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