Monday, October 29, 2007

Don't Live Like The Broons

Following my rant last week about chocolate bars comes the news that Maw Broon's cookbook might not be the most nutritionally balanced.

On top of that the Broon's carbon footprint must be massive with all those weans, the chance of passive smoking from Paw and Grandpaw's pipes in that wee tenement must be shocking, the amount of animals killed testing the lipstick that Maggie wears will be enormous and it's really not responsible for one couple to have so many children. On the positive side, the bairn has been wearing the same dress for 80 yeard and it won't have come from Gap so child labour isn't an issue.

Aye, the Broons. May every family in Scotland live just like them.

What Politicians Can Learn From Kate Garraway

Image from Strictly Come Dancing website

I am a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing. The costumes and camp make me very happy - and the judges... Well, I just adore my ickle Bruno and Craig is very tough and manly in a camp sort of way. I gives me fuzzy feelings to watch it, and I'm loving the fact it is now on twice at weekends. It's just a nice way to spend the weekend.

Imagine though the horror at last night's results show. Penny and Gabby in the bottom two. Penny and Gabby? Possibly two of the best dancers in the show. Not the rubbish dancers like Kate Garraway or Kenny Logan or even John Barnes. Frantic text messages went flying about saying little more than "No" "God" and "Are you watching this?" Then after poor Gabby flipped her last flip the vitriol started - Kate Garraway was evil personified. How dare she still be in the show? All thanks to muppet GMTV viewers who blindly voted for her despite the fact that she dances like a rhino on heat. But without the grace and elegance.

Then I started thinking about it and actually Kate is playing a blinder and the exact campaign that politicians should.

Have a simple message - Kate's message for her GMTV viewers is really simple - "I really want to stay in and achieve my potential. There's so much more I can do."

Repeat your message ad nauseum - I watch at most 15 minutes of GMTV in the morning while flicking between SKY, BBC and Everybody Loves Raymond and I've heard Strictly Come Dancing mentioned every day

Third Party Endorsements - not only does she get the message across on a regular basis, but her co-presenters do too. Ben Shepherd is a little star at this.

Know your audience - I could be wrong but Kate hasn't trawled round other shows to sell her message. She has her audience and she is targeting them ruthlessly.

Ability isn't everything - We've all watched election results and thought "But they're useless, how did they win?" Voters don't always care about ability, especially if you minimise how important it is in comparison with trying hard and being likable.

Be nice - There's no point being the best at something if you come across as arrogant, and that was Gabby's downfall. In the end Kate is just more likable.

Be aspirational - Kate focuses on how much can still be achieved. So much better than - oh I did this wrong.

So it might not be fair that Kate is still in and Gabby isn't but that's what happens when democracy is allowed to run riot. An inferior candidate with a good campaign will beat a good candidate with a rubbish campaign. Look and learn politicians - just don't wear the sequinned tops...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thank God for Aviemore

It's perhaps not been the best few days for Alex Salmond. I would say for the first time since May, even counting the defeats in Parliament, he's had a bad week. And unfortunately for him it's been on good policy issues.

First the nuclear story. It was a sound move to write to countries signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to highlight Scotland's opposition to nuclear weapons and to ask for support in Scotland receiving observer status. It continued well the policy of pushing forward Scotland's position as a nation seperate to England. But for God's sake, check who you're writing to when you send letters. Don't just accept that whatever Excel spits out at you is a good thing. Remove the nasty people like Iran, Burma and Zimbabwe from your database. I can just see it now "Dear Mahmoud, Please, please support us and we'll ignore your views on the Holocaust and women and stuff, yours aye, Eck."

There's some people you just don't do business with. First because you don't want to make a stand at any costs, second - well it's just embarrassing to allow Nicol Stephen to score points off your actions and third - the good policy has been lost.

And the 1000 extra/additional/equivalent police officers. The dangers of making promises in opposition that you can't keep in government bit him in the bum this week. It must have been a right red-neck for both Wendy Alexander and Nicol Stephen to make direct hits in the one week.

Still, it's conference this weekend. And he'll perform brilliantly, the SNP members will love it and there will be a bounce. Which will hopefully allow the focus to start to go back onto the good policies.

But the opposition parties will start to have a glimmer of hope - he can be damaged. He isn't invincible after all. There may even be a light...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fat? Stop Eating So Much Then

***rant alert***rant alert***rant alert***rant alert***rant alert***rant alert***

It seems to be a week for the Nanny State annoying me. First it was drinking, now there is the report that says that Obesity isn't the fault of the individual and that the Government has to do "something".

Bollocks. Bollocks. Bollocks.

I'm overweight, I'm technically obese. Despite most things in this country being the fault of the Labour Government this isn't one of them. I know why I'm overweight - it's because I eat too much rubbish and don't exercise enough. I made a decision earlier this year to lose weight. I lost over 2 stone through sensible eating and exercise. I stopped the sensible eating and exercise and have put on a little bit of weight again.

I'm overweight because Krispy Kremes are tastier than vegetables as a snack. I don't hate myself, I don't have a childhood trauma that I'm hiding away from, I don't use food as a substitute for love. I like the taste of chocolate - it's a pleasant thing in life.

Stop bloody telling me that the decisions I make in life should be taken out of my hands and put into the hands of the goverment. I don't want some supercilious leftie telling me what I can do with my life.

I'm going to have a newly re-released Wispa for lunch just to rebel.

Leave Me and My Bottle of Wine Alone

So its not only the neds who down 20 Snakebites a night who are being targeted for government anti-drinking initiatives but the "middle class" drinkers whose bottle of Chardonnay a night habit who are being nannyed now.

First things first before I get accused of not caring about people with drink problems. Alcoholism is a disease and people who suffer need help not abuse, laughed at or most importantly - lectured about their habits. And it can hit all sections of society. When I was a student I worked in the cigarette/spirits kiosk of Safeway in a very working class area. The woman who came in from the suburbs every day for her litre bottle of Smirnoff was just as much an alcoholic as the old men who came in for their magnum of British sherry. She was just cleaner, better dressed and didn't drink sitting outside the shop. Apart from that there was little to distinguish them. And I felt sorry for them all, but kept selling them their booze because it really wasn't my business to interfere in their lives.

I think it is fine that there are suggested safe limits and that these are publicised. I think it's fine that alcohol bottle labels show how many units each bottle/glass contains. I think it is absolutely right and responsible that shop assistants/bar staff refuse to sell alcohol to people who are clearly hammered - and a little more of this would go a long way. But I am sick and tired of being told what I can and can't drink and how much I'm allowed to drink in a day.

I don't want the government to tell me how much I can drink and if I drink more than that it makes me at high risk or a dangerous drinker and I most certainly don't want the drinks companies to tell me (when advertising their overpriced products) to "drink responsibly". Please - if everyone drank responsibly the profits would plummet - don't be politically correct hypocrites and tell me that you don't want me to buy as much of your product as possible.

The government really has to learn to let us make our own choices and if those are the wrong choices then we have to pay the consequences but don't try to insist that government targets are the best way of running the lifes of individuals. They never are.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Protection of minorities or destruction of freedoms?

I've been meaning to blog for a few days about the proposed bill banning incitement of homophobic hatred in England and Patrick Harvie MSP's campaign to extend race hate laws to encompass discrimination against LGBT and Disabled people.

I'm torn on this. I truly believe that there is no place in any civilised society for the kind of abuse these laws are designed to stop. But will it just be abuse that is stopped or will it be used to stop genuine debate or expression of religious and moral beliefs? I have my suspicions that the laws will be interpreted in the narrowest possible manner which will crack down on genuine debate and not do anything to stop the spread of homophobia, racism etc.

There is a real conversation needed on whether or not gay couples should be allowed to adopt. My opinion is absolutely yes, but I respect the right of someone who says the opposite to say that in a measured way. Just because someone's religious or moral beliefs are totally opposite to my own or I find their views unpalatable doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to express those views. When we stop one side of an argument from speaking out we only encourage the extremists. The stifling of the debate on immigration is a perfect example. By accusing anyone who mentioned immigration in a negative manner of racism only the BNP was left speaking from one point of view. We've seen a Church of England vicar visited by the Police for expressing an opinion about Muslim women wearing the veil - I'm sure that this wasn't the kind of comment that the race hate laws were designed for, but that's what they are being used for.

I want to see an end to homophobic comments, I'd be quite happy to see certain rappers in jail for their song lyrics but I don't want someone visited by the police because they say in a reasonable manner that they don't approve of gay relationships. I think I'll reserve judgement on these laws until we see how they work in practice....

Friday, October 05, 2007

Full Of Babies

I am getting so sick of Formula 1 drivers and their whining. Apparently Vettel bashed Webber because Hamilton ran wide. Really? If you can't drive a fast car round a track without smashing into someone else because of another driver's actions then go banger racing or trolley pushing or something.

We're all used to Ralph Schumacher's whining but we live with it because he's in the shadow of a much more talented and successful big brother but this year seems to be a procession of moaning and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Grow up guys. You live in the lap of luxury travelling to exotic locations (and for the most part) getting damn well paid for it. Stop whining because someone split your nails or made a bitchy comment about your latest hairstyle, it's getting dull.

November Election?

It does seem to be the only topic of consideration on the lips (and keyboards) of anyone interested or involved in politics.

The Conservatives are playing "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough" and Brown isn't yet replying.

I've always been in the camp that said there won't be an election this year. I still believe that (although I've gone from 99% sure to about 75%). I just don't see why Brown would do it. Having spent 10 years plotting to become PM and making his desire plain the chance of risking it after only 100 days seems foolish. And while the claims that he has no legitimacy as he wasn't elected make a good playground taunt they actually mean nothing. We don't elect prime ministers, we elect parties and the Party Leader is PM. John Major didn't go in 1990 and there is no reason for Gordon Brown to go to the Palace now.

He's also missed the boat. A week is (as the old cliche goes) a long time in politics. If he had made an announcement this time last week it would have gone well, but the Conservatives have had a good week. Some good, sensible policies have been announced, a stunning show of unity was on display and by all accounts Cameron played a blinder. The polls are already showing an upturn for the Conservatives which, if the doubters can keep their opinions in check for just a bit longer, will probably continue.

The trip to Iraq didn't go as well for Brown as he had hoped. People saw it as the shabby headline grabbing trick it clearly was.

And then there's just the practical reasons. It's hard enough to get people to go out to vote on a warm spring evening in May - it will be damn near impossible in November. Particularly in Scotland and Wales where election fatique will still be in place.

If there's a postal strike it will screw up postal votes and the delivery of election communications - a death knell for many of the smaller candidates.

And of course the register is 11 months old. Even with the rolling registration now in force about 10% of the population wiill still be losing their votes.

Of course the cynics among us may think this plays well with Brown, I'm not sure. A determined Get Out The Vote operation could kill some of his marginal seats. And as for Scotland? The SNP are doing well, despite some defeats in the chamber they are still in their honeymoon period. This could take out some MPs where Brown can least afford to lose them - if he can't keep his backyard happy can he keep the rest of the country?

An election now would be a massive waste of time and money. I don't think Brown will go. Having said that - I did make sure to post my electoral registration form just in case....

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Too Much To Say

Since coming back from holiday things have been just a little busy and I've neglected the blog appallingly. I know that all 2 of my regular readers must be heart-broken....

And it's not as if I don't have things I want to speak about. Darfur, early election, crackdown on trafficking women, and abusive(?) Celtic fans are all on my mind this morning alone.

I'll try to talk about some of this stuff over the next couple of days. I know you can't wait.