Sunday 27 March 2011

Illiterate Labour

My mum passed on to me this rather poor piece of campaign literature from Labour in Clydesdale. Labour are claiming to support the apprenticeships and the Council Tax freeze which they voted against, present falsehoods about NHS cuts, are apparently now against tuition fees which they introduced in government, and are promoting the 'two week cancer guarantee' (sounds a bit scary, but relates to waiting times, which have actually fallen under the SNP's stewardship).

The real sweetie in the letter is in the fourth paragraph. I've noticed before that Labour have a bit of a problem when it comes to literacy. This letter is just embarrassing - two typos in the paragraph which calls for bringing literacy teachers 'back' into schools for goodness sake. The simplest spell checker could pick that up. 

Furthermore, I'm not sure where these imaginary literacy teachers went, or how something which never existed can be brought back; as ever for Labour, the facts just get in the way of a nice wee bit scaremongering. 

If this is Labour's standard of campaigning, I do hope they contact lots of people...  

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Would you like your road repaired?

I've just received the following email... if you have any suggestions please get back to me and I'll add them to my list!

Dear Elected Member

Following the Council’s decision to award a further additional £8M capital to address the road condition challenge in Glasgow we are currently finalising our suggested programme for next year.

Could I, therefore, ask that you provide me with any detail based on local knowledge of locations or schemes that you would wish to have considered in the 2011/12 spend before we finalise this proposal.  Thereafter we will discuss the draft programme with Area Committees and other interested groups.

A response by Thursday 31 March 2011 would be appreciated as it would allow us to consider your priorities with those currently being developed by our Roads Investment Group.
Thanking you in anticipation for your assistance.



Robert Booth
Executive Director
Glasgow City Council
Land and Environmental Services
231 George Street

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Skittish Labour's Council Tax Confusion

Things really must be getting desperate over at John Smith House - Labour's recent u-turn on the Council Tax demonstrates how few ideas they have for governing Scotland. 

At Full Council back on the 28th of October, Glasgow City Council Treasurer James McNally proposed a motion saying that a continued freeze on Council Tax was "not sustainable" and called on the Scottish Government to "restore the flexibility to councils to set a reasonable level of Council Tax without suffering financial penalty". All very interesting euphemisms for increasing taxes, I'm sure you'll agree. 

Glasgow Labour were far from the only part of that party calling for an increase in Council Tax, however. Iain Gray had made remarkably similar comments in the Herald on the 3rd of October:

“It does not look to us that the council tax freeze is sustainable... They (local authorities) have to have as much flexibility as possible."

Labour were against the freezing of Council Tax, they said, due to the alleged threat to public services. That threat, if it ever existed, seems to have vanished like yesterday afternoon's snow flurry over Glasgow. 
In the Scottish Parliament, they claimed various catastrophes would strike: 

David Whitton (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (Lab): "The cost of the unfunded council tax freeze does untold damage to local authority services, just so the SNP can claim to have helped the average band D council tax payer to save a few pence a week."

Helen Eadie (Dunfermline East) (Lab): "Campaigners in Scotland warned that people would die as a result of the cuts, which councils blame on the SNP Government's council tax freeze."

On the 30th October 2010 Des McNulty made a conference speech claiming that:

"The consequence of freezing the council tax is cuts in our children’s education"

Where do all these spokespeople, Councillors and MSPs stand now? Do they still believe that the Council Tax freeze, which has  helped hard-pressed householders (including those on fixed incomes such as pensioners), is dangerous? Or did they never really believe that in the first place, prepared yet again to put the party political interest before the needs of ordinary people? I think they owe Scotland an apology, and at the very least an explanation.

Monday 14 March 2011

Conference Weekend


Really enjoyed SNP campaign conference over the weekend - not least as it was in Glasgow so I didn't have the hassle and expense of travel and accommodation! 

It's great arriving at conference, going into the venue to meet so many people you know. The SNP feels like an extended family to me - even though we are now the largest political party in Scotland with over 16,000 members, conference is like a big reunion, full of smiles, hugs, promises to catch up, and the odd dotled old auntie or uncle who you love despite their various eccentricities (I'm naming no names!). 

It's a bit different now I have Alexander - Joe's parents were visiting and they looked after him on the Saturday morning; everyone wanted to know where he was and why he wasn't attending! I put the opportunity to good use to pop around some of the exhibitor stalls, speaking to the Fire Brigades Union, Shelter and Action for Children among others. It's important to get the chance to find out what their key issues are, and to pass on some of the issues going on in my ward.

I also got called to speak on a resolution calling for our Government to re-introduce the policy of minimum pricing for alcohol. I've submitted speakers cards a few times at conferences past, and hadn't expected to be called this time either - so I was a bit surprised to hear Bruce Crawford call my name! I highlighted the issue of Labour in Glasgow City Council being implored by the Director of Public Health to support minimum pricing, but instead doing the equivalent of putting their hands over their ears and going 'lalallalala, can't hear you!'. It still drives me nuts that they would make such an important public health issue into a political football.

Joe dropped Alexander off just before his namesake (joking, really!) got up on the platform for the keynote speech. It was one of the finest speeches I've ever seen Alex Salmond deliver. He presented a real, tangible vision, calling on Glasgow as the former workshop of the empire to create a "new empire of the mind".

"We intend that this nation - this Scotland - researches and develops, constructs and fabricates and then supplies and maintains the new green energy systems that will dominate this century. 

We intend that this city of Glasgow, marine engineers the 21st century just as it once led the marine engineering of the 19th - when ships from the Clyde carried a nation in their hold."

"The green energy revolution in which we are embarked is the right course. It is the right course for Scotland, for Europe and for the planet. We shall be the green energy powerhouse of the European continent and a world leader in many of the key technologies."

Alex also made it clear how little the other parties have to offer, and their narrow,  vested interests; by contrast, we can really speak to and for all of Scotland.

"We speak for the poorest Scots the low paid families and pensioners who have benefited most from our freeze on the council tax and our ending of prescription charges.

We speak for the young delivering the 25,000 apprenticeships that Labour voted against, lowering class sizes and keeping education free

We speak for the vulnerable – we are protecting them with 1,000 extra police officers who have led crime to a 32 year low.

We speak for the aspirational.  The millions of Scots who want a better future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

We speak for those who want to start their own business. The small business bonus has cut or abolished rates for 80,000 small businesses. Labour voted against that as well.

We speak for the communities of Lossie and Leuchars who have served this country well and expect loyalty not betrayal in return.

Delegates we speak for all of Scotland and all of Scotland needs the Scottish National Party"

This last part of his speech is almost like poetry, with some great turns of phrase.

We have the best team on the park and we govern for the whole of Scotland.

But politics is nothing without a bigger vision 

In government, much is in the day-to-day 

But you must still keep an eye on the horizon 

On the big prize

For us that prize is independence 

But independence is a means to an end 

That end is a society safe, happy, healthy 

Confident in its skin 

A global citizen acting to help the world where it can 

Because the map makers’ ink is becoming smudged on every border 

Globalism, the rise of the knowledge economy, the big economic changes, the great environmental challenges

All point to a world where the responsibility of the nation 

Is to raise people who are responsible to the world 

And the definition of a nation is a community of people with a shared commitment to their culture and to their children 

By having a strong sense of ourselves 

That allows our new communities from Asia to know what it meant to be Scottish 

And to give them something to join, to be part of 

And that sense of self is built on community 

On the shared value of helping each other out, lending a hand

On a sense that society should try to be as equal as it can be 

That is what we value and what we think is the purpose of government. 

To the rights of the ordinary to triumph over vested interests.
In our capital city of Edinburgh there stands a monument to Thomas Muir and his fellow friends of the people

His memory should cast a beam across the work of every civil servant in the Scottish Government and every Minister – because the monument to Muir and his fellows revolutionaries spikes out of Calton graveyard like a shaft of stony light across from St Andrews House.

And this monument contains Muir's own vision:

“I have devoted myself to the cause of The People. It is a good cause - it shall ultimately prevail - it shall finally triumph.”

And his message was not just for this place, but for every place

For his spirit, for Robert Burn's spirit, Jimmy Reid’s spirit, our spirit,

It is for the common weal.

The rights of man - and of women

And the legitimacy of the ordinary over the powerful

This party has travelled a similar path

This movement, this nation, has been patronized, talked down, told it wasn't good enough.

And yet this party has risen from a few MPs and a land without a parliament, to a Scotland with a parliament, and an SNP government

We never lost the strength of hope - and we fought on to triumph.

But we, in our mix of the national and the international, of the personal and the political, we fought not to govern over people

But for the people to govern over themselves

It is for that reason and that reason above all that we are the Friends of the People of Scotland and for that reason we shall prevail."

I was very proud indeed of Alexander, who sat on my lap, bright, happy, quiet and attentive all the way through the speech. He repeated the trick for John Swinney on Sunday, but was a bit more restless for Nicola. I can only guess it's because he sees Auntie Nicola a lot more often!

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Calton meeting tonight

I've been asked by Betty Cosgrove, Chair of the Calton Area Association to let people know that there's a meeting tonight in the Thenew Housing Association offices on Green Street about plans for the memorial gardens. It's from 6pm-8pm. I have a surgery tonight, but hope to make it along!

I can't knit, but I can sew...

Prompted by a tweet and blogpost by Vonnie, I popped over to the Tramway on Monday afternoon to lend a hand to the Garterstitch 100 project for International Women's Day. The project aims to highlight the estimated 100 million women missing from the world today by creating a blanket with 100 million stitches; people have been knitting small squares so that together it will create a giant patchwork blanket.

I'm not the best knitter (my Gran White is excellent and my mum can crochet, but I'm a bit ham-fisted), but I hoped I could do something to help. I was in luck - all the beautiful, multicoloured squares that so many people had made needed to be sewn together, first into strips of ten, then blankets of 100! I managed to sew together seven strips, and these were quickly added to blankets. It was quite exciting seeing it all come together.

I couldn't manage over on Tuesday for the Loop 100 events for Women's Day, but I hope to pop over and see the blanket, which will be at the Tramway until Sunday. 

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Riverside Museum

I was invited by Glasgow Life to go on Friday morning for a wee sneak preview of the Riverside Museum, the new Museum of Transport down by the Clyde. Like many folk, I did love the old museum and wasn't quite sure I would like it; I was very pleasantly surprised. 

The museum is a striking building, although close up, it does seem a bit grey. The real treats are inside. 

I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say without giving up any secrets, but I can say that the big vehicles are all in place - trains, trams and cars of all descriptions. Some of the model ships are in place, lovingly cleaned and beautifully displayed. Other ships will get the chance to move as if sailing! There's a new old street, which feels so realistic you feel you could pick up some messages and get a pint while you're there. I can't wait to see the finished article!

According to the website, there will be more items on display than even in the old museum - with lots of interactive displays to put the items in context. I hope, since I asked questions about this at committee some time ago, that these will be built to last. We were told on the tour that museum curators will be able to add information, so there will always be more to discover. 

Part of the reason we got a preview was to spread the word about the Riverside Museum Appeal. All this restoration, preservation and inspiration doesn't come cheap - some £74million in fact. The Appeal hopes to generate £5million towards that total, and has nearly achieved that. They need your help to make it to the target. Please do check out the link, and find out more!

P.S. thanks to @michaels_dad, I now know that there is also an excellent blog for the project