Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lamp-post mania ;-)

Every activists favourite job today - those lamp-post posters :-(

At least the sun was shining ...

... and I'm extremely grateful to the valiant teams who have worked all day to ensure a good presence across the city :-))

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wedding-fever ... not

Been hard to avoid the wall-to-wall coverage of the Royal Wedding today ... but I've tried my best ;-)

Leaflet-folding and counting, letter stuffing and posting, lamppost 'tie' inserting and data inputting all kept this republican as happy as was possible.

I might have watched if it had been a bit more like this ... very, very funny :-))

Council Meeting yesterday ...

Council Meeting yesterday finished promptly (for Edinburgh that means < 2pm!) with the plans for Inverleith Park actually being the main issue of contention (see item 10.3 on the agenda).

Glad to report that some common sense prevailed and the joint-Opposition motion was agreed unamended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

UK economy flat-lining

Personally, I'm delighted to see the economy back in growth and pleased that the country has avoided a double-dip recession (just!) ...

... but, politicians of all colours should take no great comfort from today's GDP figures, which do show that the UK economy has basically flat-lined over the last six months.

Frankly, I can see little or no justification for claiming that somehow this signifies the economic down-turn is over? For many, many people it's only about to begin as the true impact of recent budgetary decisions start to take hold :-(

Elections Consultative Group meeting

Last meeting of the Elections Consultative Group (later this morning) prior to the actual Elections on Thursday 5th May ...

... I do sense that elections staff are working, pretty-much, flat-out just now - and there's no immediate respite in sight for them (or us!) as we face another set of local elections in May 2012!

At least ... lack of collapsing-Coalitions willing ... there will be no significant electoral events in 2013; the first year since 2008 that will have happened :-(

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rubbish Collection

Or, I should say, lack of rubbish collection :-(

Unbelievably, the refuse work-to-rule is coming up for its second anniversary and I am - once again - awash this week with complaints about overflowing bins and rubbish-strewn streets. And the hot weather isn't exactly helping the situation.

It's a truly outrageous position for Edinburgh to be in.

Really --- does anyone know of anywhere else (on the planet!) where a work-to-rule has been allowed to drag on for 2-years without resolution, costing the local tax-payer millions of pounds into the bargain?

Just about says all there is to say on the current state of Scotland's capital city :-((

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday

Well - a restful couple of days, despite the weather being pretty poor on Saturday! - but back to the campaign trail today, despite it being Easter Monday :-(

But, at least the weather was in our favour today and we managed to cover a huge number of doors throughout the day :-)

Just over a week to go now and each day is certain to be busier than the previous one - no respite allowed until 10.01pm on Thursday 5th May ... and then only for a few minutes before going to the count, out at Ingliston ;-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Weekend :-)

Easter weekend here - I'm going to try and take a couple of days off (Saturday/Sunday) so no further updates until Monday I'm afraid ...

... just one holiday-rumour to scotch meantime:

- the Council Conservative Group Leader has not defected to the Labour Group (see paragraph 8, here) --- although our door is always open :-))

Have a good Easter Weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Full Council Meeting next Thursday!

Believe it or not - Scottish General Election in 2-weeks there may well be - but there's a Full Council Meeting next Thursday :-(

... no purdah-period  for us lowly Councillors :-((

Papers are out slightly early - due to the Easter Weekend public holiday/s - so the main agenda can already be found here; and the individual papers on CPOL via here.

Not a lot of huge, political contention.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

London today

Down in London all day today - for a series of Electoral Reform Society (ERS) meetings ... crucial 2-weeks coming up obviously!

London was markedly hotter than Edinburgh this afternoon - and the political temperature of the referendum campaign (down South at least) seems to be matching that change :-(

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

+£400,000 down the pan ...

This might seem like a relatively trivial matter compared to the backdrop of an imminent Holyrood election and the first UK-referendum for a generation ... but, for me, it says a lot about the current malaise of Leadership (if that's what it can be called) that Edinburgh is suffering from.

Just a few weeks ago the local Lib-Dem/SNP Administration voted through a +£400,000 reduction - yes, a 400K cut - in the budget for public conveniences in Edinburgh. The background paperwork for the budget (and questions to Officers) revealed that this equated to 15 of Edinburgh's 31 public conveniences being closed.

All of the Opposition Groups opposed this cut, and put forward an alternative, balanced budget.

Scroll forward to today and we have the relevant Convener saying publicly that they want to consider charging for people going to the toilet in the capital ... fair enough, but he states that:

"Nothing has been decided yet, but the council is keen to seek the views of local residents and businesses."

That is just so disingenuous, it's breathtaking --- I'll tell you what's been decided; the removal of over £400,000 from the budget allocation for public conveniences.

Policy being made up - literally - after the budget decision has already been taken.

It's no way to run a capital city - and just underlines for me that the current Administration just haven't got a grip of the policy-agenda for this Local Authority ... indeed, I don't believe they even have a policy-agenda: they simply follow the lead of Officers.

Down the pan, indeed :-(

Monday, April 18, 2011

Consultation blunder

Well, well, well ... current Council Administration can't even close a Nursery School without failing to stick to legislative requirements --- today's Evening News has the story: here.

Think about it - they voted to close 2 Nursery Schools just over a month ago, but forgot to mention to parents (or anyone else for that matter) that they could ask the Scottish Government to 'call-in' the decision?

Just a little oversight, wouldn't you say??

If I was a parent involved in either of the campaigns to save those Nursery Schools, I'd be talking to some friendly lawyers right now.

Just how can the process be deemed 'valid' when such a monumental omission was made from all the information distributed during the consultation period? Not to mention that Councillors who actually made the decision weren't informed of the 'call-in' process either??

How 'valid' can that all be I wonder.

The Right Alternative

Interesting report on AV published by IPPR this morning - you can see the full text here ...

The conclusion is fairly clear:

"The simplest and strongest case for AV is that, unlike FPTP, it is well suited to the times we live in. FPTP is a system designed for an age of political tribalism which no longer exists. Voters today have a looser and more dynamic sense of political affiliation than they did in the past – they don’t see ‘politics in such black and white terms’ (Renwick 2011a). FPTP fails to accommodate this change, whereas AV goes with the grain of contemporary British political culture. It promotes voter choice and empowers the electorate in a world defined by stronger political pluralism."

That'll be a YES! vote for me then :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

5-Generations on a bench!

I hope Sarah doesn't take this the wrong way - but the highlight of my day today, wasn't anything to do with the truly endless campaigning: enjoyable as that was ;-)

... but, it was the brief break I took from the campaign-trail to go to a local photo-shoot where 5-generations of one family were gathered on a recently renewed Fountainbridge bench which the Great, Great Grandmother had originally campaigned for back in the early 1980's!

So - on the bench, from left-to-right: Great Grandmother; Great, Great Grandmother; Great, Great Grandchild on her knee!; Grandfather; Dad!

Lucky, lucky family :-))

Day of rest - not!

No rest for the wicked, as they say ... another long day looms on the campaign trail :-)

Getting the mailings (yet more letters!) out of the way this morning; before hitting the doors this afternoon; to be followed by some lengthy data-entry tasks that need to be complete by Monday morning latest!

The joys of being an election agent --- I love it really :-))

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stalls, leaflets and letters all the way ...

Very busy Saturday ... stall this morning; endless leafleting and canvassing this afternoon; and more letters & envelopes than I care to remember this evening!

I am - believe it or not - going to try and ensure a bit of family-time next weekend (it is Easter after all!), because tomorrow isn't looking any less frantic than today :-(

Friday, April 15, 2011

Campaign overdrive :-(

Complete campaign overdrive now ... huge number of tasks to complete over the next 36-hours; but everything is in hand, campaign team are (relatively!) calm and we're all hoping the sun shines this weekend, like last?

This time, in three weeks, the results will all be in - assuming the count all goes smoothly??

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Last day for Postal Vote applications!

Last day for postal vote applications today ... with the actual packs being dispatched to arrive from Monday 18th April onwards.

Still another day left to actually 'register to vote' and another week to arrange a proxy vote - all the details can be found here; with all the relevant forms here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tollcross Community Council

Tollcross Community Council meeting this evening ...

... dreadful state of the Meadows (rubbish etc.), after the fantastic weather of the weekend, was the main discussion point.

I can vouch for just how bad it was - cycled past at around 9am on Monday morning and it was not in a pleasant state :-(

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yes2AV Referendum Broadcast

First Yes2AV referendum broadcast out this evening - ran on most of the main television channels ... you can see it here.

It certainly seems to have generated a significant debate!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hutchison and Chesser Community Council

We might be only a few weeks away from the Scottish General Election, but the local Community Councils are still going strong ;-)

... Hutchison and Chesser this evening - thankfully, was a very brief meeting: and I do mean that in the nicest possible way :-))

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Allotment update

Actually - forgot to mention, that we did manage to fit in a bit of a visit to the allotment yesterday and got quite a bit of planting completed: so as well as those potatoes, we now have carrots, onions, salad and beetroots all in the ground!

... and even managed to get a few structures up (as you can see), in preparation for the peas :-)

Campaigning and curry

Very busy day on the doors today - helped greatly by some truly fantastic weather ... would indeed be good if Thursday 5th May is as nice as today :-)

... and better still, local campaigning was followed by a bit of a curry, served up by the local candidate herself :-))

Saturday, April 09, 2011

NO is a no-no

I just can't resist it ...

... this short video is very silly :-)

But it's also very, very funny :-))

Local Income Tax plans a shambles

I know that watching Party Political leaders suffer the wrath of the voters is good news ...

... but yesterday's revelations about the plans for the possible implementation of a Local Income Tax are surely much more serious? One would like to think so.

But I somehow doubt whether such a shambles (as that's what these plans have now become) will garner as much press attention.

Shame really :-(

Cats for Boyack :-)

Some early preparation for every Party-activists favourite job today - getting those damned lamppost posters ready ...

... and our moggie (Smithy) took a bit of a shine to the Boyack posters :-)

Took me ages to shift him :-))

Friday, April 08, 2011

PSA Briefing on the Alternative Vote

For all your anoraks out there - I know you're there! - you might just find this Briefing Paper by the Political Studies Association (PSA) of some interest ...

... the 'Executive Summary' on page 2 is well worth a read - and is only a page long.

It gives a pretty good summary of the pros and cons of the Alternative Vote and makes a nonsense of many of the claims and counter-claims flying around the campaign-trail at the moment.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Manifesto launched

Scottish Labour manifesto launched yesterday - all the details can be found here ...

... rather than display my bias, I should just say that the BBC covered the launch here; and they've compiled a useful 'manifesto-at-a-glance' section here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Elections Consultative Group meeting

Elections Consultative Group meeting this morning ... with only four weeks and a day to go, the volume of forms and instructions for us lowly election-agents is increasing by the minute :-(

I know there's a lot at stake this time round - Scottish Parliament elections AND a Referendum Count to conduct ... but is it really any worse than 1999 and 2003 when 3 ballot boxes had to be sorted before any counting; and when we returned to the Local Government Count at 12.30pm on the Friday?

... and in 1999 that followed some +5am Scottish Parliamentary declarations!

So yes, a 4pm return on the Friday (for the Referendum count this time round) will provide challenges ... and I'm not underestimating them ... but a little perspective wouldn't go amiss.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Opening doors, breaking barriers?

Not one to stray too often into UK political territory - but the launch of the government's 'social mobility and child poverty strategies' this afternoon just demands a mention ...

... I really do hope the aims behind the document published today are met - but how on earth are we to believe that they've got any chance of success, especially in the current economic climate?

I can't help fear that the document is a triumph of hope over circumstance - but it is published now and we'll know by 2015 whether the myriad commitments are actually delivered and, more importantly, whether they're making the slightest difference to social mobility and child poverty?

I'm uncharacteristically pessimistic that they will.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Tynecastle Parent Group

Tynecastle Parent Group meeting this evening (after the usual Monday surgery) - and hoping there might be an update on the ongoing discussions surrounding the provision of Gaelic Secondary Education?

I'm increasingly of the view that moving Secondary Gaelic provision to Tynecastle makes a lot of common sense, as regards the capacity of the school and the availability of some really fantastic general facilities.

I do appreciate though, that the Gaelic community need to embrace such a proposal, and I hope that - as a minimum - they'll approach any ensuing consultation in a constructive fashion and actually visit the wonderful facilities at Tynecastle with an open mind.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A very British revolution

Andrew Rawnsley has another excellent piece in today's Observer - you can read it in full here - which completely demolishes the arrant nonsense about how truly wonderful the Alternative Vote would be for extremist parties ...

... as well as rubbishing the general propostion, Rawnsley also reminds his readers of the somewhat inconvenient truth that the BNP are actually backing a No vote :-(

Wouldn't it be good to hear a principled defence of the actual merits of FPTP from those who are proposing to vote No, instead of endless 'self evident rubbish'?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Tatties planted :-)

Well, the Holyrood Election may only be days away - but the annual growing season stops for absolutely no electoral event (not even the first National Referendum for a generation!) ...

... so rushed down to the Allotment this evening and got '2-full beds' of potatoes planted (they've been chitting for a few weeks) and we're now looking forward to a bumper crop in due course ;-)

Half a bed of onions planted as well - with much more planned throughout the coming few weeks ... all in-between canvassing sessions of course :-))

Eddie says YES!

I do recall mentioning Eddie Izzard once before on the blog - here ...

... well, sadly, couldn't get down to London today (too much to do on the campaign trail up here!) for the Yes! Campaign formal launch event - where Eddie was speaking, and he does give a pretty compelling argument for voting Yes! in the BBC video (via this link).

Looks like it was a very successful event - really sorry to have missed it ... of course, it was a pleasure climbing all those Edinburgh tenemental stairs instead ;-)