Wednesday, 27 February 2008

What a Gnat plonker

Gnat list MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife Christopher Harvie hadn't made it onto the radar before now. He has successfully attracted the attention of the media with his comments about Lockerbie and the dress sense of Scottish teenagers. I'll simply let the pillock speak for himself:

"On getting to Lockerbie, I discovered that the place is a dump - it was Tescotown. It should really have a certain attraction of a rather sombre kind as a place where something terrible happened; there are, after all, places on the western front and that sort of thing that have such an attraction for families who have lost people there."

"There are some attractive Victorian buildings, but roughly two thirds of the shops in the main street are derelict, and there were lots of kids hanging around the place smoking, drinking and so on. It was not in the least attractive.

There is also the issue of Scottish youth, and I am afraid that I have to describe it in the following way. Travelling back and forth on the bus from Galashiels, the local kids get on and put their feet, with big muddy trainers, right up on the seats opposite."

"The kids are a problem, and those are the people that the industry needs as its staff. It is a problem that one encounters almost nowhere else in Europe. "

"It must also be said that the most immense fortune that has been made in Scotland in the past few years - that of [Sports Division founder] Tom Hunter - has arisen from selling people what must be the ugliest clothes worn by anyone on the entire continent. "

"Bavarian kids rarely wear anything other than knickerbockers or something like that, but here that is replaced by universal sports goods, barely concealing the fact that Scotland is perhaps the least healthy nation in western Europe. We have a lot of problems there. Our remit . . ."

I wonder if he's been taking his medication?

Gnat Minister Mike Russell said that the remarks were "over the top" but then, incredibly, said that calls for an apology were a knee jerk reaction. The poltroon Harvie has now apologised.

P.S. The high fashion comments come from someone who regularly wears Plus Fours around the Parliament.

Off to Aviemore for Scottish Conference

The Scottish Liberal Democrats meet in Aviemore, which is in Danny Alexander's constituency, on Friday for our 3 day spring conference and muggins is Convener* of Conference Committee and thus he who takes it in the neck if anything goes wrong. I'm just a tad nervous that all goes well and that the 600-700 people who are attending, a record turn-out for the record, have a fine old time. If truth be told Suzette our Conference and Events Manager does all the really hard work and I get to swan around with my walkie talkie making sure everything is hunky dory and glad handing folks.

My diary is pretty well packed with stuff I've got to do and, although my trusty laptop travels with me, I suspect that it's highly unlikely that I'll have a chance to blog though I'm sure that I'll bore you all to death with it once the dust has settled. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

* Scottish spelling of the word.

What a shower of wimps

As is my norm in the morning I tune my radio to Radio England, sorry I meant Five Live, only to hear Nicky Campbell ( Scottish by birth but gone native presenter of the breakfast programme) wittering on about the great English earthquake. Little damage and almost no-one injured!

If Scotland had an earthquake where hundreds died and millions of pounds of damage had happened the news would barely register on the English Broadcasting Corporation's radar. OK, perhaps that's a tad OTT, but the basic principle is sound. Parts of the BBC are becoming the EBC. Five Live and News 24 are just two examples I can cite. This simply gives ammunition to the Gnats and is inherently weakening the Union.

C'mon Auntie, you can do better than this.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

First Scotrail passenger rip-offs worsen!

Bloody First Scotrail! back in December I emailed them to complain that it was 75p more expensive to buy a through return ticket from Irvine to Edinburgh than it was to buy a return from Irvine to Glasgow and one from Glasgow to Edinburgh. They eventually responded saying that "our Research and Pricing Manager is aware that there are anomalies in the system, such as these fare anomalies, which we have inherited. we are working to remove these, however this process takes time." So they admit they are aware of the anomaly.

Today I forgot and bought a through return from Irvine to Edinburgh for tonight's Conference Committee meeting. I thought £17.20 seems quite a lot. Then I worked out that if I had made the journey using the two returns as detailed above that it would have cost me £16.15. Those chiseling gits have ripped me off for another 30p. This is quite simply an outrage as they are aware of the problem but rather than fix it they make it worse.

So First Scotrail, what lies are you going to tell me this time?

Just for information: of the 27 posts I've put onto this blog in 2008 5 (almost 20%) have been complaints about the railways.

UPDATE: I've now discovered that they charge £2.05 more for a standard open return from Irvine to Aviemore than they do if I were to buy returns from Irvine to glagow and from Glasgow to Aviemore. Another swindle.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Glasgow's Merchant City - Barcelona's new Barrio?

Working in Glasgow City centre, indeed within the Merchant City area, can have the odd entetaining distraction especially as George Square sits beneath the office window.

Today is a Champions League matchday and Celtic are home to Barcelona in the 1st leg of the First knockout round (round of 16) and the streets are hoaching with Catalunians sporting their colours and singing their football and "National" songs. George Square has been playing host to numerous impromtu games of football and pubs are packed with noisy and friendly visitors.

All in all on a grey and gloomy Glasgow February day the Barca supporters cheer up the city and make it feel a little more cosmopolitan and a little more European - which can only be a good thing to my mind.

Tory MEP booted out of EPP group in European Parliament

South East England Tory MEP Daniel Hannan has been expelled from the right-of-centre European Peoples Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament after making a speech in which he compared the Parliament's rules to those of Nazi Germany.

Back in January Hannan made a speech complaining about the rules enforced by Parliament's president Hans-Gert Poettring which prevented a number of right-wing MEPs from continually disrupting business in the chamber. He said that only his respect for the German Poettring prevented him from comparing moves to curb disruption in the chamber with powers seized by Adolf Hitler in 1933.

The spineless UK Tory group in the parliament have failed to withdraw their whip from him to date with mealy mouthed Chief Whip, Den Dover MEP, saying "What he said was nothing to do with Conservative Party policy." That may be true but it is crass cowardice for them to allow this man to remain in the Tory delegation. Perhaps Davie boy Cameron will get rid of this wart - more likely that he'll sit on his hands and hope it all blows over.

Astonishingly Hannan tried to justify his comments by saying that they were a "dignified protest within the rules."

UPDATE: I see from his own Torygraph blog that the expulsion happened last week. my apologies if this is old news but I somehow must have missed it!

Almost scared to believe Barack can do it

Great news for those of us who think Barack Obama is a strong voice for change in the USA and subsequently the rest of the world. He has won Hawaii, as expected - being born there, with 76% of the vote. The greater excitement is that he also won Wisconsin, beating Clinton by 58% to 41%. According to the BBC he now has 1319 delegates to Hilary's 1245, these being delegates won in elections and not "Superdelegates".

It is also cheering that barack has made great inroads in the traditional "lunch pail" working class Democrats and polled equally with Hilary amongst white women, both traditional heartland voters for Hilary. As usual he ran away with the youth vote and, according to exit polls, 6 out of 10 "Independent" voters backed Barack. This Wisconsin win is even more astonishing given that according to polls Hilary was ahead just a week ago, Barack certainly seems to have the "Big Mo".

The campaigns have moved on to Texas and Ohio where Hilary has to win at least one to truly stay in contention. She had been holding a huge lead in Texas, with it's high proportion of Hispanic voters - normally a strong Clinton constituency, but the latest poll shows Clinton on 50% and Obama on 48%. With the margin of error this means that at the moment it is a statistical dead heat.

In the latest Ohio polls the Clinton lead as dropped from it's highest of 29% to 9%.

Recent US wide polls have suggested that Obama would beat McCain but Clinton would lose to him.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Tommy The Trot update

It seems that Gail Sheridan and her Father have now also been charged with perjury, bringing the total to six persons who face the beak over their 2006 libel trial evidence.

Whilst having no sympathy or empathy with Tommy and his chums, I do wonder why no Police inquiry has been launched regarding the testimony of his former colleagues from the SSP as the Police seem to be saying that everything that he and his witnesses said was untrue.

It'll all come out in the wash.

Tommy The Trot's Tribulations (part 952)

Last year former MSP and former Leader of The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) won £200 000 in damages from the News of the World in a libel action at the High Court in Edinburgh, after they had alleged that he was a serial adulterer, swinger and user of drugs. Four of his SSP MSP colleagues testified against him in the trial and one, Rosemary Byrne, in his favour.

Sheridan and Byrne subsequently set up their own party Solidarity (calling a Trot faction by this name is a gross insult to Polish Solidarity) as an offshoot of the SSP. In the 2007 elections both factions got creamed and all 6 Trot MSPs were kicked out on their arses.

Shortly after the trial finished Lothian & Borders Constabulary commenced a investigation into potential perjury during the trial and on the 17th December 2007 Tommy Sheridan was charged with perjury. Earlier on this month former MSP Rosemary Byrne was charged as were Solidarity acolytes Jock Penman and Graham McIver.

Today the news breaks that his wife Gail and Father-in-Law Angus Healy are being questioned by Lothian & Border's finest over more perjury allegations. During the trial Gail claimed that Tommy would be "in the Clyde with a piece of concrete tied round him" if she thought there was any truth in the allegations. His Father-in-Law gave him an alibi for three of the times when he was supposedly taking part in threesomes in a Glasgow hotel.

The maximum penalty for perjury in Scotland is 10 years in prison.

Visit Scotland, Visit Berwick-upon-Tweed

There's been some ballyhoo up here about a couple of opinion polls in which the denizens of Berwick-upon-Tweed expressed their desire to leave England and become part of Scotland.

One survey for ITV1's Tonight programme saw resident's vote by 1182 to 775 in favour of becoming part of Scotland. nother poll in the Berwick Advertiser saw 78% vote to leave England.
The town has a population of 11 600 and is part of Lib Dem MP Alan Beith's constituency and has 13 Lib Dem Councillors to 10 tories and 6 Independents.

It has been suggested that the pro-Scotland sentiment is due to a feeling of being on the periphery of England and of isolation from London. Cynics would suggest that it is more likely to be the realisation that the average Scot has £1500 more spent per annum on them from the public purse than the average resident of England.

I'm sure Mike Moore who is Lib Dem MP for the neighbouring Scottish Constituency of Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk would welcome all those extra Lib Dem voters with delight.

Of course Gnat heid honcho Eck salmond has weighed in with a threat to start legal moves to bring Berwick back into Scottish control, according to the Scotsman newspaper. You would think that he had more to do with his time, such as runnning his Gnat Scottish "Government".

Friday, 8 February 2008

Another cracker from BBC Scotland's website

See for yourselves:

Wendy still living in never never land

In Scots law we have a verdict called "Not Proven" which sits as an alternative to the usual Guilty or Not Guilty. Many people suggest that it simply means "We know that you did it but can't prove it".

It could be argued that the Electoral Commission's decision that she is not to be reported to the Police over an illeagal donation (given by a resident of Jersey who is therefore non UK domiciled) to her Scottish Labour leadership campaign, in effect amounts to just that - Not Proven.

I'm not going to go into the full ins and outs of this sorry saga for Ms Alexander as they have been exhaustively covered in the media. I am, however, going to suggest that she should with quiet dignity resign as Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland. She is now forever tarnished in the eyes of the voters and is an easy mark for Gnat heid honcho Eck Salmond. Indeed she is a distraction to the more important business of being an opposition to the Gnats in Holyrood.

Quite frankly Labour have been an absolute disaster since last years's Scottish Parliament elections. With just 1 MSP fewer than the Gnats they should have been all over that shower, instead they are all over the place. The Tories are in bed with Gnats and the Greens a squeaky wee voice. It's therefore left to us in the Scottish Lib Dems to provide the only true voice of opposition and, led by Nicol Stephen, we are doing a damn fine job of it. Just a pity that the media with their institutional bias - honourable exception for BBC Scotland's Political Editor Brian Taylor & his blog in particular - by the majority of the Scottish media.

Monday, 4 February 2008

The Glorious Hour

Every day should have the glorious hour, an hour devoted to yourself, an hour away from the hurly burly of life in which the singularly most important human being is you.

Today has been a normal-ish day of emails, phone calls, and all the accoutrements of modern life. Achievements have been attained, harsh words have been spoken, as have soft words, friends remembered, goals striven for, other friends neglected, news watched, papers read, cigarettes smoked, trains taken, letters opened, targets missed, coughs spluttered, horizons looked to & thoughts have run their own way.

But, the hour, the glorious hour of the day is about to unfold. This is the hour when the book is read, memory of Catherine's call warms the heart and stock is taken of the day. The time that is mine and mine alone.

May you all have the glorious hour, this day, and every day.