Saturday 26 May 2007

England going smoke free

Just saw an public information ad on the TV for England's impending smoking ban - here, the ban is just a part of life, which I suppose I've come to take for granted. No longer do your clothes reek when you've popped in for a drink; no longer does the other side of the room appear like some kind of hazy mirage in nightclubs; no fear of ruining your clothes (or in one incident, the skin on my face!) through someone's stray cigarette hand; and, most importantly of all, fresher air. I would admit it was a bit tough getting used to the other less appealing olfactory experiences which cigarette smoke used to mask!

It's a shame that it's taken England so long to catch up with this legislation. I wonder whether it's because of the attitude of former ministers like John Reid, or because the government believe people there will protest - given campaigns like that of the metric martyrs and UKIP, maybe there's more potential for rebellion on issues like this down south.

The Publican Party (which aimed to revoke the smoking ban) got 5,905 votes in the Scottish Parliament elections. I'm not sure whether this represents a significant minority, or just a minority. In any case, actual rebellion against the ban doesn't seem to have happened in Scotland. It'll be interesting to see what happens across the border.

Lowering the debate

Pretty disgusted, as are some others, with the comments of Ann Moffat MP - during a debate in the House of Commons on the Scottish elections, she said:

"proportional representation gave Germany Adolf Hitler and in Scotland to a lesser degree we've had the member for Banff and Buchan"

This is as offensive as it is inaccurate - Salmond won the Scottish Parliament Gordon constituency first past the post. It's also fairly disrespectful to the 14,650 voters who voted to elect Alex Salmond in Gordon (clearly a very strong personal endorsement too, as only 6,501 voted SNP in Gordon in 2003). If he'd been elected on the North East list, her point would've at least have been nearly relevant. I'm sure that she wouldn't dream of questioning the electoral legitimacy of any of her Westminster colleagues.

Ms Moffat claims she was taken out of context, although I'm not quite sure how such a comment could be otherwise interpreted! I'm also disappointed by her refusal to apologise. Maybe she thinks it was a light-hearted quip; perhaps she considers herself incredibly witty. In my view, she's most definitely neither. However much or little she intended, Ann Moffat's comments attempt to defame the SNP as an extremist party by association. As this follows on the heels of Jamie Stone's comments, I'm left a bit frustrated that's the best that our detractors can do.

Saturday 19 May 2007

No more Neighbours on the BBC!

I know it's not the most worthy topic for a Blog post, but it's something I do feel strongly about - I'm absolutely gutted at the news that Neighbours has gone to Channel 5!

Before you dismiss me as some daft soap-watching female, I feel I should make it clear that I've never been one for watching soaps in general - I don't watch Eastenders, Emmerdale, Brookside or Corrie. I can't stand Hollyoaks and never liked Home and Away. Neighbours is like my guilty wee vice, something I can't explain (it's not high class drama, it's not got any kind of deep plot). Those who worked with me in Paisley knew that I even managed to construct my day so that I got to have my lunch and watch Neighbours (they also know how grumpy I could get if I missed it or if someone came in and - the horror - talked over it!).

I've grown up with Neighbours being at a fixed time in a fixed place (disrupted only by inconveniences like Wimbledon, bank holidays and Christmas). Importantly, there are no adverts to irritate devotees.

I don't watch a lot of tv; when I do I turn to the BBC for news and politics shows, HIGNFY, Dr Who, and Match of the Day.
Therefore, Neighbours represents a huge chunk of where I feel my licence fee goes. The BBC and Neighbours are so closely linked that I feel it's a huge shame that they have chosen to dump it after 21 years. I think they don't quite realise what they had, and what they have now lost. Michael Grade would never have let it happen!

Thursday 17 May 2007

First Full Council Meeting

Today was the first full meeting of Glasgow City Council, and was pretty exciting stuff for the SNP's 19 new Councillors in Glasgow. We were allocated seats alphabetically, which apparently we're supposed to stay in for the duration - to my surprise and shock, mine is right down the front, flanked by Cllr. George Roberts, and Cllr. Tartan Hero.

The meeting itself didn't feature the most passionate of debates (I'm told this is usual for this kind of meeting), but what was interesting was the reaction of the Labour Councillors to their new opposition members. Some seemed to believe that our 22, the 5 Greens, 5 Lib Dems, sole Tory and Solidarity members were some kind of cohesive mass. When it came to divvying up the Committee positions, it was suggested that only the Labour positions should be filled on the Committees until "the opposition" got themselves sorted out. Fortunately, Labour accepted that the SNP and the Greens had made their proposals for Committee membership clear, and allowed extra time for the Lib Dems and the two others make their choices. It should be interesting to see how the difference in the make up of the Council shows itself in the weeks and months ahead.

There was a fair bit of banter in the meeting, but I was surprised by some of the informality of the proceedings - I'm used to watching the Scottish Parliament, or attending SNP conferences, where speeches are regimented for time and motions and amendments are formally tabled. It'll take some time to know the rules and how to use them.

Also at the meeting, the Convener of Glasgow YSI, David McDonald, became the youngest Baillie in Glasgow City Council - see his blingy chain! At 24, he's no John West, but I'm sure he'll still bring a very different perspective to the job than the elders who usually take such posts!

Monday 14 May 2007

CHCPs and the people

Spent this morning at a Glasgow East CHCP (that's Community Health and Care Partnership folks...) seminar. Topics discussed included how to tackle the health and multiple deprivation problems faced by people in the East End of Glasgow, and how the infrastucture of the area was set to change and improve.

What struck me most was some of the comments from the audience - they sounded as if they'd heard it all before, but they were clear about what they wanted; to have their requests and problems dealt with, and to have more facilities and better transport. Sounds simple enough, you'd think, but someone at the meeting related how a transport official had once responded to a query about buses by saying "but why would you want to go over to the Forge in the evening anyway?". Pretty much says it all really!

Tuesday 8 May 2007


Went for the first part of my induction as a Councillor today. Pretty interesting, but I'm itching to actually get down to business. Bit stymied on that one, as I don't yet have a Council phone number, email, or any advice on how to go about setting up surgeries (which I can't organise 'til I at least get some proof I exist!). They say I might get a desk by the end of the week, but it will all be temporary - apparently they didn't know how many shiny new opposition politicians to expect. Seems like our 22 SNP Councillors have already caused some problems!

Saturday 5 May 2007

They voted SNP!

Now that I've had a few celebratory drinks and a lot of sleep, I think I should probably write about the election results. It's not news any more I suppose, but the SNP won! 47 seats, 22 Councillors in Glasgow (one of which is me!), and massive change to the electoral map. Overnight, instead of being SNP activists, many of my friends are now SNP MSPs and Councillors!

I'm really proud of all the work we did to convince and inform the electorate. I'm humbled that the people of the Calton ward decided I was worthy of their vote - over the next four years, I intend to prove myself worthy of those votes.

Wednesday 2 May 2007

Eve of poll

Just about to go to bed here, having spent the day delivering yet more leaflets and printing up leaflets for the polling stations.

I hope, beyond hope, that all the hard work put in by every SNP activist and candidate will be rewarded tomorrow.

C'mon voters, tell me it's time!

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Long long days...

Just a quick post before I nod off - been working like crazy over the past few days. It feels as though it should be Friday, I've been up so long.

Today, I leafleted tenements (my legs nearly gave up on me this morning), inflated balloons, handed out leaflets and flags at the Forge, had lunch, did more leafleting, purchased another yellow t-shirt (an SNP girl can never have too many...), did more leafleting, and finished off the day by putting up more lamp post posters around my ward.

Surprise of the day - seeing a pigeon nesting on two wee eggs up the top of a tenement at Parkhead Cross.

Sweet moment of the day - a wee kid who kept coming back to get more wee saltires from us.

Positive campaign moment of the day - a guy shouting "'mon the SNP" as I was up the top of a ladder putting up a poster at the Barras.