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.

- 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.

- 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
- 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 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

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.