartoonist had a tough time at Labour's conference yestreday as he attempted to encapsulate the passion in Gordon Brown's speech. Judge for yourself how he did in this series of images.

Peter Brookes - The Times 26-09-06

Personally I reckon the 10th image must have been his joke about the Arctic Monkeys and the Arctic Circle.

Monday 25 September 2006

How do you Solve a Problem Like Cherie Blair?

Music by Richard Rodgers:
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstien II (adapted by Stephen Glenn)

She climbs the law, marries MP
Her address is number 10
She waltzes on her way to court
And whistles on the stair
And underneath her gown
She has the latest fashion wear
I even heard her singing to the jury

She's always late for chambers
But her politics not stopped
She's always late for everything
Except for photo ops
I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel
Cherie Blair's not an asset to this practise

I'd like to say a word in her behalf
Cherie Blair makes me laugh

How do you solve a problem like Cherie Blair?
How do you catch a dream and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Cherie Blair?
A flibbertijibbet! Who won't listen to Gordon Brown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say?
How do you keep New Labour on in power?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Cherie Blair?
How do you buy two flats at discount rates?

When Tony's with her he's confused
Out of focus and bemused
And he never knows exactly where she stands
Unpredictable as weather
She's as flighty as a feather
She's a darling! She's a demon who can bite her man!

She'd outprezza Prezza
Drive Margaret Beckett from her nest
She could throw Deniis Skinner out of whirl
She is gentle! She is wild!
She's a riddle! She's a child!
She's a headache! She's an angel!
She's a girl!

How do you solve a problem like Cherie Blair?
How do you make a leftie pipe it down?
How do you find a word that means Cherie Blair?
A wreak of the hessbriss when florists come to call!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep New Labour on in power?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Cherie Blair?
Maybe we'll find out under PM Brown?

Scottish Labour to Force Councils to Use ASBOs

Well Labour appear to be gearing up to next year's STV council elections by attempted to centralise some control. Possibly scared of losing control of certain councils they are going to insist that councils use ASBOs to deal with issues. What will happen if they don't? Will the council be served with an ASBO or a dispersal order from Labour's Holyrood Politburu?

Other proposals include giving front line teachers the power to exclude pupils without refeeral to senior staff, sin bins in schools and tougher punishments for certain crimes.

Looks like a serious case of control freakery to me.

Sign up a Disabled Sportsperson to Play for Celtic

I'm all for disabled sports and as far as possible for them to play alongside able-bodied competitors. I've actually played bowls with a paralympian on my team, against a deaf rink in bowls who I jokingly signed to 'shut up' as they wouldn't stop signing as I was attempting to play. I've also been a guide runner for a blind club mate in athletics. However, what on earth is this latest directive from the Scottish Executive?

Yes sports clubs should be encouraged to integrate as far as possible disabled sportspeople in their clubs, this is easier for some sports than others. Athletics and bowls are the two sports I've been actively involved with disabled athletes and many clubs can quite easily provide provisions for competitors of various disabilities. However, you cannot have a wheel chair athlete run fairly against an able bodied athlete.

Why? Because they have a higher gearing and at equivalent levels of fitness will always go faster. Blind footballers need specialist equipment, ie a ball that makes noise, and therefore to put blind footballers up against seeing players is unfair to the disabled as the sighted players have a slight advantage as light travels faster than sound and can sight the ball without trying to train on its direction.

I love watching paralympian sports, their competitors often adapt sports to suit their level of ability. Wheelchair basketball is as much a non-contact sport as the NBA version. But the competitors who end up getting up ended in their chairs pick themselves off, dust themselves off and carry on playing.

The Sports 21 directive contains the line that clubs should develop an "inclusive selection policy which guarantees all members a game each week". How is this sort of approach going to encourage participation in sport? Yes the directive is right in encouraging participation in disabled sport but not every club is necessarily going to be able to offer a weekly competitive place within its make up on an inclusive policy. Some teams may have to group together to match abilities into a team that can compete together.

As for bowls I'll carry on playing against wheelchair bound, blind and deaf opponents and occasionally lose and occasionally win against them.

Friday 22 September 2006

Tory Tax Commission Ignores Cameron

Poor David Cam...sorry...Dave Cameron is having a hard time being the leader to wag the Tory dog.

The A-Lististos have been facing mixed furtunes in the selection process. His colleagues in Scotland seem to be distancing themselves from him in the hope that a revival in their hopes is best not served by their leader in Westminster. Now it appears that the Tax Commission George Osburn set up has been unable to fit in Dave's vision.

Dave says he wants more spending on schools and hospitals, the leaked commission report says they are seeking £20bn cuts in public spending.

Dave says he wants to introduce Green Taxes, this commission reports appears not to mention any of these.

Dave has attacked Lib Dem plans for a local income tax based on ability to pay, but the commission reforms do not mention any new proposals for local taxation. (Well there's a surprise. Not!)

After the sucess of the Lib Dem tax commission and radical tax policy agenda put before conference this week the Tory one looks like producing 'policy' that would undoubtedly be referred back if put to a Lib Dem Conference vote. Thankfully for Dave he doesn't face such democracy in his party.

So after all the rhetoric of Cameron it appears his own party is not happy and instead is looking for £20 Billion cuts in public spending and not shoring up their leader's new agenda.

Looks like a case of Vote Blue get exactly what you'd expect. Isn't it time you told us the truth Dave? Looks like that tiger hasn't been able to change his or his party's spots at all.

New Tory Labour on Climate Change

If you saw the Lib Dem Party Conference Broadcast during the week you might me interested to this this mock up of the New Tory Labour Party's response to the key issue raised in that debate.

Well done to Tim Ireland for an excellent job. He may well be getting contacted by 25 and 39 Victoria Street to carry on making New Tory Labour broadcasts in the future.

New Political Internet Channel

Hat tip to Iain Dale*.

It appears that we are weeks away from a new Political TV station. This will be a first on the internet and will be 4 hours of policial vox pops and looking at political blogs from Monday to Thursday, either live or downloadable and podcastable.

However, with two Tory bloggers as the main frontmen we shall have to wait and see how balanced the views end up being.

For more info visit their blog but here is a summation of whats on offer:

Tim Montgomerie will present UP FRONT - a fair and opinionated news programme at
8pm every night - all based on the output of that day’s blogs.

VOX POLITIX WITH IAIN DALE will go out at 9pm. Dale will be joined by alternate
co-presenters Rena Valeh and Zoe-Ann Phillips as well as two sofa-guests. The show will
be a mix of news and discussion with the final half hour devoted to a thirty minute debate
on a news topic of the day.

Other programmes on the channel include...
• END OF THE DAY SHOW – Live one hour discussion show each night at 11pm – including a long preview of the following day’s newspapers
• ONE TO ONE – a 30 minute interview designed to restore the idea of serious discussion
• PARTY TALK – with Zoe Ann Phillips – a Monday night show previewing the week in politics
• BROUGHT TO BOOK – Iain Dale talks to guests from the world of political books
• SELL THE IMPOSSIBLE will task a panel of expert politicians and bloggers with the job of devising a strategy to sell controversial policies chosen by visitors to the station’s website.

There will also be specialist programmes – presented by anti-establishment campaign groups – that will spotlight the tax burden, the threat of terrorism and media bias.

The launch night of the channel will include an exclusive interview with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

*Even if he does have vest interests in the publicity.

Charles Kennedy on Question Time

It is always tough for the party representative to go on Question Time the day that the autumn conference finishes. Usually this is because the events of the week are fresh in the audiences mind and any faux pas made by or at conference is liable to be held up to ridicule.

This year the choice of Charles Kennedy to be our representative made it a matter of waiting for the ineffitable question and seeing how it was handled. The question came in the form:

What does the future hold for a political party when the ex-leader outshines the present leader at party conference?

The wording allowed Charles to attempt to side step the issue by mentioning that he did not think that Paddy Ashdown's comments about his own speech would have ramifications on Ming's leadership. He also turned the question over to next week in waiting to see if the leader in waiting might outshine the leader at Labour's Conference.

David Dimbleby however would not let Charles get away with saying anything is possible in politics and wanted a yes or no answer as to whether he would like to be leader again. Problem is David as Charles is well aware a lot of things can happen in politics. Though I hope the party never can again fit all its MPs into one London Cab nothing is beyond the realms of possibility. After all Alex Salmond seems to revel in a recurring role as leader of the SNP. William Hague has turned down his lucarative private income to resume a seat on the Tory front bench.

Both Hague and Kennedy may have a long time to go in Westminster, who can say what will happen. After all the last time all three main parties changed their leaders in one parliament was 1974-79, Callaghan replaced Wilson, Thatcher usurped Heath and David Steel took over from Jo Grimmond. So we live in interesting times.

One that was heartening/discouraging (depending on you take of it) was Harriet Harman lazy approach to preparing for the first QT of the session. Knowing that CK was going to be on she admitted not listening to Ming's speech, surely she must have guessed at the question that would come. SHe also seemed ill at ease and unprepared for the questions on John Reid and Foreign policy, or maybe that was just because even she didn't believe the answers she ended up spurting out.

Thursday 21 September 2006

End of Conference

Well that is that for another year, the TV crews will move on to Manchester next week to cover Labour then on to the Conservatives. Another Federal Lib Dem conference has finished.

It was a solid conference making progress on a number of key issues. The press as usual got all pent up about the possibility that the rank and file members might o against the leadership, because ours is the only conference that offers such democracy. In the end some of the press have already started attacking us for not going against the leadership or misunderstood than certain failed ammendments were in addition not instead of policy that was eventually agreed.

Anyway, the hoardes will be winding their way back from Brighton after a good speech from Ming, I have to admit it was a stirring as the last leader's speech I heard from the hall, but then that was on the eve of the General Election. However, he started strong with the comment that an oak tree takes 50 years from planting to create fruit, Tory image makers didn't take note of that. At the current rate as Ming said later on it might be a miracle if we hear of any new Tory policy by the end of that time.

It is also ironic as Ming mentioned that the latest hurricane that is inflicting damage this side of the Atlantic is called Gordon. Did Tony ask George to get his meterologists to name it that in the hope that the 7th tropical storm of this season might end up battering the British Isles on the eve of his final conference?

I'm proud of what the Liberal Democrats have done at this conference. It is a good stepping stone onward to better and greater things, I'm sure as Charles Kennedy said on Tuesday 'the best is yet to come' but the strides taken this week are taking us there.

Coming to all TV Channels Soon

I love Peter Brookes cartoon in today's Times.

With the Prime Minister away in Manchester next week anything might happen in London.

Wednesday 20 September 2006

Houston May Have a Problem

The Conservative Party have named Fiona Houston as their candidate for next May's Scottish Parliament Election. A brief scan of any Fiona Houston with conservative leanings brings up one involved in the Save Inverleith Park campaign which attempted to stop the building of a skate park in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh.

If this is the same one she should be aware that there is a very popular and sucessful skate park slap bang in the middle of the constituency where she is hoping to lift her party from their slumbers.

That make the current field in Livingston next May:

Angela Constance SNP
Charles Dundas Liberal Democrat
Fiona Houston Conservative
Bristow Muldoon Labour

The Press on Lib Dem Tax Proposals

The broadsheet press were setting Sir Menzies Campbell up for a lambasting if he failed to get his tax proposals unamemnded at conference yesterday. This morning did they let Ming delight in the victory, not a change mainly they largely attempted to clutch a defeat story from the clutches of victory.

A quick scan of this mornings papers shows that the political editors obviously see the Liberal Democrat tax plans only on how they affect their own pockets. Most of them either ignored or buried the benfits that these radical redistributive taxes brought to the most needy in society.

The Times had a strapline in the side bar saying Lib Dems vote for higher tax plan, which is not true for the majority of people. And their article is headlined Plans to Squeeze the wealthy is victory for leadership. Heaven know what they would have written if the 50p tax rate had been retained as well. It takes a full 18 paragraphs of the article before they even start to mention the benefits of the tax proposals to the vast majority of the population.

The Torygraph leads with 'Green' Liberal Democrats target wealthy Start by mention the top 2 million being worse off and not the bottom 2 million being lifted out of income tax. Only the very last phrase mentions those who benefit from the policy 'his [Ming Campbell's] determination to redistribute wealth in favour of the disadvantaged in society.'

The Grauniad does give a blanced view in their article however, again the article starts mentioning potential tensions. However, they do have a list of key proposals at the end as a summary.

Only the Independent starts with the good news and stays upbeat throughout. But strangely the article has Labour quoted as attacking us by attacking the poorer end. Labour obviously want to ignore the fact that the poorest will benefit from tax cuts, increased threasholds and will not be affected as greatly by environmental taxes as they don't buy new cars and are not the greatest users of airlines.

Is Bristow Muldoon a One Tax Pony?

Livingston MSP Bristow Muldoon is at it again, in a letter in today's Scotsman he seems to assume that income tax is the only measure of taxation in households. Perhaps Cllr. Cathy Muldoon is the one to deal with the family finances in that particular Murieston household.

The Liberal Democrat tax proposals agreed to yesterday are going to help the poorest and guard the environment, something which Prime Minister Elect Brown has failed to do in 9 years at the Treasury. In fact the majority of people will either be better off or no worse off under these proposals.

Nine years of Labour control of the nation's purse strings has actually seen the proportion of tax that the rich and poor pay get closer to equality than even the Conservatives managed. What a legacy 100 years into the Labour Party's history. These proposals are lifting the poorest 2 million out of income tax altogether. It is not increasing the overall tax burden something which Gordon Brown has had great difficulty with over the years.

Tuesday 19 September 2006

No Ambition Reid

Oh dear it looks like John Reid the Home Secretary has followed Jim Hacker and Margaret Thatcher in stating he does not see himself as a future Prime Minster.

Following on from the presses obsession with Jim Hacker's department and Administration he famously said as did tow of his rivals that he had no ambition in that direction when asked about becoming Prime Minister. Baroness Thatcher went even further by regularly saying that she did not she there being a women Prime Minister in her lifetime. However, we all know where both of them ended up.

Dr Reid has said he has 'no personal ambition to attain any other high office'. However, like Thatcher who gained a wide range of experience in opposition, Reid has already raked up a breadth of experience unparalleled by his colleagues. He has previously been Health, Defence, Leader of the House and Secretary of State for both Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as being Labour Party Chairman.

We wait and see if Reid was merely avoiding throwing his hat in the ring before a contest is called or not. The Cabinet Bulldog surely is not afraid to expose his teeth once more?

100% Renewable Energy For Scotland

That is the target that Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen has announced as acheiveable by 2050.

It is going further than the executives current proposals to reach 40% by 2020 but as Nicol says these plans are 'deliberately bold', adding: 'Apollo to the Moon was a challenge.'

Ross Henderson, of the renewable energy company Ocean Power Delivery, backed up the Lib Dem proposal saying:

"It's absolutely possible, but it requires a complete change in Scotland's infrastructure. We welcome the pledge, and it's not such a wacky suggestion. The technology is now starting to become available and a lot of progress has been made on renewables in the last ten years. Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in wave energy."

Martyn Williams, of the campaign group Friends of the Earth, is another who welcomed the pledge. He said:

"It's very ambitious, but it is possible. For this to work, it would have to be done as a mix of onshore wind farms, solar power, offshore turbines and hydroelectricity. Studies have shown that it could be done and we have the space in Scotland to do it."

However, other parties do not share the view of these experts. Richard Lochhead, the SNP's energy spokesman in the Scottish Parliament said it lacked ambition they had pledged to make Scotland 'all-renewable' by 2050. However, a main thrust of SNP funding for an independent Scotland is meant to be coming from Scotland's oil and gas, so how does that work if they are committed to defending the planet.

The Tories are not talking the Dave Cameron talk. Their energy spokesman Alex Johnstone, dismissed it as "pie in the sky". He said:

"This will have damaging implications for industry and the economy, particularly as the technology is nowhere near ready to achieve that."

Maybe he should listen to people like Ross Henderson of Ocean Power Delivery and others who say that the technology is ready to step up and deliver. As Martyn Williams of FotE says it needs the right balance. Mr Johnstone and his fellow Tories should stop listening to the petroleum and oil bosses whose money helps finance the Tory party and look at reality.

Ming Versus Sir Humphrey

What is it with the press that they have the obsession with a fictional senior Civil Servant?

I was watching with trepidation as the Tax Debate unfolded in Brighton. There were people I would position myself alongside speaking against and for amendment 3 (the retention of the 50p upper tax rate). It was a typical civilised debate by a party that allows its members freedom of expression in policy decision making. You would have thought the media would have got the hang of that with us by now. But no they were still obsessing that accempting any ammendment would be a slur on the leadership. How can following a democratic agenda be a slur on the leader of party with the name Democrats taking up half the party name?

If I had been there and been called to speak I would have echoed one of the speakers who was an accounted by starting:

There is an old addage that where more than one economist in a room you will have their number plus one ideas in the room. Well today that is not true with this economist Vince.

While as someone did state if our Green Tax Switch Proposals do have the desired result they will reduce the revenue raised as a result of the change in lifestyle they encourage. That is a bridge that a trust a Liberal Democrat Chancellor of the Exchequer will be more than capable of meeting when he is present at No. 11 having implemented these proposals.

But in this mornings papers and immediately after the policy was passed without amendment I was flicking through both Sky News and BBC News 24, conveniently placed on freeview and they both saying that Sir Humphrey Appleby would be ridiculing these as radical. No doubt he would but he does not exist?

I'm sure that previous premanent secretaries have said to Liberal Minsters you can't abolish slavery, you can't introduce an old age pension etc to many of our radical proposals. I'm gald that the historically radical party is still thinking outside the box. For the good of the poor people that Labour have failed to help. For the good of the planet which both Labour and Tories are currently only failing with their stance of rhetoric alone.

As for the Civil Servants as a former one myself I know that many of them actually enjoy a challenge. Admittedly my personal experience was at the initial period of devolved government in Northern Ireland but my colleagues thrived on being the chance to try new things then. While the civil servants may point out what is not achieveable they also will give their all to succeed.

Sir Humphrey doesn't stand a chance against a fair, simple, green tax system that is bound to engage the populace at large.

They Say It's My Birthday

Last year I spent it campaigning for Charles Dundas in the Livingston by-Election, the year before that I spent most of the day on my way to Conference in Bournemouth. This year I shall have my feet up and watch the Tax debate and Charles Kennedy's speech from my armchair.

Monday 18 September 2006

Great Repeal Act

There have been times that me or somebody I have meet through my life, both political and non-political, has come across some archaic piece of legislation that is still on the statute books that either has no bearing on present day circumstances or has been missed by some subsequent act which deals with a similar issue. Also as Nick Clegg pointed out there is too much Labour legislation of the last 9 years that is redundent before it even hit the statute books.

Well what can we do? Nick wants anybody who feels this way to let him know what he can get rid of in A Great Repeal Act.

A Home for Brighton and Hove

I may not be in Brighton so therefore I didn't get to see the protest first hand that The Clown of Pevensey Bay has been urging other Lib Dem bloggers to post about.

However, I can emphasis with that poster of various comments. For starters I used to live not to distantly from the original home of the English franchise FC, formerly Wimbledon FC now moved to Milton Keynes and known as the MK Dons. I also support what many Scottish fans deem to be the English equivalent of Livingston.

Brighton and Hove Albion fans have been following their team to home games at Gillingham for 2 years before squeezing into the 8,850 seat Withdean Stadium, since the Goldstone Ground was sold in 1997. The club are seeking to build a new stadium at Falmer and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced on 28 October last year that the application had been successful. As a fan who has lived in fear of losing their team recently I imagine the delight that must have caused.

However, it appears that John Prescott's department made a error in neglecting to notice that some of the car parking was in Lewes Council area and not in Brighton and Hove unitary authority.

Watching from Afar

Well you can tell it is conference session. Normally first thing on a Monday morning there is very little backlog on LibDemBlogs. But clearly all my fellow bloggers have found out how to connect up from Brighton and are busy typing away.

In the meantime I have already seen a number of them on the BBC Parliament Channel yesterday and today so I know that they are not all constantly avoiding the conference hall. The thing about watching the conference on television is the fact that you can sneak out to the toilet or to get food and still hear what is going on in the debates.

Problem Solved

Well done to Connie Fisher for being the winner of the BBC's How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria? to find the leading lady for Lord Andrew Lloyd-Weber and David Ian's production of The Sound of Musicwhich will be opening in the West End on 4 November.

All through the series I was impressed by the consistancy that she brought to her weekly performances and surely this was something that other viewers saw in her as well.

Shame I'm not at work this week as Connie was a call centre worker and working in the same environment may have some of my colleagues buzzing. Especially as a lot of people there have some great talent which is not utilised in they daily task of paying the bills.

Not quite the Ultimate Answer

Blogger wasn't behaving for me on Friday so I apologise for the delay in announcing that this blog made Iain Dale's top 100 Lib Dem Blogs found on this pdf file.

As a Douglas Adam's fan I was somewhat upset not to take the coverted 42nd spot that honour going to Chris Black. Instead I find myself one spot above at 41.

I just hope that I was not deducted points by constantly referring to Iain's blog as Mrs Dale's Diary in my writting. After all who said everything is fair in life and political blogging. This is also not to be taken as a plead to drop one spot in any subsequent list that Iain many produce, in fact I hope to improve on his criteria in future.

I marked each blog out of ten on the following 10 areas: design; frequency of posting; writing ability; personality; comment; humour; range; interaction; popularity; independence of thought. This generated a mark out of 100. - Iain Dale

You can see his list of the top 100 political blogs as well as the top 100 of each of the main parties here on his downloadable guide to political blogging.

Make Trident History

Yesterday evening the Scottish CND march from Faslane to the Scottish Parliament stopped off at Bathgate with just two days march to go. They held a public meeting at St. David's Church at which Bruce Kent, Michael Connarty MP and Fiona Hyslop MSP were the guest speakers. I sat in the audience and was acknowledged by both the local politicians and had passing mention in their comments.

£250 Billion pounds is earmarked as a replacement for the current Trident nucleur deterent. Strange that the UK government and their US buddies should be saying that Iran, North Korean and others should not be allowed to carry on proliferation of nucleur weapons when they themselves are seeking to replace their soon to be redundent systems. We see these countries as a threat and yet maintain a system which by all accounts we have no intention of using.

Last year many people more people marched to Make Poverty History than are on this march for peace. Many people were upset by how little the G8 leaders in the end promised to donate to Make World Poverty History. Yet here we are proposing such large spending on a system that will in all likelihood not be fired in anger just like Trident. It is something which not even Alastair Campbell could spin into being an important weapon in the war on terrorism.

Technology in warfare has moved on since the nucleur option was paraded as the new must have in the 50s and 60s. We now have satilite guided precision weapons which by in large actually take out their target with minimal collateral damage. A nucluer warhead is simply going to have massive civilain repercusions for years and decades after it is used.

Michael Connarty expressed his desire that the vote on replacing Trident be put to a free vote in Westminster, not under the control of the whips. I agree with him on that it would free up many on the Government payrole to vote with their consence and not merely on a party line which has drifted from one camp to the other during the time most Labour MPs have been members of their party.

Do we need a nucleur weapon of mass destruction? If we did threathen to use it shouldn't some country be given liberty to invade us and topple our government? After all this is what we dis to Iraq so we can have no arguments there. So what is the point of having such a weapon?

Let's not replace Trident but use the money far more sensibly.

Wednesday 13 September 2006

Blogger of the Year

While a lot of attention at Brighton next week will be spent on key motions, some people are nervously biting their finger nails for the the first Lib Dem Blogger of the year awards which are due to be announced on Sunday night.

Six worthy nominees there, have yet to announce the odd though.

Another first for the Lib Dems as we are actively seeking to encourage bloggers whereas Labour are doing all that they can to manage their messages and themes centrally, a task in which they are failing spectactularly.

Thursday 7 September 2006

So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Adieu

So Tony is about to name the Date. Maybe we should have a special of the reality show How do you solve a problem called Maria? and line up Gordon Brown, Charles Clarke, Tom Watson et al in bright coloured dungarees so that they can sing to Tony as he prepares to exist stage right.

Watch out for Graham Norton hosting such a show next May.

What Tony said.

What Gordon said.

Wednesday 16 August 2006

Tories to Scrap ID Cards: At Last Some Sense

Well David Cameron has announced his revised Built to Last mini-manifesto today. In it his party is pledging to scrap ID cards. This after eventually kow-towing to Labour at every step of the way of the legislative process since first coming out in favour of them 2 years ago.

Now if the Tories had only come to this sensible and logical conclusion to Labour's Big Brother proposals at the start of the process the fight would have been lost by Labour every step of the way. Instead the Tories have now after the process has gone through every level of Parliamentary scrutiny and voting has now come out against it. I'm glad the Liberal Democrats took a principled stand on ID cards the whole way down the line standing up for our civil liberties.

This looks like the latest case of Opportunistic Conservativism, just like Vote Blue Go Green and other proposals that Dave has been spourting forth over the months he has been in charge.

Tuesday 15 August 2006

Toffee Makers Chewing Over Closure

Millar McGowan with factories at Broxburn and Stenhousemuir is facing to possibilty of closure with the potential loss of 149 jobs.

The makers of Pan Drops, Wham and Highland Toffee bars which has a history going back to 1884 from the John Millar and Sons and McCowan's companies, went into recievership again yesterday. The company has been sadly no stranger to financial difficulties having already escaped recievership last year. However, this latest blow is as a result of the new firm being unable to resturcture its costs.

Unless someone steps forward to buy the company the employees may be laid off and production ceased in the next few weeks.

Sadly for many Scots the company also produces the Irn Bru Bars.

Monday 14 August 2006

On the MSPs Radar

Well my latest focus leaflet appears to have caught the attention of Mary Mulligan MSP as she has attacked it in the letter's page of the Linlithgow Gazette.

I have a number of issues with what is trying to convey to Local Residents.

Firstly she say she was 'unaware of any such proposal' relating to there being no improving of the Burghmuir junction on the M9 for West Bound access. If that is the cae I would like to draw her attention to the Scottish Planning Policy which came to a head last October and was mentioned on this blog. Also the fact that this proposal has been in discussion and consideration for over a decade shows a lot of inaction on behalf of Labour-led local authorities over a number of years.

Secondly she says that I should 'really listen to local concerns'. The fact that she lifted one point out of a list which is headed 'local people have been telling Stephen Glenn of their concerns about local transport' should be a clue. These issues have been raised by local Linlithgow residents who I have bothered to go out and meet on their own doorsteps. Many of whom have also told me they have never seen a politician on their doorstep ever before. I might just have to go home and work out just what percentage of the people I have spoken to have raised which local issue over hte last few months and supply these figures here.

Finally she says that such a proposal has 'mixed views' and will 'increase pressure still further on schools and public services'. Well maybe Ms Mulligan should be a little more au fait with what the town's community council is saying and discovering. For example in their response to the Council's West Lothian Local Plan 2005 stated that they carried out a single appraisal survey which asked:

Linlithgow town centre suffers from constant through traffic. Over the years there have been proposals to upgrade junction 3 of the M9 'the Burghmuir junction' to an all-ways junction so allowing traffic to access the motorway and avoiding the High Street. Would you support such a proposal?

The response was Yes 100% No 0%, so cleary we have very mixed views here.

The fact that Mary says that the junction would 'increase pressure still further' must make bad reading for any Labour candidates hoping to stand in Linlithgow. The fact that many local residents have already told me that they feel that development is already putting a strain on local schools and services is surely down to Labour-led council.

So that is a nice admission from the MSP. It shows that there is a problem in voted Labour at next years council elections as they are already failing the people of Linlithgow.

Thursday 10 August 2006

Government Need to Shift on Lords' Reform

Elect the Lords Campaign

This day last year I took part in the Elect the Lords bloggers pledge. Now a year on little has changed from the Government's point of view as regards the upper chamber.

Last year I reflected on how the sad loss to electoral reform the death of Robin Cook might have on steering his Labour colleagues through and towards this which he felt passionately about. A year on and his successor as MP for Livingston Jim Devine has dug in his heels over electoral reform. However, he is sadly not alone on Labour's benches.

While a recent poll of Lord's reform supporters showed that the majority favoured a fully elected second chamber, but would be be willing to compromise at 70%, Jack Straw recently claimed the concensus was for 50%. Where he got this figure from is the supject of a great deal of speculation. However, when the subuject was last voted on in the House of Commons 50% was so unpopular an opinion it was not even put to the vote, whereas 80% was the closest to being taken up when it fell short by only 3 votes.

It is now 95 years since the 1911 Parliament Act said:

"it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation."

Surely now with the recent revelations of cash for honours for both Labour and Conservative donors the case to reform the House of Lords is as strong now as it was in those Edwardian times? Is it not time to Elect the Lords?

Wednesday 2 August 2006

Letter is Off to Straw

My letter to Jack Straw regarding his comments on TheyWorkForYou is now winding its way though the etha and also a back up hard copy is now in the custody of the Royal Mail. James Graham's pledge did remarkably well in a short space of time and 103 similar letters will be hitting Mr Straw's in-box very shortly.

My contribution is below for your reading pleasure.

Dear Mr. Straw

I'm writing to you regarding your comments in the House of Commons on 20 July 2006 (HC Deb. Col. 461) when you criticised MPs' researchers for submitting frivolous Parliamentary Questions to "prove a point" and you singled out the website as largely or solely responsibile for "encouraging" this.

I'm upset that you chose to attack the work of in this way. It is actually a valuable resource and public service which would not need to exist is the site was more easily accessible to the general public. are actually very careful in how their information is presented including disclaimers about the figures their present. is non-partisan but offers ease of access for constituents to find out exactly what their elected representative at Westminster is doing and saying on their behalf.

I understand that the operators of are constantly seeking to improve their statistics and how they are presented. To this end they are holding a public consultation on that subject including a public meeting on 7 November, I hope that you will be able to attend.

Meanwhile there are a number of thing which you, in your capacity as Leader of the House of Commons, should be able to achieve.

I trust you are able to ensure that information from the official Parliament site is made more accessible. Was it not this Government that was responsible for the Freedom of Information Act (2000)? Whether that means an internal reappraisal or working with other organisations such as TheyWorkForYou who are making debate and information more easily accessible and digestible would depend on budget and feasibility restraints.

Even if you cannot make the public meeting that you will liaise with the developers of TheyWorkForYou regarding future developments.

Also please desist from criticising members of your fellow MPs' staffs. I'm quite sure that they are merely following their bosses' orders.

Yours Sincerely

Stephen Glenn