Wednesday 31 December 2008

That Was the Year that Was 2008

Well I'm not posting this live, I'm future time stamping it to come up just before the end of the year. So what was 2008.

The Economy: A credit squeeze, became a crunch, became a full blown recession. Banks floudered in Ireland, Iceland, USA and then in Scotland both HBoS and the RBS hit trouble. The goverment bailed the UK banks out. The Americans did the same, then did it for car industry as well. Here the High Street will never be the same again with the closure of Woolworths and in what is almost a daily round of the latest chain to go into administration who know where we'll be buying our Christmas presents in a little under 12 months time.

Yes He Did: Of course the big political news globally was that America elected its first African American president in 3 weeks time the inauguration of Barack Obama will be a landmark event in a country still fighting segregationists, racism and outright hatred in the decade of my birth.

On the Subject of Presidents: As well as the American's electing a new President the Lib Dems also voted on their federal president. The media darling was Lembit Opik. If you believed the media and the hype from Team Opik he was the shoe-in. Of course we all know that take you eye of the ball and that skillful player will round you and head for the goal before you realise what is happening. And that is what happened to the Primary Coloured Campaign. A good and strong candidate was out there meeting the electorate rather than working out how next to get papped. So tomorrow after securing over 70% of the all party vote Ros Scott takes up the role that she was made for.

The Leader is Gone Long Live the Leader: A little over a year ago the UK wide Liberal Democrats Elected there new leader in Nick Clegg. These year saw the election of Tavish Scott in Scotland and Kirsty Williams in Wales succeeded Nicol Stephen and Mike German as the party leaders in those two countries.

Going for Gold: The GB & NI Olympic and Paralympic teams did better than even they might have hoped for 19 Gold, 13 Silver and 15 Bronze medals propelled the Olympic team into 4th in the medal table their goal for 2012. The Paralympians were second in their table with 42 Gold 29 Silver and 31 Bronze.

The Blogger is Back: To be perfectly honest I returned to blogging at the tale end of 2007. But 2008 saw the return really take off the comments in the sidebar indicate this blog has made a dramatic impact back to the Scottish Blogosphere. Indeed in the Total Politics lists for 2008 I was the 11th most popular Scottish Blog and 15th most popular Lib Dem blog, therefore as someone said in the year this has become the go to blog for Lib Dem takes on the Scottish Issues. And that dear reader is what I shall continue to do into 2009, whether there is a general election or not.

They'll be Dancing in the Streets of Anhk Morpork

It may be Hogmanay but that means the announcement of Queen Liz's New Year's honours.

Those plucky British Olympians are adding to their Beijing honours with one knighthood, six CBEs, 13 OBEs and 35 MBEs in Queenies New Years Honour lists.

No prizes for guess who will be having the royal sword dubbed on his proud shoulders, it's Mister Chris for his three cycling golds. But Liz didn't take poolside advice from the Water Cube proffered by Miss Cassie by only making 'Dame' Rebecca Adlington only an OBE. Paralympian Miss Ellie Saunders becomes the youngest ever recipient of the MBE at just 14. F1 World Champion Mister Lewis picked up an MBE. Many of the tops coaches were also honoured as was Chris's mother Carol for their services to sport.

As the sunlight slowly moves across the Discworld to herald another dawn, the creator, known on our world as Mister Terry has been awarded a Knighthood.

Sara Payne who has battled for better safeguards against sex offenders following the kidnap and murder of her daughter Sarah was also awarded an MBE.

However, in the year that the economy took one hell of a pasting there is anger that the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury picked up his knighthood as part of the automatic promotion through the merit system that comes with rank not performance.

Tuesday 30 December 2008

ID Cards Objectionable and Unacceptable

The annual disclosure of documents under the 30 year rule always throws up some interesting, some shocking and some embarrassing documents. So the government must be somewhat embarrassed by the feelings of the last Labour administration's take on ID cards.

In 1978 Labour felt that their introduction "would require major changes in practices and powers reaching far beyond immigration control". They stuck to their plans in 1978 not to introduce immigration quotas, as they didn't want the "objectionable2 measure of making everyone carry identification papers. They described the measures of Margaret Thatcher back then as draconian. They felt that such measures in the past were only introduced in times of war.

Step forward 30 years. The war we are apparently fighting is a war on terror in 1978 we were at the height of another terrorist threat. One that struck far more often and far more deadly than the current situation. Yet Labour then did not deem ID cards necessary in 1978 to combat the IRA.

If you consider that most of the current string of domestic terrorists are citizens just as those of 1978, you do have to wonder just what has changed? The only thing is the level of technology that can be used on an ID card. But if Thatcher's measures were described as draconian where does that leave the current situation?

One thing it does show is that Labour are laying aside their principles. In 1978 they were facing serious competition for power, yet were still prepared to stand on matters of principle. When they starting talking about ID cards themselves they were riding high, and the principles of 1978 were forgotten.

Monday 29 December 2008

Labour Attack Bishops For Speaking the Truth

OK I've attack the church a little bit recently but when they point out that the divide between rich and poor is getting wider that is something that the Lib Dems have been pointing out to Labour for a while.

The Church is often a good judge of how the poorest are getting on as they are usually behind, involved in running or knowledgeable in the conditions of such. So when they say there is a growing divide not aided by the debt culture that is being encouraged they should be listened to.

However, Labour in what is now their usual behaviour have ignored facts and evidence that is contrary to their narrative. The five bishops had branded the government morally corrupt for encouraging a credit culture and making people live beyond their means. The fact that even government parlance of giving credits rather than benefits heightens the acceptance of credit as an acceptable way of living. The Bishops also pointed out that while the bankers have received large bail outs, the government has been doing little to help the less well off in comparison, the government being tight fisted in what it offers the people who actually suffer.

Facing the government itself has borrowed over and over to gets itself out of difficulties far from being a prudent hoarder saver of wealth when available. See the government likes to talk the talk on poverty, but apart from actions in the first four years of Labour governance that has been all they have done. They have been all talk and failing to walk the walk in successive budgets and plans since.

Sunday 28 December 2008

Warren: It's Marriage Not Relationships That's the Issue

With less than a month to go to the inauguration of the first Black President of the United States, Rick Warren the pastor who some has, in the eyes of some been controversially, chosen to pray at that historic event has made a statement on gay marriage.

He said in the podcast released on Monday:

"I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings. I was trying to point out I'm not opposed to gays having their partnership. I'm opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship."

Strange then that in the past he has made such comparisons of homosexuality with paedophilia, polygamy and incest, as he equated all four together only last week when he answered a question with a clear "I do".

He also said that while he doesn't equate homosexual relationships with incest or pedophilia, that he opposes redefining marriage just as any conservative Christian would. Problem with using such phraseology as that is very similar to what the conservative Christians in the American bible belt were saying about inter-racial marriage up to 41 years ago in 1967, when the Supreme Court overturned bans in Loving v. Virgina. Thing is he is opposed to Proposition 8 in California, which again was a redefinition of marriage.

Is Rev Warren, also opposed to the 1967 Supreme Court ruling? I don't think he is and am not accusing him of such. However, the thing is that laws are transitory the US has Supreme Courts at state and federal levels to past judgements on such things.

As any fan of The West Wing will know the USA hasn't always looked favourably on minorities. The rules of the Census as outlined in Mr. Willis of Ohio pointed out how the original wording from the founding father's appropriated proportions only of slaves or descendants of slaves towards state and national totals. So the rules move, the fact that Warren also quotes the extremely low church based guesstimate of 2% gay population rather than any scientifically sampled survey does not give his affectations any merit. Afterall the church is supposed to stand up for the underdog and the oppressed. Yet not as often in the past they are the oppressor and the big guys pulling their disproportionate weight.

His Larry Ross a spokesman for Warren's Saddleback church tried to ease things over by saying the church's view that Scripture prohibits sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

Anyone can attend Saddleback worship services. But the church article had said that gays "unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted" as members. One wonders just how many Saddleback members have or are having heterosexual relationship in a lifestyle not conforming to the churches view. But that is an investigation for another day.

Friday 26 December 2008

Free Football for Kids

One of the ways that my team Livingston build a fan base from nothing in the 13 years we've been located at Livingston was to offer free tickets to children. So therefore I was interested to see that the Scottish Government have called on the SPL and Scottish League to allow access for kids for free at certain games in a bid to boost attendance.

The aim of course is to get kids excited about the atmosphere of actually being at the game, something that no matter what level or Setanta or Sky technological gimmicks watching on TV can't make up in entirety. Of course the kids would end up dragging along a parent or other adult to escort them, boasting coffers. If they also get really into their team they may well go to other games which they have to pay.

As the indirect result of such a scheme, my exes little brother took the option of the free tickets, going along with him and father to games was seen as a bonding experience. End result of which is that I still go, indeed go home and away. Alongside many young people who started out as part of the free tickets scheme.

The scheme may help boast football attendances but will only maintain them if there is the need for maintaining a product that will hold an audience. In the depths of a Scottish winter that can end up being only the hard core fans. There may be a need to look at a chance in the season, if only because with Saturday lunchtime and evening games, the warmth of being in front of a TV and watching two games on a Saturday is far more attractive to our seditary society than actually going out layered up for the cold to get the live experience of just 90 minutes of football.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Well the afternoon at least, which is the Glenn household is cause for celebration as is also happens to be elder nephew's birthday. So I shall shortly be heading to the airport (which will be carbon offset) to attend to uncling duties tonight, to assist mother for the family feast tomorrow, well she has raised two sons who know how to cook and aim for the best.

I was all prepared to bus it into the airport but this morning got a text from Caron offering to give me lift. It will make a nice change getting a lift from Caron, not be "dumped" somewhere in the vicinity of Glenrothes to do some campaigning. Only thing I have to deliver this time are not focus leaflets but tidings of Christmas joy to my family.

I also appear to have started the Christmas joy in the stairwell. Having delivered my Marie Curie cards (in memory of Dad) I have so far received 2 out of the three is return in the ten minutes since, the other flat was empty when I chapped (Scots-English translation: knocked).

So like everyone else in the blogosphere expecting posting to be light for the next few days, although I am back at work Monday so it will be normal to be blogging then again at least.

So for those of you celebrating any of the holidays of this time of year have a Merry Christmas, a joyous Hanukkah, or to my Muslim readers a delayed blessed Eid ul-Adha but Happy New Year for the 29th.

The Confessional

I've been sort of umming an ahing about just how far to post today following the Pope's comments in which I took a satirical look. However, following seeing what young Alistair Wood has had to say I felt that the time is probably right for one of the most heart on a sleeve blog posts seen here on my journal. Some of the stuff you will see below has been hinted at in part though the history of the blog, but this as it were is sort of the lid of the jigsaw box as it were. So the Pope has a thing about two men kissing or getting jiggy between the sheets so where does that leave us. Does it really make things as bad for mankind as losing the forests.

Alistair laid out some key biblical quotes and I'm going to do the same. First of we need a key definition what does it take to be a Christian. Well Paul says the following in Romans 10:9-10

"If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God
raised him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes,
resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in

Now I don't know about you but that is one of the clearest definitions of what it takes to be saved and therefore is a definition of what a Christian is. Indeed that is exactly what I did when I was only 9 years old.

Unlike the Pope there is no mention of any particular sin excluding anyone. Indeed Paul goes further in Ephesians 2:8-9 to say:

"For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourself, it is
the grace of God; not as a result of works so that no one should boast."

Now I think I'd been the ideal example for the whole nature versus nurture debate. I mean born again at 9, in Northern Ireland one of the most religious areas of the UK, son of a Church elder who was also the Boys Brigade (BB) Captain. Well versed in the bible so much so that at Uni one of my fellow Christian Union (CU) committee member wrote:

"Your Love of God and your dedication is a real joy to see. It is encouraging for me
to find someone who finds so much help from the Bible ad from other. You are a
good guy - and a real Son of God."

Now these comments were meant to be anonymous but I knew the handwriting and this future President of Kingston's CU had also confessed to be a little envious of my knowledge of the bible in our first term.

This dedication from me after two years on the CU committee moved into mission, upon return to leading the Church youth group, then when I returned home teaching in the Bible Class and being an officer in the BB. So clearly the Pope up to this point of my life would not see me as a problem case, after all I fell into line long before I was sexually mature enough to contemplate sex. Incidentally you now chronologically have me in my early 30s.

There's just the one issue that since my late teens despite all the outward signs I've been struggling with a tough issue I'm attracted to other guys not to girls. My fantasy life when it develops is based on guys even in my sleep states. Now where did I get that nurtured into me. I think the experts would all say that is nature at work. As I've hinted before I took the same stance as Iris Robinson and believed it could be prayed out of me.

Now I had quite a unique Christian experience for a Northern Irish lad in his early twenties. I was firmly grounded in the Word but after about one year of Uni I needed more than that I needed a faith that was as real today as in the book of Acts. So I found the more charismatic end of things, even being given leadership of teams in some of the lease keep your hands by the side teams for Summer or Easter with Operation Mobilisation who I also did one year of mission with

Now I still and on three occasions including once during that year of actually serving in that

way someone in the congregation had a word of wisdom that could only relate to me. Especially on two of those occasions the person ended up praying for me and ht even more specific nails squarely on the head. However, you know what Iris and everyone else it didn't change who I was no matter how much I wanted it to.

Now here's where I will diverge from Alistair. He did an exposition that set about showing that being homosexual isn't a sin. You see I don't care whether it is or it isn't because the bible also says "we are all sinners saved by grace". Indeed it is Paul again who when talking about rewards in heaven says:

"If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work is burned u, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be
saved, yet so as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:15

Now to me as I've said above the act of personal salvation is there in the past. The bible says that nothing can take that gift away. No whether Alistair is right with his interpretation of me acting on who I am and experiencing full emotional and physical love with someone of the same gender being covered by exclusion, or exception of other OT abominations in the NT, or whether it is still literal. There is comfort in the fact that as with the adulteress brought before Jesus in John 8 there is no one out there without sin. Therefor at the back escaping as if from he fire there will be many who other's may not have expected to be there, my guess they won't be for one type of sin either.

But they would have one thing in common.

Redemption through grace alone. No matter what the state of the rain forests or the sexual ambiguities of their times. If being a sinner makes any one a worse candidate for inclusion in the church, then there is no church, no Bishoprics and no Pope.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Nice Cuppa Not Gonna Relieve This Pain

They say that no matter how bad the situation there is nothing better to help you through it than a nice cup of tea. However, I doubt this was the case for the bosses an employees of Whittards who have become the latest High Street victim of the credit crunch as tea is their primary business.

Whittards had been backed by the Icelandic bank Landsbanki and owner by Icelandic investors Baugur. But following the failed Icelandic bank cutting the companies funding lines so Ernst and Young are prepared to step in as administrators for the company who have been the purveyors of fine teas for 122 years.

500 staff across the chains 130 stores will be going home for Christmas tomorrow with one wish; hoping Ernst and Young find an interested party to buy the company. But with Whittards facing a rent bill on Christmas it may be bailiffs and not father Christmas who is taking drinks for the company founded in Chelsea. As Nick Hood predicted the other day as many as 10 chains may be in imminent danger, as many others are owned or financed by Icelandic money it may be worth looking at the states of their financial positions with regards to the immediate future.

Update: Then again it is always hard to resist a fine cup of tea, or for that matter a whole company. Apparently private equity investor Epic have stepped in to buy Whittards apparently in a deal brokered by former Whittards boss Will Hobhouse.

In Which I Suggest Pope Benedict Has a Point

The headline story in the Daily Fail was Homosexuality is as great a threat as rainforest destruction, says Pope wow you've seen the horror all day. Iain Dale (dare I speak his name two evenings in a row) suggested that the Pope should just join the BNP and be done with it. Paul Walter took more considered look at just what he said in depth rather than trying to simply fill a headline.

However, I was talking (or rather typing this over this morning) and came to the conclusion that you know maybe old Papa Ben has a point. Not only that he has a solution. Now I beat all the hundreds of people who visited this humble blog in the last 24 hours didn't expect to hear me coming to that concolusion.

So lets look at it the Pope appears to have identified two major issues affecting mankind:

  1. First is the contrariness to nature (defined by Benny boy as man and woman) of the LBGT community in various ways.
  2. The deforestation of our planet.

As a liberal leaning environmentalist you would expect me concur with the second but am a little dubious of the first. But this Ulster born protestant says hang on a second this could just make sense. The Church of Rome and its Bishop have a point and a plan to deal with both.

First off remember the churches aversion to wrapping of mens' intimate parts for the purposes of not multiplying too much. Something that many apologists for the non-Catholic population of world say would help solve a lot of the overcrowding on this planet of finite resources. Well that is a conning masterstroke to the Uberplan of the Pope.

First he aims to impose a world-wide ban on their sale, use, or possession on forfeiture one's life and corporeal soul. Then reinstates the Spanish inquisition to ensure that this Papal edict is carried out, and not care too much if they get carried away with themselves again.

End result 8% based of current estimate of the promiscuous, filthy gayer part of the male population would be wipe out 48million people a moderately sized country. However, nothing compared to wiping out the entire continent of Africa. Then of course you'd hear the Church calling HIV AIDS God's gift rather his judgement as they'd have solved both problems in one fell swoop.

The above is of course entirely satirical and my tongue is firmly wedged in my cheek.

Vicki Harris Tragic Loss

Vicki Harris who had been, before illness forced her to step aside, reselected to challenge for the Lib Dems for the key marginal of Aberdeen South has died as a result of skin cancer at the age of 41.

Days earlier she by her bedside she had married long term partner Mark Law. It was the second time she had faced this condition the first time two years ago she hadn't told her colleagues about, but on its return the cancer had spread to other parts of the body within a matter of weeks.

Originally from London she had worked for International Development charities before she had run Nicol Stephen's constituency office. In the last West Minister general election had cut the Labour majority to 1,348. The former party leader said:

"Vicki's death came as a big shock to everyone.

"It is devastating to lose someone who has been such a close friend and
colleague at such a young age. "

She had been a tireless campaigner at it was only when she was recently admitted to hospital that any of us really knew how serious her condition was. Her widower Mark Law sums her up in his statement:

"Vicki was committed to ensuring local people had their voices heard on the
issues they care about.

"This passion shone through her professional life, from a visit to South
Africa during the historic elections of 1994 to her most recent campaigns in

Like Kerryn McCann earlier this month it is once again sobering when someone from my sphere of experiences and of roughly the same age as succumbs to cancer in this way.

Monday 22 December 2008

Just What Did Dale Mean?

There is a Facebook group The word "gay" is not a synonym for "stupid". The aim of the group is to disassociate the current trend among young people for saying something is a bit gay to mean either uncool, untrendy or stupid. The side affect of this of course is that those friends of such people who are gay feel the knock on effect of the word being used in this way.

Therefore you can imagine my shock that to retaliate to group of rowdy and disruptive teenagers prominent blogger, erudite broadcaster, prominent homosexual and former parliamentary candidate Iain Dale should retaliate buy say the white tracksuit he was wearing looked ridiculous and a "bit gay". Therefore I have invited Iain to join the above Facebook group as he clearly needs to learn of the issues that many young LGBT people encounter when this word is associated with stupidity.

The Conservative Party may be trying to rebrand themselves away from their homophobic past with LBGTory grouping, but when when of the most high-profile, non-elected and gay Tories shows such an attitude and blogs about although rather self-effacing after the event possibly shows how little the attitudes of those in the Tory party actually have moved on.

Nat Council Leader Embroiled in Planning Scandal

The leader of West Lothian Council, Peter Johnston is facing calls for his resignation following a police investigation being called to look at a conflict in an £8m planning application involving Action to Save St John's Hospital (ATSSJH) Councillor Gordon Beurskens. The case had been referred to Lothian and Borders police by the chief executive Alex Linkston.

The application faced objections from the local authority's planning officers, but Cllr Beurskens who serves on the council's development control committee also acted as a consultant for the Aftondale application at Whiterigg, Whitburn close to the Robert Wiseman dairy to the east of the town. Similar to the controversial Trump development in Aberdeenshire the application came down to the chairman's casting vote. But unlike Martin Ford who voted for the status quo, my one time opponent in the old Croftmalloch Ward Cllr Jim Dickson used his casting vote to support the application.

It is alleged the Beurskens, who along with his two fellow ATSSJH shore up the SNP's slim majority in the council chamber, threatened to bring down the Nationalist administration if the application was rejected. Apparently there are emails sent from Cllr Beurkens consultancy address threatening the planning officials with just such an outcome. Council leader Peter Johnson was copied in on these emails yet failed to act to prevent this major conflict of interests, or the seemingly threatening and aggressive behaviour of Beurskens.

Johnston who stood for the Livingston Westminster seat for Livingston in Westminster and Holyrood elections in the past has been accused by the Labour group leader Graeme Morrice as being 'complicit' in the 'alleged wrongdoings' and is calling for the resignation of the council leader. The area's MSP Mary Mulligan has said she hopes that:

"alongside the Police inquiry there will be a full investigation into exactly
what happened in this case and that all papers are released."

Also stated that concern regarding the development's impact on employment at Wisemans was a major issue for her objections to the application.

Johnson has denied any indication of support for the application but also has stated that he thinks Cllr Beurskens will be exonerated through this investigation. One does have to wonder whether that is a thought based on hope over evidence but only time will reveal that answer.

Not So Prosperous a New Year

Whilst us consumers have been enjoying reductions in prices on the run up to Christmas it is a sign according to Nick Hood, a partner at Begbies Traynor, that 10 or more national or regional chains will follow Woolies and MFI to the wall. PricewaterhouseCoopers where showing that 82% of stores were discounting their products on the weekend before Christmas over the last 2 days.

This discounting to move the Christmas stock at what is normally the profit making time for retailers may lead to many struggling to restock in the new year. pay their VAT bills, and survive through to October 2009 when the Christmas selling season kicks off again. January may well be a very gloomy time on the High Streets as traditionally chains have more cash and less stock so creditors are very likely if they don't expect things to improve to force some into administration to at least get some return on their debt, rather than have the issue that Woolworths have of raising as much capital as possible out of their stock before all their stores close on 7 January.

Mr Hood did not name the chains in question but between 10 and 15 he highlights as being in real danger of not surviving very much longer. Sadly having been around in retail in the early 90s and shutting down several stores of the lowest tier of the business I worked in then. I know that often these decisions are taken in retail with very short notice to the shop floor worker. It may well be that they turn up one day and are told that they are to start backing away any remaining stock and may be lucky to get their notice paid up.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Lockerbie Twenty Years On: A Reflection

On the Saturday before Pan Am flight 103 blew up and the debris landed on Lockerbie and its environs I was being driven up the then A74 towards Glasgow for the night en route to Northern Ireland for the Christmas holidays. The time was approximately the same as when 4 days the name of the small Dumfrieshire town became ingrained on the consciousness of the world.

It may not of been the first time that a plane was blown up for terrorist purposes but it had the most impact because the plane and majority of its passengers were American. Sadly it is often the case with world news and disasters that we tend to ignore many of them when the line no one from our country was killed in the outcome. It doesn't take away from the horror or suffering of those affected but we often tend to focus on ourselves, or at least those like us.

It is worth looking at what is currently going on this close to Christmas. Yes to some extent we are aware of the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe because Mugabe is somewhat of a public enemy of the year. But often disasters elsewhere outside of our western comfort zone are confined to the margins both in our medias coverage and in our own minds and hearts.

Of course the events of 21 December 1988 were startling and disturbing. Something that possible didn't get surpassed in UK and US viewers minds until the events of 9/11 but all the reflecting today has got me to thinking of all the things forgotten that have been equally if not more galling. So in 2009 I will continue to see out some of these less covered events, indeed I think I'll try to cover more of them, and try my best to find updates and keep the narrative flowing.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Rugger Club Booted Into Touch

Now in my University career I often had run ins with the Rugby Club. See as Treasurer of one of the light sports (ie small budget) there was a constant conflict with the heavy sports (including the king pins Rugby) over allocation of funding. Some of the most heated discussions in the Students Union (apart from the cultural role of Neighbours) was always the annual budget allocations. Often fighting to defend money to three of the often overlooked areas of student life boy did I usually go shoulder to shoulder with the Rugby guys.

We also tended to go shoulder to shoulder with them every Wednesday and Saturday night in the main Union Bar (actually I should now call it the Guild of Students as it was named when I returned to repeat my final year in the new Kingston University). Of course Rugby players are going to be one of the, if not the, most raucous sports groups on campus. What other sort of guys, and gals, are you going to get who want to ruck and maul, risk losing teeth (more in some cases), bruised and batter face, or possible spinal injury (even despite new guidelines). They like all student sportspeople love to unwind. Most students are aware that Wednesdays and Saturdays after sports activities that the various teams will return to base to let off steam.

Therefore the fact the SRFU founding member Glasgow University Rugby Club like to unwind boisterously is no surprise. What is a surprise is the decision by the University Court to ban them from using the University's name from 1 January. Student sports clubs are also a transient beast, members come and go with the degree cycles. One of the players has said:

"It's simply not fair that we are being punished for incidents that go back six
years, when none of us was playing."

Another pointed out a possible level of victimisation going on when he said:

"What makes us worse than any other rugby club in Britain? What do they do
when they win a game? Take their tops off and sing a few songs. That's what we

"Besides, the union holds Iron Stomach drinking competitions, when
people take their tops off and the staff put out buckets for being sick in - and
that's acceptable."

Now there is always the point that each passing generation of students in a club want to best the legends of the past. Heaven knows if there are still rumours going around Kingston about the Cross County team inflatable banana, which always appeared on the final stage of the final leg in relays. Possible the University of Surrey still remember the occasion they stole away and burst said banana, only for it to reappear at the next event patched up and recovered. But I guess these tales have been exaggerated in the telling or bested by succeeding generations, or at least the tales have if the actions have not.

And that is the thing. The tales are often a heck of a lot worse that the actuality. The reputation often precedes the events. Some in the club have said it is doing its best to move from being a drinking club with a bit of a Rugby problem to a Rugby club with a bit of a drinking problem. Having been in University changing rooms with a whole mob of sports and in senior Rugby and other sports changing rooms and in the bars afterwards, I'd guess that Glasgow definitely aren't the worse behaved Rugby Club in Britain. Student teams have nothing on the schenanigans of those who have jobs, money and often a greater need and enthusiasm to unwind, but the University Court is making them out to be by their actions.

Friday 19 December 2008

Mmmm mm Mmm Mmmm Mmmmmmmm mm Mmmmm

Shhh. Come in and somebody watch the door. So you got my title that "This is Not What Blogging is About" then and came in to find out more. Well according to Mike Smithson at Political Betting Labour are seeking to tighten up the control over bloggers and their comments.

This is a worrying state of affairs. We all saw what happened to Damian Green. He had information that was embarrassing to the Government and they sent in the anti-terror squad to search his offices, computer etc. So is it now not going to enough to allow debate to flow on ones blogs.

Regular readers will know that apart for a brief period leading up the to the Livingston by election I have never post moderated comments on this blog. Not everything that get posted is flattering, some is down right rude and occasionally it points to things of dubious legality. In all such occasions I will post something distancing myself from such sentiments and if there is any sense amongst the detritus I will actually attempt a civilised response.

You see unlike this NuLabour* Government I am NOT afraid of debate, criticism or argument. If they can't stand the heat then there is clearly something (I would argue many things) that they are doing wrong. They know they have lost the narrative and have seen from the Barack Obama campaign that electioneering and elections is moving away from the MSM. However, rather that embracing that, giving their supporters something to do and say they seem adamant to gag us.

The gag on protests too close to the Houses of Parliament is no longer enough for them. They want to gag us all and put the fear of litigation into the small bloggers who occasionally have a scoop, something gleaned from where they are that could be published and embarrass NuLabour. Whether that originates from the blogger themselves who generally will take the best measures they can to verify such a source or from someone who posts a comment on a blog.

They have over the last 11 years attempted as best they can to stifle debate on the floor of the House and now they want to stifle debate elsewhere. Simple because unlike the MSM they cannot control the news cycle as much for every single blogger that may have something to say or every poster of comments that says something.

The Internet is the Speakers Corner for the 21st Century. If NuLabour can't understand and can't abide by that they are as small minded and as civilly illiberal as some of us have argued they have been for some time.

As Irfan Ahmed suggests may I urge every reader of this blog to lobby against this proposed green paper to their MPs up and down the country. I will be writing to Michael Connarty myself forthwith.

Update: I'd like to thank MatGB for his comments below. So did a little look around to see who else was blogging about it Iain Dale (Version TrueBlue 1.0) seems seems to reckon this stemmed out a Common's debate this week and the words that came Justice Minister Bridget Prentice's lips. Plus if you don't already know the story of Alex Hilton who took every conceivable action to appease someone regarding a comment that was posted, only to face the wrong sort of annoyed person it may well led to the end of free flowing debate until we can get online in 'coffee breaks'.

Indeed the email I have sent off to Michael Connarty does recognise that libel is libel no matter who writes it. My major concern is about the ability to maintain open and real time discussions on blog posts. If any new legislation makes it easier to sue the host of a blog for anything in their comments threads a large part of the blogosphere will be lost. The interaction with the readership is what distinguishes us from the MSM, or at least did back in the day, lose that and the government once again has gained control of the news cycle.

*This time I will use the Zimbabwe based form of that title.

Lesson Plan: Need to Get the Balance Right

It's like "The Portland Trip" episode of The West Wing when Labour education spokesman Ken Macintosh challenged education minister Fiona Hyslop earlier this week. He called on her to provide extra funds to help newly-qualified teachers who are struggling to find work.

Now I know this particular problem is nothing new. Indeed by younger brother amongst the various letters of professional qualifications after his name has a PGCE from Durham, which along with his MA from St. Andrews failed to secure him more than two years work as a teacher. Even when that probationary period was up he applied for jobs in all four corners of the UK, and I mean almost literally the four corners. Which for someone who had been married only two years to someone who was finishing their PhD in a set location was a real potential sacrifice to try and keep in the first profession he had chosen.

Now the fact that I know this happened before New Labour swept to power in 1997 shows that the problem that Mr Macintosh has highlighted is nothing new. Indeed it is something that has been around for longer than Labour have actually been in power. There is a glut of new teachers in certain subjects who have difficulty finding work while there is a shortage in other areas. There is a problem there that is for sure, but while it is true that some newly qualified teachers find it difficult to find work that is somewhat an issue with the planning of the training establishments making supply outstrip demand in their specialties.

Science and maths are areas that there is a major shortfall in qualified teachers, Mr Macintosh should really be looking for ways to encourage graduates in these fields into the profession (like the example muted by Charlie Young in that West Wing episode). He needs to work with Ms Hyslop to get an audit carried out of teaching needs in Scotland for the forthcoming years, to ensure these needs are adequately covered first and foremost.

If there are jobs available but other restrictions than area of expertise in newly qualified teachers taking up posts that are available, cost of housing etc then yes address those issues. But first you need to ensure that those who qualify are the right balance to meet expectations.

Wierd Search Results Week 51 2008

I've decided to each Friday post some of the wierdest ways people surf through to my blog. It started as an idea when someone in Las Vagas came on by using the search word "gambling vanity" so I thought well that location is appropriate. Though heaven knows what they found out about the SNP during Glenrothes.

Mind you yahoo do think that I've written "homourous poems about the credit crunch" as my Twelve Days was in their first 10 hits. Next years Fringe here I come.

I also always wonder when somebody looks for a variation of my name and interesting additions just what, who and why they were looking for "steven glen and the petroleum". I hope that Dane found what and who they were after and that it didn't prove to be their link to nowhere.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Top Gear Sink to the Bottom in Latest BBC Mislead

I have to say following Robert Llewllyn on Twitter is that as befits the man who has fronted scrapheap challenge he does appear to be greeny technophile. Hence I followed his link to this about the last Top Gear of 2008.

The gang were testing the Tesla Roadster the electric sport's car on Sunday night's show and claimed it had run out of power for them on the track, not once but twice. Well as you can read the scenes at the end with Jeremy Clarkson walking along an empty, quiet track claiming that while he expected the electric car to be quieter but actually moving, and the scene of one of the car being pushed back into the garage may have been fabricated.

Now as is well know the gang Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May tend to mock every green initiative in motoring. They are such out and out petrol heads that hybrid and electric heads must at times want to hide their heads in shame. The other week when Kevin McCloud the environmentally aware host of Grand Designs came second in the stars in a reasonably priced car board behind Jay Kay they seemed almost incredulous and mocking of his green credentials.

However, if they have deliberately misrepresented a car, on what is primarily a car show after the various other misdemeanours of this season the BBC may well end up in even more hot water: possibly that produced as emissions from the Teslas in question.

Let's Pull Together Pulled Apart by Mulligan

Whilst the news of latest company in what was once known as "Silicon Glen" to relocate 140 jobs from its Linlithgow base is sad news the motion lodged by Mary Mulligan MSP about Sun Microsystems reeks of partisan politics.

"Parliament notes with deep concern the decision of Sun Microsystems to relocate around 140 jobs from its base in Linlithgow to Oregon in the United States of America; notes that one of the company’s executive vice presidents is Crawford Beveridge, a prominent SNP donor and member of the Council of Economic Advisers; understands that the Council of Economic Advisers exists to bring jobs and
economic growth to Scotland, not take them away, and believes that this is both extremely embarrassing for Alex Salmond MSP and extremely worrying for families
across Linlithgow and West Lothian going into the New Year facing redundancy. "

Only 45 of the 101 words in this motion relate to the situation the remainder are an outright attack on the SNP and there is no constructive action recommendation in what could be done. Basically it is shameful.

You wonder if she has deliberately worded her motion thus so that SNP list MSP and Linlithgow resident Fiona Hyslop cannot possibly lend her support to her motion? If so is this so that she can launch an attack that the local SNP have not supported her over a major employer in the area?

Sadly when Labour in Westminster are telling the other parties of the need to pull together to get through the credit crunch my Labour constituency representative at Holyrood is doing just the reverse. It is two facedness of Labour to call for unity in these hard times in one place yet for such a partisan attack when jobs are at stake in their individual patch.

I also find it quite bizarre that the Prime Minister and Chancellor love to point out that there is a global recession hitting us, that all that is going on is outwith thier remit. However, when parochialism is an effective tool one of their party's local representatives hides behind it being a UK, or in this case Scottish problem, even if the company is a global company with corporate headquarters outside these fair isles of ours.

Hat tip to West World

Update: Interestingly the Edinburgh Evening News has followed up on this story a bit since both me and West World blogged about it. It would appear that Mr Beveridge was a part time director with the company and as Sun Microsystems' spokeswoman has confirmed:

"Crawford Beveridge works part-time with Sun. The decision to close
Linlithgow was a manufacturing decision and Crawford was not involved in that

"Had his participation been required, given his ongoing work with the
Scottish Government – in particular, the Council of Economic Advisers – he
would, of course, have had to remove himself from the decision making process
given the conflict of interest."

So heaven knows even more now just what Mary was seeking to achieve with this rant. Although she must now be wiping the egg from her face.

Wednesday 17 December 2008


While I consider going home tonight an putting on my CD of Hallelujah: A Soulful Celebration which is an excellent take on Handel not Leonard Cohen I see that the Steamie is telling us about Hamish MacDonnell - Labour's Boy Band. So I thought I'd look for an alternative group from the MSPs based purely on them appearing in various song titles.

Fergus Sings the Blues - Deacon Blue

Has to be Fergus Ewing SNP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber

Angela - Motley Crue

Angela Constance SNP for Livingston

Jackie - Placebo

Jackie Ballie Labour MSP for Dumbarton.

Need to keep up this cross party representation obviously so...

Jamie - Weezer

Gives us Jamie McGrigor, the Tory from the Highlands and Islands list.
Papa was a Rollin' Stone - The Temptations

Brings in the Lib Dem's very own Jamie Stone, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

Getting a bit festive next.

Rockin' Robin - The Jackson Five

Has to be the eponymous Robin Harper, Green list member for the Lothian.

I have no idea how this lot would get on as band mates but it gets you thinking doesn't it.

The Steamie

There is a new MSM Blog up here in Scotland. The Steamie is part of the Scotsman's production and it has a blogroll.

However, despite notifying them of my existance on the 3rd of December they have yet to add me to their blogroll. Other blogs have been added in the meantime so I'm musing why the ommission. It is not because I'm a Lib Dem they have one of those already nor is it because I may be a future parliamentary candidate they also have links to a number of those.

So I'm at a lose and won't pursue it any further. They have been told and it is at thier discretion who they add to their blog roll. But as I do seem to be the highest ranked (according to Total Politics) of the currently active Scottish Political Bloggers not to warrant a link I could fume a little if I wanted. Consider the fuming over though.

Kerryn McCann 1967-2008

There are times when reading the obituaries really hits home, today was one of those days. Kerryn McCann the Australian marathon runner and I would have been starting out taking athletics seriously at about the same time, she was a little over 16 months older than me.
Her last race was probably her best, not in terms of time that had been in London 6 years earlier, but in terms of effort. the mother of two had battled with Hellen Cherono Koskei of Kenya over 26 miles in the Commonwealth Games marathon in her homeland of Australia. With a mile to go Koskei timed her effort to try and break the defending champion but McCann responded determined to to give up her title without giving her all. Each increase in speed from the Kenyan was met by the Aussie athlete and they entered the stadium side by side. Then with 200m to go McCann kicked for home and Koskei was spent. You don't often see sprint finishes in the marathon, far fewer in the stadium finishes at the major championships, even fewer still where the home favourite is the one who takes to the front.
Following that win she took time out to have her third child, but at six months noticed a lump on her breast. She did not notify her doctor until her child was born, six weeks premature at the end. However, after treatment it was initially thought that the cancer had been sucessfully treated. However, it returned in her liver this year and she passed away on 8 December.
It brings it home that even though initial treatment may be sucessful there is always that ghost over cancer survivors that it can come back, more virulent, less treatable than before. Just like my own father that was the case with Kerryn. She may have been able to battle more and more strenous attacks from Koskei just 2 short years ago, but this is one battle she has lost.
Therefore I'm wearing the pink ribbon for the Breast Cancer Campaign on my blog. With my history cancer is most likely going to get me in the end like all my immediate male ancestors so please lend you support where and when you can.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

The Tweeting Twit

Earlier I Tweeted about Sathnam Sanghera's article in the Time's 2 Section this morning about Tweeting and Facebook. On reading it I though woo hoo here is a MSM journo who Tweets with impunity.

That was until I visited his Twitter profile to find he's protected his updates is only following 21 people and has only posted 8 updates. Reckon he logged on yesterday merely to write his article at the behest of his editor. What a Twit? Both he and his editor if that is the case.

If Age is No Limit on Safety

The Blood Transfusion Service has announced plans to extend existing donors ability to give blood beyond their 70th birthday. It is a move seen as increasing the available pool as blood by about 15,000 donation per annum (of course with the addition of my Y Chromosome the odds of me getting that far based on familial precedent are slim). It will not apply to new donors who must start before their 65th birthday as at present and donations must be within 2 years of the last donation made to continue this extension. The service said that:

"given the steady improvement we have seen over recent years in the general
fitness of our older donors, it is now safe for us to remove our upper age limit
for donation."

So NHS Blood and Transplant are able to lift arbitrary provisions when they see that it is safe to do so. Which leads to the other arbitrary limit that does hit the headlines. Men who have had sex with another man, either orally or anally, with or without protection.

The Blood Transfusion Service will argue about men who continue to practice having sex with other men seeing as it is a high risk group. Something that while many in that group feel aggrieved about can see some justification in the argument from the statistics. However, while a woman who has had sex with a man so excluded can give 12 months after that relationship is terminated, a man who may have experimented in his past whether 2, 10, 20 or 30 years ago cannot. Is there not some way that such a group can been shown as safe after all this time? Especially as they are as at risk as those already included in the service's "donor selection rules".

When will the service see such men as being now safe? Indeed how are they certain that the simple question asked by such a group is not already by passed by any of their donors? If it is so far in their past it may be something that certain people may consider an irrelevance to their donating and makes the policing of such an arbitrary ban almost impossible to enforce.

If the Blood Transfusion Service is using word's like safety, fitness regarding their older donors they should look at what they do consider safe, prudent etc on some of their other arbitrary limitations.

Monday 15 December 2008

A Sombering Map on the BBC

Christmas really is a time for families and I really am looking forward to being terrorised spending time with my nephews.

However, the BBC have published a map of the 70+ victims aged 10-19 of murder or manslaughter in 2008. Sadly those families will be missing a youthful cog in their celebrations this year.

Double Take on the Graphs

I know I was blogging light last week what with a busy Monday and days off on Thursday and Friday so I didn't expect to see much traffic when I hit the stat meters today. I looked at the graphs for weekly traffic this morning in disbelief as even I recalled not being that bad when I last checked on Wednesday.

Then I realised that the daily chart was measuring in ks rather than hundreds. Gulped on my tea to realise that Wednesday produced 1,314 unique visitors. Sadly as I tweeted on the day most of these seemed to have come from Yahoo news sites and not LDV so I may not make the Golden Dozen on merit. But it appears that both China and Gordon Brown helped soar this blog to its biggest day in history to equal measure.

It was also the first time that visits from the USA surpassed those from the UK when I hadn't been posting about the Presidential Election. So maybe there is hope for the US if they are concerned about international events.

Simon Cowell the Modern Day Lennon?

John Lennon may one have been derided for claiming the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus" well it appears that Simon Cowell actually is more famous that God or the Queen. However the caveat must be added that this is only with the under tens, coming top in a poll pushing God and the Queen into second and third place.

Jesus about whom X Factor winner Alexandra Burke sang on Saturday night came a lowly sixth behind also Father Christmas and Harry Potter.

Of course Alexandra did fail to make the live stages of the X Factor 3 years ago. But of course some of the people who make a name for themselves on the show, the notorious noes, have no talent whatsoever. So therefore with four Olympic cyclists on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year short list of 10 there was a worry that the vote may be split. However, Chris Hoy did make it another triple this year, snatching the overall top prize, with the cycling team pipping Team GB to the team award, and their coach Dave Brailsford taking the Coach of the Year award.

Lewis Hamilton may have won the F1 title but unlike Damon Hill it wasn't an automatic shoe-in for the top prize in what was a spectacular year for Olympic sports with Britain's first gold medalist in the pool for over 40 years Rebecca Addlington completing the top three individuals.

Another triple gold medalist's Jamacan sprinter Usain Bolt won the overseas sports personality, and paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds won the young sports personality award.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Who is this Super Hero?



Mandy the smooth operator?


Gordo the mild mannered prudent Chancellor?

Yes apparently in answer to David Cameron's first question about banking at today's PMQs the Prime Minster said "he has saved the world".
Just how much borrowing has he been doing? How are we going to pay for all this world wide borrowing?
Has the UK now bailed out General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, as well as the banks across the world?
Or was it just an imprudent slip of the PM's tongue?
Could be.

China Declares Contempt for Human Rights: Part the Umpteenth

Following on from the arrest of Guo Quan last month, China have now arrested Liu Xiaobo on Monday. Liu was first jailed for his role in the Tiannanmem Square demonstrations in 1989 and this arrest came hours before the online launch of the "Charter 08".

The Charter signed by 300 scholars, journalists, freelance writers and activists in China marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by calling on greater freedom of expression and the end of one party system. The hope was to bring about democracy and human rights to China.

It most not be forgotten that the host of this years Olympics did promise the IOC and the World that it was going to improve their record on Human Rights as part of the decision to allow them to host th games. Little more than nothing has been done by the Chinese authorities in this direction. The arrest and detention of leading activist for change Liu Xiaobo, Zhang Zuhua, Chen Xi, Shen Younian and Du Heping over recent days shows that China really does need a change they can believe in.

The fact that leading activists for human rights activists in China are being detained over the 60th anniversary of the declaration that they are seeking to get recognised in their homeland shows the calculated contempt and rejection that Chinese authorities show for human rights and freedoms once again.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Oh Dear! Inverse Snob Connarty

Michael Martin I see that Alan Cochrane in the Torygraph has had a right go at local Labour MP, and speaker's defender-in-chief, Michael Connarty about his utterances on Sunday's Politics Show on BBC Scotland.

Frankly Alan took exception once Connarty went off the cue cards issued from the Whips' office i.e. the points that MPs couldn’t be immune from the law and that serious crimes had to be investigated without fear or favour, and turned it into a class issue. Connarty apparently went on to say that the crux of the matter for his friend the speaker Michael Martin was that he was under fire because he was working class.

"The establishment", said Michael M, choosing to forget that it’s Labour that’s been in power for the past 11 years, didn’t want a "working class man in the job." He said he recalled the Tories putting forward someone for the post of Speaker on the basis that he was an Old Etonian and "of the right class".
Well Cochrane quite correctly pointed out that the speakers during the last 16 years of Tory governments, run by the daughter of a grocer and son of a trapeze artist, including rather more working class speakers that Michael C would like us to remember. George Thomas, later Viscount Tonypandy, 1976-83 was the son of miner and a Labour MP to boot. Bernard "Jack" Weatherill (1983-92) may have been a Tory started his adult life as an apprentice tailor. Then there was the former shop assistant from Yorkshire, who became a high-kicking tiller girl for yes Betty Boothroyd (1992-2000) was also Labour.

Maybe Connarty is going as far back as the previous appointee John Selwyn Lloyd (1971-76) who after all went to a Public School, before going up to Magdalen College, Cambridge. So obviously being a Oxbridge graduate and Old Fettesian must not be the right combination for Michael C and we should all clearly leave off Micheal M. But isn't that just the sort of person that he served under as Prime Minister for 10 years, OK the University is wrong but the school is an exact match.

Personally I think it is a speaker who is a friend of Labour whether willfully, through ignorance or through looking the other way, allowing Labour's draconian anti-terror laws to be used yet again too heavy handedly. That has only one thing to do with class and that is failure to behave with any not how one was "brung up".

I'm only upset that I missed the original airing of the programme, but then again I'm liable to have been shouting at the screen or worse if I'd heard such clearly ungrounded drivel. So I spared my neighbours a good old rant no doubt.

Not to be! That is the Answer

Whether 'tis a pain in the back to suffer,
Aft' surviving the arrows of outrageous reviews,
Or to take on stage actual human skull,
And by resting end pain? To miss: perchance press night.
(with apologies to W. Shakespeare esq.)

Yeah the news is that David Tennant had to pull out of last night's performance of Hamlet due to an ongoing back injury. With the production having just transferred from the home of the Bard in Stratford to London's Novello Theatre. Whether the Time Lord actor will be able to take to the stage tonight to appear alongside that Shakespearean captain of the Enterprise Patrick Stewart remains to be seen, depending on on the actor feels today.

A Sad Little Engine Whistles the Last Post

Pssst ga poo, psst ga poo, psst ga poo.

Oh look here comes Ivor the Engine with Jones the Steam on the footplate. But Ivor is approaching Merioneth station in a rather mournful way. Dai Station is standing on the platform with a black armband on.

A yawn is heard from the first carraiage. Followed by "Nyah, nyah, nyah. Would you mice make sure he stays awake can't have us all falling asleep just because he does."

"Oh yes, Professor Yaffle, " piped up little Charlie Mouse. As Madeline, Gabriel and the mice from the mouse organ all help a pink and white cat out unto the platform.

And who's this. Why it's Noggin the Nog who'd sailed into port just this morning, to catch this very sad journey. He's decided not the slay the soup dragon who was in the same carriage along with a collection of strange looking aliens from the moon who speak in whistles that are strangely comprehensible here on earth.

But why are all this people gathered here?

Oh the big oaken casket coming out of the guards van tells us why. Oliver Postgate their creator has passed away at the ripe old age of 83.

Thanks for a lifetime of glorious childhood, and beyond, memories.

Monday 8 December 2008

Now Tweeting

As some of you have already noticed I've finally got around to using Twitter. I think on some days, like today, when I don't have time to blog as normal I will be able to microblog and at least let you know what is going on in the side bar here and on Twitter.

You can follow my Tweets through my user name stephenpglenn.

Friday 5 December 2008

What's Behindthebeardbook?

Up-Helly-Aa as they say in northern parts. The Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott, or as Lionel would say, Mister Viking Leader, has gone and got himself a page on Facebook, probably a good job he isn't guizing on his new Facebook page then. So far lots of lovely, lovely lib demmy people have already scurried over to be his supporter, and more are on their way I'm sure, they need a pointer in the right direction that's all.

Now admittedly it may not be a lot to get oneself a page on Facebook but neither Iain Gray or Annabel Goldie have one, so Tavish is the only opposition party leader in Holyrood to have one.
Hoozah! All of this in plenty of time for next year's burning of a Viking longboats by men of the Isles with Facebehindthebeardbook profiles.
So if you are, or nor any lib demmy sort who would want to support Tavish on his new page just point them here.

Price Of Christmas is Up

Following on from my post on how the credit crunch is affecting the Twelve Days of Christmas it would appear courtesy of the guys at Christmas Price Index that the price of the traditional song is up 10.9% by traditional shopping or 1.8% on the interweb on 2007.

The total song for the Twelve days would cost $86,608.51 by traditional shopping, but $131,150.76 online. While most shopping online will bring benefits in saving it is the Lord's once again who don't like having their leaping antics sold in such a modern way (at least not the cheaper Lords).

By traditional reckoning the major price increases are in the various birds (with the exception of the french hens and geese) which all have increased by 33.3%, the more traditional egg layers have decreased by this amount.

The gold rings have surprising dropped in value over last year, whatever happened to the price of gold going up in a financial crisis, but the milking maids appear to have earned a inflation busting 12% pay increase in the last 12 months.

There is Hope For Local LIT

Although the idea of the Scottish Tories was to get an airing for their reformed reformed Poll Council Tax, the vote yesterday in Holyrood for the Abolition of the Council Tax Bill to debate all proposals on the table paves the way for various alternatives to be looked at. It may also be a face saving way for the SNP to not implement a 3p Scottish National Income Tax, which seems to break all sorts of binds to Local Authority accountability, without losing too much face. That is of course if Alex Salmond actually listen to the will of Parliament, which would be a nice change.

Of course there is the Lib Dem proposal for a true Local Income Tax and the Green's proposal of Land Value Tax to be considered in the mix. It may please James @ The Two Doctors to know that over the years at various party conferences I have been at fringe events looking at LVT as well as LIT so I know there are benefits to each, just as everyone will also be pointing out there are disadvantages in both (or for that matter any tax system). However, looking at what is on offer in the essence of fairness the ability to pay has to be paramount LVT is still linked somewhat to the property you live in, irrelevant of when you purchased that, while closing up a few loopholes for acquisition of land and leaving it empty and unused.

One thing that recent Labour shenanigans at Westminster over taxes is clear though is that reform is needed. For years now under Labour and the Conservatives our tax burden has been increasingly borne by those less able to pay it while those most able have been getting greater and greater tax breaks. A friend of my said yesterday that they had overheard an elderly couple out food shopping and putting something back because the price was a mere ten pence higher than previously and outwith their budget.

It's not just the credit crunch that is affecting the worse off though it has been the tax squeeze from Labour stealth taxes and high earner breaks, which they picked up and ran with from the Tories that has been endemic in the system for long enough. We need to sort out the tax and benefit system, make it comprehensible, fair and based on ability to pay and true need.

Thursday 4 December 2008

Lucozade All Eck Wants for Christmas

Apparently the Rev I.M. Salmond First Minister to the new kirk of Holyrood wants a year's supply of Lucozade™ for Christmas. Well this does raise the questions is that in bottles or cans? How many bottles/cans does he get through in a day? What capacity bottle (if bottle is preferred option) does he use? Also does his dentist know he drinks this many sugary drinks on a daily/yearly basis? And if so, what has the First Minister's dentist got the say about it?

I follow commend Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott's wish on this wish list, though it will be somewhat delayed in delivery. He like me is hoping that Liverpool maintain their current position in the Premier League when the final, final whistles of the season are blown. For those not au fait with football that would mean Liverpool have finally won a title for the first time since 1989-90, the first under the Premier League brand and will help to keep the marauding Manchester United at bay from equalling our record of titles for at least another 2 seasons.

The Labour Leader Iain Gray wants Barack Obama's Ray-Bans™. These are probably so he can attend an East Lothian constituency party function without drawing attention to himself.

Meanwhile elsewhere Margo MacDonald clearly wants to be Willie Wonka by wanting a whole chocolate factory, maybe Margo is going to attempt euthanasia by death by chocolate. Margaret Mitchell is a bit Michael Jackson-esque is wishing for a chimpanzee and Willie Coffee wants a Star Trek™ phaser gun (this is available just up the hill from the Parliament and down South Bridge at Forbidden Planet™), unless of course he wants a fully functioning model in which case he may have to wait until after Montgomery Scott is born in Linlithgow.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Brown "Entirely Hold High Office": Smith

by Martin Rowson in the Grauniad
One of the problems with Jacqui Smith protesting innocence and the high ground quite so much about the whole Damian Green scenario is her choice of words. Take this example:

'Ms Smith added that for Mr Grieve and Mr Cameron to assert that the systematic leaking of government material was not serious as it did not relate to national security was "wholly irresponsible and entirely unfit for those who seek to hold high office". '

Where does one start? Systematic leaking of government material by an opposition MP, not taken as serious as it did not "always" relate to matters of national security but as part of their duties. Perhaps as Jacqui Smith points out these matters should be taken seriously and the Met should be checking into these leaks listed by Daniel Finklestein, especially as the one in July 1991 from the Defence Department. As this individual not only sought high office but has actually attained the highest one. As the last of Finklestein's quotes from the start of the current Labour regime puts it:

"None of us has the first sodding idea about what government means, whether any of us will be any good at it, or even what being good at it means....... Some of my colleagues have made a career out of being a conduit for leaks from the Civil Service to the press. That's hardly going to be much good in government."

So Jacqui, it seems actually to have been highly appropriate practice for those seeking to hold high office just over 11 years ago. Indeed more or less a career step for some to reach the highest office in the land or ennoblement via the European Commission.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Vatican Backs Death to Homosexuals

I've altered the title slightly from Malc to whom a hat tip is due. But the impact is the essence of the story.

The Vatican are mixing up a decriminalisation of homosexuality with a move to civil partnerships or even same sex marriage it would seem. They are opposing a UN resolution calling on all Governments worldwide to "decriminalise" homosexuality.

The resolution is merely aimed at the 80 countries who outlaw same sex-relations in all circumstances, and the 9 states or regions within a state where the mandatory sentence for being homosexual is the death penalty. Indeed the draft resolution makes no mention of the Churches main concern, as cited my Archbishop Celestino Migliore, same-sex marriage that is not on the agenda merely the upholding of human rights for all. Rama Yade the French Minister of Human Rights and Foreign Affairs is raising this draft resolution on behalf of the EU, of whom the French currently hold the rotating Presidency, along with violence against women before the General Assembly of the UN when they meet between December 15th and 20th.

Sadly the church of Rome cannot discern what is an act of basic human rights, that to live or be free, from its own prejudices.

The 12 Days of Credit Crunch

Due to the recession my true love is making cut backs this year.

So On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love is planning to send to me:

Twelve Turkey Drummers
Eleven Red Hot Chilli Piper Downloads
Ten Neds a Fleeing
Nine Laddettes Pouting
Eight things Made in Beijing
Seven Swan match boxes
Six Cheesey lines Goose fat lined tins
Five Cur-tain Rings
Four Calling Cards
Three Bic Pens
Two Turtle Necks
and a poached Partridge egg in Pear Jus

Chipped and HIV+

The Papua province of Indonesia has controversially proposed a law to implant microchips into citizens living with HIV. Papua has one of the worse infection rates outside Africa but the measures which also include mandatory testing, tattooing of carriers and special ID cards for those that test positive sound awfully like some of the anti-Semitic measures taken by the Third Reich.

The microchip technology is the modern version of travel permits being able to track the whereabouts of the victims of this disease. However, with much of the Papuan population cut of from towns, electricity or phone coverage even the effectiveness of such measures proposed by the Indonesian government would seem ludicrous. The aim of the chips is to seek out those who are "sexually aggressive", the meaning of which is defined by John Manangsang a lawmaker as "actively seeking sexual intercourse."

The country's AIDS Commission has said the provision is not just unworkable in Papua but a violation of human rights. "How can someone know if a person is having sex or jumping and dancing?" said the commission's secretary Nafsiah Mboi. Instead of branding and tracking HIV+ citizens help and medical care should be high on the agenda.

Top Thai Party Banned

No doubt the prospect of banning the Labour Party whilst possibly a fleeting pleasant thought across Damian Green's brain will not come to fruition here in the UK despite the news from Thailand.

The constitutional court in Thailand has dissolved the ruling People Power Party and two of its coalition partners the Machima Thipatai party and the Chart Thai party for fraud and buying votes in last year's elections. The parties' leaders including the Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat have also been banned from politics for five years. The majority of the parties' MPs will be allowed to keep their seats in the parliament but under another party name, they have promised to form a new government.

Mr Somchai is the brother-in-law of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and ex-chairman of Manchester City Football Club. Thaksin earlier this year broke his own bail, while visiting the Beijing Olympics, from charges of corruption for which he was sentenced in absentia to 2 years in jail.

Monday 1 December 2008

World Aids Day: Still There is Ignorance

To mark the 20th World AIDS Day much of the media has been running stories over the weekend and today. However, in Friday's times next to the tales of four people living with HIV/AIDS there was also a startling reminder that there is a lot of ignorance still out there.

Those of us who lived through the 1980's early campaign Don't Die of Ignorance will definitely be shocked at the amount of ignorance that the article threw up.

Amongst some of the startling levels of ignorance were:

"One person in three living with HIV in the UK doesn't know that he or she
is infected, putting their health and that of their sexual partners at risk.
Undiagnosed HIV is responsible for about half of all new infections.

"For many people the diagnosis is too late for them to start treatment. The
virus is more likely to be diagnosed late in heterosexual men (42 per cent) and
women (36 per cent) than in gay or bisexual men (19 per cent). A late diagnosis
is 13 times more likely to lead to death within a year.

"In a recent survey, only 79 per cent of respondents knew that HIV can be
transmitted through unprotected sex between a man and a woman, compared with 91 per cent in 2000."

Sadly after 20 years it is still ignorance that leads to more unnecessary deaths in the UK, but sadly the level of ignorance appears to be growing again.