Monday, April 30, 2007

Surgery this evening ...

Regular weekly surgery this evening at 6pm ... the very last one of this 4-year term ;-(

Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart ballot paper

... and here is a mock up of the Ward 9 Fountainbridge/ Craiglockhart ballot paper ...

... (again if you click on it, it comes up as a much clearer image).

Now, I'm obviously very biased ... and I won't bang on about how you should consider voting ... but graphic below is a clue to how I'll be casting my own, personal vote at around 7.01am this coming Thursday ;-))

Edinburgh Central ballot paper

As promised earlier ... here is a mock-up of the Lothian Region/Edinburgh Central ballot paper.

Not sure how well it will show up on the blog (if you click on it, it comes up as a much clearer image) ... pretty lengthy 'Lothian Region' left-hand side, as you can see, but only the four main Party candidates on the Edinburgh Central Constituency right-hand side.

Still believe this is the only "all-female" constituency contest in Scotland ... does anyone know for certain?

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Sunday evening exhaustion well and truly set in ... 'lampost poster fever' over for a few days - just got to take the damn things down next weekend now ;-((

Lamppost Posters

It's Sunday, so it must be lamppost posters ... I can hardly contain my excitement.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Campaign Mania

"Campaign Mania" now well and truly set in ... every single party activist, from whatever political persuasion, rushing around the city trying to complete 2,376 tasks before 7am this coming Thursday and the opening of polling.

Bit disappointed as we only managed to finish off 2,374 today ;-))

Director's Weekly Meeting ...

Director's weekly meeting yesterday morning - was such a frantic day thereafter that I didn't even have time to log on to the blog and register an entry ... shocking how time-consuming this democracy business is ;-))

Last Director's meeting of the current 4-year term ;-(

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Full Council Meeting ...

Last Full Council Meeting (of this four-year term!) today ... agenda can be found here.

Bit of a delayed start to the proceedings, due to the official opening of the new Waverley Court Council HQ earlier in the morning.

Thereafter, the main agenda was completed in a surprisingly short time ...

One week to go!

Only one week (seven days!) to go ... and still so much to do.

Do always enjoy the final stages of an election campaign ... this one generating an incredibly hectic pace in the dash for the finishing line ;-))

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bit of a 'Thank You' ...

Much later this afternoon, Ewan (Council Leader and fellow blogger!) organised a bit of a 'Thank You' for all the staff involved in finalising the second-round of the new school building programme ... good to be able to pass on our gratitude for the huge amount of behind-the-scenes work that has gone in to this project.

Very late evening again; election, election, election mania definitely in full-swing ...

Elections Consultative Group meeting

Elections Consultative Group meeting later this afternoon ... bound to be a pretty robust discussion about postal voting, given the slight delay in the dispatch of papers for all of Edinburgh ...

... not to mention another 20 or so Local Authorities across Scotland apparently ;-((

Children 1st meeting

Brief meeting with Children 1st this morning ... part of an ongoing dialogue about a variety of funding issues.

Constructive relationships now built up - would be a shame to lose them at the end of next week ;-((

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to cast your vote ...

Well done the BBC Scotland website ... this is the clearest description of how to cast your vote (for whatever Party!) that I've yet seen - well worth a quick look.

Still hoping to display some mock-ups of my own ballot paper soon ;-))

Last Full Group Meeting ...

Quite unbelievably, we have a Full Council meeting (agenda here) this coming Thursday - six days before an election ;-((

Thus, one last Full Group Meeting (of this Administration, I hasten to add!) to attend this evening ... let's hope it doesn't drag on too long, so we can get back on the never-ending campaign-trail ...

Royston Primary School

Out to Royston Primary School this morning to meet some parent's representatives ... bit of anxiety over changes in the proposed number of full-time places at the Nursery Class within the school.

With Elizabeth's (local councillor and fellow blogger!) help, took the parents through the proposed changes, making it clear that we will keep it under review and certainly amend if the Department's projections are badly wrong ... which isn't usually the case, but the guarantee of review is there.

One big positive that I felt may have come out of the meeting is the potential establishment of a Parent Council at the Primary School, which doesn't currently have one ... every cloud has a silver-ling, as they say ;-)

Monday, April 23, 2007

ALP Hustings ...

Adult Learning Project hustings later this evening, at Tollcross Community Centre. All 7 main parties represented on the platform ... sign of the 'PR times'.

Good event, enjoyed the evening, with a pretty reasonable turnout for a (mainly) local hustings ... not enough of them organised really.

One downside of the 7 parties at the top table is a ridiculously short time for each respondent to answer questions ... very difficult to get a lengthy dialogue going. That said, the chair was scrupulously fair and gave us all an equally short crack-of-the-whip!

Gorgie Dalry Community Association

Early evening and off to a meeting of the Gorgie Dalry Community Association ... primarily to continue the dialogue over concerns with the potential redevelopment of the Tynecastle area, and the move of the current Tynecastle Nursery School.

Robust and healthy discussion/debate ... just as it should be!

Last Group Executive meeting

Last 'Labour Group Executive' meeting, before the election, first thing this afternoon.

Looking at the schedule of such meetings post-election, there appears to be one every five seconds in order to get any new political arrangements up and running as quickly as possible ... just when I thought there were only 9-days to go ;-((

Community Meeting in Hutchison

Community Meeting on Youth Programme issues in the Hutchison Estate this morning ... ironically, for once, it seems that money to fund a summer-programme is not the issue - but finding an appropriate number of qualified Youth Workers is ;-(

... so, any such qualified Youth Workers out there looking for a summer job in a central part of Edinburgh ... do get in touch ;-))

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Just realised that I haven't posted this graphic for a while ... just a polite reminder ;-))

Not that I'm at all nervous of course ... just keen to be sure that no stone is left unturned in my quest to fully explain the new voting system to constituents ;-)

Leaflets, leaflets, leaflets ...

Yes, it's that dreaded "post title" again - leaflets, leaflets, leaflets!

Some family friends came over today - from darkest Airdrie (where I originally hail from - I know, it explains a lot!) - to help with the final push ... literally thousands and thousands of local leaflets put out today.

I try very hard not to think how many may well go straight into the recycling bin ;-(

On the bright side, at least we haven't had the unalloyed joy of erecting lampost-posters this weekend - that's coming up at the end of this week.

I can barely contain my excitement at the prospect ;-))

... hopefully they won't be as big as this one ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Evening off

Apart from the inevitable e-mails - and keeping the blog up to date - actually took the evening off tonight.

Met my wife for the first time in days ;-((

99 Red Balloons

Very busy day ... key-visit to Edinburgh by Gordon Brown.

These events always take a huge effort to get right - but the campaign team did a great job and all seemed to go really well.

No quips about spot the one who's not a balloon please ...

Early afternoon spent doing yet more leafletting; and late afternoon canvassing in the Shandon area (where I live!) of the new Ward with Sarah.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A few goodbyes ...

This evening, had a bit of a leaving bash for colleagues who aren't standing again on May 3rd. Of course, it may be more than they who aren't coming back ;-(

That aside; there is the serious point that a really large proportion (maybe up to 50%) of the new Council is going to be completely new themselves to Local Government ... as a supporter of STV-PR, I welcome this prospect of fresh ideas coming to the Council, but there will be a big onus on a good quality induction process being put together for them all - no matter from what political persuasion.

Laichpark estate

Out with Sarah and Alistair again this afternoon in the Laichpark estate area of the Ward ... once more, the reception on the doors is entirely contrary to some of the national polls.

Absolute prediction of this election result is not easy ;-(

Director's meeting

Council life continues - despite the election fever - and had my weekly meeting with the Director of Children and Families this morning.

Only one or two more of these to go now before the big day!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

SCDN Hustings this evening ...

Attended a hustings tonight, put on by the Scottish Community Development Network (SCDN) ... an event they'd primarily organised to help launch their "Manifesto for Community Development in Scotland". Labour, Lib-Dem and Greens represented; and a generally consensual debate was had by all.

Some interesting points around "structure versus ethos/capacity" when it comes to making community development 'real' ... both needed obviously, but much greater emphasis was being placed on ethos/capacity by the Community Development practitioners in the audience.

Definitely a very specific message that I have taken from the evening.

Eurovision Song Contest of politics?

And what about this explanation of STV from Brian Taylor ... also on the BBC website?

... actually, I think it's to be welcomed that there appear to be numerous explanations of the new voting system being offered up - especially on mainstream sites like the BBC.

All that said, don't forget the very basic message ... it's all as easy as 1,2,3 ... as long as you put the 1 next to Burns that is ;-))

Chest hair helps explain voting system??

What has this chest hair got to do with STV - well; this short video clip on how STV works - just spotted it on the BBC website - is really quite scary ... I hadn't realised that I may have to squeeze into a 'phonebox with some of my local opponents ;-((

What can I say ... the 'video clip title' did get me to watch it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ballot Papers

I've had several people ask me just 'exactly' what the ballot papers will look like for both the Local Government and Scottish Parliament elections ... well, the Vote Scotland website has lots of useful (and impartial!) information on all of this ... do have a look.

Meantime, I will try and get an actual mock-up of the 'Ward 9 Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart' ballot paper and the Scottish Parliament ballot paper for 'Lothians/Edinburgh Central' on to the blog as soon as feasible ...

Democrazy Video and Gig

"Democrazy", which I've mentioned several times before (link also on the side bar!), have just put together their 'Get Involved' video ...

... you can access it here (You Tube site) or here (ERS Scotland site - scroll down a bit and you'll see it).

There have been (to date) a remarkable 117 songs uploaded to the Democrazy website and there is even going to be a gig - details here - on the evening of Wednesday 2nd May to showcase some of the entries!

Won't be able to make it myself, as may be pretty busy ;-(

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ballistic Blog Counter ...

My poor Blog Counter has gone ballistic since putting the video up on the site ... not sure if it's good or bad news??

Broadcast success ;-)

It seems to have worked ... and wasn't 'that' difficult to do ... now the actual "content" is another matter completely ;-((

Would welcome any feedback obviously ...

Broadcast / Podcast ... right way up!

Right way up this time hopefully??

Broadcast / Podcast experiment ;-))

Well; I've no idea how this will go down ... several of my avid readers have suggested doing a short 'broadcast / podcast' of my own; so here it is!

Now, my computing skills are reasonable, but not great ... so I've recorded this onto my very cheap digital camera, opened a You Tube account, loaded it onto You Tube and posting a link here ... I hope it all works??

Monday, April 16, 2007

More election broadcast mania?

Well, not really ... but several of you have asked if I'd consider putting up a short, personal PPB for the Ward I'm standing in??

I had been thinking of this; but am completely illiterate when it comes to 'all-things video' on the web ... but, in the spirit of trying to respond constructively to blog-posts, I'm going to have a go at this as soon as I get a few spare minute - - don't hold your breath ;-(

Caption Competition ;-)

I just know I'll regret this ;-((

Sent to me earlier this evening - was taken when we were all out on Friday in the Hutchison estate.

The observant amongst you will recognise St. Cuthbert's Primary School in the background ...

Poll volatility

Douglas Fraser, in the Herald this morning, mentions a poll putting Labour 3-points clear ... same polling outfit (in the same newspaper) had us 12-points behind just a few weeks ago?

... proof, if ever it were needed, that the result is indeed pretty "unpredictable". I'll say.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Election broadcast mania

Election broadcast mania in the press today ... over a Scottish Labour Party PPB that's going out today/tomorrow.

... okay, it's undoubtedly a good story - I'm not denying that - but does it "really" warrant front-page coverage the first weekend after all the main Party manifestos have actually been launched?

Candidates Victorious! (No Election Necessary)

For anyone who thinks First-Past-the-Post is just fine as an electoral system; have a quick look at this.

... two WHOLE COUNCILS decided by unopposed Wards!

Quite unbelievable really.

Thankfully, that type of democratic accountability won't be happening in Scotland ever again ;-))

Saturday, April 14, 2007

STV Explained

ERS Scotland website has a really good "STV Explained" section on its homepage ... well worth a look ;-)

... loads of other useful information on voting systems in general, as well.

Office duties this afternoon

Office bound all of this afternoon, whilst rest of the team were out doing yet more leaflet delivery and canvassing ... it never ends ...

Weather absolutely fantastic and here's hoping it's just like today on Thursday 3rd May ;-))

Gorgie Road

Out in Gorgie Road campaigning this morning - Sarah and Alistair with us again ... and once again a pretty reasonable reception received.

Will be interesting to see if the national polls have moved any at all ... guess the Sunday papers will have plenty tomorrow, which will be the first since all the main Party manifestos have been published.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Evening in

An evening in ... what a joy after a pretty busy week. Great to see the family again and forget about envelopes, leaflets, posters, stickers and votes for just a few hours ;-))

Hutchison estate

Out in the Hutchison estate again this afternoon with Sarah and Alistair ... pretty good reception overall; no correlation with the national polls whatsoever.

Guess we'll find out which is correct in less than 20-days from now!

Semblance of normality returns

A semblance of some normality should return to the flat this afternoon, as the family gets back from their Easter break ... better get the microwave cleaned up pronto ;-)

No question that I've seen much more of Labour Party activists this week than my own wife ... all you political anoraks out there will thus, I'm sure, appreciate just how good a week this has been ;-))

Friday 13th

Friday 13th - surely time for another national opinion poll to be published ;-(

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Seven candidate locally!

Seven candidates in my own patch - Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart (Ward No.9) ... all four main parties, plus Greens, SSP and Solidarity ... no Independents?

... although there are several spread across many of the other new multi-member Wards in the City.

Four candidates only?

All the Holyrood constituencies have their candidates nominated now - thought it pretty noteworthy that there are only 4 main-Party candidates in every one of the 6 seats, with the exception of one additional Independent in Edinburgh West. Quite a change from 2003.

That said, there does appear to be a record number on the Lothian List side of the ballot paper - some 23!

... and Edinburgh Central has 4 female candidates - wonder if it's the only such constituency in Scotland ... I suspect it may be?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reith Lectures 2007

Caught the first 2007 Reith Lecture earlier today on Radio 4 (I have a complete addiction to Radio 4 with it on in the background at every possible opportunity) ...

Anyhow, this year's series of lectures being given by Jeffrey Sachs and it was a very compelling performance. I'll definitely listen to the other 4 lectures, if possible, or at least catch up with them via the Radio 4 website in due course.

... notice the last one is actually being delivered locally here in Edinburgh ... would be good to attend ;-)

Admin, admin, admin ...

Spending most of today running around doing a variety of highly important (??) campaign tasks:

  • ordering and delivering yet more envelopes to the main campaign office (I really think someone may be eating them?)
  • finalising drop-off schedule for the remainder/s of Sarah's election address with the Royal Mail ... who have been very, very helpful thus far!
  • finishing off the ordering of the next round of leaflets for my own local Ward ... Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, which was of course Craiglockhart/Fountainbridge until a few weeks ago ;-))
  • mailing and delivering a wide-variety of letters/forms to a range of constituency/Ward contacts about the new voting system/s ... as easy as 1,2,3 ;-)

... all this in an atmosphere of austere calm of course ;-((

Hutchison & Chesser Community Council's new website

Local Community Council have got their new website up-and-running ... think it looks pretty good actually!

... better than this out-of-date map of the area, that's for sure ;-)

Just surviving

Just surviving having been abandoned by the family this week ... only a couple more days to go; will the microwave make it?

One upside of these enforced solitudes is the ever-welcome ability to play some unusually loud music ... have rediscovered Radiohead's "OK Computer" this week - it does have to be one of the best albums ever, for sure ;-))

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Education the top priority

The Scottish Labour Party manifesto was formally launched this morning over in Glasgow ... you'll be glad to know I won't be reproducing the whole 100+ pages here ;-)

But the BBC Scotland "manifestos at-a-glance" section is well worth a quick look ... as I've admitted before I am biased, of course, but I really do think there is just no comparison between what the two major Scottish parties are proposing.

And I'm obviously delighted that education is featuring so prominently in the national manifesto ;-))
And as those who know me well will attest ... I'm no slavish opponent of independence, but is it a priority set against what has been launched by Labour today ... not for me it isn't; not by a long way.

Director's Weekly Meeting

Weekly meeting with the Director of Children and Families this morning ... not the usual 'Friday meeting slot' due to the Easter holiday period; thus a bit of catching-up to do.

Obviously been a bit of a quiet news period, with the Director's post itself attracting a bit of press comment yesterday ... anyhow, this didn't form the main basis of our weekly agenda! Second round of school-building programme (contract now finalised); Children's Services Inspection (ongoing); and many other such exciting issues to the fore ;-))

Monday, April 09, 2007

No Monday Surgery tonight

No Monday surgery tonight, due to the Easter Bank Holiday ... but back to a semblance of usual business tomorrow with a return to the 'proper' office and the usual round of scintillating meetings.

Maybe all that envelope stuffing wasn't so bad after all ...

Office Duties calling

Office duties all day today ... and it's Easter Monday ;-((

Mailings and leaflets coming out of our ears ... but at least the office conditions were better than this - primarily due to the presence of some really good caramel digestives.

Truly amazing what will inspire people in times of desperate need ;-)
... stomach is rumbling just looking at the picture ...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bolton Abbey visit

Back in Edinburgh, after an all-too-brief couple of family days in Yorkshire ... I know, I know, should have been stuffing those envelopes (I will be tomorrow, honest).

Very pleasant visit to Bolton Abbey yesterday - in the middle of an absolute heatwave down South - and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon spent on the local steam railway (which all the kids loved) and then wondering slowly around the Sculpture Trail within the grounds.

Everyone particularly liked this sculpture situated in one of the many streams running into the River Wharfe.

Rest of the family still away until this Friday; so microwave is again on emergency standby ... that's if I get any time to eat at all of course, given the amount of electioneering to be undertaken ;-))

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Good Friday ... and hoping for a bit of family time over the next couple of days, before the final few weeks of the campaign consume absolutely every minute of every day.

A very happy Easter to one and all!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

THE "election address" received

Should note that I received Sarah's election address today at home ... made all that lovely envelope stuffing seem worthwhile - well, almost ;-)

Needless to say, many, many more such enjoyable election tasks remain on the immediate horizon ;-(

Easter visitor chaos begins ...

Absolute chaos in the flat this evening as six adults and five kids all round for early Easter tea ... quite enjoyable really ;-))

... and managed to mainly stay off any discussion of politics completely. It won't last the weekend!

Candidate Burns

Am now formally 'Candidate Burns' for the Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart Ward ... papers all lodged this afternoon and, amazingly, no amendments/mistakes required/made.

Was keen to get it all sorted before the Easter weekend, as I suspect there will be a bit of a late-rush of nominations in the early half of next week ;-(

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Columbus Run!

Bit of a blast from the past this evening with a 'phone message from a very old Scouting friend ... who is about to do The Columbus Run (later in 2007) ... and wants to 'park' the boat on George Street in Central Edinburgh - all part of a cunning fundraising plan I believe?

Haven't managed to call him back yet, but obviously I'll advise him to seek a suitable parking dispensation ;-))

Nomination complete

With some friendly prompting from my agent ;-) ... got my nomination papers for the City of Edinburgh local government elections completed today; so from tomorrow should be formally registered as the Scottish Labour Party candidate for the new Ward No.9 - "Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart".

A lot more detail - including maps - on the new Ward can be found here at the very informative Edinburgh Elections site!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


The "VoteScotland" website has some really good links and information on it now ... if you have any queries about the voting systems for the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Local Councils (both elections on May 3rd of course!) then do have a quick look ... of course, it's all as easy as 1,2,3 ;-))

Poor Car ;-((

My poor old Citroen Saxo ... whose suspension is under very serious pressure today as we transport lots ... (and I do mean "AN AWFUL LOT") ... of itinerant election leaflets from the main Party Office to the Post Office!

All part of the grand plan to ensure our very local, electoral message is delivered on time ;-))

At least I've now got a key to open the damn boot ...

Elections Consultative Group

Attending a meeting of the Elections Consultative Group this morning ... its a group chaired by the Council's Chief Executive (as Returning Officer) to which all the political parties are invited - keeping everyone updated on progress towards May 3rd.

All the more crucial this year, with the move to STV-PR for local government elections ... which isn't getting 'huge' attention yet with all the focus on Holyrood opinion polls ;-((

Monday, April 02, 2007

Just as I thought ...

Just as I thought; have spent the whole day - and I do mean ALL DAY - pounding the streets to try and deliver every piece of literature that refers to Sarah as an MSP ...

... and of course, every street I had to deliver to was a classic Edinburgh hill ... at least they all felt like that after the first four hours ;-((

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Envelope Stuffing

Just spent the whole of Sunday envelope stuffing ... the sheer joy of election campaigns ...

... and the bloody weather was marvellous outside.

Ah well, lets hope it holds out until tomorrow, when we will all be in a blind-panic to distribute anything with 'MSP' on it before midnight Monday when the Scottish Parliament is officially dissolved!