Wednesday, June 30, 2010
... clearly, I'm sympathetic to the arguments being put forward in this piece, but I was also fascinated to note the general quality of the comments board - you can check out some of the 805 comments here!
What a contrast with some of our own comments boards - I needn't mention which local papers I have in mind :-(
Ed Miliband was up again this morning.
Actually, I don't really think their main point of attraction is the City of Edinburgh Council :-(
... they all know that the first big, electoral test of whichever one of them becomes Labour Leader will be the Scottish Parliament elections on Thursday 5th May 2011, and they've all been spending quite a bit of time wooing the MSPs down the road!
And they're right to do so - ensuring Iain Gray becomes First Minister will indeed be ever-more important to the next UK Labour Leader.
A few months ago I was interviewed by the 'Improvement Service' who have subsequently produced a guide to blogging, the full text of which can be found here - as you'll see, this distinguished publication gets a minor mention ;-)
... and since then I've had several further requests for interviews (one completed earlier this morning), from a variety of individuals and bodies, who are all undertaking research into blogging.
Personally, I think its good that a bit more serious attention is at last being paid to elected Members having an on-line presence - because, for me, those that don't (and the majority still don't!) are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of their potential interaction with those we owe our existence to ... the voters.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
... I was doing quite well until Saturday, when this post from Political Betting caught my eye!
I'm now back to my bad old habits of checking the figures every day - and they haven't got much better for the Libs since Saturday :-(
I really don't think they get it - this isn't comparable to going in with Labour during the two-terms of 1999-2007 of the previous Scottish Executive ... this is the Government of the United Kingdom that has now budgeted to completely remove the structural deficit by 2015!
That's almost twice the rate of deficit reduction that the previous UK-Government had planned, and almost twice the rate of deficit reduction that most other G20 nations have now agreed.
It's simply not credible to claim there's no alternative.
Equally - I just don't think its credible to claim that active Lib-Dem backing for this unnecessarily brutal programme isn't going to have a catastrophic effect on their vote at forthcoming polls ...
... it will - and I think they'll be in really deep trouble come next May's Scottish election; which will happen just as this October's Comprehensive Spending Review is starting to bite :-((
Monday, June 28, 2010
Everything is fairly dry (given all this sunshine!) but had just enough time to give most stuff a really good water; before having to return to the grindstone.
Roll on Friday the 9th July; and our main holiday period!
... seems like rather a sensible idea to me?
Abolishing the deficit completely by 2015, on the other hand, seems totally laden with very, very real dangers ... dangers that won't affect those making these decisions (nor people like me, it has to be said) but will certainly affect millions of others if the British economy tanks ...
... it is, quite simply for me, not a risk worth taking.
But taken it has been :-(
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
... used the 'Engine Shed' as our venue once more - nothing to do with the food of course ;-)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
... and despite it containing only four 'to note' recommendations (see page 14); it took up several hours of debate and generated acres of negative newsprint.
A tactical masterstroke :-(
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
- David Miliband
- Andy Burnham
- Ed Miliband
... on balance, I think David Miliband is the most likely to make sure that second term never happens: he's passionate, sincere and has the skills to work across the many differing levels of today's modern politics.
And, absolutely crucially for me, he's not 'unnecessarily' partisan or an old-fashioned tribalist.
But, whatever the final outcome in September - this whole leadership selection process will definitely have strengthened the Party for the challenges ahead in the run-up to the Scottish elections in May 2011, and beyond ...
... and despite having been born in (West) Germany, I'm afraid my English bloodline will take precedence on Sunday when I've every expectation of Germany leaving the tournament ;-)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
... believe he spent the morning in the Scottish Parliament; then a bit of campaigning with local colleagues up in Gilmerton (scene of the very soon-to-be by-election!); then an open session with Councillors.
Andy handled a wide variety of questions, at the last session, in a refreshingly frank fashion.
I've now, personally, been very impressed by all three of the leadership contenders that I've met and heard speak first-hand ...
... I'll now decide ASAP on my 1st, 2nd, 3rd preference order.
... but I really fail to see how:
- an increase in VAT to 20% (netting some £13billion per year)
- and a reduction of some £11billion per year in welfare payments
- can do anything but damage the lives of the most vulnerable in British society?
And, astonishingly, I've just heard a Liberal-Democrat Minister say he is "genuinely comfortable with the approach we've taken" :-(
In all due respect, over the coming months, when the reality of these decisions hits home, I am fairly certain that many, many, many people who voted Lib-Dem last month will feel far from 'genuinely comfortable'.
Not a time to be poor, old, disabled, a working parent, or in socially-rented housing ...
... no wonder Clegg and Cable looked like the proverbial 'sick parrots' as George Osborne outlined his rush to austerity :-(
They know full well that if the economy does double-dip (which looks highly likely to me), then there's no Plan B to all of this :-((
Monday, June 21, 2010
... couple more Tuesday-nights at St.Cuthbert's (prior to those school holidays); and my Wednesday-night (6pm) in the Local Library will continue right over the Summer --- except for the couple of weeks when I'll be on holiday myself!
All back to normal in late August.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
... even better; managed to fit in a swift visit to the Old Clubhouse - and just in time to see New Zealand score a goal against the World Champions!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
... and, as you can see, some really stunning foxgloves have completely taken over one of the main flower-beds. Looks good to me ;-)
Had four kids in tow (three of them not mine, I hasten to add!) and they all had great fun burning up some surplus wood in a small fire :-))
Thankfully the fire didn't spread to the neighbouring, wooden compost enclosures!
Excellent time had by all - nearly made me forget all about last night :-((
Friday, June 18, 2010
I just happen to be in Bristol on Sunday the 11th July and was looking forward to watching, whilst on English soil, the man on the left pick up the 2010 World Cup :-((
His P45 might be the only thing he'll be picking up if England don't get their act together for Wednesday?
And yet, the actual report for next week's Full Council Meeting has only four recommendations and they are all simply "to note" (see page 14) ...
... one can't but help question the political sanity of creating so much grief when absolutely nothing - absolutely nothing - is actually being decided next week??
Thursday, June 17, 2010
... yes, that's right: a 1-year long unresolved industrial dispute right here in the capital city of Scotland.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Please do check out Appendix 1 (pages 45-47) ... I may just need to update my earlier list/s of school refurbishments/rebuilds delivered by the previous two Council Administrations ...
... I don't need to update my list of those delivered by the current Council Coalition - here it is:
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
... and whilst the Saville Report is truly shocking, it's ultimate findings won't come as a surprise to many people who lived through those years in Northern Ireland.
And, I have to say, I thought David Cameron handled its release well - anything less than the completely unequivocal statement that he gave would have had the potential to seriously inflame an already very difficult issue.
The head of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for Northern Ireland now has a hugely difficult judgement to make about whether any prosecutions should be forthcoming - how that decision is handled, and communicated, could be every bit as important as today's announcements.
They seemed pretty knowledgeable and, after a quiet start, asked a huge variety of searching questions!
... most difficult was probably, "who are your best friends on the Council?" - I couldn't possibly repeat my answer here ;-)
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sadly, I expect much more of this type of 'solution' in coming months.
Despite downgrading the growth figures, OBR chairman Sir Alan Budd said he did not think the recession had caused "permanent damage" to the economy. He added that the changes to the forecasts were "all within the normal range of uncertainty."
I'm fairly sure that's not what Cameron/Osborne/Clegg had in mind for him to say?
... and I'm glad to see that some journalists, at least, are seeing through the spin to the uncomfortable truth - that by 2014-15, the structural deficit is expected (even by the supposedly more accurate OBR) to be only 0.3% higher than forecast in Alistair Darling's last Budget.
And, of course, we'll see soon enough if the recent quarterly growth trends are maintained - over the short to medium term - in the face of the current onslaught on public sector expenditure?
Sunday, June 13, 2010
... on a much more serious note, managed to fit in a visit to the allotment later 'this afternoon/early evening' and most of the veg. is really starting to get a hold now: potatoes doing well; onions; garlic; red cabbage; broad beans; peas etc. ... all looking fine.
Brussel sprouts appear to have suffered a bit of leaf-damage, but will get some netting up very soon!
Tadpoles are doing great; and the Cherry Tree (pictured here) looks like it will fruit for the first time in three seasons ;-)
As per last Thursday, an impressive performance, plenty of interesting questions and a lively debate. I've just got no doubt that Labour will emerge from this whole process the stronger - no matter who the eventual winner of this specific contest may be.
Look forward to hearing Andy in a few weeks time hopefully ... think he's coming up to Edinburgh around the 8th/9th July.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
... but, all is not lost, as David Miliband was in Edinburgh yesterday morning; and Ed Miliband is in Edinburgh late on Sunday afternoon (presumably rushing over from said-Hustings!) and I think I will steal an hour from my parents to go and listen to him :-(
The overall contest, for me, is a three-way race ... between the Milibands and Andy Burnham. The other two contenders are not for me.
I'm sure Andy will be up in Edinburgh soon and I'll make the effort to go and see him as well, before declaring my 1st/2nd/3rd preference choices.
Anyhow, David Miliband yesterday was very impressive. Clear, concise and not at all afraid to disagree with his audience - such a refreshing approach.
There's just no doubt Miliband senior is future PM-material ... and I'm equally sure he'd lead a very effective team which would give the current Con/Lib Coalition some serious difficulties in coming months.
All-in-all, very impressive.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
... sadly, absolutely no direct apology forthcoming from the Convenor in charge of this policy area - yet everyone else seemed to be tripping over themselves to say 'sorry'. Quite bizarre.
In all the circumstances, just a bit more genuine humility might have been appropriate.
Monday, June 07, 2010
... various rumours are swirling around the City Chambers this evening that the Auditor General is considering a further probe into the project?
Last time he assessed the project was back in June 2007 - you can see the full report here; with his conclusions on the tram contained in paragraphs 9 through to 15, on pages 3 and 4.
Paragraph 14 sums up the position back then, whilst paragraph 15 warns of future dangers.
Personally, I'd welcome any Audit Scotland assessment of what's happened between now and then ...
Sunday, June 06, 2010
... which means many may not know that my mother is from Hampshire (as well as afore-mentioned long-suffering partner being from London) and that in any football tournament, I'll shout for Scotland first, then England next ;-)
I really find it hard to understand the 'anyone but England' mentality that pervades much of Scottish footballing life :-(
So, given Scotland's absence - it's England for me this year - and by glorious happen-chance we'll actually be in Bristol on the day of the World Cup Final to watch Steven Gerrard pick up that trophy ...
... my money is on it :-))
... post-election weekend away as a bit of a thank-you to my long-suffering partner!
Left junior with my parents in sunny Salsburgh and we had a really marvellous weekend in Glasgow.
Managed to fit in a visit to the 'Glasgow Boys' at the Kelvingrove - if you haven't seen it yet, and get the chance, do go ...
... very, very powerful exhibition - with (for me) Guthrie's Highland Funeral just dominating the various displays.
Anyhow, was a joyful (certainly not sad!) weekend :-))
Thursday, June 03, 2010
... intriguing mixture of elation at the very local 'Edinburgh South West' result, and the wider Edinburgh/Scotland results :-))
... alongside some serious despair at the UK-wide outcome :-(
Very lively discussion ensued!
I do somewhat sense the next 12-months will be just as busy as the last with an iron-determination to convert those Scottish figures into as good a result for Holyrood as possible.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
That first article may have an 'apology' in it - but it's from an Officer ... I've yet to see a full apology from the politicians responsible for this fiasco?
In my humble assessment, they would be wise to just say sorry at the relevant Committee Meeting next Tuesday.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
... this all ultimately led to the whole process being abandoned, and in February 2010 (by which time - to their credit - the local Tories had seen sense) to a complete climbdown over the whole fiasco.
Well, the first of the 'lessons learned' reports is out tomorrow - it's going to the Policy and Strategy Committee on Tuesday 8th June - and I can safely predict serious fireworks over its conclusions.
Just keep one, very public statement in mind:
"I have said all along that we have a good robust tendering process that has been cleared by the lawyers at every stage."
What would you then think if the report out tomorrow concluded that:"Legal Services did not have a role in the tender process, in the evaluation of tenders, nor as advisor to the Team or to the Board."
And further still, if the report out tomorrow also concluded:
"The Convenor of the Health, Housing and Social Care Committee was regularly briefed throughout the process."
Just what possible conclusion could you come to - that Officers where to blame?
I think not.
I mentioned a few weeks ago the fact that, as things stand at the moment, the next UK-election (assuming that Coalition lasts??) will be on the same day as the next-but-one Holyrood election in May 2015 ...
... well it appears possible that May 2011 (the next Holyrood elections) could also be a crowded, electoral date as the potential AV-referendum looms large in forward-plans: I'm fairly sure that would cause an equal amount of political consternation north-of-the-border as any 2015 clash?
Interesting times indeed ...