Friday, July 25, 2008

So - What Next?

As the dust begins to settle (and it is settling already) the parties all have to look at their next moves. Immediate concerns for the SNP will be getting John Mason working hard as an MP - difficult to do when the House has shut down for the summer. It will take at least until after recess before he has any help whatsoever in terms of money (after all he's not technically a Member of Parliament until he has been sworn in, so no allowances) but not hitting the ground running is not an option.

And there's the Baillieston by-election to think about too with John Mason having resigned already. Is there a candidate in place? Is there a suitable candidate in place? The SNP will need to select someone who can fill John's shoes as a first-rate councillor. And then get campaigning immediately. No rest for the winners here.

As I said in my post yesterday they also need to get a good answer to the question of what the policy is in the event of a failed referendum campaign.

As for Labour - well, they've got to select their Parliamentary candidate pretty sharpish. Theoretically they should take this seat back, even if they lose the General Election but they won't win it by just assuming it will come back to them. If the rumours about their lack of canvass data is true - and the fact they couldn't get their vote out would imply they were - they need to be spending the next couple of years knocking on every door in the constituency. Twice. And I'm sure MPs in other "safe seats" will be wanting to know if they need to do the same, the answer's yes.

They also need to treat the council by-election with a lot of respect. They could win it, although I'm not convinced. This is one election where I think that candidate selection will matter a lot. As will an early start.

As for the others, well the Lib Dems need to sort themselves out a leader and rethink their by-election strategy. This was a pretty shocking performance from them. The Tories - more of the same from them would be good. They were gutsy, spirited and put up a good show in the face of public antipathy and a major squeeze operation. Solidarity and the SSP need to ask if they still have a place in Scottish politics. Between them they were less popular than the Conservative candidate. In the East End of Glasgow. The writing's on the wall.

So an interesting night, but the story didn't end at 2am. There's still a lot more fights to be had in the East End over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

Predictions, predictions, predictions

Well apart from the turnout, winning party and majority my predictions were totally spot on. I'm giving up the prediction lark.

Until the next time that is.....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Election Day Campaign Review

So it's finally election day and early accounts indicate that its a slow one. Time for a totally unscientific campaign review and a bold, but probably flawed prediction. Living in Surrey I've not been on the ground in the campaign so am relying on blogs, news coverage, snatched bits of gossip and my own opinions to make these judgments.


Started brilliantly and captured the Big Mo early on. Picked a good, local, popular candidate - then did their level-best to stop him speaking in case he was a bit off-message. It was easy for Labour to attack the campaign as another Salmond ego-trip as he spoke more than the candidate. Ultimately though that won't make a huge difference as people like to hear from the party leaders and many people in the area know John Mason anyway.

The Party needs to get a better answer to the question about what they'll do if the referendum on independence goes against them.

A good, solid campaign. 8/10


Dear God - how bad was the start of this campaign? They failed to abide by the first rule of elections - if you don't have a candidate don't call an election. The crucial first weekend was a disaster which has tainted the rest of the campaign by allowing the SNP to grab the momentum then run with it. When they selected their fourth/fifth/nineteenth choice candidate it was a good one and that helped to steady the ship. There have been a few gaffes and bad news stories since but nothing that will matter to people outside politics.

Before Mags Curran 0/10
After Mags Curran 6.5/10

Lib Dems

Have been anonymous, bland and focussed only on the fire station, admittedly a damn good local issue. Don't rate their campaign or their chances of keeping third spot.

Dull dull dull 4/10


A good show in a seat they will never even have a sniff of winning. A good candidate and a well liked Scottish leader have given the Tories more airtime and control of the agenda than is really their right. Will still get a kicking, but a respectable one and could possibly overtake the Lib Dems into third.

Punching above their East End weight 7/10

The others

Well, not being in the constituency there's not much to see or say. Looks like the SSP and Solidarity may finally wipe each other out of any sort of relevance. Expect the Greens to come fifth.


Low poll of about 31% with Labour just holding on by about 1000. Conservatives to come third and everyone below them to lose their deposit. I expect everyone to be back in Baillieston in about 8 months time as Margaret steps down and Steven Purcell goes for his place in Holyrood, lining up a leadership bid as the next hapless Labour leader falls by the wayside.

There has been no number-crunching, no inside information, nothing but gut feeling so expect this prediction to be utterly wrong. :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nailing the Lie

How often have we heard the assertion "If you're innocent you've got nothing to fear"? Reassuring us that ID cards, biometric tracking, CCTV everywhere and 42 days dentention won't affect anyone who isn't guilty of some evil plot against the state. We're being lulled into a false sense of security, safe in the knowledge that its only other people who will lose their civil liberties and not us.

Hopefully this story will cause just a few more people to ask questions about the use of legislation in a frightening and dangerous manner. Because a woman had a mixed race child she was accused of trafficking him. Then because she stood up for herself she was detained under the Terrorism Act - you know the one that only the guilty will be affected by. The officer in question has been removed from the particular duty and Kent Police have paid compensation - both good - but the fact remains that this family were targeted because the legislation and the power to curb the rights of the British public exists for police officers and authority figures to use as they damn well like.

But don't worry folks - if you've got nothing to hide then you've got nothing to worry about.

Why Shouldn't MPs Holiday Abroad?

I've been meaning to blog about this for a few days but an entry on Tom Harris MP's fab blog and an article by Mayor Bo-Jo in the Telegraph brought it back to mind.

In all of the great witch-hunt of MPs over expenses one casualty seems to be their right to choose a family holiday abroad. The UK party leaders are falling over themselves to show their green/caring/committed to UK/thrifty credentials by holidaying in the UK and I'm sure the snippy comments will come in soon about fat cat Cabinet Ministers sunning themselves while catastrophe X happens.

But really, it's none of our business where anyone goes on holiday. I don't expect my boss to get snippy about my holiday destination or anyone who uses the services of my workplace to complain that I'm not holidaying in the UK, so why should we care where our MPs go with their families on holiday? Every family is entitled to go away and relax together and it is up to them where they go. Why should they have to justify it to their purient constituents - or worse a purient newspaper? The vast majority of MPs (from all parties) actually work very hard and face a lot of unneccessary criticism for the actions of some who are playing the system in an underhand manner. Let's not drive good people out of an important job just because they're not prepared to play our cynical games.

MPs have a tough job - let them enjoy their holidays.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mamma Mia - The Review

Just come back from Mamma Mia - the movie not the stage show.  

It was stupid, camp, with ropey singing - really Pierce Brosnan can sing nane and Colin Firth isnae much better.  I loved it.  Loved it.  Loved it.  The campness was delicious, the action was fantastically fun, the scenery was gorgeous (I have to go to Greece!), the acting was much better than the singing and it was just fantastic.

The dodgy singing is totally forgivable as its all done with great humour.  You should go see it.  As soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do they never learn?

Following the failed £120 bribe at the time of the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, the government is at it again.

A postponement of the 2p fuel duty increase has been announced. Yet again in the middle of a tricky by-election. Do Gordon Bown and Alistair Darling think we are mugs? Taxes are surely set for a reason - the economic well being of the country. If it's ok to change them every time the government looks like losing a seat in the House of Commons it means it wasn't necessary. If the revenue was needed then how is going to be replaced?

The government should stop trying to bribe the electors and treating us like fools. Hopefully it will backfire in Glasgow East in an even more spectacular fashion than in Crewe and Nantwich.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Speak up - or shut up

I've been trying to steer clear (mostly) of the Glasgow East by-election. My dad is a councillor in the constituency and I regard Davena Rankin as an old mate so I don't want to say anything that would annoy either of them. But I'm intrigued by the news of Dorothy-Grace Elder having a pop at SNP candidate John Mason. Unfortunately I don't have a link to the article but Kezia Dugdale's blog has reproduced it. Naturally Kezia and labour people love it. Nats aren't so keen. Even Lib Dems have stepped in.

If (and I'm relying on Kezia reproducing the article faithfully) Dorothy-Grace did say "Facing a feisty woman will be the last thing this man wants. He has failed to accept a woman in politics in the past" this is an allegation which should be taken seriously. Sexism and bullying can't be tolerated in any sphere of public life and if she has evidence of this then she should bring it forward and let people judge it.

If, as I suspect, this is a case of two people not liking each other then she should admit it, accept that it happens and say that her comments are based on personal antipathy rather than any sort of concern about John Mason's ability to do the job properly.

Dorothy-Grace Elder shouldn't hide behind her newspaper column. If she has evidence she has to present it, otherwise she has to shut up and stop dealing in mean gossip and innuendo.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Cold Wet Nose Show

Darren and I - along with some friends - will be attending the Cold Wet Nose Show tomorrow where thousands of people will be bringing their dogs. Darren will be taking action shots of the dogs and I'll be printing and selling them on site for the bargain price of £10 each - buy 2 get the 3rd free.

We'll also be offering gift items such as mugs, mousemats, t-shirts, key-rings and coasters.

The show promises to be a great day out - do pop along and see us if you're attending.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I WILL Stop Wasting Food - Maybe

I'm intrigued by Gordon Brown's latest proclamation that we should all stop wasting food. I agree with him - food wastage is a big problem and I'm as guilty as the next person. If not more so. It's not that I throw away perfectly good food. It's that I allow food to go off and then throw it out. I try to plan my menus and buy my food in advance. Store it properly. All that carry on. It all goes wrong when I get home from work at night. Sometimes, in fact a lot of the time, I get home and the last thing I can be bothered doing is peeling and chopping and making something sensible with the nice fresh food I've bought.

I don't think I'm alone in this one. I think in many households time in the evening is scarce and unless cooking is a particularly pleasurable activity it's something that doesn't become a priority. Relaxing, catching up with your partner's day, doing other housework all take precedence. And as a consequence we don't make that nice risotto we had bought fresh veggies for. We grab a snack or a takeaway.

The average British worker has a 45 minute commute and we work longer hours, have fewer holidays and a lower standard of living than our European neighbours. Is it any wonder we're knackered and can't be bothered cooking?

I get that it's wrong to waste food. I understand that we are putting pressure on our bank accounts and the environment by buying food we don't use, but frankly I don't want to be patronised by a man who has a stay-at-home wife, an army of staff, official dinners prepared for him and the ability to eat out every night at taxpayers' expenses without producing a receipt telling me where I'm going wrong in life. Yet another example of Government interference at its most insidious.