Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Norwegian Minister

Interesting article in the Daily Mail today:

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Hmmm seems not everyone shares my (lighthearted) admiration for Sarah Palin........

Mary, Queen of Scots II

Last week, I posted on a motion by Christine Grahame MSP on her motion to 'repatriate' the body of Mary Queen of Scots. The motion is below, and my post is here.

That the Parliament acknowledges the calls by campaigners to return the remains of Mary Queen of Scots to the country of her birth; recognises that Mary was an iconic historical figure in Scotland and that her return would help educate many Scots, from the north most to the south of Scotland, about this period of our nation’s history; notes the support that campaigners have had from the Catholic Church in Scotland; further notes that Falkland Palace, in which many contemporary chroniclers believed the Scots Queen spent her happiest days, was a place of sanctuary for Mary, and nominates this Fife palace as a possible location where her remains could be interned.

Tonight, after two council meetings, I checked my Parliament e-mails to find that the motion had been circulated again looking for support. Now this is an idea that hardly set the heather on fire, but I decided to check just how may MSP's supported the plan. Well, there was a grand total of er....... one.

I'll actually be interested to see if this develops further, but I suspect this may be the end of it. Personally, I hope so.

Friday, 24 October 2008


With the American election growing closer, a friend sent me this:

I asked my friend's little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, 'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?'

She replied, 'I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people.'

'Wow...what a worthy goal.' I told her, 'you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I'll pay you $50.

Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.. 'She thought that over for a few seconds while her Mom glared at me, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, 'Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?'

I said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party.'

Her folks still aren't talking to me.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


I was working from Parliament yesterday. It was quite quiet due to recess, but it was nice to catch up with some of my colleagues. Girlfriend and I were going to go out for dinner, but by the time work was finished etc, it was quite late and a couple of the restaurants we tried had finished serving so we ended up at a Carvery in Clermiston.

The food and the service were both good, but if I had fired the balls of stuffing from a catapult, I'd have done someone serious harm, but as I say, it was late.

I'm in court tomorrow (as a witness I hasten to add) over a licensing case. I went round the court during the 'Doors Open Day', but I have never been involved in a legal case before.

A fellow councillor was also a witness in a court case recently, and it seemed to be a fairly harsh experience for him, so I'm hoping it won't be quite so bad for me.

I'll go over the paperwork for it tonight with a large gin and tonic and see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Mary, Queen of Scots

An SNP MSP had lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament, calling for the body of Mary, Queen of Scots to be brought back to Scotland from England.

In a way, I could perhaps see the point in this if she was in some paupers grave which was targetted by malicious Morris Dancers. But she's not.

She's in this rather fabulous tomb in Westminster Abbey:

In fact she was buried in Westminster Abbey on the instruction of her son, King James. If that is the wishes of her next of kin, who provided her with a tomb that is sumptuous by any standards, then why on earth would anyone think it an acceptable idea to move the body, several centuries later?

Given that unemployment is on the rise, the threat of fuel poverty is greater now than ever before, and increasing numbers of Scots are facing the stark possiblity of losing their homes, is this really something worth pursuing?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

2009 Arbroath Event

The plans for this are going really well and it looks as though it will be spectacular.

With multi period living history all day, a procession through the town, a play on Angus history inside Arbroath Abbey and a Viking boat burning at night, this will be one not to be missed.

One well known blogger has already signed up for the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine (I have some spare chain mail and swords if anyone else is game!).

I have put together a new blog on the event so people can keep up to date on our progress. You can find it here.

Friday, 10 October 2008


SNP MSP Sandra White lodged this motion in Parliament:

Scottish Government Investment in Glasgow Housing
That the Parliament recognises that Scotland is facing a housing crisis characterised by a severe shortage of good quality affordable homes; notes with concern that one of the most serious aspects of this crisis is the existence of slum housing, particularly in areas such as Govanhill in Glasgow; condemns the slum landlords that preside over this poor quality and overcrowded housing; welcomes the substantial funding by the Scottish Government for improving housing in the city, totalling £177 million in 2008-09 alone, made up of £93 million to Glasgow City Council in for investment in the social and private housing sector and a further £84 million paid directly to Glasgow Housing Association, and believes that this high level of investment will play a significant role in the effort to tackle the deep seated housing problems, including slum housing, that afflict parts of Glasgow and should be welcomed by all with the city's best interests at heart.

Ms White seems to share my interest in social housing and must be thorough in her research given that she quoted my blog in a Scottish Parliament debate recently(thanks for that).

Some might suggest that the motion, condemning slum housing in Govanhill and slum landlords is somewhat ironic given that the Daily Record published a story accusing an SNP Councillor of being a 'slum landlord' in er.......Govanhill

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Banking Crisis

Where did Alex Salmond go? During the first round of the banking crisis in Scotland, we got the usual bombast from the First Minister. It was all down to 'Spivs' and speculators he claimed. According to him it would be different in a free Scotland of course. Money would be pulled out from some unknown source (the same place I presume that the money will come from to pay for free school meals), all would be well as long as Scotland was free.

Then some of his advisors were found to be of the short selling Spiv variety, and he went a bit quiet. The countries to whom he most often compares and contrasts with Scotland are suffering the same, if not more than anywhere else.

And then it looked grim for RBS. People have come to realise (including myself) just how worldwide and severe this crisis is and Salmond went beyond a 'bit quiet'. Where now his solutions to the problem?

Today, instead of the bluster and bombast, instead of more alternative solutions that we saw mooted earlier, Salmond has welcomed the Westminster proposals.

I would have expected more from him.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Closure Order

My department has been working with the local police and other agencies to curb anti social behaviour from a very small minority of council tenants.

When I was first elected over a year ago, I posted on the subject of those who lead 'chaotic lifestyles'.

A closure order means that the tenant is banned from their property for a period of time, in this case three months, and the property is boarded up and sealed.

The process is not taken lightly, and takes time to achieve. During the process, all manner of help and support is offered to the tenant, but if that doesn't work we are left with little option.

In this case, it was a 16 year old girl whose neighbours had complained about vandalism, noise, arguments, fighting, drinking and parties at all hours.

The police had been called to the address 36 times this year.

Now I appreciate that there may be (ok I know) that there are a number of sandal wearing, hand wringing apologists for those with chaotic lifestyles who make their neighbours lives a misery, and indeed terrify their neighbours. But personally, as someone who wants people to be able to live their lives peacefully and enjoyably, I have little sympathy for someone who has declined all of the (very expensive) help and support offered and continues to behave in a way that consistently has a profoundly negative impact on other people.

I think in some ways, the anti social behaviour, often fuelled by drink and/or drugs is not the problem, but a symptom of the bigger issue that we are living in a broken society, and that is not something that local authorities or the police can solve.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Alcohol Debate

The debate on raising the age limit for off sales to 21 took place this morning.

Good contribution by Murdo Fraser who seemed quite animated and presented a well constructed argument, as did members from other parties.

I have of course made comment on these proposals and was mildly criticised on another blog for raising the point of the Justice Secretary's own brush with the law which was allegedly fuelled by alcohol (ironically, he wasn't aged between 18-21 when this happened).

And yet when Mr MacAskill stood up to defend the SNP's plans, what did we get from him? Margaret Thatcher 'Milk Snatcher' and it was the Tories fault for not building any prisons. The latter point made by a Cabinet Secretary who is determined to let prisoners out early. A policy that is already having disastrous consequences for some.

It was almost inevitable that Mr MacAskill would make reference to the pilot schemes in Armadale etc, and it was absolutely inevitable that everyone else would highlight the experts, including a senior police officer and health statistician who had so competently blown holes through the SNP's spin on the results.

The Justice Secretary's performance on this, whilst robust, was less about competently defending the SNP's position, and more about finger pointing at everyone else. This was the SNP at national level resorting to the type that I have long seen at local level.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Conservative Business

It's Conservative business in Parliament tomorrow, with two debates, the first on local government finance, and the second on age limits for purchasing alcohol.

I'll be watching both with interest. Councils up and down the country are really struggling financially given the rocketing fuel prices (a bin lorry only does 7 miles to the gallon) and energy costs are hitting us hard too.

The second one is also interesting as the much criticised plans to raise the age for purchasing alcohol from off licenses will be under close scrutiny.

Two good choices from the tories that will hopefully result in a good debate.