Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas

Heading off to my parent's now with a box of mince pies and a sackful of presents. Christmas has snuck up behind me and given me a bit of a surprise this year, but I think I'm just about there.

My highlight of the season was the nativity plays put on by Elba Lane Nursery and Queen Mary Street Nursery and the PEEK singing and guitar group which helped get me right into the festive mood. Less festive, but definitely one of the important tasks was the Friday night I spent in the office hand writing Christmas cards to all the organisations in my ward that I could think of. I hope I didn't miss anyone out, but if I did, you'll get one next year!

Merry Christmas everyone; I hope you have a good time wherever you are.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Principals without principles

I know that there still are a lot of contentious issues to be dealt with in University funding, but this really doesn't help their case. Keeping Sir Muir Russell in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed does nothing whatsoever to help keep University staff in Scotland or to help those students struggling to make ends meet.

And he's not alone - while Sir Muir Russell takes home a whopping £234,000 in salary and pensions benefits, the Herald article also mentions that other University Principals do fairly well also:

"Last year, the highest-paid principals in Scotland were Professor Duncan Rice from Aberdeen University (£215,000), Dr Brian Lang from St Andrews (£209,000), and Sir Alan Langlands from Dundee (£202,000)."

If these leading voices think that Universities need more funding, perhaps they could start making economies of their own.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Major problem with Labour Sleaze

And now for something completely different - how bad must things be for the Labour Party when John Major is weighing in to slag them off for sleaze?

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has accused Labour of presiding over "systemic sleaze" during its 10 years in government.

Sir John said the government had become "institutionally careless", citing as examples the Bernie Ecclestone affair and the David Abrahams funding row.

He said Tories had misbehaved when he was PM as individuals not members of government.

I'm sure that makes it all right then...

Independence on the up

I'm chuffed to be able to post with some excellent news - the TNS System 3 poll in today's Sunday Herald showing 40% of Scots would support independence.

As Convener of Young Scots for Independence, I was particularly pleased to see strong support from the younger end of the voting spectrum: 47% of 18-24 year olds and 53% of 25-34 year olds favour independence in this poll. Interestingly, 20% of 18-24 year olds have answered "don't know", the highest of any age group, so there's definitely still a lot of work for the YSI to do in the months and years ahead.

Friday, 14 December 2007

L'esprit de l'escalier

Having a bit of the old esprit de l'escalier since yesterday's Full Council meeting - so many things that I wish that I'd put in my speech. It took this morning's Executive Committee to start getting it out of my system. I'm getting a bit more used to standing up and putting points forward, but it's still difficult to fit everything in to the five minutes we're allocated to move a motion. It's very different from my experience at SNP conference, because I know that there you'll at least get a fair hearing; in the cut and thrust of Glasgow City Council, there's at least forty seasoned Labour Councillors baying for your blood the whole time you're speaking!

David McDonald
made his maiden speech in his usual unflappable style, and was able to wind up the Labour Councillors without fear of heckling as custom generally holds them back. Jennifer Dunn also made her maiden speech on lottery funding and the Commonwealth Games, and also did really well.

A good number of our group have now made their first speeches in the Council, and I'm sure we'll get them all through soon. The other parties have given most, if not all, of their members a chance, but Labour (even as the largest group) usually have the same people speaking all the time. It would be interesting to see what some of their members have to say on the issues of the day.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

More Labour hypocrisy on Post Offices

I've blogged on Post Office closures before, so please bear with me while I give you an update!

I have finally been able to obtain a copy of the front page from Thursday's Evening Times. It's unusual for the paper to give such strong condemnation of Glasgow Labour MPs, and interesting also that by the final edition of the paper (the one most commuters will buy on their way home) the headline had changed to a picture of a swan shot by an air gun. Wonder what strings were pulled, and by whom?!

It's pretty scandalous that, given the crocodile tears these MPs have cried over the past six weeks, these Labour MPs can't be bothered turning up for this debate in the House of Commons. Given that MPs have a lot less to do these days, you'd think they'd make the time. Where were they? What was so essential that they'd let down their constituents? I think we should be told...

Finnish Independence celebrated in Glasgow

As most folk will know, the City Chambers in Glasgow has a flagpole sitting proud on the top of the building. Usually, it flies the saltire (as seen in this picture from the summer), but on special occasions other flags are flow; for example, the European flag flies on Europe Day, the Glasgow coat of arms flies when full Council meets and, on Thursday this week, the Finnish flag was flying. Why? Because the 6th of December is Finnish independence day.

It's nice to see that the powers that be in the City Chambers like to celebrate the independence and success of other nations, although it's a shame that they don't seem to share the SNP's passion for Scottish independence, and consider such petty things as national self-determination something of a distraction. Just a thought!

Congratulations to the Bambury!

I had the pleasure of being invited along to the SURF awards on Thursday by the Bambury Regeneration Centre in my ward. The Bambury had won the top prize in the Partnership category, and many of the staff and Directors went along to the awards ceremony for their Christmas night out.

It was a lovely occasion and real validation for everyone connected to the centre. They've done a tremendous amount of good work over the years, and they really deserve this accolade. I felt very privileged to have been invited along; the folk at the Bambury have made me feel incredibly welcome and I was glad to be there with them.

It was also nice to see Stewart Stevenson presenting the awards - it's tragic, but I still get a wee shiver of excitement at seeing our MSPs as Ministers!

On Friday, I went along to the visit of people from other award winning, highly commended and short listed organisations to the Bambury. Standing back objectively, I could see that these visitors also shared the view that the Bambury was a great project doing well. The people of Camlachie already know that they're doing great things, but I'm sure it will mean a lot that people on the outside think so too.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

What I've been up to...

Since I've not been blogging, I have been:
at surgeries and carrying out ongoing ward work;
helping at the Lochee by election (which we won);
taking in the Radiance event;
at an SNP St Andrew's Night fundraiser;
at the two-day extravaganza which was the YSI Conference;
at a CHCP meeting;
at the Calton Area Association;
visiting schools and nurseries;
learning more about asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow;
finding out what PEEK have been up to recently;
at an Executive Committee meeting;
at the Victim Support Glasgow open day;
at SNP National Council;
finding out about financial inclusion in Glasgow;
and attending a meeting in the Calton.

Blogging restricted from the Council

Apologies for the lack of updates recently - I used to be able to blog from the Council, but this has been blocked in recent weeks. It has now been partially reinstated, but I can't access other people's blogs or log in to this one to edit and update. I often get home pretty late, when I've lost the will to blog and just want to have a nap.

I'm sure some will say that updating my blog isn't part of my work (I would argue that it is, as a rolling newsletter to my constituents), but it's more the principle of the thing that concerns me. The internet is huge and diverse, but this attempt to restrict it is impossible. While things with "blog" in the url are blocked, those which are not hosted through blogger or wordpress can still be accessed. So it's not a blanket ban, it's more like a colander.

Most concerning of all is that when I raised the problem with the IT helpdesk, they said "what's a blog?".