Sunday 29 April 2007

Brookmyre for the SNP

I've finally gotten round to reading the print version of the Sunday Herald, and was really chuffed to read that one of my favourite authors, Christopher Brookmyre, is backing the SNP, and our arts policy.

According to the press release on the SNP website:

Christopher Brookmyre today (Sunday) welcomed the SNP's plans to invest in the arts and said:

"I am excited by the SNP's proposed tax exemption up to £15,000 because it will support all artists who succeed in selling their work, from the mainstream to the avant garde. The advantage this has over the subsidy model is that it is not subject to contentious - and frequently elitist definitions of what constitutes "art" and what is therefore deserving of public money."

Go Brookmyre! I attended a reading he did at Borders at the Fort with my brother, and have a lot of time for him - especially after he mistook my then very hairy brother for a woman! All the Brookmyre books have caused me to giggle out loud on public transport; one of them saw me through a sleepless night on a ferry; and they have brought a tear to my eye on occasions. I have forced the books on to several other people (all of whom were glad I did). Can't wait for the next one.

Motherwell and Wishaw - rise up and throw out your MSP!

The only newspaper I've had time to read this morning is the Sunday Herald. As soon as I hit the frontpage, my jaw hit the floor:

McConnell mauls his local town centres
By Paul Hutcheon

Has he gone mad? Why would any politician, not least the First Minister of Scotland, say this about any town? Why would a politician say it about the town he has supposed to have represented for eight years?

After reading the article, and Alan Taylor's interview with the best wee numpty in the world, I was even more shocked:

"I've been fascinated by this constituency," says McConnell, taking a sip of coffee from his mug. He looks weary but relaxed, glad of a few moments respite from the campaign. Birds are loudly singing. The rustling in the undergrowth may be a grey squirrel. The bench on which we are sitting has been newly constructed by Bridget. Is there no end to her talents?

"I didn't know this area at all when I got selected in 1998 and obviously I got to know it very quickly," adds McConnell. "And there are some really striking things about it. One is the basic state of the town centres which reflects some of the mood - contemporary mood - of the local community and those two decades of decline in the 1980s and 1990s and what that did to the psychology of the place. But they also reflect careless, thoughtless decision-making in the 1960s and 1970s, about what the place would look like.

"The town centre here in Wishaw has never been properly thought through for the past 20 years. That town centre in Motherwell is a pigsty. It's dirty, it's untidy, it's ... bad planning decisions, bad architectural decisions, and it needs radical surgery. There seems to have been something wrong with the psychology of the place over 20 or 30 years."

My Grandparents live in Motherwell and in Wishaw, and I spent a lot of my formative years in both towns. To treat the towns, and the people there as some kind of social experiment and muse on them in such a detached, casual, way is appalling and insulting. To take no responsibility for the state of the place he purports to represent is shocking. It seems as though Jack has been sitting back, looking out of his office window on Wishaw Main Street and watching it all tumble down around him.

My grandparents still shop in Motherwell and in Wishaw, partly because they have little alternative. They don't have cars to go to East Kilbride or Glasgow. They have to rely on an increasingly poor bus service - when I used to stay at my Gran's in Wishaw buses would trundle past her house all the time, now it's an irregular service that doesn't run into the evenings. There are still businesses clinging on, but it seems as if every time I go, the two towns have died a little more.

Jack has been their representative for eight years. They have been represented by Labour for generations. The only thing curious about the psychology of Motherwell and Wishaw is why they keep electing Labour politicians. It's time they broke with Labour, and elected someone committed to the town - someone like Marion Fellows.

Wednesday 25 April 2007


Last night, I faced my first ever candidate hustings. A community group from the Calton part of the multi-member ward organised the event, which was well attended by locals. Almost every party standing locally (with the exceptions of the Conservatives and the Greens) came along too, so there was plenty of discussion and debate.

I was pretty nervous, I have to admit. I've spoken at conference, and to pupils from Primaries and High Schools, but this was, to me, a much bigger deal. It's one thing putting out leaflets, or speaking to people one-on-one, but making a good impression to a crowd is a much more difficult task!

The candidates were asked to speak in order of our appearance on the ballot paper (alphabetically by surname) so I was last to speak. It was a bit daunting, as the other speakers were forceful, entertaining and very enthusiastic in their speeches - as the last of seven speakers, I didn't want to be the one to put everyone to sleep! Being last did give me the opportunity to stress particular policies, and add in extra points in reaction to other speeches, and for that I was grateful.

I was really angry to see the disappointment and disillusionment folk had following their experience of years of Labour representation. A lot of them didn't expect much to change, and felt that politicians were all talk. They spoke about how their community had been neglected, and how problems like prostitution had been allowed to continue year after year. They mentioned how they hadn't been consulted, or listened to. For example, plans for a new community centre had apparently been drawn up, but people in the community hadn't been asked what they needed or wanted from the project.

Attending the event made me even more determined not to let the people of the Calton down - if they vote for me, I view that as a bond of trust. The people I've met when we've been out canvassing and leafleting have been great.
I seemed to get a fairly good reaction from the people attending, and I hope that they'll vote for me. They certainly deserve much better representation than what Labour have provided so far.

Candidates for Calton (Ward 9)
- Independent

DUKE-WARDROP, Alasdair -
Scottish Green Party

- Solidarity-Tommy Sheridan

- Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

- Scottish Liberal Democrats

- Scottish Unionist Proudly Scottish Proudly British

- Scottish Socialist Party-Scrap Council Tax

- Scottish Labour Party Candidate

- Scottish Labour Party Candidate

THEWLISS, Alison E - Scottish National Party (SNP)

Wednesday 18 April 2007

All about the leafleting!

Not much to report today, helped the Parliamentary and Council candidate John McLaughlin leaflet huge areas of Shettleston this morning and this evening. I'm knackered, but sure I'll manage to head out tomorrow and do a bit more.

Saw a few Labour leaflets (for other parts of the country), and I'm really struck by how poor they are. One had tiny, tiny print and a pretty duff picture of the candidate on the front. The other was black riso'd on red card, and was pretty hard to read as a result of the dark print. I'm not saying my offering is an outstanding production, but it has policies, a bit about me and what I'm offering, and also a survey people can send back freepost and an email address. Gotta kinda wonder what's happened to Labour - have their campaigns always been so piss-poor, or is it just that they're lacking effort as well as ideas?

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Campaigning on the move

An unexpected thing happened on the way to work (for Joe) and campaigning (me!) this morning...

I was stuck in the queue of traffic coming off the Clydeside Expressway this morning, when I became aware of someone in the lane to the left of me honking their horn. I looked across, so see a woman very excitedly waving and motioning me to wind down my window. Curious, I obliged.

Excitable lady: "Have you got any stickers?!"
Me (not long out of bed, confused by being harassed in a traffic jam for reasons unrelated to my driving): "Stickers?"
Lady: "Yes, SNP stickers!!!" (points in the general direction of my rear window)
Me: "Ummm, yes I do! Hang on!" (cue rummaging among the mass of leaflets, SNP poly bags, maps, rubber bands and general detritus in my back seat. Inside the glorious SNP super-clipboard I come up with the goods. Then, some Speed-like manoeuvring to bring our cars together; I gave the sticker to Joe, straining out of his seat, he stretched out the window and passed it to her.)
Lady (clearly chuffed to the gutties): Thanks! It's really time this time!!!

And off she drove. Not sure what the other drivers waiting for the traffic lights at the end of the Expressway made of all of this, but it made my day! Anyone else looking for a sticker, feel free to flag me down...

Monday 16 April 2007

Progress, of a sort

Progress to report from the weekend's campaigning - only one person swore at me outside Parkhead Forge on Saturday!

We were giving out the party's excellent "ready reckoner" for Local Income Tax, which seemed to be pretty well received. The sun was shining too, so I think that helped put potential voters in a better mood. Here's hoping the weather holds 'til the 3rd of May!

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Closer and Closer

I've been having a bit of a stress the past few days - it seems like hours are slipping away as if they were minutes! I've been printing and delivering leaflets, campaigning at locations around the East End of Glasgow and in the City Centre, and trying to get some food in between times - I didn't have dinner til about 11pm last night!

Work on covering "my" ward is progressing well - I was very grateful last night to have a hand leafleting from a friend from Aberdeen. With his help, we got a nice chunk of the ward done, and I completed some more on my own this morning. With all this running up and down tenement stairs, I should be thin as a rake by the 4th of May! Gyms? Who needs them?!

With all the campaigning, it's even been hard to keep up with the news - I'm getting most of my information over the radio these days as I zoom about. It seems as though everything is really kicking off election-wise in Glasgow. Posters are going up, the SNP are opening rooms around the city, Labour appear to be camping out in a shop below my flat (as anonymously as possible, with shutters down!), and I was even accosted by an SSP member on my way out this morning! Right, back to the printing...

Sunday 8 April 2007

Returned from the North East

Blogging was temporarily suspended due to my participation in the SNP's Youth and Student wings' campaign trip to the North East. I hope now to be able to direct all my attentions to working in Glasgow for the next four weeks, so normal service should be resumed!

Our whistlestop tour of Aberdeen North, Aberdeen Central, Gordon, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Dundee East and Dundee West has given a boost to all those SNP campaigns. It's nice to be able to help, and our assistance seemed to be appreciated. My very huge and grateful thanks go out to those who lavished hospitality on us - you know who you are and we will love you forever!

Some of our number have a well earned drink after a long day campaigning!