Well, I'm back from my week off, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Highland scenery was just breathtaking and we got great weather too.
One of the things I enjoyed most was the fact that we had rented such a remote cottage. The cottage itself was really well equipped and finished to a very high standard. It was reasonably priced (which is more than can be said for the petrol) and the nearby walks and beaches were a real pleasure.
The only fly in the ointment I'd say was the indifferent customer service we got in several restaurants and bars. I think we need to look more closely at how other countries view the importance of the service industry and act accordingly, especially given the amount of foreign registered cars we saw on the road.
My one and only ever foray into election result prediction fell wide of the mark regarding Glasgow East, but at least I'm in good company. I actually think Margaret Curran was a very good candidate, better I think than the SNP's candidate (personally, I found his demands of a school to take down English flags during the World Cup disturbingly indicative), but at the end of the day Labour is reaping what it sowed.
I don't think its just Gordon Brown that is the problem and it may even be a tad unfair to blame everything on him. The Labour/Lib Dem coalition in Scotland was profoundly unimaginative in my view, though I can't help but think that the SNP are largely a one man band in the shape of the First Minister who gives the impression of being a capable leader as well as being an effective orator. The latter being a quality that is apparently somewhat lacking in the Scottish Parliament.
For the Tories, I think Davena Rankin did very well, and one pundits description of her as having 'matured' (politically speaking) during the campaign bodes well for her future success. I'd like to see more people like her as tory candidates in the not too distant future. Srathclyde University's Professor of Politics John Curtis, who gets wheeled out to the media at the drop of a ballot paper was quite scathing about the Tory result, but I have come to expect little else from him.
The Lib Dem candidate certainly caught the eye of the media and he did come across as very plausible and articulate. As a party however, the Lib Dems simply cannot go on indefinitely trying to be all things to all people and Scottish politics today now requires a far more robust outlook than the Lib Dems have ever offered. Their days of being a refuge for the disaffected tory vote are now, it seems, at an end.
Interestingly, and perhaps most disturbingly about Scottish politics, no-one seems to have really noticed that both Labour and the Lib Dems are currently leaderless and this is in stark contrast to the powerful party leadership offered by Alex Salmond. The fact is that I doubt if whoever will end up as leader of their respective parties will be particularly recogniseable to the electorate in general. For the Tories, Goldie seems to have got a good press recently, despite the former MSP and tory bad boy Brian Monteith calling for her to go in a recent article, and a fairly harsh opinion article from another journo in The Telegraph.
All in all we live in interesting times politically speaking, we just need more strong characters to emerge in Scottish politics to challenge policies and perceptions.