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:

The Liberal Revolution

“The boldest measures are the safest” – Orde Wingate

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.

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.
More info at:

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.