Monday, May 31, 2010

More than a majority for STV-PR

Think I first mentioned that the majority of MSPs, within the Scottish Parliament, are now in favour of STV-PR way back in November 2007 ...

... well, I'm prompted, by an article pointed out to me the other day, to reflect that not only is that majority still there - but we also now have an STV-supporting Scottish Secretary of State ...

... actually, for good measure, we've had two in as many weeks ;-))

But more seriously;
  • there is a majority in favour of STV-PR in Holyrood
  • the current Scottish Government has STV-PR as Party Policy
  • the current Scottish Secretary of State supports STV-PR
  • and the Scotland Act is about to be re-opened
... what's Bruce Crawford waiting for??

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Campaign-end today; as there was a bit of a 'thank you' party this afternoon for all the activists who helped ensure such a great result for Alistair on May 6th/7th ... you know, the more I look at those figures, the better they seem ;-)

Anyhow, despite the slightly inclement weather, a great time was had by all present.

A slight pause for breath now, and then straight on to the 'Re-Elect Sarah Boyack' campaign!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Apples and Oranges

Here's how to compare apples with oranges ...

... and here's how to compare apples with apples!

That second-link above, indicates that from General Election to General Election, Edinburgh has seen:
  • a 3.1% drop in Lib-Dem support
  • and a 4.1% increase in Labour support

--- which means the gap between the two has gone from:

  • 1.4% in 2005
  • to 8.6% in 2010

That's right - the gap has increased more than six-fold in five-years.

Claiming that as a success is bound to quell any sense of unease on the Lib-Dem backbenches - don't you think?

And we wonder why politicians have got a bad name :-(

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Full Council today

Council meeting today was uncharacteristically brief ... I have a sinking-feeling that June's meeting will not be of similar brevity :-(

Main (and just about only) topic of contention was, as thought, the long-term budgetary position for the Local Authority.

The Labour Group moved a relatively benign amendment, mainly concerned with opening-up the consultation and communication process that's undertaken in developing the Council's budget ... rather bizarrely, the Lib/Nat Coalition rallied against it for what appeared to be no other substantial reason other than it was a Labour Amendment.

All fairly depressing stuff.

They spent most of the debate arguing that the consultation and communication process they were proposing was absolutely fine and everyone would be properly engaged ...

... they seemed to completely forget - rather conveniently - that half-an-hour earlier the Council Leader and Convener of Education had refused to reassure me over the imminent merger/closure of 3 Nurseries --- the proposals for which have been through no local or parental consultation whatsoever?

And the whole recent saga over the Community Centres was temporarily obliterated from their minds ... hardly a paragon of how to consult professionally?

And the traumatic events of late 2007 never came up at all??

Do I thus believe the budget process will be genuinely open and transparent? ...

... what do you think!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The coalition of millionaires?

Apparently, 23 of the 29 members of the new Westminster Cabinet are millionaires?

Does it really matter ... nothing intrinsically wrong with personal wealth, but what does it say when some 80% of the current UK Cabinet are so relatively wealthy?

I guess time will tell whether it helps attune them to the plight of so many whose lives they are about to affect ... but I've got my serious reservations as to whether it will :-(

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Labour Group re-shuffle

As mentioned earlier - Part2 of our Group AGM this evening and minor re-shuffle completed (due to Ian being occupied elsewhere!) with, I'm glad to say, no divisions ... bit of a contrast to our erstwhile local Lib-Dem colleagues :-(

... for those 'political anoraks' out there who are interested in such things, the complete list of the refreshed Labour Group posts follows below - our focus will certainly remain three-fold:

  1. promoting Edinburgh's wider interests at every possible opportunity
  2. speaking up in defence of essential front-line public services here in the city
  3. scrutinising every action of the current Council Administration


Andrew Burns - Group Leader
Ricky Henderson - Deputy Leader

Lesley Hinds - Chair
Ian Perry - Vice Chair

Angela Blacklock - Secretary
Paul Godzik - Assistant Secretary

Gordon Munro - Whip
Cammy Day - Vice Whip


Ricky Henderson - Finance & Corporate Resources

Lesley Hinds - Health & Social Care
Cammy Day - Housing & Local Services
Ewan Aitken - Voluntary Sector

Paul Godzik - Education, Children & Families
Angela Blacklock - Early Years & Equalities
Gordon Munro - Culture, Sport & Leisure

Ian Perry - Transport & Infrastructure
Maureen Child - Environment & Sustainability
Norma Hart - Economy & Regeneration

Eric Milligan - Planning / Police
Eric Barry - Fire / Licensing

Donald Wilson = Governance, Democracy & Smart City


Monday, May 24, 2010

Full Council this Thursday

Full Council Meeting this coming Thursday ... main agenda can be found here; and individual papers via CPOL as usual.

With the exception of the report on the the current budgetary position, not that much of huge controversy - I can sense a prompt meeting ... the prediction of which probably means we'll be in the Chambers until 8pm at least :-(

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Allotment tadpoles ;-)

Finally managed to store all the election materials (A-Boards/Posters etc.) in the basement today ...

... if that Con-Dem Coalition collapses now and there's another snap-election, I'll not be best pleased - well actually, I still would be ;-)

Anyhow, the late afternoon/early evening spent on much more important business; attending to the allotment, which has been 'just a little' neglected over recent weeks. But, a good few hours soon saw it looking in much better shape ...

... and there was high excitement in the 'visiting party' as we discovered the pond was full of our first tadpoles - following on from the arrival of frogs a couple of summers ago :-)

Hope you can make them out in the picture above (in the bottom right corner!) - and thought these alliums were looking particularly attractive as well, and worth posting up a picture ...

... and, to top it all off, the weather was just absolutely perfect for gardening this evening :-))

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Forgot to mention ...

In all the excitement this week about 'equalising pay'; the use (or not) of biomass heating; the true-depth of constitutional radicalism; and the future of Nursery Education in Edinburgh ...

... I completely forgot to mention that on Tuesday night passed, I was re-elected to continue as Labour Group Leader at Part1 of our internal AGM processes ;-)

... yes, only the Labour Party could have a 2-part AGM process!

Portfolio (Opposition Spokespersons) positions finalised next Tuesday ... some changes will have to occur, due to the very welcome problem of our current Finance Spokesperson being occupied elsewhere :-))

Oh - by the way - I should also mention that rumours abound in the City Chambers of 'near successful' challenges to senior members of the Lib-Dem Group ... can't think why??

Friday, May 21, 2010

Equalising Pay?

The local paper has the latest update on the end of formal negotiations on 'equalising pay' this afternoon - you can see it here ...

... but if you ever wanted evidence of such negotiations having utterly failed, then simply cast your eye over the contents of these two links:
  1. Today's News Release from the Council
  2. The "Single Status/Modernising Pay" section of Unison's website

Such variance in interpretation of events, sadly, says all there is to say about how this whole saga is being concluded :-(

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No innovation here please

News out today that Biomass heating schemes appear to be receiving funding all over Scotland - which is surely to be welcomed ...

... but Biomass continues - bizarrely - to be not so welcome in Edinburgh :-(

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Truly radical?

I'm actually not opposed to many of the potential changes that Nick Clegg outlined in his speech earlier today - but to claim that the package amounts to the biggest shake-up of our democracy for nearly 200-years is ludicrous in the extreme ... power has clearly already gone to the man's head :-(

Here's a brief list of the main items of constitutional reforms that have been achieved between 1997 and 2010:
  • devolution to Scotland, via referendum, and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament
  • devolution to Wales, via referendum, and the establishment of the Welsh Assembly
  • devolution to Northern Ireland, via referendum, and the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly
  • devolution to London and the establishment of the Greater London Assembly (GLA) and the post of Mayor of London
  • almost all of the above tiers of Government now use a proportional electoral system (AMS in Scotland/Wales - STV in Northern Ireland - AMS for the GLA)
  • the election of the Mayor of London is undertaken by the Supplementary Vote
  • Scottish Local Government is now (since 2007) also elected by STV
  • European Parliament elections are now undertaken using a proportional Party List system
  • Freedom of Information Acts have been introduced in England, Scotland and Wales
  • The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) was incorporated into UK-legislation
  • The vast majority of Hereditary Peers were abolished from the House of Lords
  • Significant House of Commons reform enacted

And here's what the new Tory/Lib Government are proposing:

  • a referendum (not definite implementation) on the electoral system for the House of Commons to change it to AV - another majoritarian (not proportional) system
  • a Committee (yes, a Committee!) to look at the possibility of wholly, or mainly, electing the House of Lords by a proportional system
  • fixed term Parliaments (hooray to that one!) but with a 'super majority' clause for any dissolution of Parliament
  • a host of civil liberty measures, many of which I welcome

It's all good stuff - as far as it goes ... but, as the text above illustrates, to claim its the biggest shake-up since 1832 is pretty crass.

I safely predict that not even the majority of Clegg's proposals will see the statute book by 2015, and that he'll be hoist by the his own rhetoric from today's speech.

Truly radical - I think not.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Education Committee this afternoon

Education Committee earlier today - full agenda can be found here.

I wasn't present myself, but two fairly important reports where debated/decided upon:
  • first one on Community Learning and Development re-design (that's code for closures!) has some welcome 'about-turns' on Gorgie Memorial Hall and Colinton Mains Community Centre ... although I do still worry that the local communities involved will be left totally unsupported in their efforts to provide local services?
  • second one on Early Years and Childcare Staffing review (that's code for getting rid of Nursery Teachers!) was voted through against Labour Opposition and, I personally think, spells the beginning of the end for Teacher-led early years education in Edinburgh? The whole tone of the report is to do with saving money and has nothing to do with best-practice ... it's a sad moment when you think of the history of Nursery provision and the role that Lothian Regional Council played in pioneering it :-(

Monday, May 17, 2010

London today

In London all day today ... no local Victoria-Day Holiday for me :-(

... series of lengthy Electoral Reform Society meetings to attend, with no time (sadly) to spare before having to catch the train back up to Edinburgh.

Trains were completely packed in both directions actually - presumably as a result of the ongoing ash-cloud problems?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back in Edinburgh

Back in Edinburgh this evening after a thoroughly enjoyable weekend down near Settle.

Big crowd of friends, and their families, turned up - nearly as many children as adults these days :-(

Good local walking over the Saturday/Sunday, and the local pub did an admirable job of feeding the whole group on Saturday evening :-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Camping Weekend!

Off down to sunny North Yorkshire this afternoon for our annual camping get-together - we're using the same site as last year (near Settle), which has little or no mobile-signal ...

... truly wonderful!

Blogging may be light ;-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Edinburgh Open Space Strategy

Edinburgh South West Neighbourhood Partnership sub-group meeting this afternoon - Transport and Environment Group - which received an interesting presentation on the Open Space Strategy for Edinburgh ...

... all the background details can be found here; and you'll note that the Strategy is still open to comments up until next Friday 21st May.

The proposals for potential new allotment provision appear to be generating most comment!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Coldest May since 1996 ... indeed :-(

This just about sums up the 11th May 2010 for me:

According to the BBC Weather Centre, last night was the coldest May night since 1996, with temperatures dropping to -6C in the Scottish Highlands, -4C in Wales and 0C in London.

Basically - I'm simply afraid this programme for Government just doesn't fill me with much hope for those many people who need most help from the state ...

... and even on the 'constitutional reform' front, I'm increasingly at a loss to understand why the Libs have signed up? The Tories will pass the bill for an AV referendum and then use every ounce of state-muscle to set it up for failure :-(

P.S. One minor, but potentially important, point that seems to have passed without much comment is that the next UK General Election will be on Thursday 7th May 2015 - same day as the next, but one, Scottish Parliament elections ... I can see that causing all sorts of political machinations?

Onwards to 2011

Feels like I've got a really bad hangover this morning - and alcohol didn't touch my lips at all last night ... honestly ;-)

... more seriously - just had it confirmed that the 'Join Labour' section of the Party web-site crashed around 11pm last night under the sheer strain of business - apparently, mostly from disgusted Lib-Dems.

I joined Labour in mid-1992, soon after the Neil Kinnock defeat, when there was a huge resurgence in Party activity - I do sense some aspect of that history repeating itself right before our eyes.

Onwards to the 2011 Holyrood elections ...

"We are united" ... ?

What can I say ... from my admittedly biased viewpoint, pretty damned sickening to see a Tory re-enter Downing Street as Prime Minister :-((

... if that wasn't bad enough, he's younger than I am ;-)

And to make things worse, I've just watched Nick Clegg give a brief, early-morning statement saying that his Party and the Tories "(we) are united" ...

... question is, for how long?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vote Lib-Dem get Tory

Looking increasingly certain to me now (as at late Tuesday afternoon) that it's a Tory/Lib-Dem coalition which is going to form the next UK Government ...

... so a 'probable' referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV - which is not a proportional voting system) within which the Tories will campaign vigorously AGAINST the adoption of AV;

... is being accepted over and above an immediate legislative guarantee of AV with a following referendum on a true PR system (possibly Single Transferable Vote - STV).

I wonder what Lib-Dem activists will make of that? ... there's really only one way to sum it up, and it's a phrase I suspect we will all be hearing increasingly over coming months:

Vote Lib-Dem get Tory.

Policy and Strategy Committee

Policy and Strategy Committee meeting today at the Council - the full agenda can be found here ...

... important as some of the reports are, I sensed that much political attention was elsewhere this morning :-(

That said, it does feel - to a great extent - like a return to normal business within the City Chambers today ... with no shortage of local work to catch-up on, I can assure you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweden showing the way?

Well, its certainly put the cat-amongst-the-political-pigeons ...

... Gordon Brown announcing his resignation (as from September?) has frankly blown wide open the possibility of an alternative to any Con/Lib arrangement.

And to all those who would argue that the Party who comes second in a General Election can't lead a working-Government, then I'd simply ask them to look at Sweden (or many others continental examples) and its 2006 national election result ... do the Tories really believe that Fredrik Reinfeldt has no legitimate right to be leading the Swedish Government?

I'm not making the 'political' argument for, or against, any Lab/Lib arrangement - but to argue, as many appear to be doing, that such an arrangement is somehow not constitutionally viable (here in the UK) is just plain wrong.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Allotment therapy ...

Therapy for election-obsessives finally achieved ...

... a relaxing couple of hours spent down at the allotment late this afternoon and all potential coalitions were obliterated from my mind as I watched our pond for signs of life?

... no metaphor intended ;-)

Roll on 2011

I know I need to stop obsessing about election results - the sooner I get back down to that allotment the better frankly ;-)

... but, indulge me and have a look at the local paper's prediction for Edinburgh West here, which was made last Wednesday - a perfectly rational prediction that read:

Edinburgh West
The Lib Dems have little to worry about in the seat which gave them their second biggest majority in the UK at the last general election. Ex-policeman Mike Crockart is certain to take over from retiring MP John Barrett. The only question is whether the current 13,600 majority will drop below five figures.

Then have a look at the result - here!

An 11.4% swing from the Lib-Dems TO LABOUR ... with their majority being reduced from 13,600 to a mere 3,803 (somewhat short of 5-figures!).

This was the second-safest Lib-Dem seat in the United Kingdom ... but on Friday morning it became their second-worst result of the 2010 General Election campaign.

In many ways, despite the stunning outcomes for Labour in the other Edinburgh seats, the result in Edinburgh West is possibly the most remarkable?

Roll on 2011.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Rough ride ahead

Whilst suffering total obsession with the national General Election results over the last day or two, the English Local Government election results had passed me by until this morning ...

... you really should look at the BBC table here!

After 13-years in power at Westminster and Labour still manage to GAIN control of over a dozen Councils, increasing their number of individual Councillors by OVER 400 ... incredible!

Just imagine what these figures could be like with a minority Cameron Government running the country??

I really do sense a truly tumultuous 12-months ahead.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Edinburgh Labour overall result

I just can't resist posting this picture ... the Liberals have been so smug in the last few weeks about Labour's apparent
'predicament' in Edinburgh: well I suggest they humbly look at this picture and calmly reflect on the city-wide figures below:
  • Edinburgh Labour - 37.1%
  • Lib-Dems - 28.5%
  • Tories - 19.1%
  • SNP - 12.4%
  • Green - 2.2%

That's a 'predicament' I can live with ;-)

What's the hurry?

Seems to be an interminable amount of media-debate about the urgency of resolving the hung-Parliament outcome from the General Election ... I just don't get it at all?

Sure; a bit of clarity around 'process' needs to be offered by the various Party Leaders ... and I sense that is now happening ... but if the final outcome takes a few days, as opposed to a few hours, then I fail to see the real problem?

Most of the rest of the world manages such electoral outcomes every month of the year.

What a night in Edinburgh!

Well, clearly I'm completely delighted at Alistair's result ... all the details can be found here.

But have a look at the other Edinburgh results - all linked from here.

There are only one group of political activists smiling today in Edinburgh - despite the emerging national picture :-(

Frankly, these results are a truly damning indictment of the current (Lib-Dem/SNP) Council Administration and offer no crumb of comfort to the local Tories either.

I sense some serious celebrations later tonight, once we've all had a bit of sleep!

Alistair endorsed

So busy in the last couple of days, didn't have time to mention Wednesday's endorsement of Alistair in the local paper ...

... all the details here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Last week!

'Last-week' materials now being delivered in huge numbers ... I simply cannot remember such sheer dedication from Party activists in any recent election.

Heroes/heroines every one ;-)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Campaigning Sunday

More of those beloved lamp-post posters put up today ...

... final election mailings all completed and dispatched/delivered by early evening.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Lamp-post posters :-(

It's the Saturday before the election, therefore it must be lamp-post poster time ...

... the job that everyone loves :-(

Alistair also out campaigning in Currie, Gorgie, Chesser and Hutchison.