Friday, 21 December 2007

Things may go quiet over the next couple of weeks

I finish work later today and, after going for Xmas dinner, will be out of the office until the 7th of January. The first few days will be spent with Catherine and her family in Perth, returning to sunny (not -5 degrees c this morning) Ayrshire for the rest of the holiday. I'll have to take limited chances to get on the internet in Perth and I only have dial up at home, so you may all get a blessed relief from my ramblings for a couple of weeks - on the other hand, I may feel the need to vent my spleen now and again.

Anyway, I hope that you all have a festive season which meets with your wishes.
Happy New Year for 2008! (hic)

The Clegg reshuffle

Well the rest of the Lib Dem blogosphere has had their say on Nick's reshuffle so I suppose that I should add my two pence worth:
Congratulations to Chris on his deserved promotion.
Congratulations also to Danny & Willie on their respective jobs.
Not enough women in senior places when there are talented and able women available.
Well, that's it.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Christmas pros and cons

As usual around this time of year someone accuses me of being a Bah Humbug Scrooge as I'm often found muttering darkly about various aspects of this holiday which I don't care for. Being an Atheist I have no religious reasons for liking Christmas but I am particularly keen on socialising with family and friends. So, here's a list of my Christmas pros and cons. please feel to add your own suggestions to the list.

PRO
- good time to socialise with family and friends.
- wonderful food.
- getting to drink things like mulled wine and eggnog.
- giving and getting gifts.
- see kiddies reactions on Christmas morning.
- Dotor Who Christmas special.
- some other decent tv
- European Parliament Office in Scotland's annual end of year reception.
- chocolate gingers.
- Christmas markets.

CON
- shopping hell!
- the amount of people in supermarkets buying enough food to survive a nuclear winter.
- Christmas stuff appearing in the shops in September.
- feeling like a lemon in the women's lingerie section of Fraser's. I escaped this year ;-)
- masses of people in pubs who don't know how to behave and think it's clever to tap money on the bar counter in a vain attempt to attract the attention of a member of the bar staff.
- getting a card from someone whom you hadn't sent one to when it's too late to get one in the
post.
- never getting a white Christmas.
- over eating and over drinking.
- wrapping presents.
- public transport meltdown.
- Santa hats and reindeer antlers (particular hatred of Santa hats in old firm colours).
- 90% of TV being crap.
- the racket from "neds on ice" which takes place in George Square for 4 weeks in the run up. (this deserves a post of it's own)
- office nights out (excluding my own of course!)
- the train to the office being full of 'ladies who lunch'.




I guess that more will be added as my bile gland refills or my goodwill to all meter is replenished.

Update: Friday 21st December 15:00
Well the bile gland has refilled first so here are a few more CONS:
- bagpiping buskers.
- red cowboy hats with white "fur" trim.
- shopping in Glasgow the last Friday before Christmas.
- availability of taxis.
- women using prams & pushchairs as battering rams.

A question to First ScotRail

As someone who regularly travels from Irvine to Edinburgh, usually with a stopoff in my Glasgow Office, I was rather perturbed to find out that it is cheaper to purchase a return from Irvine to glasgow and a return from Glasgow to Edinburgh than it is to buy a return from Irvine to Edinburgh. Cheaper by 75p in fact.

I have posed this question verbally to First Scotrail's "Customer Liaison Team" and got no satisfactory answer whatsoever. They have now booted my query upstairs and I await an answer. In the meantime I suggest that if this anomaly exisits on one journey it is likely to exist on others. I also must ask why they are ripping customers off in this manner?

Watch this space!

Salmond hauled before Holyrood Committee over Trump

First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond is to appear before Holyrood's Local Government Committee, which has decided to investigate the Scottish Government's interference over Trump's application to build a large development on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire.

There would have been a public inquiry were it not for the Tories siding, as usual, with the Gnats thus the Lib Dem's and Labour had insufficient votes to force the issue. I really feel that the Tories, allegedly the most pro-Union party, are playing a very dangerous game in sooking up to the gnats as they are putting the Union in peril. despite the odd rogue poll the vast majority of ordinary Scots do not want independence. Herald journalist Douglas Fraser cracked the nail on the head when he said on his blog "Is there any hole out of which the Tories will not dig their Nationalist chums?"

Anyway, others appearing before the committee will include Scotland's Chief Planner Jim McKinnon, Fiance Secretary John Swinney and the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council.

Belated congratulations to Nick

It's not through any grand huff that I haven't yet blogged my sincere congratulations to Nick and sympathies to Chris, for whom I voted, it's simply that I've not had he time thanks to a Scottish all members mailing being sent from Edinburgh HQ.

My congratulations to Nick is genuine - I always felt and have gone on record as such that whoever of the two contenders we chose we would have a first class new leader. The one suprise was that the result was so close. Some of the Clegg team seemed, at times, to believe their own propoganda about being miles ahead.

One disappointment however was that only 64.4% of members bothered to vote.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Sheridan charged with perjury

After 6 hours of questioning Tommy Sheridan has been charged with perjury by Lothian & Borders Constabulary. He has been released from Police custody. More to follow in due course.
This one is going to be the "talk o' the steamie" here in the West of Scotland!

Tommy the Trot "helping police with their enquiries"

Former MSP & former Leader of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), Tommy Sheridan, has been arrested by 3 detectives from Lothian & Borders Police at 13.10hrs this afternoon.

It seems his arrest is to answer questions which allege perjury during last year's victory in his defamation case against the News of the World. Much to the surprise of many Scots, Sheridan was cleared by a jury at the end of the 4 week trial. The News of the World described his win as "perverse" and threatened to appeal.

During the trial 4 of the SSP's 6 MSP's testified against Sheridan and one colleague backed him.
The other upshot of the trial was that the SSP split wide open, with Sheridan setting up another Trot party titled "Solidarity" (sic). At the subsequent Scottish Parliament Elections in May 2007 all 6 lost their seats, including Irvine based Rosemary Byrne (someone whose views I strongly disagree with, but greatly respect the hard work she put in for her constituents).

That's about all that is known for now but I suspect that there will be further developments in the next few days.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Act now to stop these stupid truckers

I agree that fuel prices are too high at the moment which seriously affects rural dwellers who have to use a car, but the news that hauliers and farmers are to stage a fuel protest convoy on Saturday really gets my goat.

Thank you for clogging up the M74, M8, M9 & A80 just 10 days before Christmas. Thank you for blockading Ineos plant at Grangemouth and scaring the hell out of people that fuel supplies may well be affected. If there's a petrol panic it will be these bullies to blame and not the Government.

In effect these people are asking the Government to give their industries extra subsidies. Well, sorry folks but the taxpayer cannot afford to subsidise every industry and I cannot accept that the road haulage sector is the most efficient in the world. This country needs more freight moving by rail and water and less by road, if for no reason other than the environment. A word of congratulations to WH Malcolm for their very busy rail-road depot which has opened between Johnstone & Paisley, which I pass twice a day commuting to and from work (by train). The business world is harsh and competitive and only the strongest survive, which is a hard truth of our economic system.

Oh yes, how many of the participants will be using reduced duty 'red diesel'?

So Mr Salmond and the Scottish government, are you going to instruct the relevant police forces to restrict the numbers involved and stop road chaos on Saturday, which will probably be the busiest shopping day of the year or are you going to give in to fuel fool bullies?

Nice one Nicol!

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Nicol Stephen played a blinder at yesterday's First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parly.

He suggested that the Scottish Government's involvement in trumpgate "smells of sleaze" and that " This is a serious situation for the first minister and his government. Every step of the way there is contradiction, concealment and cleverness from his government on this issue." He also called, justifiably, for an independent public inquiry into the issue.

I honestly believe that this has been the best direct hit on Eck and his government since they took power back in May and helps to prove the argument that with Labour being all over the shop, the Toris chumming up to the gnats and refusing to be an opposition at all, we in the Scottish Lib Dems are the real opposition to this gnat government.

Well done Nicol and more of the same please - it certainly puts heart into your troops.

Sign the TRUMPOFF petition on the Downing Street website

If, like me, some Aberdeenshire Councillors, SNH, RSPB Scotland etc., you believe that the proposed Donald Trump development should not go ahead in it's currently proposed form, then please go to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/trumpoff/sign and sign up to the petition which is on the Downing Street website.

I know that planning is reserved but it's a matter of showing solidarity.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Gnats U-turn on nuclear power

Well the honeymoon period for the Gnats so called "Scottish Government" is well and truly over, I'm pleased to say. For far too long this ill-assorted group of whingers, held together only by desire to destroy the Union, have been getting an easy ride from the Scottish media and, in particular, by the serious press (I can't with hand on heart call them quality press).

In the latest in a long line of broken promises, u-turns and flip-flops, they have now decided to approve British Energy's plans to extend the life of Hunterston B nuclear plant, which is 14 miles from my front door in Ayrshire, for 5 more years until 2016, with the possibility of another extension after that. A plant which incidentally, is only working at 60% capacity for safety reasons.

Here's what their 2007 manifesto had to say on nuclear power:

"No to Nuclear
As a starting point a Scotland led by the SNP will say no to new nuclear – power stations
or dumps. An SNP government will make clear that Scotland does not require a new nuclear
power station.


We will involve all of Scotland in the preparation of extensive and effective clean energy
legislation.


It is important for Scotland that we have comprehensive legislation to take forward our clean
energy ambitions. We will therefore bring together stakeholders on a cross-party and non-party
basis so that we can agree a joint approach to clean energy legislation and introduce a bill in the
second year of government that can attract a consensus in parliament."


Yes, yes, yes, I know that there is plenty of wriggle room in their but they have positioned themselves for years as being anti nuclear power and all behind green energy. It's quite pathetic that at the first test of their claims, they failed miserably.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not dogmatically anti-nuclear. If the nuclear power industry could safely reuse their waste for future energy production whilst keeping us safe from radioactive contamination, if we didn't have radioactive beaches in northern Scotland, if we did not use any nuclear materials for weapons, if we didn't have convoys of nuclear material criss- crossing the country, then, and only then, would I be willing to support nuclear energy. Until then I stick with the old adage that "the only safe fast breeder is a rabbit".

26 Aberdeenshire councillors & a "First Minister" with questions to answer

News has just broken that Councillor Martin Ford has been sacked as Convener of the Council's Infrastructure services Committee by 26 votes to 10. This is because he, following customary practice, gave his casting vote on the hugely controversial Donald Trump development which was planned for the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire. This is craven behaviour by the Councillors who voted to sack Martin and seems like vindictive political behaviour of the crassest sort.

An emergency meeting of the full Council is also to be called. The "Scottish Government" has also "called-in" the decision, which the Council cannot overturn themselves, as they bollocked up their rules which meant that the Infrastructure Services Committee has final say on major decisions like this rather than Full Council.

In another interesting development in this ongoing saga, it seems that Gnat First Minister, Alex Salmond, used his Ministerial limo to travel to a meeting with Trump's underlings the night before his "Scottish Government" called-in the planning decision to have the final say on the proposal. Salmond cannot comment on the planning process and may well have broken the Ministerial Code of Conduct by using his official limo to attend this meeting. Salmond has also recently been wined and dined by Donald Trump in New York.

I had been in two minds about this proposal but the bullying behaviour of the Trump organisation, the destruction of a SSSI and the opinion of people whose views I respect have brought me round to opposition. Perhaps if the Trump lot had been a little more flexible over the site then a decent compromise could have been reached.

If the Gnat "Scottish Government" overturn this planning decision then they will have prostituted Scotland and all they will then be doing is haggling about the price to have international capitalist's F*** us over.

LATE EXTRA: I now understand that 3 Councillors were absent from the meeting today and 29 chose to abstain on the vote.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Blogging holiday as we're off to Budapest

By this time tomorrow, all being well, Catherine and I shall be winging our way from Rabbie Burns International to Budapest and, quite frankly, I can't wait! We're only away for three nights but I really need to get away and Budapest is a place neither of has visited before.

Catherine particularly wants to visit the Christmas market, Castle District & The Labyrinth. I'm keen on seeing the Parliament, Miltary Museum, House of Terror Museum and the Unicum Distillery. I suspect that we may well end up going to one of the spas or thermal baths.

So folks, that's the good news for you - no more blogging from me until Wednesday and then the bad news, I'll be boring you all about Budapest for days then wittering on about our intended trip to Riga in February.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Lib Dem Councillor assaulted over planning rejection

My friend and Conference Committee colleague Councillor Debra Storr (Ellon & Distric Ward of Aberdeenshire Council) was assaulted by an angry women who was indignant over Debra's vote against giving planning permission to American billionaire Donald Trump's plans to build a hotel, golf course and 1500 houses.

Here is Debra in her own words as recounted to the BBC:
"There was a knock on my door and a woman who was somewhat upset gave a stream of obscenities relating to the Trump application. "

"She stepped over the doorstep and pushed me. I think she was slightly surprised at what she had done. She left with the parting words 'I will get you'. "

"I was very upset, it's very disturbing. I was just doing what I thought was right. You do not expect as a councillor to be subjected to intimidation."

Speaking about the vote, and her hopes for a revised application: "There were so many problems with the application that it was clear it should be turned down. I hope the Trump Organisation comes back."

Welcome to the World Jennifer Mary Smith

Heartfelt congratulations to Ruby & Nick on the birth of their Daughter at 3.20pm yesterday.
Jennifer Mary Smith weighed 8lb 5oz and is healthy as is Mum. Dad is trying to catch up with some sleep and it seems that Altrincham Town have a new supporter, if Nick is to be believed. Uncle Iain and Aunt Catherine hope to see you all on Sunday.

Ruby gave birth to a wee girl tonight

This post is being written through tears of joy.

Ruby had a wee girl tonight!!!

That's all I can tell you for the moment as that's all the information that I have for now.

When I stop crying I may be able to put some lucid thoughts together, but for the moment all I can do is congratulate Roobz and Nick on the birth of their Daughter. What's her name and what does she weigh? Are Mum and Daughter well and healthy? Is Dad still sober?

Suddenly, the world is a more beautiful place.

Councillor Ruby Kirkwood is the Lib Dem Group Leader on North Ayrshire Council and the youngest Lib Dem Group Leader in Scotland.

Still crying tears of joy

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Farage is on Question Time - Boring, boring, boring

Well it's a case of him ranting, raving and being his usual blethering idiot. He's boring, wrong and totally irrelevant to Scotland. I'd rather watch the proverbial paint dry so off to bed with a good book. Night night.

P.S. Labour and Broon seem totally stuffed. Wonder what the bookies would offer for a GE on the 1st Thursday in June 2009? ( Next Euro Parl election day)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Double whammy of bad news

It's turning out to be a right old bad news day after all. first up comes the news that Alex McLeish is giving up the Scotland manager position in order to become Manager of Birmingham bloody city - something I was confidently predicting that he would not do last night.

Second up is BNFL announcing that Hunterston in Ayrshire is one of their potential sites for next generation nuclear reactors. The site at Hunterston is 14 miles from my front door and has had nuclear power stations there for as long as I can remember. The fact that reactor A is done with and reactor B is coming to the end of it's natural life meant that we could look forward to life in Ayrshire without the threat of a nuclear accident hanging over us. BNFL's announcement this afternoon has kicked that idea into touch unless we get campaigning against it pretty dammed soon. You can be sure that I'll be writing a lot more about this in the future!

Anonymous posting on this blog

I have had to take the decisions to put comment moderation and to refuse anonymous posts on this blog. Any anonymous comments prior to 19th November will remain.

Perhaps this is a result of the increased traffic that I've been getting and it certainly wasn't a decision that I took without some serious thought.

Please remember: THIS BLOG DOES NOT ACCEPT ANONYMOUS POSTS

Monday, 26 November 2007

Bye bye Saj

So Saj Karim (MEP NW England) has buggered off and joined the Tories in a major cream puff. Oh dearie, dearie me my morale has shot through the floor - not!

I can't remember if I've actually met the guy during one of my various trips out to Brussels (speaks volumes for him in it's own right), but the general word on the street amongst those with ears to the ground in Brussels is that he wasn't in the first division amongst LDEPP.

A few comments from Saj:

On Human Rights: "This is just another example of how the Labour and Conservative parties are completely aligned on stripping away our human and civil rights..."

On Conservative Homophobia: With their failure to support a resolution condemning discriminatory remarks by political and religious leaders targeting homosexuals, the Tories have shown their true colours." "Their apathy in the face of rising homophobia should come as no surprise. The Conservative camp is today rife with contradiction. Cameron attempts to paint a glossy image of a gay-friendly party in the UK while desperately trying to get into bed at European level with Poland's homophobic 'Law and Justice' party."

On Kashmir: "I can honestly say that that whilst the British Conservative and Labour delegations were trying to make political capital out of the human rights situation of the Kashmiri people, the Liberal Democrats and Greens were the only MEPs to vote on the substance of the amendments, regardless of who their authors were."

On Animal Welfare: "...it is an issue that the Liberal Democrats in Europe take very seriously. The fact that the Tories have adopted such an untenable position on animal welfare indicates how out of touch they are with the European consumer. Astonishingly, the Tories were against the mandatory labelling of products to ensure the traceability and quality of food and related products"

On Education: "There are very clear differences between what the Liberal Democrats say and what the Conservatives and Labour are saying. For a start we say very very clearly that there ought to be a standard of education that is available right across the board. We don't accept that specialist schools of the sort that are being proposed by both Labour and Conservatives are the way forward. That's the first distinction that we make." "What the Labour Party have done since they have come into power is carry forward the Conservative policies so far as bringing forward league tables, creating greater discrepancy in the provinces of the standard of education that is being provided. This is not acceptable..."

I wonder if his departure is in any way related to the fact that he came a poor second to Chris Davies MEP in the recent Euro selection contest for NW England, or am I being cynical?

My vote is in the post for Chris Huhne

Despite the hand written postcard from Willie Rennie MP (someone I have got huge respect for) asking me to support Nick my vote was posted off today and I voted for Chris Huhne.

There were a number of reasons I voted Huhne but the most significant were probably:
1. I know Chris and get on well with him on a personal basis.
2. I feel Chris is slightly more of a "Social Liberal" than Nick is.
3. The block support for Nick by Scottish MPs who have declared raised my hackles as it did during the last Leadership campaign.
4. Although he didn't commit to unilateral nuclear disarmament his position on trident is a lot closer to mine than Nick's

I wish Chris all the best in the campaign and can assure him that I have been active in delivering him a fair number of other votes from across Scotland.

In conclusion I must state that I think Nick will be a good leader too, just not quite as good as Chris. Whoever wins we will have a great opportunity to move forward united and passionate about changing Britain for the better. Lets all get on with making our society a much more liberal place to be.

Friday, 23 November 2007

A bad case of imploding Trots

There was a by-election in Dundee's Lochee ward yesterday. Lochee isn't classic Lib Dem territory so it was good to see our candidate Christopher Hall securing a creditable 3rd place with 435 1st preferences.

Both the SSP and their breakaway former colleagues Solidarity (aka the Tommy Sheridan appreciation society) stood candidates. The SSP candidate got 55 votes and the Solidarity candidate 57. The really strange part is that when the SSP votes were re-distributed only 8 went over to Solidarity.

Message to Trots: Unity really is strength!

All quiet on the Euro selection front

We in the Scottish Lib Dems are in the middle of the process to select our party list for the 2009 European elections. As an employee of the current MEP, who is retiring, I'm making no public pronouncements about who I'm supporting to replace her.

However I shall make one public comment on this election: Are you shy folks? There are 8 of you running for top of the list but only one of you has been in touch to ask for my 1st preference. Speaking to friends and relatives across Scotland I find that most of them have been only contacted by one candidate. It's an open contest so why so reticent?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

This is akin to watching a car crash in slow motion

As a Scot I am happy to support England at Fitba', unless they are playing against us or Trinidad & Tobago. Watching England tonight is turgid, depressing and actually embarrassing.

Everything went England's way on Saturday so why are they playing as if they are scared of the ball tonight? Possibly they are having a "big stage freeze" match, possibly they are not up to the job.

C'mon guys - get your finger out and win the bloody game!

STOP PRESS: England have just got a goal back to make it 1-2 to Croatia.

Well that's over then and none of us will be there. How about getting the Home International idea going then?

Welcome to the world Alexander Hutton

Marvellous news! Our friend Jenny has today brought her 3rd wee boy into the world.

I've been remiss in forgetting to ask Dad, Lewis, what weight the wee fellow was but am utterly delighted for Jenny, Lewis and Alexander's elder siblings Donald and Innes.

Congratulations!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Simply stunning incompetence!

I really cannot credit how the personal details of 25 million people can be lost by HM Revenue & Customs. The details on the disc included names, addresses, dates of birth, national Insurance numbers and bank account details. I know that the civil servant in charge of the department has resigned but this huge mess up really needs Ministerial heads to roll.

Alistair Darling claims that junior officials made the mistake of sending the discs by courier and unrecorded and it seems that he has had this knowledge for about 10 days. It is also claimed that the Police don't "think that the records have fallen into the wrong hands".

This one will run and run methinks.

Monday, 19 November 2007

A little help please folks

What the devil is going on? I put a counter on this blog on Tuesday of last week and for the first 4 days it showed that I was getting about 20 people a day viewing my mutterings, which is what I suspected would be about par. When I logged on on Saturday night I had jumped to about 400 hits and today it has gone totally ballistic - according to the counter I've had around 1500 people having a glance since last night.

I can imagine 3 scenarios:
1. A newspaper or website has picked up on one of my witterings and published the blog address.
2. Some other blogger (obviously very popular) has given me a name check. (Tory Iain Dale is prime suspect)
3. My counter is banjaxed.

If it is option 3 then I'll obvious;y be seriously disappointed, but hey, WTF.

If anyone reading this can shed some light on the matter then I would be very grateful.

Scots Lib Dems inadvertantly censored this blog

As I'm sure you'll all be fed up hearing by now, I recently was in an election to become a Vice Convener of the Scottish Lib Dems.

The rules of engagement state that "no candidate nor any supporter may publish or circulate any material promoting his/her election. This prohibition includes the production of badges, posters, stickers, audio-visual or similar publicity material and any form of mechanical production (including photocopies or carbon copies) or any written material."

I rather suspected that before mentioning my Candidacy on here I should check with the Returning Officer. I duly did so and received a decision that a blog would fall into the rules above. Hence the reason that nowt has been blogged about the election before Friday's declaration.

I would strongly suggest to my fellow Scottish Lib Dems that we need to change these archaic rules before there are any other internal elections contested. It is not very Liberal to censor people, even when it's done accidentally.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Scottish Lib Dem Office Bearers 2008-2009

Further to my earlier post here are the full details of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Office Bearers who shall serve their term from the 1st January 2008 to 31st December 2009.

Leader: Nicol Stephen MSP (re-elected unopposed)

Deputy Leader: Michael Moore MP (re-elected unopposed)

President: Malcolm Bruce MP (re-elected unopposed)

Convener: Audrey Findlay (beat Helen Watt by 758 to 425)

Treasurer: Brian Logan (beat Patricia Carruthers (Catherine's Mum) by 633 to 533)

Vice Convener (Policy): Siobhan Mathers (elected unopposed)

Vice Convener (Campaigns & Candidates): Stephen Peters (elected unopposed)

Vice Convener (Conference): Iain Dale (beat Sheila Ritchie by 592 to 586)

I'm looking forward to serving my term of office and working with the other Office Bearers to improve the standing of the party in Scotland and to see our party become bigger, better and more radical.
many thanks to all who voted for me and sincere commiserations to Sheila Ritchie on losing by such a small margin. As I think Wellington said it was " a dammed close run thing".

Another glorious failure

Sick as the proverbial parrot! Scotland didn't make it to next year's Euro Championships in Austria and Switzerland. I'm sure you all know we lost 1-2 to Italy. However we can take great pride in the way our lads fought to the last in this group and fought with pride, passion and increasing skill. There may be no superstars in our team but the "team spirit" and unity made up for that.

Another upside of this campaign is that we will be 2nd seeds for the World Cup qualifying contest. No one in Scotland need be ashamed of our team any more and I look forward to Scotland getting out of the group stages in South Africa in 2010.

Two better results to note though:
i. Scotland Under 21s beat Slovenia 4-0 away
ii. Irvine Meadow won 4-2 away to Beith in the West of Scotland Premier League

Friday, 16 November 2007

I Won! (by 6 votes on the second recount)

Dale 592
Ritchie 586

As of the 1st of January 2008 I shall be an Office Bearer of the Scottish Liberal Democrats & shall discharge my duty with due diligence. Many thanks to all who voted for me and I promise to implement the manifesto on which I stood. More to follow..........

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Calm down to a frenzy guys

Reading Lib Dem blogs over the last few days, I would strongly suggest that it's time to calm down to a frenzy and start getting life into some form of perspective over the leadership contest.

I'm open about backing Chris for leader but you won't find me posting such incredibly rude headings such as "Just how low will Huhne's supporters go" or "Avoiding the question" as posted by two obviously pro-Clegg supporters. I'm sure that there are similar inflamatory postings by pro-Huhne bloggers too.

Come on folks, we're all going to have to work together after the leadership contest and no matter who wins we should be in a radical, reinvigorated party which will have a clear sense of unity and purpose. My friend Caron http://carons-musings.blogspot.com/ is supporting Nick, I'm supporting Chris and we are sure as hell not going to fall out over this. If we can behave like adults why can't everyone else?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Please vote on Duncan Borrowman's poll

Duncan Borrowman has an interesting poll on his blog, in which he asks the question whether the Spring Federal Conference should become an English Party Conference. I'm firmly in agreement with that suggestion, although I suspect many Lib Dems will have differing views.

Duncan's poll can be found at: http://duncanborrowman.blogspot.com/2007/11/for-sake-of-english-and-scottish-and.html

Let the debate begin!

Monday, 12 November 2007

MoD try to call up 51 year old Lib Dem MSP

A very interesting story from yesterday's edition of Scotland on Sunday:

"His Country Still Needs Him"
For the full text go to: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1788292007

A brief precis and some comments by me:
Before entering politics 51 year old Mike Rumbles MSP (West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine) was a Major in the Army Education Corps. He left the army 13 years ago. Recently the MoD sent him a letter asking him if he would agree to allow his being "called-up" for active service overseas. retired soldiers can be recalled up to the age of 55 in the event of a serious and major conflict. In this case it would be a voluntary call-up and Mike (known to some in the Scottish Lib Dems as "The Galloping Major") is not volunteering. Indeed Mike commented: "If it were in defence of the country then, of course, I would do my bit. But our troops should not be in Iraq in an illegal war." He added: "By the time they have reached me they are through the bottom of the barrel and scraping underneath."

Of course a couple of jingoistic Tory MPs had a bit of a pop at him for not agreeing to be called up to serve in an illegal war.

What state have the Government let our armed forces get into? An absolute stinking mess by all accounts. Not enough servicemen and women, unsuitable equipment - if there is any in the 1st place, low morale and shabby, shoddy living quarters. I don't agree with the war in Iraq either but when our Military are serving overseas and in war zones we must give them our backing and ensure that they have the required resources

Friday, 9 November 2007

Leadership hustings in Edinburgh

Just a wee reminder that the only hustings which is being held in Scotland during the Leadership campaign is taking place in Edinburgh tomorrow (10th November).

The event is being held in The General Assembly Hall, Mound Place, Edinburgh.
It starts at 11am and will finish by 2pm at the latest.

I've decided not to go as I know that I'm voting for Chris Huhne and, probably more importantly, Catherine & I haven't set eyes on each other for over a fortnight!

Congratulations Glasgow 2014


Well then Glasgow has won the chance to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, as has been widely predicted. Glasgow won by 47 votes to 24 for Abuja. Due to the corruption, kidnappings, economic instability and povertyin Nigeria this was not the right time for the games to go to africa. I sincerely hope that the subsequent games will go to africa but to a more stable country.


This is great news for Glasgow and Glaswegians and I look forward to going along to watch some of the events. Well done to all involved with the bid.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Good anti-trident turnout on Saturday


I would reckon a good 2-3000 people turned out on Saturday in Edinburgh to protest against trident. It was particularly interesting to see such a broad cross-section of Scottish Society in attendance. I certainly don't hold much in common with the Communist Party or any Churches bar being anti trident. It was no surprise that Labour & the Tories were the only political parties missing.
The photo of some of the Scottish Lib Dem contingent was taken by my pal Caron Lindsay. a rare treat for me to be in a photo rather than behind the camera.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Liberal Revolution - Chris Huhne's Manifesto for Leader

This is the preface to Chris Huhne's manifesto. The full manifesto can be found at: http://www.chris2win.org.uk/

The Liberal Revolution

“The boldest measures are the safest” – Orde Wingate

Preface
Britain needs a radical party to change our society, not just run it. We need a
party that will breathe trust and faith back into the political process by
speaking honestly about the challenges we face, and the disillusion that so
many of us feel. The task for Liberal Democrats is to revive our antiestablishment
edge, and remember that we are the party that wants to
change the system, not just change the people on the back seat of the
ministerial limousine.

If we do not strive for a fairer society, who will? Social mobility has fallen
under Labour, and inequality has risen. If we do not defend freedoms, who
will? Our hard-won liberties have been steadily eroded since 1997 with the
Conservatives proving themselves fair-weather friends of the fight. If we do
not champion sustainability and the attack on climate change, who will?
Labour and the Conservatives have discovered green rhetoric, but are failing
on green action.

And if we do not revive faith and trust in the political process – through reform
and decentralisation – who will? And what will be the future of a country
whose people have lost trust in their capacity to steer its direction? As Liberal
Democrats, the stakes have never been higher. It is time to set out on a
crusade for Liberal values, and to become an unstoppable movement of
conscience and reform.

Blow for Scot Gnats as only 23% back break up

As reported in virtually all Scottish media this morning, support for independence has fallen to a 10 year low of 23%. This must be a slap in the face for the gnats and their leader Eck. It also confirms that many people voted gnat in May as a way of giving the sitting Scottish Executive partner parties a slap and to tell us to buck our ideas up.

The great news for us in the Scottish Lib Dems is that 55% of Scots favour our long held position of greater powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Only 10% believe that the parliament should be abolished and 8% believe that the Parliament should have no taxation powers.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Jings! SFA make another correct decision

I'm not normally much impressed by the blazers who run the Scottish Football Association but much to my surprise they have today made their second correct call in as many weeks.

Last week they announced that the Rangers and Celtic matches scheduled a few days before the all or nothing qualifier with Italy had been postponed. first time I can recall them so doing and, in the circumstances, an excellent plan.

Today they announced that they are still opposed to a UK team participating in the 2012 Olympic games. This is also a correct call. Why? Well, quite simply a UK team would put us on the slippery slope to UEFA & FIFA saying that there should only be one UK team in the World Cup and European Championships. This would mean the loss of places for Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland & England. I'm quite sure that fans of the four nations involved would not back a British team to the exclusion of there home nations and, quite frankly, this sort of thing gives the Scottish & Welsh Gnats another stick with which to beat the union.

Monday, 29 October 2007

5 MSPs declare for Chris

I'm happy to see that, so far, 5 of our Scottish MSPs have declared their support for Chris in the leadership contest. They are:
Robert Brown MSP for Glasgow
Mike Pringle MSP for Edinburgh South
Jeremy Purvis MSP for Tweeddale, Etterick & Lauderdale
John Farquhar Munro MSP for Ross, Skye & Inverness West
Jamie Stone MSP for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross
It's good to see that the alliegance of elected Parliamentarians in Scotland is beginning to balance up a bit after the early stampede of Scottish MPs to back Nick. I'm sure that there will be further declarations for Chris in the pipeline.

Anti Trident Demo in Edinburgh Saturday coming

I shall be joining many of my Scottish Lib Dem friends in demonstrating against the replacement of Trident on Saturday coming, November 3rd.

Please come along and join Lib Dems, members of other parties and members of no parties to back the growing voice which says that this ridiculous weapons system is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Details:
Assemble: 11.30am outside Scottish Parliament building.
March off: 12 noon
Rally: 1pm Ross Bandstand, Princes Street.
Speakers include: John Barrett MP (Lib Dem, Edinburgh West)

If any English or Welsh Lib Dems would like to attend & need accommodation then please email me and I'll see what can be done to help. iain@ayrshirelibdems.org.uk
More info at: http://www.scotland4peace.org/

Anti Trident? Chris Huhne's your man

I was delighted to read this morning that Chris has come out against replacing Trident and, therefore, against the terrible fudge that is the current Federal Lib Dem policy. I sincerely hope that if Chris wins the Leadership he will re-open this debate and propose a policy that doesn't give us marks on the bum from fence-sitting.

Nick, on the other hand, has gone greatly down in my estimation by saying that he would not be prepared to unilaterally disarm "on a whim in a leadership election." Hardly a constructive comment and perhaps signs that the election is beginning to hot up.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

A Victor Meldrew moment

Victor's catchphrase "I don't believe it!" issued from my mouth a wee while ago. I was popping outside for a ciggie and offered to take the rubbish down for collection. My colleague informed me that we are only allowed to do so at 09.30 hrs each day. It seems that the Fuhrer Bunker A.K.A Labour run Glasgow City Chambers have issued an edict that there is only one time slot each day for businesses to take the rubbish out. It used to be we could drop our sacks by the kerb at any time during business hours and there would be a regular collection service. It also seems that the next door office were fined for this misdemeanour. Wonder if the builders who have a whacking great skip full of junk outside the front door will get pulled up for it? Ridiculous!

Thank you Iain

Not often that I find myself thanking a Tory for anything but the other Iain Dale has put a link on his blog to this humble effort under the Lib Dem Blogs list. There are only 17 on the list and one of them is by someone who was expelled from the party a while back. So, thank you Iain.

Soroptimists at it again!

Having previously posted that the Soroptimists were depriving me of Catherine's company, I have to sadly report that they are at it again. They have their SIGBI Federation Conference in Harrogate from the 1st - 3rd November which means that I shall be denied her company that weekend.

It's fortunate however that Scottish Conference Committee, of which I'm one of the Vice Conveners, are having their debrief meeting on the morning of the 3rd and that the Mighty Irvine Meadow XI FC are drawn away to Linlithgow Rose in the Scottish Junior Cup that afternoon. Just as Long as the meeting is nice and brief I can be at Linlithgow's ground in time to see the 1st and 2nd bookies favourites for the trophy take each other own in what promises to be a cracking tie.

Note to non Scottish readers: Junior football in Scotland has nothing to do with age. The Scottish Junior Football Association is a separate semi-pro association from the SFA. Big fall out way back in the mists of time.

See you in Austria & Switzerland (unless you're English)

Just what we Scots love - backs against the wall and having to win against all the odds! I believe firmly that we will hammer, thrash and monster Italy 1-0 at Hampden next month and qualify for next year's Euro tourney. We have a national characteristic that likes making things difficult for ourselves which is why I was not in the least surprised that we lost to Georgia last night. what did surprise me was the feckless way our lads went about it. How many shots on goal??????

At least we have our fate in our own hands, well at our own feet to be precise. I would hate to be in the situation which England fans find themselves whereby their fate depends on other results. I wonder how long Steve McClaren will last if they don't qualify, especially as the boss of the FA has been on giving him his backing already today.

Message to the SFA - get rid of those horrendous claret shirts NOW!

Celebrating two years together


Two years ago today I escorted a group of Scottish Lib Dems on a trip to visit the European Parliament in Brussels. I remember Elspeth (my employer) seeing who were all going to be in the group and saying words to the effect of "Quick, pass me the liver salts"

Catherine and I had been getting on well for some time and spent a lot of time pounding the streets together during the Livingston by-election. That was when I convinced her to come along on the Brussels visit.

Anyway the visit went well and we all went out for dinner with Elspeth and my Brussels based colleagues then onto the Grande place for some more drinkies. When the Le'Roi D'Espagne slung us out at 01.30hrs I tracked down our friends John, Neil & Ella who were ensconsed in a little bar just off the Grande Place called L'Homo Erectus Classiscus, where we drank until the back of 5 in the morning and where Catherine and I got together.

It's been a good two years, despite the odd row and misunderstanding, I'm very much in love and hoping for many, many more years together. So, my toast to is Catherine and the joy she brings me - the Champagne is in the fridge for tomorrow night.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Scotland must have more than 1 hustings

Last time round there was only one leadership hustings in Scotland, which was held in Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. Whilst Edinburgh has a large party membership it is simply not acceptable to the folks in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dumfies & Galloway, points North and West to traipse to Edinburgh for their only opportunity to hear the candidates.

Whether this is done officially or by mutual agreement of the respective campaign teams it must be organised. Oh yes, can we have venues large enough for the turn out this time round please?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A slightly eccentric theory about Ming's leadership

It occurred to me today that perhaps Ming's Leadership didn't last as it broke the sequence of Scot, non Scot Leaders we have had back as far as 1935. The list is as follows:
Archibald Sinclair - Scot
Clement Davies - non Scot
Jo Grimond - Scot
Jeremy Thorpe - non Scot
David Steel - Scot
Paddy Ashdown - non Scot
Charles Kennedy - Scot
Menzies Campbell - Scot
perhaps if the last Leadership campaign had lasted a couple of weeks more Chris Huhne would now be Leader and the sequence and fates would be appeased! No comments suggesting that there have been too many Scottish leaders and apologies to former SDP members for omitting their leaders from the list.

Elections bleeding elections

By the end of the year I'll have taken participated in Local Government elections, Scottish Parliament elections (Constituency & Regional list), 3 internal Scottish Party elections, European list selection and Leadership election. At least Broon bottled it so that wasn't yet one more. All this democracy takes it out of you after a while!

Ming's resignation


Here's what I posted on LibDem Voice at 4.29pm yesterday:

"I don’t think Lady Elspeth will let him stand down.

Seriously though, I’ve got really mixed feelings on this one. I didn’t vote for him, actually that’s not true, I gave him my 3rd preference primaraly becuase I was furious that all of our Scottish MP’s (excepting Charles of course) came out en-masse as Ming supporters. I strongly believe that it’s wrong for MPs to try and bounce the membership like that. Also believed that the candidate I was supporting was a much better choice for the job. Ming was brilliant at Foreign Affairs and should have stayed there.

However, he was elected, and if I can put up with that our MPs must also put up with it, ceasing their off-the-record briefings to the media and ill chosen words in public. Were Ming to voluntarily choose to stand down then I would feel that he had made a principled decision and would support that choice."

Never for a moment did I think it would come true just so soon! In the end Ming went quickly and with the typical dignity which he always displays. I trust that whoever succeeds him will have the wisdom to talk him into returning to the Foreign affairs brief in which he has always excelled.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Kelvin MacKenzie's like the barber's cat - full of piss & wind

I'm absolutely outraged at Kelvin MacKenzie's anti-Scottish diatribe on question time last night and feel the BBC should issue a public apology for his nonsense.

He claimed: "Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism like London and the South east."

Adding: "The reality is that the Scots enjoy spending it, they don't enjoy creating it which is the opposite of down south."

What a stupid buffoon! He's obviously never heard of Ann Gloag, Tom Farmer, David Murray, Tom Hunter or even Andrew Carnegie. never mind the thousands of other Scots involved in running successful businesses. Perhaps he should check his facts before spouting a load of ignorant balderdash.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Lamassoure-Severin report might bode ill for Scotland


The European Parliament voted in Plenary Session today adopting the Lamassoure-Severin report on future numbers of MEPs for EU member states. This will mean that the number of UK MEPs will fall from the current 78 to 73, which has worrying implications for the number of Scottish MEPs. We currently have 7, including my employer Elspeth Attwooll. It is possible, depending on the PM, that this will fall to 6.


If our numbers reduce to 6 then, in my opinion, will give the Gnats an open goal against the Federal & Unionist parties in Scotland. Why? Well Malta (Pop. 400k), Luxembourg (Pop. 460k), Cyprus (Pop. 766k) & Estonia (Pop. 1.3m) will all also have 6 MEPs. In addition; Slovenia (Pop. 2m) will have 8, Lativia (Pop. 2.3m) 9, Lithuania (Pop. 3.4m) 12 and Eire (Pop. 4.2m) will also have 12. The Gnats will surely argue that Scotland, with a population of just under 5m, would be confident of having, at least 12 MEPs if we were "Independent in Europe". They will then use this as a club to beat us Lib Dems, New Labour and the Tories for opposing their loony tunes plans to have the UK broken up. Worrying. However there are quite a few stumbling blocks before this happens so there may be a ray or two of sunshine for us yet.


Budapest for Catherine's birthday

Hah! at last a jaunt out of the UK this year!
Catherine celebrates her birthday on the 10th of December so we have booked a weekend city break in Budapest, a city neither of has visited before, from the 8th to the 11th of December.
We are both looking forward to exploring the city. I've already got the Military Museum, roman remains and Parliament building on my to do list as well as sampling some of the local wines and spirits. Catherine's eyes lit up at the thought of the Christmas market and the possibility of snow on the ground - romantic says she. Cold says me.

Interestingly enough the city has one of the longest serving Liberal Mayors anywhere in Europe.
Gabor Demszky of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) was first elected in 1990 and has remained undeafeted at 4 subsequent elections, with his current term due to end in 2010.

Now I know why the chicken crossed the road!


From BBC Scotland's website today (a very eggciting story):

Chicken lorry crash causes chaos
"Much of central Scotland was brought to a standstill after a lorry containing 3,000 chickens crashed on the A80, resulting in birds running loose.
The lorry jack-knifed on the southbound carriageway, near Haggs, at 0430 BST, leaving the 45-year-old driver with serious back injuries.

On and off ramps were shut causing huge tailbacks across the Forth Valley.
About 400 birds died and the rest have now been caught. It is hoped the M80 and M876 will reopen at about 1300 BST.
Drivers were asked to use an alternative route via the B816 through Bonnybridge/Allandale and rejoining the A80 at Castlecary.

Ch Insp Donald McMillan said: "Around 3,000 chickens were being carried and were shed on to the road."We are working with various organisations to have the road reopened as quickly as possible."

The road closure caused widespread disruption for motorists travelling to Perth, Stirling, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh, with severe tailbacks on the M9 northbound Kinnaird to Pirnhall route.

Vets were at the scene, along with a specialist team from Noble Foods in Glenrothes which was helping to catch the birds. It is understood the birds will be taken to the company's hen processing plant in Gainsborough.

Motorist Tony Collins, from Cumbernauld, said: "There are boxes all over the carriageway and there were still a few chickens running around the embankment."

The Scottish SPCA said it was concerned for the welfare of the chickens.
Spokeswoman Doreen Graham said many of them could be in shock and may die.

Central Scotland Police appealed to motorists on the north bound carriageway not to slow down to watch the recovery operation and to refrain from taking photographs while driving.
The police added that they would like to remind drivers that using a mobile phone while driving is illegal. "

I really should not laugh especially because of the poor chooks and delayed drivers but somehow there is something really, really amusing about this story. Was fowl play involved?
The photograph above is BBC Copyright as is the text of the article.

Scunnered with postal strikes

The news this morning that there have been wildcat strikes by posties in London & Liverpool makes me want to bang the heads of both sides together and shout at them that they are destroying a once great institution.

I appreciate that the CWU and their members have a genuine grievance with Adam Crozier and his fellow managers but, quite frankly, continued strikes and especially these wildcat actions are losing them a lot of support with the long suffering postless public. time for the Government to get involved and get this resolved.

Some years ago when I worked at BT as a specialist International Directory Inquiry Operator I was a member of the CWU. However, when BT stated closing call centres all across the UK, the CWU was as much use to it's members as a chocolate teapot and did absolutely nothing to save my job or the 117 other jobs at the UK's specialist International team.

P.S.For non Scots readers: "Scunnered" means absolutely fed up with something.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Barbados here we come


In October 2008 Catherine has a Soroptimist Conference in Barbados for 3 days. Well after some humming and hawing, by me, because of length of flight, we decided to have a decent length of holiday so we booked up for 11 nights in the 4 star Amaryllis Beach Resort (pictured) and upgraded to a superior ocean view room.


We've been saving our Tesco clubcard vouchers as they get exchanged at a rate of £1 of clubcard vouchers to £4 of Virgin holiday vouchers. In the end we got about £600 off our holiday - not bad for just doing our everyday shopping!


To say that I'm really loking forward to the holiday would be a slight understatement.

Back in the swing of things

I'm delighted to report that I started back at work, full time, a week past Monday. It's been a longer recovery than I had expected but am delighted that I'm back. I'm also back into my full range of party activities and thoroughly enjoyed our Scottish Lib Dem Autumn Conference on Saturday.

I am however somewhat relieved that Broon did "bottle it" as I didn't much fancy a second election campaign in one year - too bleeding tiring! Wouldn't mind betting that the next GE will be the same day as the European Parliament Elections on the 1st Thursday in June 2009.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

How do you pronounce the Polish word Rzeczpospolita?

I'm currently researching a Polish army from the period 1576-1631, which is known at the Rzeczpospolita, or "Commonwealth" in English. The idea is that I shall construct a wargames army of this ilk. however I feel that it would be a tad embarassing to have an army the name of which I can't pronounce, so would welcome pronunciation from any Polish speakers out there. Ta.

Monday, 20 August 2007

In memory of John Rubie Dale 1925 - 2007

This post is to celebrate the life of my Dad, John Rubie Dale, who died at 00.45 hours on Saturday the 18th of August 2007.

Haven't been up to posting before now for obvious reasons.

Dad was born on the 23rd of March 1925 and was one of 5 brothers, one of whom died at around the age of five. Those who survived to adulthood were (in age order) Archibald, John (Dad), William & Robin - Uncles Archie (84) and Robin (66) are still living.

On leaving school at the age of 14 he, after several jobs, was apprenticed as a slater & roughcaster, to the Rubie firm, which he was related to. This apprenticeship was interrupted by the second world war. A pragmatic man he eschewed the opportunity to join the commandos and subsequently "accidentaly" managed to fail his training course to become a rear gunner on the North sea bi-planes (life expectancy of 6 weeks). Eventually he settled in as an armourer on aircraft carriers of the Fleet Air Arm, serving in th Med and Far East. He always warned Billy and I to avoid the Isle of Man, just in case we met anyone who looks like us!

In 1946 he joined Scottish Masonic lodge number 149 - Irvine St Andrew's (which iconic Scottish poet Rabbie Burns attended during his period in Irvine, although well before Dad's time) and remained an active member for some 60 years

A year later he met the love of his life, Marion Lockhart (Mum) and married her in 1948. Mum and Dad had many happy years together but these were cut short by my Mum's early death on the 1st of April 1989.

John and Marion had two Sons - Billy, my Brother, was born in January 1950 and after, as Dad quipped "eleven years of going on to Glasgow rather than getting off at Paisley"I appeared in August 1961.

Dad worked consistantly at his Trade until 1972 when he decided that our family would be better off if he set up for himself. He ran his own sole trader business for almost 30 years and was a tradesman of high reputation which, according to impartial winesses, was well deserved.

In the last few years he suffered a stroke which caused Dementia. This led to him being hospitalised some 23 months ago then going to a Nursing home 16 months ago. As noted above he died on the 18th of August 2007. Cause of death was bronchial pneumonia.

There is so much more that I would like to say about Dad but shall leave to future posts. I will however, with many others, celebrate his life on Thursday at the Funeral Parlour, Cemetary and Purvey.

Goodbye Dad.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Welcome to the world Magnus Charles Dundas

For the fouth time this year I delight in welcoming another wee one into this world.

Magnus Charles Dundas came into the world at 11.35pm on Wednesday the 25th of July.

My congratulations, and love, go to Mum Siobhan and Dad Charles. Hope to see you three soon.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Liberal Party - 1977 centenary medal - info please


Around 15 months ago I purchased a piece of Liberal Party history on eBay, which is a Liberal Party centenary medal (stamped no. 32 of 500). Photos of the medal (badly taken by me) are shown above.
I would greatly appreciate some information about this item & would be really interested to hear from other others who are custodians of other medals such as this. Thanks.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Felicity


There's a young lady who lives across the street from me and she has designs on me!

Nothing untoward in that and Catherine should have limited worries as Felicity, as I've named her, is a smashing wee ginger and white moggy.

Two problems:

1. Catherine ain't keen on cats.

2. I'll be moving to Kinross-Shire within the next 12-18 months to set up shop with Catherine.

My dilemma: I really love cats and this wee lady is a beezer - she doesn't bother too much with the tidbits which I give her and goes into heavy purr mode by just kicking around the house with me. The folk who she already owns have, at least, one other cat and three weans.

Therefore I need assistance with the following questions:
i. If I let Felicity "own" me will I be causing hurt to the family already "owned" by her?
ii. Will Catherine accept her when they are both in the house or will there be a cat-fight (worst pun on this blog - ever!)
iii. What happens to my relationship with Felicity when I move to Kinross-Shire?

Answers on a postcard please.

Please support Cats Protection.
More info at: http://www.cats.org.uk/

I was 16 before discovering that F***ing Tories were two separate words

The 25th "anniversary" of the Falklands war brought back home to me why I loathe, hate and despise the Tories and that auld witch Thatcher in particular. You see, it reminded me of what life was like under them in the early 1980's.

Hearing her voice, almost from beyond the grave, as she gloried in her decision to send hundreds of British service personnel to their needless deaths or wounds in the Falklands sent shudders up my spine and made me recall what life was like under her Premiership.

In 1980 I moved from Irvine to study at Teesside Polytechnic in Middlesborough. At first I behaved as any 19 year old would being away from home and off the leash for the first time. However, after a few months my eyes started to open and I realised what the "Thatcher Revolution" was doing to the area and the other areas of Britain which hadn't supported the Tories in the '79 general Election. If you worked in heavy industry, then tough, your jobs were going. If you lived in poor housing, then tough, the market should sort it out. if you believed in society and helping those around you, then tough as the Government didn't. If you were sick, old or unemployed, then tough because the Government would give you a pittance to survive on. If you believed in peace and nuclear disarmament, then tough, because they were going to spend billions on nuclear weapons and yet pay squaddies a pittance. If you were against us, then tough, as you were the "enemy within" and would be treated as such.

Thatcher and her cronies are the reason why we now have an avaricious, selfish, society in which too many people are only concerned about me, me, me and don't give a damn about their fellow citizens, their communities or our society.

Andrew Marr said on TV the other night that "we are all Thatcher's children". That may well be true but I am proud to be one of the rebellious ones.

Yes it was foodie heaven

As intimated in my last post, I attended the Channel 4 organised "Taste of Edinburgh" event at the weekend. Catherine decided it wasn't her idea of a good day out so the party consisted of her Dad, younger Sister and myself.

The entry fee of £25 seemed quite steep but it did include £15 worth of tokens to spend in the restuarants, bars & retail stalls and actually proved to be reasonably good value for money. Some 15 Edinburgh restaurants participated, each of which offered 3 taster dishes from their menus. I won't rant on about the whole panopoly but shall say that it is my intention to visit two particular restuarants in the shortest order. these are Suruchi & Iggys. I just hope that the full experience lives up to the taster menus and ambience they created.

I ended up coming away with Boerwoers sausages, Jordanian lemon infused olive oil, Appleton's 12 year old Jamaican rum, stuffed olives, zait & zaatar*, dolmades and Oleifera rapseed oil. Also ended up slightly tipsy and replete with good grub.

Hopefully this will be an annual event and that the organisers can expand to hold a similar event in Glasgow each year.

*Zait & Zaatar is Arabic for extra virgin oil and thyme mix. 1. Take a piece of bread 2. Dunk the bread in the oil 3. Dip the bread in the zaatar. 4. Enjoy a really wonderful taste sensation!
The Zaatar comprises of thyme leaves, roasted wheat, roasted sesame, roasted coriander, roasted fennel, roasted caraway etc.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Foodie heaven

I'm through in Perth again this weekend as Catherine has a meeting from 10 o'clock until the back of four - yep, Soroptimists again.

Whilst she's stuck in her meeting her Dad & I are planning to pay a visit to Edinburgh to visit Channel 4's "Taste of Edinburgh" event which is being held in The Meadows from the 7th - 10th of this month.

There are three different entry levels and I'm planning on doing the £25 one which gets you in and also gives you 30 "crowns" to spend on grub and booze. There are 15 "prestigious" chefs creating "signature dishes" for tasting, a beer masterclass, wine tasting, chef demonstrations - including Martin Wishart, live music and 80, count em, 80 specialist food and drink stalls. Truly a heavean for us foodies or pseudo-foodies. Yummy!

www.channel4.com/tastefestivals

Soroptimists are off the hook


In a previous post I railed against Catherine's Glasgow Soroptimist Conference depriving me of her active participation in most of my Birthday this year and also meaning we would not be able to get away for our usual early August break.

I'm delighted to be able to recant and inform that either Catherine or her Mum had got the dates wrong. Catherine blames her Mum for this but I have my doubts!

Anyway, it means that I get the pleasure of her company for all of my birthday and we also get 4 days in Dublin, a city neither of us have been to before, which we both eagerly await visiting.
Probably also means that I won't get her to buy me dinner at Rogano's to assuage her guilt.

I will have to work out our carbon offset for a return flight from Prestwick (Rabbie Burns International as it should be called - see rants in previous posts!) to Dublin. Any suggestions as to where I can work this out would be appreciated.


Bryson at his best

I bought Bill Bryson's "Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" a few days back, which is the story of his childhood in Des Moines. Having enjoyed all of his previous books I thought that it would be a good read. Well I certainly wasn't let down. It's absolutely side-splittingly hilarious and in certain parts had my crying with laughter. Indeed from time to time I had to stop reading it as I was hurting too much from laughing.

It is recently published in paperback by Black Swan and it's RRP is £7.99.

www.billbryson.co.uk

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Soroptimists steal my Birthday & our holiday!

Catherine and her Mum are involved in a Wimmin's organisation called the Soroptimists an excellent organisation for professional women who wish to give their talents, time and money to help make lives better in many countries around the globe. They are also particularly concerned about human rights issues. More info can be found at: http://www.soroptimistinternational.org/ or http://www.soroptimist-gbi.org/

In most circusmstances I fully support Catherine in her work with this very worthy organisation.
No today though! I've just learned that she's at their Conference from the 29th July to 4th August. So what I hear you say. well, 3rd August happens to be my Birthday and we had planned to be in Krakow or Bruxelles from the 2nd - 7th of August. Instead I'll be limited to seeing her on the evening of my Birthday and a few nights away somewhere in the UK. Bah!

At least the conference is in Glasgow so I can claim a Birthday dinner at Rogano's and I have also found a great looking B&B in Wigton (Scotland's National Book Town), which, at the last count, boasted 24 independent bookshops. I'm salivating already at the prospect. Guess where my Birthday dosh will be going?

Actually, it's worth the price in the long run as the major Conference next year is in Barbados, for which we are already saving. Ten days staying in the Barbados Hilton in October 2008 sounds quite nice. No, it doesn't; it sounds BLOODY FANTASTIC!!!!!!

Monday, 28 May 2007

How a bank holiday weekend should be, for me


Just returned from Craigend (village near Perth) where I spent Friday through Monday with Catherine and her family. This weekend has been fun, relaxing and just damn fine - a mighty blow against the "Black Dog", either that or the new meds are working. No matter which, it was very, very good.


On friday night we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I know it's not a "great" film but it's fun and easily enjoyable entertainment and, a bit of a counterpoint to my current reading matter: 'Scottish Covenanter Stories - Tales From The Killing Times' by Dane Love. (£8.99 Neil Wilson Publishing). This I shall return to in future posts.


Saturday morning saw Catherine & I rise earlier than normal and pottered in to Perth for some shopping and a look at the art fair. In the afternoon we went en masse to the Hill of Tarvit (National Trust for Scotland) where we duly inspected the "steps that Catherine built" and generally poked our noses around the place. In the evening Catherine and I ventured to Perth racecourse to see the 1st ever Scottish Fireworks Championships. I'm a fireworks junkie, so was absolutely in my element - 3 professional displays lasting 10 minutes each & only a tenner to get in. Must strongly recommend FireworX, who were the 2nd competitor and, in my opinion, the best of the lot. I hope that this becomes an annual fixture in Scotland and that there are more competitors in any future events.


On Sunday we slouched and mooched around the house, with the only interuption being a trip out for a mountain of Sunday newspapers and, later a marvellous dinner, cooked by Catherine's Dad, then watching "Primary Colors", which is on my top ten favourite films list.


Headed back to Irvine today and feel so, so much better for the break!



(Above is the view I woke up to the last three morning)

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

A grubby, tacky deal stitched together in spite filled rooms

Today North Ayrshire Council had a full Council meeting. At this meeting the SNP (8 Councilors), Tories (3 Councillors) and 4 of the 5 so-called Independents produced a last minute motion to exclude our 2 Lib Dem Councillors from ALL COUNCIL COMMITTEES! This passed on the casting vote of the SNP Provost.

How can these people be so arrogant as to exclude our democratically elected Councillors from participating on the Council's Committee structure? The whole thing was cobbled together by the SNP as I understand. This is a despicable, politically immature, act which makes me fear that the new proportional system of electing Councillors is not understood by the SNP with the increasingly irrelevant Tories and 4 of the "Independents" going along for the ride.

I understand that the SNP are flexing their muscles as the 2nd largest group on the council but it's no way to win friends and influence people and a bloody affront to democracy. They have let themselves down and, most importantly, have let down the people who elected them.

If this is how they are behaving locally then how are they going to behave as the governing party in Scotland? - very badly, I fear.

Maybe we should take a lesson in democracy from England where all Council Committees are shared out on a proportional basis.

A final word to the SNP & Tories and their "Independent" (sic) bedfellows: stop your political posturing and tribal politics - the folk of North Ayrshire deserve much better.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Oh well, life goes on

I didn't get elected to North Ayrshire Council. Bugger, blast, damnation and f**c!!!
Actually not - Catherine missed out in the Carse of Gowrie too (she on the 5th count and me on the 7th), we both hit the woodwork. No gloating Mr Dale of the Tory persuasion. Well I shall allow you a small gloat on the basis that it was a Tory who nipped in ahead of me for the 4th seat in the new multi-member ward although the Tory group went down from 5 to 3.

I'm disappointed of course, but the fact that we both lost means that we can actually start to plan a future together rather than spending most of our time 90 miles apart. No rush, no hurry but we have plans.

The really good news, however, is that Ruby got elected in Irvine East and Andrew in Kilwinning. I'm over the proverbial moon for them especially as they are the first Liberals elected in Irvine & Kilwinning for over 60 years - yes we made the breakthough which we have worked bloody hard to achieve. I know that they will be a credit to our party and excellent Councilors. Well done!

I would also like to thank everyone who voted for me in Irvine West and assure them that the Focus leaflets will still keep coming. My thanks also go to the 1977 people who voted for me as their MSP. This is a rise of just under 2% from last time, which was pleasing on a night which didn't go the way we hoped.

Jim Hume was elected as a South of Scotland list MSP and I'm really confident that Jim will be an excellent Parliamentarian and a first class standard bearer for Liberal Democracy across the whole of the South of Scotland.

When I returned home in 1999 we had no Lib Dems representing us at any level of government in Ayrshire. We now have Councillors, a MSP, a Lord and a MEP - that's what I call progress!!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Good luck my friends

I write this to wish my many friends in the Scottish Lib Dems all the best tomorrow. if I listed them all then this post would go on forever but I would like to specially mention just a few people:
  • Catherine Carruthers in the Carse of Gowrie
  • Ruby Kirkwood in Irvine East
  • Andrew Chamberlain in Kilwinning
  • Lewis Hutton in the North Coast & Cumbraes (also Cunninghame North)
  • Jim Hume in the South of Scotland
  • Siobhan Mathers in Edinburgh Central
  • Kathy McInnes in Strathkelvin & Bearsden
  • Nora Radcliffe in Gordon
  • All the rest of my friends and colleagues across Scotland

You've all worked extremely hard and deserve success!

Sore feet

Well that's all the leaflets delivered and all the campaigning over. I must have lost a fair few lbs over the last couple of weeks. Now all we wait for is the voters verdict. I think I have done enough work and campaigned hard enough to win a council seat but still have the usual butterflies. All will be known by lunchtime on Friday.

Flattered ego

My ego has just been flattered by news from a friend that I have reached the dizzy heights of 2nd in the Male category on sexymsp.com. A website which I hadn't come across prior to yesterday. No, I wasn't vain enough to vote for myself! The Tory Iain dale also mentioned this startling fact on his Iain Dale's Diary blog.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Farewell Millie & Welcome Milly

My Aunt Millie died a few weeks ago. She was part of my life for 45 years and part of my family for many years longer. Millie was my Godmother, although as a practicing atheist I never called on her to perform any Godmotherly duties - just loved her as a good and decent person who was always there in the background of my life, as I did her husband, my Uncle Bill who died a few years before her. I miss you both and remember you with love.

Just a week after we celebrated Aunt Millie's life Catherine's best girlfriend Sam and her gnome-loving husband Oz became the parents of a wee girl called Milly. My love and best wishes goes to all three of them and I wish the little one a happy and healthy life. So, welcome to the world MILLY KATE OSMOND who weighed in at 6lb 4oz.

The ties have it!






A silly little bit of fun to let some of my ties reach a larger audience!




Any suggestions for which one should be worn at the Cunninghame South Scottish Parliament count would be very welcome, but bear in mind that I'm the Lib Dem candidate...........

I'm back!

Sorry for having been posted missing for the last three weeks but the 'Black Dog' has been out and I, quite frankly, haven't had much to say. However, I'm now back in the passenger seat of life and can at least post a few mutterings.

There willl be a lot of thank you's in future posts as there have been a load of good folk supporting me through this thin time and, whatevver the results, there shall be a lot of people to thank for their help during the election campaign.

More soon if you can put up with my boring blog, as someone commented on the other Iain Dale's blog recently.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad is 82 today so I'd like to wish him a very happy Birthday. For someone of his generation reaching this venerable age was unheard of. Its astonishing to think that until he had his stroke, just over 6 years ago, he was still driving around with his set of ladders on the roof-rack and going up onto people's roofs to do a little repair work.

Sadly, this is the second birthday he'll "celebrate" away from home as he's been in hospital, and subsequently, a nursing home, for the last eighteen months. At least there is the consolation that he is being well cared for. Still, we all miss the man he used to be, but love him no less as he is today.

Solidarity/SSP

I got home from the office last night to discover a 4 page colour tabloid from Solidarity, which had been delivered by the Post Office. I know that this has also been delivered around Glasgow.

Quite frankly, it's not inspiring reading and I'm sure that they could have targeted their niche market more effectively. I do understand that it's part of the attempt by Rosemary Byrne to save her South of Scotland list seat. When she was elected in '03 it was by a small margin and a reduction in the vote of less than 1% would have cost her the seat. With a split-left ticket and polls showing a melt-down in their votes, re-election looks like a forlorn hope.

The SSP/Solidarity schism has been an interesting spectator sport over the last few months but I suspect that between them they'll be lucky to have 1 MSP after the election on May 3rd. It will also be quite interesting to see where their voters transfer their political alleigance.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Can anyone identify this?

I know it's not the worlds best photograph but can anyone identify this raptor which I saw in my back garden last week? I've never seen one in my urban street before and was rather taken aback but probably less that the victim at its claws!

Black Dog

I don't really know if I should be writing this post but here goes:

Some years ago I suffered very badly with depression for about a year. Life was hellish during that time and I felt that I didn't want to exist. Fortunately I got through it and moved on in life.

Today I should have every reason to be happy; I have a wonderful girlfriend in Catherine who I love deeply and whom I know loves me; my Dad is now safe and well looked after in his Nursing Home; I have a close family; I have a job that I love; I've a great chance of being elected as the first ever Liberal Democrat Councillor to North Ayrshire Council, I enjoy my local Lib Dem activisim and even more so my roles on the Scottish party Executive, Campaigns & Candidates and Conference Committees; I am blessed with lots of good and true friends; outwith election time I can even manage to have a social life!

So, why then do I feel like the most worthless, guilty, miserable, usless failure of a creature on this planet, why am I lethargic, why is my sleep pattern shot to hell, why do I have the concentration span of a goldfish and why can I be so short of temper? Well I reckon I figured it out when I woke up around 4am this morning when I woke from my 3 hours sleep.

Yes, I guess the black dog is back at my heels - depression. Why me, why now, why have I been fine for over a decade?

At least I've been able to face up to the fact and contact my GP about getting some help. I've also told Catherine and my good friends Caron and Suzette, so those are positives as well.
I may have to do less in the coming months and I will reduce my alcohol intake and try to have a healthier life style and I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if I can't see it yet. I don't even think I've slipped nearly a third of the distance that I did before

I don't post this in the search for sympathy, I post this as a positive statement, for me, and for every other poor sod in this world who has to suffer this.

Friday, 2 March 2007

At last: Aviemore report back!

A happy band of 5 Voting Representatives from the Ayrshire & Arran Lib Dems arrived
in Aviemore for Scottish Spring Conference, from the 16th - 18th February, this year.
Some descended earlier than others - Iain on the 14th (wearing his hat of Conference
Committee Vice Convener) and Ruby arrived on the 15th (she had a Steward’s briefing)
Jenny & Lewis found baby-sitters for the weekend to allow a peaceful (and possibly a
little indulgent) weekend and Andrew dragged himself away from studying for his finals for
three days. On reflection, the only time when we were all together was at the
"Conference Spin" social event on the Friday evening, where Iain was lucky enough to win
a bottle of House of Commons Whisky which was signed by most of our Scottish MP’s.
Before anyone asks - no he’s not opened it and no it’s not going to be a raffle prize locally!

Conference ran from 1.45pm on the Friday through until just after 1pm on the Sunday,
with debates covering a variety of subject from our vision for Rural Scotland to emergency
motions on flooding and the war in Iraq.

Jenny had submitted an amendment to the health motion, which was accepted for debate
by Conference Committee, so she had to speak to the amendment. She did this with a
great deal of eloquence, despite this being only her second ever speech at Conference.
When the amendments were voted on Jenny’s amendment was approved with only one
vote against - we are assured that Lewis was not the sole nay sayer!

None of the rest of spoke on any of the debates although Iain would claim that he was too
busy running about being Acting Conference Convener. Our friend Helen, who is the
Convener of Conference Committee was there but as she was, and still is, recovering
from a nasty bout of pneumonia, couldn’t do the running about required. Hence Iain doing
the headless chicken act! Iain also Co-Chaired several sessions of Conference prompting
one of his so-called friends to remark "He wis oan the stage mair oaften than Nicol wis!".

On the Saturday afternoon, whilst sitting in the cafe in the exhibition centre, Andrew,
Jenny and Lewis were accosted by a camera crew from the BBC. They appeared several
times on various BBC Politics programmes over the weekend and came across as decent
and sane people. It should be noted that this would not have been the case had they been
interviewed after consuming quantities of free booze at an assortment of fringe meetings.

It would be fait to say that the five who attended had a thoroughly interesting and
enjoyable weekend with a nice balance of policy debate and socialising. This year’s
Conference was the largest yet. There were over two dozen fringe events and about 30
stalls in the exhibition and there were nearly 700 passes issued.

Oh yes, Suzette broke her finger too - don't ask!

David Cameron & the Bullingdon Club - the true face of the Tory leader?

I note that David Cameron has been "outed" as a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club whilst at Oxford University.

Andrew Gimson, author of a book on Boris Johnsson said of the clubs meetings: "I don't think an evening would have ended without a restaurant being trashed......" & "a night in the cells would be regarded as being par for a Buller man..."

This archaic, aristocratic, hard drinking and badly behaved "elite" club portrays Cameron in a newer and nastier light. I feel that this revelation is much more likely to case him trouble than his cannabis at Eton revelations.

Welcome to the world Ross Dale Smith

My Niece Lyndsay give birth to a wee boy this morning. His name is Ross Dale Smith and he joined us weighing 7lb 12oz. Congratulations to Lynsey & David (Lynsey's Husband and Ross' Dad) and I'm delighted for Billy & Jeanette (my Brother & Sister-in-law).

Another bundle of happiness to make the world a nicer place.
Welcome Ross from your "Great" Uncle Iain.

I suspect that there will be another of these "welcome" posts in the not too distant future as Catherine's best pal, Sam, is due in April.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Scottish Spring Conference

In due course I'll post a full account of last weekend's Scottish Spring Conference in Aviemore but not the gory details of the late night relaxation in the bar of the Cairngorm Hotel (Don't worry Caron - your secrets are safe with me!). I simply have not had a spare minute since getting back on Sunday night.

The one comment I shall allow myself for now is that I feel that this has been the biggest and best Scottish Conference which I've attended, and that everyone who I've spoken with feels, like me, that we are greatly uplifted by the weekend.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Aviemore here I come!


It's the Scottish Lib Dem Spring Conference in Aviemore this weekend so I'm heading up to help with the set up tomorrow. You see our Conference Committee Convener, Helen, has been laid low with pneumonia. She is, thankfully, out of hospital and on the mend but her Medics and friends have warned her that she must take things easy at Conference - I threatened to tie her to a chair if she does too much. With the Committee's other Vice Convener unable to attend due to Council committments lucky old me gets to be the one running about like the proverbial fly with a blue backside.

There are good things about Conference too, like meeting friends from all over Scotland and socialising into the wee small hours, the chance to engage in heated debate, attending many interesting and varied fringe events (and not just for the free food and drink) and, of course, the Scotch Whisky Association Reception. Cheers!

However, there is someone who makes the Conference happen and who does the hard graft to make sure everything runs smoothly and that's our Conference & HQ manager Suzette.
We don't often thank our party staff for their hard work and tolererance so I would like very publicly to say: Suzette many, many thanks for all your hard work. We really do appreciate it!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Scottish Lib Dem visit to European Parliament


As part of my day job I organise (subsidised) trips to the European Parliament in Brussels for members of the Scottish Lib Dems. generally we have a three day trip with time spent in Parliament as well as time for shopping, sightseeing & socialising. Most people report that they enjoy these trips. Ask Catherine about the one in October '05 - that's when we started dating!


I'm looking for expressions of interest for a trip which I'm going to pencil into the diary for the week commencing Monday 4th June. I'm sure there are going to be a whole load of new Lib dem Councillors who could do with a wee break after the hectic campaigning and new experience of being elected.


If you would be interested in joining me, indeed watching me do the equivalent of herding cats in a thunderstorm, please get in touch.

Come to your own conclusions

My local MP is Brian Donohoe (Lab - Ayrshire Central) was fulminating, in the local press, recently agaist the proposed Edinburgh & Glasgow airport rail links and also against the new Borders rail line.

This is from a man (remember he's a Labour MP) who drives around the constituency in a 4 litre Daimler with personalised number plates. He is also an avid user of BA flights to get to and from Westminster when the Caledonian sleeper service would seem a greener option. His other claim to fame is setting up the all party group on Coronation Street.

Nuff said methinks.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Welcome to the world Cameron Carruthers

Just got home and got the wonderful news that Catherine's sister Margaret has given birth to a wee baby boy, named Cameron.

My love & best wishes go to Mum, Dad and big brother Conrad ( who celebrates his second birthday on Sunday.) on the birth of your son and Brother.

I'm not often moved to tears but the message from Catherine caused tears of joy.

Cameron, hello, welcome and I can't wait to meet you.

Bated breath

The Lady who lives in Kinross-Shire has an elder Sister who is heavily pregnant (can you be lightly pregnant?), indeed was due to give birth a week past Thursday. News reaches me from TLWLIK that she is not coming to Irvine tonight (sulk!) but for the best of reasons - elder Sister's waters have broken and a little Sister or Brother is soon to be expected for our incredibly cute nephew Conrad.

I'm now all on tenterhooks waiting for news but, most importantly, I hope both mum and baby are safe and well.

Cynical old me.

I'm must be getting cynical. My reaction to the fact that most Scottish Labour-run councils have set below inflation council tax increases, was: "Oh, it's an election year isn't it." If they retain overall control of any Council (current predictions are 1 - North Lanarkshire) they will be squeezing the Council Tax payers until the pips squeak -again!

South Ayrshire Council is the only one in Scotland which has overall Tory control. As an excellent warning to the electorate on what happens when you vote Tory, they are putting up Council Tax by 3.5% (one of the highest in Scotland), giving senior Officers pay awards of up to 10% and making up to 150 lower level staff redundant.

Jings, crivvens & help ma boab!

Standing at the back door having my usual ciggie this morning I casually glanced at my calendar and realised, with a sense of bladder weakening terror, that i'll know my fate regarding election to North Ayrshire Council in a mere 12 weeks today as the Council elections are being counted electronically on the day after polling day.

Between then and now I have to deliver many thousands of leaflets. Then of course there is all the rest of normal election stuff. Not forgetting my duties as Scottish Parliament PPC for Cunninghame South, my day job with Elspeth and, very importantly, finding time for the Lady who lives in Kinross-Shire, who also happens to be standing in a winnable ward for Perth & Kinross Council. Then there's the small matter of being in Aviemore for 5 days next week for Scottish Spring Conference - NO SNOW PLEASE!

A positive aspect of all this activity is that my home town of Irvine has likely never seen so much Lib Dem campaigning - I just hope that all this work will bear fruit at the ballot box and I can be the 1st Liberal elected in Irvine for over half a century. My grateful and heartfelt thanks go to the small, but perfectly formed, team who are helping out. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I think: Can I have my life back please?