Thursday, 2 October 2008

Gnats defeated on draconian alcohol age restrictions

News has just come in that the Gnats have been defeated in the Scottish Parliament on their draconian plans to increase age at which alcohol can be bought in Scotland from 18 to 21 years.

It would seem that a combination of the votes of Lib Dem, Labour, Tory & Green MSPs saw off the Gnats and their daft legislation. Legislation which would have meant that a serving member of the Royal Regiment of Scotland could be killed in battle but be unable to buy a can of beer in an off-license. Legislation which would have meant that a newly married teen or early twenties couple could not have bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate their nuptials. Legislation which would have meant that people would have the vote for 3 years before they could drown their sorrows if the Gnats won!

Of course I accept that Scotland as a nation has a drink problem, however, I believe that the way to address this begins with the effective enforcement of existing legislation, especially when it comes to corner shops flogging bucky (Buckfast) by the bucket-load to teens or those acting on their behalf. We also need to seriously look at how alcopop style drinks are marketed at an increasingly younger market and generally have a serious look at the entire nation's relationship with alcohol.

Scotland's alcohol problem requires a "National Dialogue" not knee-jerk legislation.

Who is censoring our MEPs?

According to the website MEPs have been censored by the removal of a poster which urges MEPs to sign up to the one seat campaign which believes that the monthly trek by MEPs, staff and civil servants to Strasbourg is a waste of time and money.

German ALDE MEP Alexander Alvaro has written to both the president of the parliament and it's secretary general demanding an explanation for the censorship.

The full article can be found here.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A little self indulgence on blogging

As my 'bloggers block' seems to have burst today I thought I'd witter for a few lines about blogging and me. I generally blog when I'm angry or amused about something (see earlier posts today regarding Cameron and the Tories) and when I feel that I may have something to contribute to a debate on issues. I'm fully aware that my style can be a touch awkward and my punctuation would have a teacher of English reaching for a shotgun but this is mine, my outlet, my rant & scream at this big, bad, unjust old world which, if the media were to be believed, is populated only by Tories, Gnats and fumbling Labouristas. It may not be the most articulate Lib Dem voice and may often criticise the 'establishment' in our party but at least it's another heart-felt advocate of Liberalism.

What constantly astounds me is that other people read this. To be voted at number 32 in the Lib Dem list and number 26 in the Scottish list by the readers of 'Total Politics' had me go WTF????? Then to discover that I made it into position 99 of the Wikio top 100 political blogs really stunned me, particularly as both came after a period of blogging inactivity.

There are many, many better, more informative, more interesting and more rounded blogs than this, which I regularly read. Probably my absolute favourite - certainly amongst Lib Dem blogs - is that of Alix Mortimer (now I'll have caused great huffs in hundreds of Lib Dem bloggers across the country). The People's Republic of Mortimer won 3 of the 6 categories at the recent Lib Dem bloggers awards. If I compared Alix's efforts to a beautiful hand-built Bentley then an appropriate comparison of my efforts would be a 1980's Lada or, if truth be be told, a 70's Trabant. But that's not to denigrate my own stuff - it's just different and I simply do not have the talent with words and punctuation which Alix and many others do.

I fully intend to continue to enjoy blogging and to keep writing, from the heart, in the usual 'machine-gun' style and I will always continue to be amazed that not only do people read it, but they come back for more! Thanks for stopping by.

Oh, another thing Mr Smarmeron

Bit after the Lord Mayor's show of you jumping onto the Gurkha Justice campaign bandwagon AFTER the High Court had ruled in their favour. Many more principled politician's have been supporting their cause for years. Peter Carroll was the first politician I was aware of raising the issue. My own employer, Elspeth Attwooll MEP first campaigned on the issue when the Lib Dem's last had Federal Conference in Bournemouth 4 years ago and I'm sure that Sharon Bowles and the rest of the Lib Dem MEPs have backed the Gurkhas. Our Leader Nick Clegg MP* has also been a high profile supporter.

Why do you think that the Gurkha Justice campaign had a reception and stall at Lib Dem conference this year and not at Labour or Tory one? And which party does Britain's only councillor who served in the ranks of the Gurkha's belong to?

If there has been high profile and public support (before the court result was known) from politicians of other political hues then I will be glad to report it if it's brought to my attention.

* I might not have voted for Nick in the leadership contest but his speech at this year's Federal Conference certainly won me over!

On planning

My silence regarding our objections regarding the adjacent development has been for a very good reason. We lost our objection and the Perth & Kinross Council Development Control Committee, despite the brave efforts of Councillors Lorraine Cadell and Sandy Miller, voted to approve both planning applications. I don't want to indulge myself in a potentially actionable outburst so will limit my comments to the fact that they approved the construction of a wall, which is unfit for purpose, on our property, and the potential intrusion onto our property by the developer. They approved houses which are 1.99 metres higher than in the original plans and this will cause potential flood problems for 6 other houses in the village. They approved the breaching of the council's own policy that there should be 9 metres between buildings - the closest part of next door is 7.5 metres from our gable end.

We are not taking this lying down and are taking legal advice. There shall also be a complaint lodged with the Scottish equivalent of the Local Government Ombudsman and there are other avenues which we shall pursue.

One of my friends advised me that a "quirk" of Scottish Planning Law is that you don't have to own the property that you're applying for planning permission on. This is a "quirk" that really needs to be changed as it gives unreasonable developers the excuse to infringe onto property which they don't own and then claim the defence that they were only doing it to meet their planning permission. Far fetched you think? Come to Carnbo and live with the reality.

Michael Gove on 5Live

I'm simply stunned by the rudeness of Michael Gove to Peter Allan on 5Live's drive programme. He just said to, with reference to smarmy Dave's speech him: "Either you haven't been listening at the back of the class or you have come to the speech having sucked several lemons."

Claptrap Cameron

Having just listened to Cameron's Leader's speech to Tory conference all I can say is what a load of utter claptrap, bollocks and tripe!

Surely people are not fooled by his empty rhetoric? The Tories, the party that under Thatcher and her successors did not believe in society, laying claim to be the party able to repair our "broken society" is nauseating.

To hear him claim that the Tories are the party with true green credentials stretches credulity to the limit. This from the man who cycles to work and has his paperwork follow in a chauffeur driven limousine.

He said that: "We will need to difficult and unpopular things for the good of the country." Ah well, that'll be Thatcherite spending cuts to our local services then.

As the BBC's Nick Robinson succinctly puts it: "It's back to the Future. David Cameron uses the memory of Margaret Thatcher to make the case for change and against experience."

My memories of Thatcherism are of millions of unemployed, searing cuts in public spending, a deterioration in the NHS, a greed is good "loadsamoney" culture, wholesale destruction of most of industry, and Britain as a nasty Xenophobic country which wasn't a nice place to live. If that's the memories you want to invike in people, be my guest, and it'll be the end of Tory credibility!