Friday, April 30, 2010

Council Meeting today

Unbelievably, we had a Full Council Meeting today - one week before a General Election :-(

... main agenda can be found here.

And Alistair attended another hustings event this evening out at Sighthill - all the candidates represented again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Juniper Green Hustings

Juniper Green hustings event earlier this evening ... Alistair, and all the other candidates in Edinburgh South West, were on the platform.

Very well organised event; large audience; and good debate. I really think Alistair was head-and-shoulders above the rest.

... and I nearly forgot to mention a visit we had in the constituency yesterday - brief local press report here, and a caption-competition picture if ever there was one ;-)

Tories' lack of judgement?

Bias admitted ---

--- but I think Alistair gave a really very important speech this morning in Edinburgh: full text can be found here ...

... didn't get that much media attention unfortunately :-(

Events, events!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Proxy deadline today

Postal vote deadline has passed (last Tuesday, 20th April) but still time up until 5pm today to apply for a Proxy Vote - all the relevant information can be found here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

10-days to go ...

Just 10-days to go now ...

... and everyone in Edinburgh South West is in flat-out campaigning mode: blogging may be sporadic :-(

Roll on Friday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday campaigning

Very busy, penultimate
'election-Sunday' out-and-about campaigning today ...

... lot of postal vote mailings stuffed and dispatched this morning, and then Alistair visited the 'Dalry Colonies Spring Clean' early afternoon - as you can see ;-)

My hallway is now also in a temporary state of (relative) semi-tidiness prior to the delivery of all the final-week materials!

And certainly worth mentioning some interesting detail about who's trusted on the economy in one of the ComRes Polls out today - all the relevant information can be found here.

10-days and counting ...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

(very brief!) Allotment visit

Couldn't resist making a very quick visit to the allotment early this evening ...

... all that sunshine was just too good to miss ;-)

No sign of the potatoes yet, but broad beans going well, and just look at this row of garlic! Not bad I thought?

Could well be the last visit until mid-May now :-(

Sunny Riccarton!

What a difference a day makes ---

--- sunshine all morning/afternoon in Riccarton for our penultimate weekend of leafletting/canvassing ...

... just those lamp-post posters to go now :-(

Friday, April 23, 2010

Very wet Currie :-(

Not the best day for leafletting/canvassing today ...

... but no respite for the hardy squad of volunteers who spent the afternoon in a very damp Currie.

Hoping for somewhat better weather on the 6th May!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2nd Leaders' Debate

Well, for what it's worth - I thought Gordon Brown put in an even better performance this week ;-)

... and the immediate exit-polls seemed to reflect that somewhat, with a three-way split between all the would-be Prime Ministers.

Next week's debate should be fascinating - just hope the Full Council meeting doesn't intrude upon it :-(

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Armageddon beckons?

Most of the senior politicians, across all the parties, have managed to steer clear (so far) of really putting their foot in it during this campaign - but, I have to say, I thought Ken Clarke's IMF-comments today were patently ridiculous.

There is something peculiarly British about the belief that a hung-Parliament will automatically lead to Armageddon - last time I checked, the sky hadn't fallen in on most of the rest of the world (including Scotland) because no single Party had achieved an outright majority?

Of course, I am still hoping for such ;-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Edinburgh South West candidates

Nominations for the Westminster elections closed at 4pm today, and the final list of seven candidates (for Edinburgh South West) as earlier expected:

  1. Caroline Bellamy - Communist League
  2. Clare Cooney - Scottish Green Party
  3. Alistair Darling - Scottish Labour Party
  4. Colin Fox - Scottish Socialist Party
  5. Tim McKay - Scottish Liberal Democrats
  6. Jason Rust - Scottish Conservative and Unionist
  7. Kaukab Stewart - Scottish National Party (SNP)

Can start the print-runs for more materials now that we know the final numeric position of candidates!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Local holiday - if only?

Local holiday in sunny Edinburgh ... hasn't felt like it from where I'm sitting :-(

With only 16-days to go to the big day, the pace of activity hasn't stopped from dawn to dusk today ...

... and we've still got everyone's favourite job coming up in a couple of weekends time: the dreaded lamp-post posters :-((

Must get those numerous envelopes shifted first mind you ...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Envelope invasion ...

Envelopes have once again invaded my hallway and appear to have completely taken over the flat ...

... it's a dangerous business even finding the light switch in the mornings at the moment ;-)

They'll be banished to postal dispatch very soon though!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Caley Sample Room

Managed to escape the campaigning-mania for just a couple of hours this evening and squeezed in a very hearty family-meal at one of our nearby local pubs ;-)

... printer was still running at full-pelt when I returned to base, mind you!

... just 18-days to go.

Tynecastle High School

And here's Alistair and Sarah at Tynecastle High School, which is looking in very good shape ...

... oh; and here's a little reminder that I just can't resist :-)

Oxgangs campaigning

Saturday afternoon spent up in Oxgangs where numerous residents were keen to speak to Alistair ...

... he even met one gentleman who had apparently known his father quite well! Small world.

Tollcross campaigning

Tollcross was the first stop on the campaign-trail this Saturday morning ...

... Alistair met up with Sheila Gilmore, Labour's Edinburgh East candidate, at the Kings Theatre which lies on the 'South West'/East boundary.

Lots of people stopped at the stall to talk to both candidates throughout the morning!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Onions planted

Managed to sneak a quick visit to the allotment this evening - and even got the onion bed planted out ...

... next to a recently weeded fruit-cage, as you hopefully can see here ;-)

A really beautiful evening down at Saughton Mains.

Polling conundrum

Very interesting polls out this evening - showing a renewed three-way split with Labour projected as returning the highest number of seats ...

... there's no doubt these figures have sprung directly from the 1st Leaders' Debate - guess we'll see over the next few days if they can be sustained?

Campaigning with three Councillors!

Canvassing, and delivering election materials, up in Colinton Mains Crescent late this afternoon and no less than three Councillors were in our group!

... anyone would think there was an election imminent ;-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1st Leaders' Debate

ITV had the first of the Leaders' Debates tonight ...

... now I'm clearly biased, so I'll just provide a few links to some of tonight's coverage:

- Sky
- Guardian

For what its worth, I thought Alan Johnson's (the Home Secretary) post-debate comment just about summed it up: "Clegg won on style, Brown on substance with Cameron squeezed out."

Not a good night for the Tories.

Edinburgh South West focus

Appears to be a bit of an 'Edinburgh South West' focus in the Evening News tonight ...

Could all lead to some 'tongue-in-cheek' questioning at the upcoming local hustings meetings ;-)

100-years old today ...

No, not me --- one of my local constituents, and I'm dropping by at 2pm, this afternoon, to visit him and wish him a Happy Birthday!

I don't believe I've ever personally met anyone who's 100-years old before? --- I'll be sure to ask him the secret of his longevity ;-)

UPDATE: Bran Flakes for breakfast, Spam for dinner, and playing golf until your 89-years of age! An amazing gentleman and a very welcoming family.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tollcross Community Council

Tollcross Community Council meeting this evening - quite a healthy turnout, considering that the schools are still on holiday etc.

... reminds me that my better-half and junior are driving me mad at the moment, as they enjoy two full weeks of leisure whilst us political anoraks are slogging our guts out :-(

Self-inflicted, I know, so shouldn't complain!

Nomination papers lodged

Nomination papers for Alistair successfully lodged this morning ... think he may have been the first candidate registered for Edinburgh South West ;-)

There are likely to be seven, that I know of:
  1. Caroline Bellamy - Communist League
  2. Clare Cooney - Green Party
  3. Alistair Darling - Scottish Labour Party
  4. Colin Fox - Scottish Socialist Party
  5. Tim McKay - Liberal Democrats
  6. Jason Rust - Conservative Party
  7. Kaukab Stewart - Scottish National Party

... possibly more? - we'll know by 4pm on Tuesday 20th April.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hutchison and Chesser Community Council

The local Ward demands don't stop - even on the day of your Party's General Election manifesto launch ...

... forgot to mention that I did attend the monthly meeting of Hutchison and Chesser Community Council last night ;-)

No dissolution for us mere Councillors :-(

Monday, April 12, 2010

Labour Manifesto launch ...

Labour Manifesto launch today - the full download is here and BBC coverage can be found here ...

... what doesn't seem to have caught as much mainstream media attention is the fact that apparently only 8,000 copies of the 2005 Manifesto were sold, but that already (just today) over five times that number of copies have been downloaded as PDFs.

A very different election, in so many ways.

Feet firmly on the ground

Guardian podcast now up on their site, wherein you can hear a bit more about that kiss along with the importance of constituency roots and keeping your feet on the ground ...

... another glorious, sunny day for all the local campaigning.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Campaign kissing

Back in Edinburgh (late last night) and most of today spent preparing yet more election materials for delivery over the coming days - as well as doing more canvassing in the local area around the flat.

Guardian 'beatblogger' over to interview Alistair this afternoon, and should appear on the site tomorrow. Did a bit of a tour around Shandon, where Alistair received his first 'kiss' of the campaign from an admiring (elderly) constituent ... and no, she wasn't related to me and I didn't pre-arrange it ;-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gorgie campaigning

And the sun was obviously even shining for a bit of campaigning over in Gorgie!

Why is the weather that bright in Edinburgh on the very day I'm not there??

... don't feel compelled to answer that ;-)

Balerno Farmers Market

Alistair visiting Balerno Farmer's Market today - in the company of my colleague Councillor Ricky Henderson ...

... weather actually looking a lot better up in Edinburgh than down here in London :-(

Edinburgh elections site

One of my Council Administration colleagues (yes, lots of them do read the blog!) has e-mailed to remind me that the City of Edinburgh Council also has an 'elections section' to its main website ...

... quite right too - you can find it here; and it will certainly have lots more local information on it in the coming days when candidates for Edinburgh's 5-Westminster seats are registered.

Certainly well worth checking up on throughout the campaign ;-)

London today

Somewhat frustratingly, down in London for an Electoral Reform Society General Meeting today ... for all the politest reasons, hoping it will be my last visit to the UK capital prior to May 6th!

Needless to say, straight back up on the last train tonight for a very busy Sunday of campaigning in Edinburgh :-)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Don't miss out

BBC Election 2010 website now has an excellent 'How to Vote' section, with good links to all the relevant forms you might need to ensure you're registered and able to vote on May 6th - even if you're going to be unable to get to your local polling station ...

... deadline for Postal Vote applications etc. is 5pm on Tuesday 20th April - so only just over 1-week left to get organised, if so required!

Don't miss out ;-)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

(brief) Allotment visit

Managed to fit in a (very brief!) visit to the allotment early this evening ... a few flowers up around the pond, as you can see here ;-)

Absolutely no sign of the potatoes yet, but some of the broad beans are starting to show through.

Certainly feels like the site will completely transform in the next few weeks ... not that I'll be spending much time there!

How do I vote?

Seems an appropriate time to flag up the Electoral Commission site which gives you all the information you need to know about how to cast your vote ...

... not 'who' to vote for, of course ;-)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

It's the economy, stupid

Think it was Bill Clinton who coined that famous phrase - it's the economy, stupid ...

... and today's national campaigning was certainly dominated by the opposing arguments over the most effective, short-term economic direction for the country.

Robert Peston (at the BBC) has a useful 'reality check' on some of the claims and counter-claims ...

... and whilst the political arguments show no sign of abating - out there in the real world it is indeed the economy, stupid.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Election called for May 6th shock!

And they're off ...

... it was no regular Tuesday after all ;-)

And the polls this morning are still showing that everything is to play for.

I sense a truly frantic 30-days ahead as we approach the election day, this time next month.

Monday, April 05, 2010

New web-site up for Alistair Darling this evening - just in case there's an imminent dissolution of Parliament and he's no longer an MP ... for a brief spell hopefully ;-)

Lots of useful information about how you can help (if so inclined) in any forthcoming election campaign; how to get in touch if you have any general queries; and practical information about the various ways of ensuring your vote is actually cast ...

... and lots of pictures showing the wide variety of local visits that Alistair has undertaken since he was elected to the new seat of Edinburgh South West in 2005.

Of course, tomorrow may just be another regular Tuesday?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to one and all :-)

No respite for us political anoraks, as the pace of campaigning shows no sign of abating ...

... not for another five (or so) weeks at least!

And given the volume of work before us in the next few days, blogging may well be light until next Tuesday.

P.S. By the way - believe it or not, several readers e-mailed thinking the Lib-Dems really were 'privatising' the Mercat Cross :-))

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Name-swap to boost Council-coffers??

The Lib-Dem/SNP Coalition Council have gone too far this time - not to be content with privatising vast swathes of the Local Authority, affecting literally thousands of Council jobs, they've now decided to seek sponsorship for one of Edinburgh's most historic landmarks!

The News Release below has just arrived in my in-box:

A historic landmark in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town is set to be renamed as part of a multi-million pound sponsorship deal being considered by Council officials.

The city's Mercat Cross would become known as the 'Meerkat Cross', after the talking Russian meerkat, Aleksandr Orlov, star of an advertising campaign for Compare the Market – a price comparison website. The furry founder of was recently spotted filming the latest installment of the campaign in Bakehouse Close, just off the Royal Mile, and is said to have fallen in love with the Old Town.

Originally a place where merchants would gather, and later the focal point for popular public events such as hangings, the Mercat Cross is still used for important ceremonial announcements, including the calling of general elections and the succession of new monarchs. Indeed, assuming a General Election is called for 6th May, Lord Lyon King of Arms will read a Royal Proclamation to declare the Dissolution of the Westminster Parliament from the Mercat Cross on 13th April.

Finance convener, Cllr Phil Wheeler, said: "Over the past couple of months, councils up and down the country have faced some of the most difficult financial challenges experienced in living memory as they set their budgets for the coming year. Edinburgh is no different and, if we are to balance the books, we must be innovative in our approach and remain open to new ideas, however outlandish they may seem.

"Our Old Town already enjoys global appeal but I think quirky arrangements such as these can only add to that - while providing a welcome boost to Council coffers. We'd be fools to pass up this fantastic opportunity."

A meerkat close to Orlov added: "One of Aleksandr's great and courageous ancestors, Greatgrandfatherkat Sandy, lived in Scotchland and I think he have great pride in his clan."


Notes to editors:

1. A mercat cross is a market cross found in Scottish cities and towns where trade and commerce was a part of economic life. It was originally a place where merchants would gather, and later became the focal point of many town events such as executions, announcements and proclamations. Despite the name, the typical mercat cross is not actually cruciform - variations range from a short pole stuck in the ground to the grand pillar rising out of the "cross house" in Edinburgh. There is still part of the original 14th century cross built into the shaft of the existing 1885 Mercat Cross which stands to this day.

2. The meerkat, a small mammal, is a member of the mongoose family. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan". A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members.