Sunday 30 April 2006

Rebels with a Cause

As mentioned by Andrew Marr this morning from his tempoary base in Edinburgh from the front page of Scotland on Sunday the rebels now have a new goal in sight.

Apparently as many as 40 Labour rebels are preparing to give Tony Blair an ultimatum if things don't go well on Thursday. Their fingers are on the trigger if Labour lose 350 council seats this week and if their vote share dips below a third in certain key areas. If this happens they will seek a definite date before next summer for the Prime Minister to step aside if this is not forthcoming they will seek to force a leadership election at Labour's autumn conference. If there are 40 rebels already in the camp they would only need a further 31 to join up to acquire the 20% of the Parliamentary Labour Party required to force such a vote.

The Politics Show also ran a YouGov poll which found that 57% of the public believe that Labour is sleazy and incompetent. While we are not hearing from Pauline Prescott the SonS has an insiders view of the wife spurned by Margaret Cook. She says:

Few who have not been through this sort of misery realise the wreakage wreaked by an alpha male on the rampage. Media intervention has cut short [John Prescott's] making of hay in his autimn years, but the trauma will affect the family for years to come, as it did me and mine. Today Prescott looks a stressed and sorry figure in Downing Street; and in the case of my ex-husband [Robin], who knows how much that abrupt, self-inflicted fracture he imposed, cutting himself off from his former life and roots, cohesiveness and approval, reputation and amour proper, influenced the course of his later life?

Her Sunday essay is an interesting insight into the other part of the equation, the part that is being overlooked, not the lothario or his fancy woman but of the loyal wife that is spurned.

Saturday 29 April 2006

How Low Can They Go?

I still remember one lecture from the early days of the John Major government when one of my lecturers said 'suppose Government policy is this...but going on current form it might be when we leave this room.' However, similar things are now happening to Labour. Only this time it is suppose this Governemnt minister did this, I came back from an afternoon canvassing in Linlithgow to find all sorts of things going on.

Headline grapping it may be but 85 pence worth of cannabis resin found in John Reid's guest room, which may have been there for years, fortunately for Tony Blair is not going to turn into a resignation issue. John Reid was one of the various Northern Irish Secretarys during my time in the civil service there.

However, more revelations about John Prescott are about to hit tomorrows papers. His former mistress Tracey Temple has been paid over £100,000 to reveal more details of the affair.

Meanwhile the race for which Minister may go first has not been slack on the Charles Clarke front either. The news from here in Scotland that one of the 79 most dangerous of the 1023 foreigners released without being considered for deportation was last known to be in the Grampian region. First Minister Jack McConnell has already gone against Westminster Labour's line defending Charles Clarke by expression frustration and anger about being kept out of the loop on this situation. With tensions already high between Holyrood and Westminster this may be a positioning move by the Scottish Labour leader.

This month's and week's revelations may be too late for Labour in England facing next weeks elections but the Scots may be trying to distance themselves from the failures down South in an attempt to shore up their support ahead of next year's Scottish elections. If the result of the Moray by-election is replicated next may it would be a disastor for McConnell. So maybe the confidence Labour tried to show on Thursday night isn't fully being shared behind the scenes.

However, Labour does appear to be starting to splinter just like the Tories did under John Major all those years ago. The response I was getting from the few Labour supporters I've found in Linlithgow would also seem to bear this out. The New Labour message is stagnating, alienating their supporters and they are looking for an alternative something that the Liberal Democrats are proving to be all across the country.

Friday 28 April 2006

The Charles Clarke Five

Well it looks like the press will be having a wild weekend after the revelation that five of the foreign prisioners released without being considered for deportation went on to reoffend with more serious crimes.

This game of catch us if you can cannot be allowed to go on Charles Clarke we are not satisfied with you and the way you have handled this debacle. You try too hard to appear to have our national security at your heart trying to control the uncontrollable in the war that is being waged with terror at home. However, the things your department actually has a control over has led to this situtation.

Apparently rumours earlier today were that the Home Secretary said if he found out that any of the released men in question had gone on to reoffend it would make his position untenable. So for Mr Clarke mabe it is time to dust down the letter of resignation with Tony Blair has already refused and do the honourable thing. If the Home Secretary's position there is no need for him to look before he leaps. He has already seen what the future might have in stall. So why has he yet to tender his resignation?

Moray Analysis

OK Moray as I heard so many times last night, especially from the Tory and Labour spokesmen (sadly there was not a single woman on the entire programme apart from the two candidates of that gender), this is an SNP heartland seat. Welcome to Ewing country.

Turnout for a by-election was surpassingly on a par with the 2003 turnout for the same seat which is extraordinary especially as this is the 4th year in a row that the voters of Moray have had to go to the polls around this time. (Scottish General, European, Westminster General, Scottish by-Election). So maybe that showed that the parties did manage to engage the electorate despite what the Northern Scot thinks about a hard fought by-election campaign. The people of Moray can be rightly proud that they were engaged in democracy.

Alex Salmond was cooing over the fact that this was the first time that he can remember a party defending a by-election in Scotland actually increasing their share of the vote and majority. Well done to the SNP for gaining 4% more from an already good showing of 42% in 2003. As Alex kept reminding us the SNP are second to Labour in 36 of their 40 Scottish constituencies and in the other 4 it is the Liberal Democrats. But for each constituency gained the SNP are in danger of losing a list seat so caution to the wind about how much of this will result in the a massive surge next year.

The Tories are still stalling. On slightly smaller turnout their vote in actual Xs rose by 196. And this is the sort of seat where the Tories should be looking for revival if they are to make any inroads next year. It is one of the few seats that they actually came second in 2003. It was traditionally Conservative before the 20-year reign of Margaret Ewing but the Cameron effect was non-existent here and their campaigning tactics shows levels of ineptitude. No gain is not a good result for the Scottish Tories.

The Lib Dems failed to overhaul the Tories into second but with another gain of 7% in the vote shows the continuing trend over the past few years. Again it was a bigger increase than the SNP and shows exactly what the SNP funded poll recently showed that over half the electorate want to see the Liberal Democrats involved in government again after May 2007. People are intelligent enough to spilt the claims from The SNP and Tories that we stand for the same things as Labour. They know the differences in Scotland are down to Liberal Democrats and they want to see more of what we have to offer.

Labour down 9%. Their second worse result in any election in Scotland since 1945. Crisis might be too soft a word for it. After Dunfermline the lost over half their vote here and it is going roughly one third to the SNP two thirds to the Liberal Democrats in a seat where they have no impact whatsoever. Might have been worse if the SSP had stood.

Good night for the SNP you have to hold but they also increase.

Good night for the Liberal Democrats they move onwards and upwards and have the biggest increase in vote.

Bad night for the Tories no movement may be a sign of continued flat-lining.

Disastrous night for Labour to add to their other woes this week their vote was halved, virtually imploding and they continue to be complacent about their predicament.

Moray Result

45.7% Turnout

Mev Brown NHSFirst 493 1.8% +1.8%

Linda Gorn LIB DEM 5310 19.4% +7%

Sandy Keith LAB 2696 9.8% -9

Richard Lochhead SNP 12653 46.1% +4

Mary Scanlon tory 6368 22.8% n/c

Tory Attempts to Redefine Honesty

The Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Murdo Fraser has just attempted to describe Mary Scanlon's Moray campaign as being positive and honest. So positive that she was not willing to come out as a Tory, so honest that she used false endorsements and attempted to appear as Winnie Ewing's adopted daughter.

I want to know what dictionary Annabelle Goldie is handing out to her colleagues?

Thursday 27 April 2006

Early Reports From Moray

Brain Taylor has just said on Newsnight Scotland that turnout looks to be about 40%, only just down on Scottish Parliament election turnouts. With Elgin boxes in it is looking like Lib Dems and Tories are tight for 2nd somewhere in mid 20% but Labour are most definitely bringing up the rear.

Brian said a lot of people were interested in the election if not enthused necessarily.

From The Riverside to Speyside

Well if the Middlesborough result is anything to go on this evening could be an interesting one. To need to score 4 once against Basle is one thing to do it again against Bucharest tonight well that is just keeping us all on tenderhooks. Well done to Steve McLaren's men, a shame that the FA have overlooked him for the national top job though.

Now that polls are closed in Moray we are waiting for the news to filter through as Alex Cole-Hamilton reported earlier the returning officer is not allowing box counts during the verification of votes. So us political anoraks are being left in the dark a little longer than usual. I'll hope to keep you updated once the STV coverage of the result kicks off at midnight.

Moray is an Island Shocker

On polling day in Moray a fellow blogger has discovered that Moray is considered an offshore community by delivery company Parcel2Go. Apparently deliveries here have to be made under the erroneously entitled Northern Ireland and offshore islands tariff, which is £4 more expensive that guaranteed next day delivery to the so-called mainland.

So I'm wondering as a result of IV30 and possibly other Moray postcodes being declared offshore does this suddenly create a new Island Whisky industry. Do the Isle of Moray whiskies now include Benriach, Bernomach, Balvenie, Coleburn, Glenburgie, Glen Elgin, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Glenrothes, Glenspey, Linkwood, Longmorn, Speyburn and Tormore?

How does the River Spey manage to traverse from Banffshire unto the Isle of Moray before entering the sea along the shore from Inverness the capital city of the Highlands?

Also do Caledonian MacBrayne realise there is a new Whisky Isle that they need to provide a ferry service to?

No doubt the new MSP will have to take whatever steps they can take to reattach their community to the mainland. A bridge without tolls or a causeway or something.

Clarke Must Go

The Liberal Democrats have set up a petition calling on the Home Secretary Charles Clarke to go following the revelation that 1023 have been released into the community without being considered for deportation. 288 of these arose after the Home Office became aware of this situation.

Nick Clegg the Lib Dem shadow Home Secretary said:

"We now know that the Home Office has been aware of this problem for several years. Yet after a series of stark warnings, foreign prisoners continued to be released without being properly assessed. As a consequence, public safety has been put at risk.

"To make matters worse, the Home Secretary has still not explained why murderers, rapists and paedophiles have gone missing, when under existing rules they are supposed to notify the authorities of their address.

"Charles Clarke is right to take responsibility for this fiasco, but wrong to think that he can remain in charge of the Home Office."

The Home Secretary is claiming that he will now be taking action over this matter but his failure to do so even after this matter came to light when his department is also seeking to tighten up home security is a travesty. The fact that foreign murderes and rapists are loose in the UK and their location is not known must surely be a reason for the Home Secretary to resign. His predessor David Blunkett had said that heads would roll over a far less dangerous situation.

You can sign the petition here.

Wednesday 26 April 2006

Labour in Hurry Up Offence

Thanks to Peter Black who is in Britney Spears mode today for this one.

Apparently this week's polls in the same week as the death of Blaenau Gwent MP and MSP Peter Laws have made Labour whips lose all sence of decency. The day after Mr Laws died they are already talking about moving the writ for the by election next week in order to hold the by elections on 25 May. Because Mr Laws was an independent anyone can move the writ unlike a member of a party whose party has that right. It's like they are the quarterback running a hurry up offence in the last minutes of an American Football game.

The moving of quick by-elections has become Labour's tactics since losing Brent East and almost suffering the same result at Hartlepool, although it hasn't always allowed them to hold on to the seat. Apparently the Welsh Assembly's Presiding Officer, Lord Elis-Thomas, was approached yesterday, before the body was even cold, by Westminster whips to seek to move the two by-elections concurrently on that early date. Quite rightly Lord Ellis-Thomas was appalled as this should be a time fo mourning for Mr Laws family.

It is a sad reflection on any government that attempts to rush the electorate to make a decision about replacing a deceased MP. Clearly it is an indication that they have lost all faith in their own ability to get their agenda across to the people in a way that they will positively decide to support them. It is interesting that Labour seem to realise they can no longer win the debate on the doorsteps with any certainty. The fact they they are even worried about Blaenau Gwent (notionally one of the safest Labour seats) so much they they are actually seeking to take the unprecedented step of moving the writs before the deceased is buried shows signs of outright panic.

However, with Labour so worried about by-elections this early in their third term unless things change dramatically in their fortunes, you can expect us to next go to the polls for Westminster on 30 April 2010, the latest date the next General Election could be held.


At least North Wales AM Brynle Williams doesn't need to keep his eyes open for Labour hacks hovering near his bed after a mild heart attack last Friday. Being a list MSP Labour would not have any say in any sucessor. However, I'm wishing Mr Williams a speedy recovery as today you can never tell what Labour might try and do otherwise.

One Poll Good, Two Polls Better

This morning's Sun carries the latest Mori Poll. It makes interesting reading:

Labour 30% -9 on March
Conservatives 30% -4
Lib Dems 25% +6

Which follows yesterdays latest ICM Poll:

Conservatives 34% -1 on March
Labour 32% -5
Lib Dems 24% +3

So it looks good news on both counts for us Liberal Democrats. The Tories may have cause for concern today after edging past Labour on a slight slide in yesterday's poll. As for Labour these polls were carried out before Patricia 'Good Year for NHS' Hewitt, Charles 'Release not Extradition' Clarke and John 'Two Jags, Two Birds' Prescott so they may well be about to slip further. I'm still checking the last of these isn't a delayed April Fool though.

Arise John Prescott Sex God

How can John Prescott manage to get two women, when after five years of I end up with my fiancée giving me up for the sake of my political career? Life just isn't fair, but then if it were we'd have a PR for Westminster, no ID cards coming in and wouldn't be at war in Iraq.

Tuesday 25 April 2006

Lochhead Does Battle Over Shortbread

According to today's Daily Record Richard Lochhead the SNP candidate for Moray is determined to fight for Protected Designation of Origin for shortbread. He wants the European mark to be placed on the product so it can only be made in Scotland. Now while I admit that there are many fine examples in Scotland being of Ulster Scots descent I would like to point out that family recipes have crossed the George's Channel to Ireland and many restaurants and businesses serve up good local samples all over Ireland. A PDO for Scotland would prevent the locally produced Irish samples of the cooking art being sold to customers.

Now PDO's do serve a useful purpose, Parma ham, Jarlsberg cheese, Champagne etc all benefit as they come from a particular region. However, should Cheddar ever seek to claim a PDO on its cheese cheese manufacturers all across the would would have to scramble to rename one of the most popular brands. The problem with shortbread is that it was homebaking and moved with the bakers before big business came in, and some of those bakers migrated to Ireland in the early 17th Century. Unlike Parma ham which was cured in a certain way and the Arbroath smokie for similar reasons which have established localised geographic reasons for the PDO. Shortbread reipes having been passed down mother to daughter for generations has spread as migration has taken it.

I'm sorry Richard but claiming shortbread as purely for Scotland is taking Scottish Nationalism too far and forgetting your cousins who have disperced through the centuries. Maybe I'm being cynical but does the SNP really need the 1200 votes of Walkers employees at Elgin and Aberlour that much that Richard needs to make them feel their pretty secure jobs are under threat, just two days before the election, and to say so in a paper they are liable to read.

Independent Who Rocked Labour Dies

Peter Laws who last May overturned the 19,000 Labour majority in Blaenau Gwent has died from the brain tumour that was diagnosed during last year's general election campaign. He was also the Welsh AM for the area.

He stood down as a member of the Labour party in protest against them impossing women only short lists and in the end took what was Labour's safest seat in Wales. The list of previous holders of the seat is an impressive who's who of Labour politics, Llew Smith, Michael Foot and Aneurin Bevan. But only 100 of the 700 party members in the constituency voted for the five woman short list from which Maggie Jones, now a working peer, was selected but was eventually defeated by Laws by 9,121 votes on 5 May 2005.

The death of the 58 year old, voted Welsh Politician of the year in December, leaves his wife Trish a widow and two sons and three daughters without their father.

Monday 24 April 2006

Top Highland Tory Joins Lib Dems

Top Highland Tory Robbie Rowantree who stood against Danny Alexander in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey last May and against John Thurso in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in 2001 has today defected to the Liberal Democrats. He was Vice Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Countryside Forum but has increasingly become disillusioned with the Scottish Conservatives.

He was welcomed into the Liberal Democrats by Moray candidate Linda Gorn, Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen MSP and Danny Alexander MP on the campaign trail in Forres early today.

Mr Rowantree said:

"After nine years it has been a difficult decision for me to leave the Conservative Party. However, the Tory campaign in Moray has done nothing but highlight how out-of-touch the Conservatives have become with the priorities of ordinary people across Scotland.

"Like many people in Moray who will have voted Tory in the past I have watched Mary Scanlon’s campaign here with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. The Tories lack of any positive message confirmed they were so out-of-touch that the time had come when I could no longer remain a member of the Party.

"When you watch the Conservative Party at Holyrood it is clear they have not learned the lessons of their years in the wilderness. Under their leader, Annabel Goldie, they have failed to offer any credible solutions to the challenges facing modern Scotland. Contrast that with the Liberal Democrats who, under Nicol Stephen, have set out a radical, reforming, responsible agenda for the whole of Scotland."

His defection days before the poll in Moray adds further problems to the floundering campaign of Mary Scanlon which was recently knocked by sending out letters from independent councillors alledgedly endorsing her, something both men have since denied, and also the backlash against Mary trying to steal the mantel of the late MSP Margaret Ewing.

Mind you seeing the rumours of this start to break on Political Betting this afternoon and knowing what was about to break was a real buzz.

Sunday 23 April 2006

And Yesterdays Sports News

Whilst I was up in Elgin my heart also had a part of it left in Fife at East End Park. While out and about delivering I was tuned in to Radio Scotland to find out how the Livingston Lions were doing in their crucial, must-win game against Dunfermline.

The first problem was transport. As kick off time approached and the weekly sweep of team news was going on there was no team from Livingston, the team coach was caught in traffic jams getting over the Forth Road Bridge. Eventually at 2:45 the team coach turned up and John Robertson was able to give the radio commentators the news they were looking for. An unchanged squad from last week.

Roddy McKenzie;
David McNamee, Harald Pinxten, Greg Strong, David Mackay;
Richard Brittain, Colin Healy, Allan Walker, Wes Hoolahan;
Sam Morrow, Noel Whelan.

So there was a delay to the kick off to allow the lads to warm up properly and they came out on fire when the game finally got underway. The Pars' Glen Ross could only stop Wes Hoolahan by pulling on his shirt in the 9th minute and the resulting Richie Brittain penalty gave the traveling Livi support hope. However, the Pars fought back and eventually in the 38th minute forced McKenzie to bring down Mark Birchill in the box for an equalising penalty which Birchill himself put away.

1-1 was probably a fair reflection of the first half but I didn't want a fair reflection. Livingston came out strong at the start of the second half with half time substitute Steven Hislop scooping a shot over from 12 yards then Colin Healey curling one just wide from outside the box. However, his next effort from distance did find the back of the net and for the second time in the afternoon Livi fans including those of us in Elgin lived in hope again. There was now less than half an hour to go.

However, Dunfermline continued to turn the screws and in the 78th minute McKenzie blocked a shot from Taraschulski but Birchill pounced on the loose ball and planted it in the net. The hope wavered slightly but there was still time. Then in the 85th minute a Birchill shot appeared to be handled over the line by his teammate Noel Hunt, but after consulting the assistant referee the goal was given. Yet again in the last ten minutes Livingston's luck ran out. How many times this has happened this year I have lost count. Most spectacularly we once lost two goals to Hibs in that period and their largely silent fans started to chant easy, easy with only 2 minutes remaining.

Mathematically Livingston are not officially relegated yet. We are nine points behind both Falkirk and Dunfermline, they on 27 points us on 18 with 3 games remaining. However, our goal difference is 21 worse than Falkirk and 15 worse than Dunfermline so next year we'll be heading to St Johnstone, Hamilton, Ross County, Clyde, Airdre Utd, Dundee, Queen of the South, Gretna and A.N. Other following the playoffs.

On happier news Liverpool's win at Old Trafford in the FA Cup Semi-Final over Chelsea must really be adding to Jose Mourinho fears of drawing Liverpool in cup competition.

Long and Winding Road to Moray

Yesterday I rose early to head into Edinburgh to catch a coach to Moray by Election HQ in Moray. Amongst the other travellers on the coach was fellow Lib Dem Blogger Alex Cole-Hamilton. So a merry band made their way north, picking up more at Willie Rennie's office taking the 4 hour trip up to Elgin from Edinburgh.

Shortly after we entered Moray we saw our first sign of election activity a Mary Scanlon poster in a farmers field. This was just a picture of Mary and her name but somebody had rather helpfully grafettied on 'Is a Tory, they had also added devils horns, trident and a tale. Slightly further along we can across another of Mary's poster with the same additions to the picture but this time the words 'Is Still a Tory'.

Finally after leaving at 8am from Edinburgh we reached Linda Gorn's campaign HQ just before midday. We were greeted at the door and sent straight back out to various locations for delivery. Being asked to try and get back for a walkabout with Linda and Charles Kennedy about 1:30. However, when we got back we were told there were enough people available for the walkabout and would we mind more delivery, of course not was the answer so off again. This time we were off to New Elgin just next to the High School. We managed to do third walk this time in the city centre before having to catch the return coach at 5:30.

But the reaction on the ground was interesting. The electorate are not concerned about the article in the Northern Scot many in fact know just how 'impartial' the paper has been in the past. Indeed the Northern Scot articles this week have made many people realise just what a threat the Liberal Democrats are to the Scottish Nationalists in this election. The SNP have apparently been talking about a two horse race while also saying that the Tory vote has imploded. So the electorate have been asking who is the second horse then.

Apparently the SNP candidate Richard Lochead is not best liked locally by many Nationalist sypsthisers and activists, the Labour campaign is basically non-existant and Mary Scanlon apart for trying to avoid mentioning that she is the conservative candidate is still reeling after last weeks revelations.

So what will happen on Thursday? Obviously the only poll that matters is what goes into the ballot boxes but it is looking too close to call. The next five days are vitally important, it is possible that two blobs of Lib Dem gold will be linked up on the electoral map come the early hours of Friday morning.

Friday 21 April 2006

Oh to be in Two Places, Now That Spring is Here

Tomorrow I'd love to be in Dunfermline to see my team win for the third time in that great city. The first was to watch Livingston beat the Pars with a spectacular Paul Daglish, sadly now a Hibee, goal the second of course being Oor Willie's sucess in the by election.

Well tomorrow sees a vital game in Livingston's battle for survival in the SPL after two wins on the bounce we are now only 6 points behind Dunfermline with 4 matches to play so tomorrows game at East End Park is a real 6 pointer. If we do lose it would depend on Falkirk only as to how we could possibly survive. Momentum in on our side and our team is raring to repeat last seasons end of season heroics.

However, much as I'd love to be there tomorrow I'm heading even further north to the Moray By Election. Having just had a weather check with my ex-fiancee who is up in the Highlands and Islands at the moment training I hope the weather stays good for my furtherest foray North for an election.

Me Think They Dost Protest Too Much

OK on first look today's Northern Scot makes bad reading for Liberal Democrats within a week of the Moray by election. But on close inspection one comment from their Leader
article gives a very subtle clue to where the paper's sensibilities lie.

The phrase in question is:

Full-time party officials from the south have been mobilised to conduct the sort of campaign Moray has never seen in the past

The give away clue is the complaint about people coming up from the south. To be fair to Moray there isn't a lot further North than it. In fact only 5 Westminster constituencies can claim to have any point further north than the most northerly point of Moray. In fact the only party who could bring full-paid party workers South to Moray in numbers might be the Liberal Democrats who represent all mainland points to the North plus Orkney and Shetland.

However, readers of Scottish politics recognise this phrase as a pre-emptive excuse used by Scottish Nationalist sympathisers for failure. The argument the Nats put out is that the other three parties, or most regularly the one that is really challenging them, have being importing activists from all over the UK so it is no wonder they have lost, or about to lose, the by-election. By elections are the time that the Nationalists are at a disadvantage as they are simply a regional not a national party.

The fact that the Northern Scot is using this phrase in a article in which they are trying to proport impartiality shows their true colours. The people of Moray must particularly have already spoken in a number of blogs and media that they are shocked that the Northern Scot is now claiming not to be a voicebox for the SNP and indeed that they are attempting to claim the high moral ground.

This whole scenario reminds me of the quote by Eric Morecombe about playing all the right notes just not necessarily in the right order.

Thursday 20 April 2006

Maybe Cameron and Brown Should Listen to Kermit

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
'Cause you're not standing out

Kermit the Frog
It's Not Easy Being Green

With both Gordon Brown and David Cameron chasing the green vote maybe they should take lessons from Kermit and Dick Strawbridge and Family.

Mr Cameron had to do a lot more than merely get on his bike and visit the Norwegian Glaciers. So far the only new 'environmental' policy to come out since he took over the Torys is the free up legislation on building on Green Belt land. How this counts for being green is beside me.

However, it's all very well talking the talk and while I don't expect everyone to follow the Strawbridges to the full extent that they have gone each of us can take measures to do so. This is something that the Liberal Democrats have been encouraging for a long time and the Gordon and David come latelys of this world must bear this is mind as people are liable to pass over them if they only pay lip service and not deliver any action.

Wednesday 19 April 2006

All Action on the Moray Front

Looks like my fellow Scottish Blogger Alex Cole Hamilton is causing a stir in the Blogsphere. Today alone there are 12 comments posted here out of 14 in total. However, maybe the Northern Scot is a little miffed that the Scotsman are trying to steal a little of their thunder. Mind you if Alex is good enough to face Gordon Brown at hustings and the ballot box I'm know he's capable of handling the first minor riot his blog has stirred in his comments. Welcome to the world of blogging Alex. It's not always fair and it can get ludicrously out of control for the most innocent of reasons but hey it all leads to openess and accountability.

All the same it looks like we'll be all be reading the Northern Scot with interest on Friday, just to see what Nationalist propaganda it is going to exude.

Poor Health

Yesterday the Speaker Michael Martin returned to work after 2 months following an angioplasty. His first role in the chair was in charge of Health Questions. He joked 'It's very appropriate that I should come back to call the Secretary of State for Health. Patricia Hewitt responded that as the operation was carried out in Scotland it was outside her remit.

However, today is startling news that a new innovation for diabetics, inhalation rather than injection, is too costly at less than £10 a week more per patient for our NHS to afford. This after the news yesterday that NHS Doctors' pay had risen under their new contracts by around 25% since 2004.

So there are clearly a lot of health questions out there I hope Mr. Speaker Martin is up for the task. As for Patricia Hewitt most of these questions are definitely under her remit.

Monday 17 April 2006

Is it Terrorism or War?

In the recent Palestinian elections Hamas were returned as the largest party and therefore form the new Government. Therefore the attack in Tel Aviv today takes on a whole new meaning, this being the first Hamas attack on Israel since the election result was declared.

When a terrorist group seeks a political mandate there is a hard choice to make. It has to be either the bomb or the ballot box. Both leads to confusion as to motive and who is in control.

Sein Fein are one of the closest examples to what Hamas has achieved but even they had confusion over the two roles. Also although they became part of the power sharing Executive they have not been returned as the largest party unlike Hamas. Therefore Hamas are different in the fact that as the Government they are in charge of the Palestinian security forces but they still appear to have a terrorist wing. Both started out as terrorist opposing what they saw as an occupying force.

With Hamas's new heightened place in the Middle East their claims that today's attack on a falafel Restaurant in Tel Aviv, during lunchtime were in 'self-defence' doesn't hold much water. Having eaten a fair amount of falafel in my time I do not see how it can possibly cause a national security risk, especially not with civilians milling around it. This is an act of terrorism not an attack against a military target.

One thing is certain the way Isreal are treating their Palestinian neighbours is abhorant. Isreal needs to be realistic seeing that the more they make unilateral decision to repress their neighbors the more they will kick back. However, the elected government of Palestine must also now seek to open diplomatic channels to enable change rather than carry on a terroist regime, as this can now be miusconstrued as open warfare. The leaders in the World with power and influence, especially Messers. Blair and Bush, should stop taking, or appear to take sides, in this issue and act as mediators or facilitators for others to act as mediators (especially as their own standing in the region with Arab nations is low).

We live in interesting times.

ASBOs: Is There One Rule for the Rich?

According to Saturday's Daily Record residents of the Knightsridge area of Livingston are furious about not being granted an ASBO to deal with teenagers in their area who throw petrol bombs and have nightly running battles around the estate.

Unlike Mid Calder, Knightsridge is a former council estate and many of the residents there are accusing Lothian and Borders police of having one rule for the rich (Mid Calder) and one rule for the poor (Knightsridge).

However, as reported here last December the Livingston division had already said they would be stretched to run to area ASBOs simultaneously. They have according to the report assigned more officers to the area. However, reading of the nature of the disturbances Knightsridge appears to be in more need of control at the moment than Mid Calder.

Saturday 15 April 2006

Accrington Stanley Who Are They?

In 1962 Acrrington Stanley Football Club went bust and were forced to resign from the English Football League. However, this afternoon after 44 years in the wilderness they have sealed their return to the English League by winning 1-0 away to Woking. Paul Mullin who scored the goal that made history will probably have a statue soon outside the club's Interlink Express Stadium soon (the fact that this is on Livingstone Road gives this Livingston supporter some hope.)

The phrase 'Accrington Stanley who are they?' was from a 1980s ad for milk were one Scouse boy says to his mate that Ian Rush has told him that if he doesn't drink milk he'll only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley. The riposte from his mate is Accrington Stanley who are they? Unfortunately Rushie's subsequent management career means that Stanley manager John Coleman might be able to ask tonight Ian Rush who is he?

On 12-02-62 the Club Chairman Edwin Slinger resigned revealing debts of £4000 pounds in unpaid transfer fees and similar amount owing to the Inland Revenue. On the 2 March they lost their last League Game 4-0 to Crewe put shortly after £40,000 of further debt to creditors forced the board to resign from the league on 11 March, midway through the season.

Well today the team for so long the joke of English Football have turned that phrase on its head.

So who are Accrington Stanley:

Founded in 1891 as Stanley Villa

Renamed Accrington Stanley in 1895

Name comes from the family name of the Earl of Derby who owned a lot of land in the area. Whether the founders of the Club lived in a Stanley Street of met in an Stanley Arms pub is open to debate but the connection is to the Earl in some form.

1905-6 Lancashire Combination Division 1 Champions

Entered the League in 1931 in Third Division North

1958 Best league position 2nd in Division 3 North

1958-9 Reorganised league finds Stanley in Division 3

1960 Relegated to Division 4.

1962 Resigned from Football League and joined Lancahsire Combination Division 2

1964-5 Promoted as Champions but relegated the following season.

1966 Resigned and folded from Lancashire Combination Division 2

1970 Club Reformed Join Lancashire Combination League

1977-8 Champions Lancashire Combination League, join Cheshire County Division 2

1980 Second in league but not promoted due to ground status win league the following year to earn promotion.

1986-7 Runners Up North West Counties Division 1 (Promoted to Northern Premier League)

1998-9 Relegated to Nothern Premier Division 1

1999-2000 Champions of Northern Premier Division 1

2002-3 Champions of Northern Premier League, promoted to Football Conference

2005-6 After finishing 10th for previous 2 seasons win Conference to return to Football League

As for the foot of the Scottish Premier with Falkirk and Dunfermline drawing 0-0 Livingston's 3-1 win over Dundee pulls us up to just 6 points behind Dunfermline making next weeks trip to East End Park very important.

Bogus Tory Endorsements in Moray

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. However, that is not how independent Moray councillors Tom Bothwell and Ron Shepherd see the letters that Mary Scanlon, the Tory candidate in the Moray by election has been sending out.

These created letters allege to be from these independent voices on Moray council endorsing the Tory candidate to replace Margaret Ewing in the vote on the 27th. Cllr. Bothwell has told The Scotsman:

'I didn't write any of the things in the letter. It was the last two lines I really objected to.'

Those last two lines said that the councillors wanted the people to chose 'an honest and approachable bonnie fechter (translation: a game chicken)' for their wards and then saying that they were endorsing the Conservative candidate.

If the Conservatives, who were second in this seat last time out, cannot even use real endorsements and talk about real issues in their literature and are sinking this low in terms of literature their camp must really be running scared.

Mary Scanlon's office issued a retraction which only added to their woes:

'At no time did Councillor Bothwell infer or state that he was supporting the Conservative Party. In fact Councillor Bothwell insisted that he believed in voting 'for a person not a party' and also emphasised a community irrespective of political party.

'Councillor Bothwell was elected as an independent, with no political ties, and he strongly holds his independent views,'

So far this shows remorse, until they carry on to add salt to the wounds with:

'irrespective of supporting Mary Scanlon. He has endorsed Mary Scanlon because she has pledged to represent all views and issues in Moray.'

Considering that this is clearly not Councillor Bothwell's position some Tory spin doctor in Tory campaign HQ obviously couldn't avoid one final spin of that same record undoing the repairity work they appear to have set out to do.

As Alex Folkes of the Electoral Reform Society said:

'[These letters] are clearly deeply dishonest and, if nothing else, clearly the voters will be able to take their own view on this sort of activity. It is incredibly unwise, and I hope the voters will bear that in mind.'

Friday 14 April 2006

Royal Highland Show Hit Again

A few years ago the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston just beside Edinburgh Airport was cancelled due to the foot and mouth epidemic. However, as a result the garden section of the show grew and became an annual event on its own.

This year with fears of avian flu it has already been announced that ther will be no poultry or life birds at this years event in June. So far there is still only the one reported case of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu the Cellardyke swan. However, organisers are taking no chances especially as many rare birds would generally be travelling for judging at the show.

The lead of the major agricultural show in Scotland is likely to be followed by the smaller shows at locations across Scotland. However, hopefully it is a show that lessons were learned from the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001.

Thursday 13 April 2006

Smoke Free West Lothian

Almost 3 weeks into the smoking ban in public places and the reports look good for the uptake of this on West Lothian. So far smoking wardens have visieted about 350 premises, mainly licensed premises and cafes, and the vast majority have been adherring to the new law.

Only one proprietor has been issued with a warning from the wardens both verbal and in writing for breaching the ban. They are also investigating 20 complaints mainly relating to members of the public smoking ouitside licenced premises.

So at this point point it looks like everything is going well for those West Lothian residents who want to chose a vibrant lifestyle without having to inhale other people's smoke.

Wednesday 12 April 2006

Don't Worry About Bird Flu

Last night I was informed about the following product from Beechams to allay all our fears.

Tuesday 11 April 2006

Wiki Meme

Some highlights for 19 September.

1692 - Giles Corey is pressed to death after refusing to plead in the Salem witch trials.
1778 - The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the United States.
1796 - George Washington makes his farewell address.
1893 - Women's suffrage: In New Zealand, the Electoral Act of 1893 is consented to by the governor giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote, beginning with the 1893 New Zealand general election.
1945 - Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) sentenced to death in London.
1946 - The Council of Europe is founded following a speech given by Winston Churchill at the University of Zurich.
1959 - Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland.
1981 - Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunite for a free concert in New York's Central Park.
2001 - Commencement of combatant activities in Afghanistan (the date designated by U.S. President George W. Bush in Executive Order 13239 of December 12, 2001).


1714 - Charles Humphreys, American delegate to the Continental Congress (d. 1786)
1737 - Charles Carroll of Carrollton, American signer of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Senator (d. 1832)
1778 - Henry Peter Brougham, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
1907 - Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. American Supreme Court Justice (d. 1998)
1909 - Ferry Porsche, Austrian automobile pioneer (d. 1998)
1911 - Sir William Golding, English writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1993)
1922 - Emil Zátopek, Czech athlete (d. 2000)
1934 - Brian Epstein, English musical group manager (the Beatles) (d. 1967)
1936 - Al Oerter, American athlete
1948 - Jeremy Irons, English actor
1949 - Twiggy Lawson, English model
1952 - Nile Rodgers, American musician and composer
1969 - Tapio Wilska, Finnish singer


690 - Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury (b. 602)
1881 - James Garfield, 20th President of the United States (b. 1831)
1949 - George Shiels, Northern Irish dramatist (b. 1886)

Returning to Circulation

Well after a rather traumatic month starting with the move, then confronting by ex-fiancees father over the money he owed me and then short changed me, all of this while not having a computer, then not having my BT Braodband installation disk I am back in the land of the blogging.

I also ended up not being able to get to either conference last month due to getting the new flat up and running so for people who had been expecting to see me let me asure you I am still alive and ahave also been gearing up for the council elections. That's 2007 not next month.

Last night I left an action night meeting really energised and ready to get out there and meet the public after all the weather has improved (what snow) and there now are less than 13 months to polling day.

While I've been intermittent in Blogsphere I see that Liberal Review and Apollo Project have formed a coalition. Any more and I think some of us independent bloggers might be referring them to the monoploies and mergers commission. As I see there is a new trend to wiki meme. Something I actually know quite a bit about is my date of birth so I'll do that to follow.

It is good to be back and alive and active online again. How did we survive before t'internet?