Wednesday, 24 June 2009

I'll be back .... ing Scotland's climate change bill

Yes it's true, Scotland has passed world leading legislation on climate change and I got to vote for it! Today the SNP Government Bill was passed unanimously (after a million and one amendments - see last post!). It includes an 80% reduction in emmissions by 2050 with an interim target of 42% by 2020. The EU meets in Copenhagen in December to set European targets and Scotland is out front leading the way. Let's hope they all follow suit.
I can tell you that the international effects are already being felt with the support of Terminator himself Arnold Schwarzenneger. One time film star turned Governor of the State of California, said:
"Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. California has set aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets, but we need the help of the world to tackle the most pressing environmental issue of our time.

"Scotland's ambitious and comprehensive targets encourage other nations to step up to the plate as we look toward an international agreement in Copenhagen, and it sends a message to the world that we must act now and we must act swiftly."
I feel really proud of our country today - of all the MSPs who worked so hard on this, the civil servants, the SNP government and above all else, the hundreds of individuals who lobbied us tirelessly. We've all worked together to put together something that will not just enable Scotland to lead the way for once but will also do something significant to protect our fragile planet. It's been a good day.

Climate change bill

Well this is a new experience for me - the whole day in the Debating Chamber. You wouldn't think it would be tiring simply sitting there and pressing voting buttons but it is! I think it's because you're worried you might press the wrong button - people have been known to do it. And this is such a crucial bill (Climate Change) that you need to get it right. I think there are 145 amendments to the bill and I am finding myself checking, double checking and triple checking. It hurts my head :-(

Anyway we've had a brief lunch respite and time to go back so off we go.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Brilliant new blogger!

I have discovered this blogger, Lallands Peat Worrier, who has proposed a new term of "indygalling" and given us a suggested dictionary definition which goes as follows:

To indygal (v.) A state experienced in the early stages of a blogger turned politician’s life when the media discovers their candid reflections on individuals or sensitive subjects on the internet, and immediately seeks to embarrass the fresh-faced politico with lurid incidences and choice examples drawn from their free flowing prose. Frequently a matter for repentance.

I love it! I have a verb named after me! AND .... he calls me "fresh-faced"! Not that I'm shallow but well, we all have our needs and one of mine is for everyone to pretend I'm much younger than I actually am. So this guy is a genius and I recommend you read him every day at this link!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Get set for the weekend!

I'm getting tired just thinking about tomorrow. I've to pick up campaign materials for an SNP workday in Springburn and be there to give the work out at 10. I need to wait and collect it all back in before heading to my surgery in Mosspark for 12 noon. Then I'm presenting awards at an art competition for Tamil people - that's from 2.30 to 4pm. Then I need to get home and get some "Hollywood Glam"! It's Aileen Campbell's hen night and we're getting a salsa lesson at 5.30pm but we've to dress Hollywood style. In half an hour?! We're also eating and clubbing and I imagine, crawling home in the early hours. And all in high heels - why oh why was I not born a man?! Going to Arran on Sunday for the night and I think I'll be very very glad of the rest!

The Real Iran

I am reading this book right now. It's called "Not Without my Daughter" and it's a true account of an American woman who accompanies her husband and their 5 year old daughter on a trip to visit his family in Iran. Once there he refuses to allow her to return and she is kept a prisoner. It's a shocking and often very depressing tale and sometimes I wish I could fast forward to the "happy ever after" bit I'm praying for. But it makes the daily sights on our TV screens of the tensions in Iran following the recent elections, all the more chilling. We often forget how lucky we are here. But don't worry, I'll always be here to remind you!

Familiar faces

Had a very interesting meeting today with the Directors at SAMH which is the Scottish Association for Mental Health. I'm going to be doing some work on this so I'll be blogging on it in the future. I had to laugh however when myself and Humza (who works with me) exited the building and 3 folk stepped out behind us. We turned to acknowledge them and it was SNP MP John Mason along with MSPs Bill Kidd and Jamie Hepburn - all 3 are good friends of mine. They'd been in visiting another organisation but it was a bit of a surreal moment seeing them out of context like that.

I remember many years ago when I worked at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow as an usher. I suddenly recognised a woman I was showing to her seat but couldn't quite put my finger on who she was. "Hang on, don't tell me, I'll get it" I said as she laughed. "That's it, you work in the paper shop next to my mum's in Port Glasgow don't you?". She just carried on laughing and sat down. Later that night I realised it had been Effie from High Road (who remembers her?) and to my knowledge she'd never worked in the paper shop in The Port!! It's the out of context thing that throws you!

Friday, 19 June 2009

One rule for them?

There's been another frustrating delay in the sentencing of Neil MacGregor, the guy who was found guilty some time ago of threatening to blow up mosques and behead muslims. Sentence today was deferred for the SIXTH time - this time a social enquiry report was missing. It's ridiculous. Some of us are watching this carefully to see what the sentence will be and how it's covered in the press. We've got this little theory that if Neil MacGregor was a muslim and he'd phoned the police threatening to behead Christians and blow up churches, it would have been front page news and he'd be branded a terrorist. As ever I am not condoning anyone's threats of violence but we should all be treated the same. So far there's been next to no press on this but I'll await the outcome of the sentencing with baited breath. Actually, maybe I better not hold my breath. But I'll definitely be interested to see what happens.

Let justice prevail

Very pleased to hear that some of the MPs are to be subject to a police investigation. Quite right. I am not a vengeful person but as I have said many times, there cannot be one rule for them and another for us. If you are living on benefits and you work on the side - which I am not condoning but which I am aware can often be out of desperation - you can't just say "sorry I'll pay it back". You are charged and often you're jailed. No-one can pretend anything in this expenses scandal was done out of need. It was purely greed. But whatever the motive, we all live by the same laws and allowing some folk to get off scot free would be to make a mockery of the legal systems we live by.

Monday, 15 June 2009

What does Kenneth Calman have in common with my mum and dad?

When I was 12 or 13 my mum and dad suggested that instead of weekly pocket money for extras, I could start having a monthly allowance. It would give me additional money but I'd have to use it for toiletries and other incidentals. They would continue to pay for all the essentials but they wanted to give me a little bit of independence when it came to finances.

It would have been a good idea had they ever actually done it but they didn't. That's besides the point.

Today, the Calman Commission was published and it proposed that the UK give Scotland a bit of extra responsibility and the ability to make a few more decisions as to our finances.

When I was 12 I felt very grown up and I felt respected.

Today I felt (not for the first time) somewhat patronised.

There's some merit in some of the report but the fundamental point that seems to be missed on these folk is that Scotland is not a child maturing into an adult. Scotland does not need to be handed control over a bit more of the pocket money. Scotland is an ancient nation, well used (in times gone by) to running its own affairs and more than capable of doing so

And for commentators to describe the Calman Report suggestion that we get to make our own minds up about how to spend HALF of the tax raised in Scotland as RADICAL is a nonsense.


I really do get very tired of being patronised not just by other countries but by blinkered people in my own country who, when carrying out this enquiry into Scotland's options, refused point blank to even consider the possibility of Independence. If it wasn't for the Independence movement, there would have been no Calman Commission and there would certainly have been no Scottish Parliament.

So, whilst I think it would have been a very good idea for me, as a teenager, to learn how to budget, I think I'm pretty safe in saying that we, in Scotland, don't need hand holding and the sooner we have our referendum the better.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Too busy to celebrate in the SNP

I had a conversation with a senior nat tonight about the archetypal SNP activist. We're a funny lot. We've just had an absolutely sensational victory in a national election and we should be out celebrating. Indeed I've had numerous texts and emails congratulating me on the party's success from friends and family outwith the SNP. Folk are asking what I'm doing to celebrate. So what am I doing? Same as the rest of the activists - nothing. Were too busy working on the next election. I remarked to this friend that in the first 20 years I was a member we lost just about every election and we reacted in much the same way - just got out the next day and started again.

I was laughing / marvelling / bemused at the psyche of a Scottish Nationalist and the way in which win or lose we don't waste a minute of campaigning time. He pointed out that it was because we have an unfinished job to do ie we are not yet Independent. And he is right. He made me realise that this is why in the forthcoming by election in Glasgow North East we will outnumber all the other parties put together - just like we always do.

Because we have this wonderful goal we are aiming for, a goal all of our activists are 100% committed to, a goal we've never lost sight of, not for a second. I am unclear what the goal of the other major parties is aside from keeping their positions. In the SNP we don't care about that. Individuals being elected is a means to an end - the end being Independence and normality for our country. There is not a single elected SNP politician who would not swap their position in return for Scotland's Independence. That absolute dedication to a cause is why there are no big celebrations of our incredible result in the Euro elections. There will be plenty of time for partying when we win the Independence referendum. Until then, there's work to be done!

Tonight's headlines -)

SNP savours stunning success as Labour vote collapses! The Guardian.

Dominant SNP ... Labour support fades away. The Times Online.

SNP on track for Euro poll first. BBC Online.

Labour trounced by SNP in Euro election. The Scotsman.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Countdown begins

Am off out now to the SECC where the counting of the Glasgow votes is taking place. It's going to be a funny one. Having been through several million elections I've realised that all those political buddies of mine who think they've worked out the result (all men funnily enough), have about as much a clue as the rest of us. Without exit polls you really cannot judge it.

I can tell you that lots of people winked at me as they went into the polling place. I can tell you lots of people moaned about the Labour party when I went to their doors. I can tell you everyone I know voted SNP. None of these things tell us much. Folk might have a nervous twitch or perhaps they're just being nice. Others may moan about Labour - doesn't mean they won't vote for them and it doesn't mean they're voting SNP. And in the run up to the election I rarely see any of my non SNP friends so of course everyone I've spoken to voted SNP.

Therefore, I would say that my method of prediction (instinct) is about as reliable as theirs. Normally I don't predict, I just work till I drop, then hope and pray. Sometimes though, you get a feeling about something. And I have one now. My instinct (along with an educated guess given the current turmoil in politics) tells me that the SNP could well be on track to have a very very good night. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But I don't think I will be.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Tom Harris

I met this fellow blogger tonight - MP Tom Harris. We were watching a pipe band and we had a "debate" about what would be the best national anthem for Scotland. We agreed on Highland Cathedral in the end. Who says opposing politicians can't compromise? You can only take these things so far mind you. I thought whilst I was speaking to him I may as well try and get his vote for the SNP motion calling for the dissolution of parliament next week. Wasn't too successful - turkeys, votes, Christmas and all that - but you gotta try!

Friday, 5 June 2009

England gets the blues

It's not nice watching all these English councils fall to the Tories and despite the fact that
I seriously struggle to see the difference between Tory and Labour these days I still feel some sadness. Maybe it's because there are inevitably still some left of centre politically principled people in the Labour Party - none of either of those descriptions exist in the Conservative & Unionist Party. Or perhaps it's because I fear for the people of England.

At least here we have other options, in particular the SNP which, two years into government, is still very popular and still trusted. Sadly until the parties down south get their act together, all they appear to have left is the Tories and with the exception of the BNP, they will always be bottom of any ballot paper I'm filling in. I'd say today is a sad day but I've been feeling sad about politics down south since the day the Labour Party conference voted against Trident and their leadership (was it Neil Kinnock?) said "tough" - the beginning of the end.

Arrogant? Moi?

I am just catching a bit of the Gordon Brown reshuffle press conference and if I hear him say "I'm not arrogant" one more time ...

It's a sure sign they've been looking at the results of some focus group but someone ought to advise him of the old saying about the lady who doth protest too much.

Brown Sugar?

Continuing on the musical theme, what on earth is Alan Sugar thinking of agreeing to become Gordon Brown's Enterprise Tsar? Is this man not supposed to be particularly astute? Maybe it's all part of a cunning plan that will end with the irascible entrepreneur pointing the finger at the PM and uttering the infamous words "you're fired"!

I have to say The Apprentice is the only TV programme I make the effort to watch these days. I love it! I like the aftershow too and I particularly like the bit where the latest firing victim appears before an audience who hold up HIRED or FIRED cards. Could we not do that here?

Could we not have GB stand before us so we can decide if he should be hired or fired? Well we MAY be able to do so depending on the outcome of the SNP/Plaid Cymru motion calling for the dissolution of parliament. It will be interesting to see how many Labour backbenchers vote for it - then again when did you ever hear of a turkey voting for Christmas?

This town is coming like a ghost town

The lyrics of that brilliant Specials song kept running through my mind yesterday as the European elections got underway. I woke up this morning with the words still there and realised why. It was because a ghost town is what Glasgow felt like yesterday as the voters stayed away from the polling places in their droves. The silence was deafening and the polling places I visited late last night reported turnouts of 25% at most. Some were as low as 13% and this was in an area which normally has a higher than average turnout. Family looking after polling places in Port Glasgow reported 15% in a text at 9pm with only an hour till close of poll. My guess is that the overall turnout will be little over 20%. Given that it was 40% last time, this shocking result alone ought to be enough for Gordon Brown to call it a day and call a general election. The people have spoken, now let's start listening to them.

Resignation of James Purnell

Am home from electioneering and trying to stay awake to watch the English council results. The news that James Purnell, the Work & Pensions secretary has resigned from Gordon Brown's cabinet, certainly helped to wake me up a bit! It's not just the resignation of yet another government minister but the letter that went with it calling on Gordon Brown to step aside "for the sake of the Labour Party we both love"! Oh dear. Not looking good at all. Personally, I've put everything on hold awaiting the date of the Glasgow North East by-election (my own constituency where Michael Martin is standing down) but I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't be happening because an early general election is almost inevitable now. I just don't see how Brown can hang on and this resignation could open the floodgates. That, combined with the letter from the backbench Labour MPs saying Brown should go AND the SNP/Plaid Cymru motion (being debated next week) calling for a general election makes it very hard for the Labour Government to stay in power. I'd hang on if I were them and I'd go for a reshuffle which, apparently, they are doing. I'd go for a general election once the new team had scored a few hits. That's if I were them .... if I were me on the other hand, I'd think the only morally correct way forward was to call a general election and that's what I think they'll end up feeling they have to do. Exciting times!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Progress Report

Well, it's been quiet out in them thar polling places. Not just low turnout of voters but almost NO turnout of political parties other than the SNP. Could it be the rest of them are afraid to face people? Could they be right to be afraid? I think so. With all that's been uncovered recently (on which I shall be blogging at some point) who can blame people for being angry? Am about to go out again so we'll see if it picks up this evening but I've been to half a dozen polling places today and let's just say the polling clerks are pretty bored!
Come on people - get out and vote for the party you KNOW you can trust to do its best for Scotland. Vote for this great bunch of candidates, every single one of whom I am 100% convinced will be brilliant MEPs for our country.

I love elections

Yes I did! I voted first thing this morning, I've taken other people to vote and I'll be spending the rest of the day doing so. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the results on Sunday.

I was interviewed last night on Talk Sport Radio and they asked me why anyone should vote SNP. I told them it was generally accepted that if you want someone to stand up for Scotland, you vote SNP. I said that was our purpose - to stand up for Scotland.

But I also pointed out that Westminster only ever sits up and takes notice when the SNP starts to threaten their electoral success. So this election is also about sending a strong message to Westminster that Scotland will not accept £5billion being wasted on ID cards and £100billion on new nuclear weapons when the money could and should be invested in jobs and rebuilding the economy.

That's what SNP MEPs will do - work in partnership with the Scottish Government to ensure Scotland uses its resources wisely and does everything it can to protect jobs and create new ones.

The polling places I've been to this morning have reported VERY low turnouts and although I think abstaining is NOT the answer, you can understand why people are more disillusioned than ever. We, in the SNP, will be working hard all day for every single vote and taking nothing for granted. Speaking of which, I'd better get out again.

Bank customers beware

Nothing to do with the elections but due to my pathological hatred of fraudsters I felt I had to mention this scam. Apparently folk phoning their bank have had their calls diverted by scammers who get their details and then plunder their accounts. Thieving **** - I really have no time for these people. They think their crime doesn't affect anyone because the account holder will likely get it back from the banks' insurance. But that's hardly the point. You don't get it back right away, in fact it can take a good number of months. Besides, what does it do to that individual victim of the crime to know that another human being would do that to them? It's something most of us find abhorrent, the idea of stealing someone else's belongings and when it happens to you, it may not be personal but it certainly feels it.

Imagine you're an elderly woman living alone like the 78 year old who was duped by these guys. I imagine that poor woman is now feeling very insecure and possibly unsafe in her own home. It's the invasion of privacy, the idea that someone could be so unfeeling and the conclusion she will no doubt have reached that you just can't trust anyone these days. The fact that she's wrong and that you can trust the vast majority of people is almost irrelevant here (as is the fact that in the end, the bank intervened and the tea leaf didn't get his hands on her money) - her perception is what affects how she's feeling right now. She's probably worked really hard all her life and gone without things to make sure she's secure in her retirement and along comes somebody who somehow thinks it's acceptable to help himself to the security she earned for herself probably long before he was born.

I could rant about this for a very long time. Just please, DON'T let it happen to you, to your mother or father, to anyone - spread the word. Read the article and take the advice and be very very careful about what you tell people on the phone.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Complaints about my blog!

A very amusing friend of mine sent me an email last week telling me my blog was "rubbish"!

"Rubbish"?! said I. "In what way is it rubbish"? (Love the way my friends don't bother to mince their words.)

Her reply was something like this: "You never update it anymore - do you even have a car now? The public wants to know"!

She was of course referring to my frequent references on my old blog to my frequent car breakdowns, this post here is just one of the many.

So, I am happy to tell Mhairi two things - one, I'm restarting the blog as of today. And two, although the joy in the aforementioned post was shortlived and I ended up scrapping the car (one month before THIS FLAMIN' SCHEME which would've given me £2000 toward a new car was announced!) I have finally bought a car! Got myself a 3 year old Hyundai which means it's got a 2 year warranty left and Hyundai's warranties actually cover quite a lot - in my experience car warranties tend to cover only obscure things that you'll never actually need.

Anyway, new car, new start (in motoring terms) but I'm hoping it won't be a frequent topic on this blog. That said, I'd only had it 3 days when some lovely person (terrible being an MSP and having to tone it down!) decided to scrape it with a sharp implement. Why? Why would you do that? Anyway hopefully no more motoring mishaps but plenty more political insight :-) European Elections tomorrow - I'll try to blog on the move.