Friday, June 29, 2007

The definition of Irony...

An English actor playing Ian Hamilton, ringleader of the gang of students who stole/repatriated the Stone of Scone, in a new film.

Not all Americans are dumb....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Glasgow SNP councillors - possibly the best council group anywhere ever

Lots of members of the Glasgow SNP council group sponsored me in my Walk for Life - despite the fact that I actually don't know most of them, so big thanks to:

Cllr John McLaughlin (well he had to really!)
Cllr Grant Thoms
Cllr Alison Thewliss
Cllr Alex Dingwall
Cllr Billy McAllister
Cllr Craig MacKay
Cllr Kenny McLean
Cllr Iris Gibson (although her son hasn't paid up yet!)
Cllr David Ritchie
Cllr Alison Hunter
Cllr Phil Green
Cllr Jahangir Hanif
Cllr George Roberts

Sorry if I've missed anyone out and a massive thanks to everyone else who sponsored me too.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Celeb-Spotting - The Return

After an extended absence Celeb-Spotting returns.

Today I spotted Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh at Kentish Town Tube. Skinny bloke, needs to put on some weight - particularly on his little girl legs.

Could this be the start of a flurry of rubbish celebs? We can only hope.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Craig Was Robbed!

I have become utterly addicted to Britain's Got Talent. Partly because - as it turns out - Britain really doesn't have very much talent.

The semi-finals are now on, and tonight the baton-twirling Craig was knocked out. In favour of a bloody sqwaking child who people voted for because the country is too damn sentimental to tell children that they're really just a little bit rubbish. I enjoyed Craig's baton twirling show and found it much more entertaining than the precocious nonsense that got through.

Of course, having defended Craig, the winner really does have to be Paul Potts.

I swear if a brattish child beats this guy I will have a hissy fit.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Born Free

Having seen the news about the CITES agreement on the Ivory Trade and wanting to blog on it I immediately turned to the Born Free Foundation website. And wow - what a transformation. Soooo much more attractive and responsive than their old website.

I will be back with more on the Ivory Trade agreement and my thoughts on that - but in the mean time do pop into Born Free and find out more about their work. Also have a look at the Chief Exec's Blog.

Fantastic people, fantastic job.

Dropping the Debt Monster

As I said yesterday I am delighted that the new SNP Executive has abolished tuition fees for Scottish students in Scottish universities (and none of your nonsense about endowments - it was a tuition fee). As someone who would never have gone to university without my fees being paid the thought of University becoming some sort of exclusive preserve for those who could afford it horrified me.

There aren't many things that government/taxpayers should provide for the public but education is one of those things. A country needs teachers, lawyers, doctors, etc etc and it should pay for their education. That's not to say that unlimited years should be covered with a whole load of perpetual students being funded forever though and I'm also not so convinced by the need for grants though, there is only so much money in the public purse and life isn't perfect.

When I worked for the Conservative Party pre-2005 I was delighted that the policy was to abolish student fees and in the constituency I worked in we worked quite a lot on this policy because we knew it was the right thing to do. I was horribly disappointed when David Cameron reversed this policy - it was just one more example of a very rich man assuming that the rest of the population could afford the lifestyle he can.

This was a good statement yesterday and the £15/£20 million cost is one well worth paying - in fact at approximately £3.63 per person it's a downright bloody bargain.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The SNP Whirlwind

Well, people who think politics is boring obviously haven't been paying attention to the last month in Scottish politics. From the final declaration of the results, to the threatened legal challenges, the discussions on coalition and deals to Alex Salmond's election as FM and Tony Blair's refusal to even speak to him it's all been really very exciting.

And amongst all this the new Executive has been making some really quite substantial policy announcements - the reversal of the decision to close A&E Units, cross-party co-operation on sex offenders, the NHS Staff pay deal, plans for a new Skills strategy, the investigation into rendition flights, discussions with GPs on opening hours and today's exceptional announcement that education will once again be free in Scotland. (more on that later)

In a world where politics can be depressingly homogenous the SNP are proving that there are significant differences between the Parties and that voting a new government in will change things. Of course, not everything will be plain sailing - all of these excellent policies will have to be paid for, and that may mean a tax hit. So more interesting times ahead.

New Links

I've added a few more blogs to the sidebar and a new category of "Makes Me Laugh". Pop in and see these sites - your day will be that little bit better for it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

F1 Whining

For a sport full of men leading rich, glamorous lifestyles F1 really does harbour some whiners. Latest complaint comes from reigning World Champion and number 2 in the race Fernando Alonso who is complaining that McLaren favour Lewis Hamilton.

Is he kidding? Does he not remember Monaco?

Face facts Fernando - Lewis is coping much better with the pressure this year than you are. Suck it up and beat him, or be pleased for your successful team-mate. But don't be a whiny brat.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Walk for Life - The Finish Line

Walk for Life

The Walk for Life for Crusaid was on Sunday and I walked 10k around some of London's best spots. I am really pleased to have raised over £350 - makes the sore thighs all worthwhile. Thanks to everyone who sponsored me and if you haven't yet you can at my fundraising page.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How not to balance the books

So the NHS not only turned about its deficit last year but had a £500m surplus.

This is not a good thing when waiting lists are on the increase, operations cancelled, junior doctors cannot find work, hospitals are unclean and patients and staff are just generally fed up.

The NHS is not a profit making organisation - a £500m surplus is as bad as a £500m deficit as it implies that more emphasis has been placed on cost-cutting than on patient care. Still, I'm sure that there have been plenty of clip boards purchased.

The NHS is in a real mess at the moment and the government are doing nothing about it other than claiming everything is better than under the Tories (a decade ago).

Monday, June 04, 2007

2012 Logo

They say:

"When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life.
Tony Blair

"This is a truly innovative brand logo that graphically captures the essence of the London 2012 Olympic Games - namely to inspire young people around the world through sport and the Olympic values"
IOC President Jacques Rogge

"This is not just a marketing logo, but a symbol that will become familiar, instantly recognisable and associated with our Games in so many ways during the next five years."
Tessa Jowell

I say

"Bloody ugly mess"

Friday, June 01, 2007

You Lost Jack - Get Over It

Stayed up late last night to watch the First First Minister's Questions with the First SNP First Minister. All the reviews I had read (ok so Brian Taylor's and Indy Gal's) had highlighted both how good Salmond was and how amusing Annabel Goldie always is so it seemed like one to watch.

What struck me wasn't how good Salmond was - and he was, or how funny Annabel was - and she was but how angry Jack McConnell was. He sarcastically stressed the words "First Minister" as if he still can't believe that he was beaten, his face was either grey or white with bitterness and he banged on about how the new Executive should do exactly as he would do.

It's hard to lose elections - I know this from bitter experience, I was a Conservative Party member from 1994-2005 but you don't get anywhere by sulking about the result a month later and throwing your toys out of the pram.

Opposition is an important job, Governments have to be held to account for their actions. Jack McConnell demeans himself, his position, the First Minister and Executive and most of all the Scottish electorate by behaving like a petulant, spoilt brat.