Where we are and where we will be

Where we are and where we will be
The idea of Edinburgh is a combination of place, soul and symbolic leadership of a nation

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Up to our necks in it

The failure of the "Bush bailout bill"is a worrying insight into the real motivation of political decision-making; its all about feelings and very little to do with rational reflection. The Republicans didn't vote for the bill for three reason.

First, despite him being their fellow party member, they struggle to trust anything George Bush says, perhaps because they know him better than the rest of us.

Second, they feared what they saw as a backlash of voters who thoughts they would never see any of the money and those who had caused the problem (the big bankers), would. Despite the clear need for a long term response, they took a short term view.

Third and perhaps most importantly, at a moment when the kind of action needed, in this case major state intervention into the markets, would bring about systemic change required, the very reason for that need for change stopped it happening. Radical action to bring change requires confidence and clarity of vision, both of which were in short supply in the White House and the associated legislators, thus at a moment when boldness was demanded they returned to type and took no risks of change.

We are up to our necks in the smelly stuff here and standing still in the hope that something will happen is not a strategy that will take away the smell nor let us all breath more easily. The failure of the American political ,leadership to deliver not just support but change exposes them for what they are, self interested and unwilling to take a lead where helping others is the driving force. As a consequence many will suffer and no-one will come out with credit, nor will we see the change that might mean we will not be here again in 10 years as the laws of capitalism, (that the many must suffer so the few can be rich) live up to their billing as being too fundamentally flawed in delivering what humanity really needs to blossom as a species.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Light shining in troubled times

No posts over the weekend because for the last 48 hours I have been at the bedside of a family member who had to be taken to hospital in a hurry. They are making a good recovery, though not yet complete and so its been a tiring time for all concerned. In amongst this however, my awe at the dedication and commitment of NHS staff continues to grow. For a whole number of reasons I and my family have had to make extensive use of the NHS and I am continually impressed by their care and professionalism but this last 48 hours I my admiration has grown immeasurably.

Be it Nurses, doctors, cleaners, ward assistants, whatever their job, they remain calm under great pressure, nothing is too much trouble and the patient is their primary focus. I write not through rose tinted specs. This is my serious reflection from being with these folk nonstop for 48 hours. They are outstanding. I cannot praise them enough. Anyone who says the NHS isn't working is on a very different planet to my experience, reinforced in these last few days, that we still get some of best care in the world, free at the point of delivery and I remain seriously grateful for that being the case.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

looking back to help seeing whats before us

No Friday post because I was through in Glasgow and a friends 50th and didn't get back home until way past my bed time!

This friend and I shared a flat nearly 30 years ago when my first political consciousness was first being raised. He and I and our other flatmate (they, by the way, played in a band called Mince, because they were, I promised I wouldn't mention it...), went on several of the big demos about cuts and unemployment at that time. We were working in youth work then and I remember trying to persuade some of the lads in the clubs to join us. One of their number, a young man who had been unemployed for 3 years said to me, "aye that's fine enough walking the streets, but will I have a job at the end of it'. It was then that I realised shouting about what was wrong was not enough. real change only comes when you get into the system and change it yourself and so began my journey into party politics.

Nearly thirty years on much has changed (including our hairlines and and waistband) but still some thing remain the same; poverty still grind folk down and change comes not by the volume of our complaint but by the willingness of those in power to have a bias to the poor and a commitment to the suffering before anything else

Thursday, 25 September 2008

the first cut might be the deepest but the ones that follow hurt too

I attended two meetings this evening at either end of the ward, both highlighting in different ways the consequence of the cuts imposed by this SNP/Libdem administration. What these chancers have done is make the ordinary folk who volunteer their time, energy and commitment face the hard decisions whilst they wring their hands and blame everyone else for their incompetence.

Here's a list of just some of the SNP/Libdem cuts my own community has faced;
  • cut 3 bus routes in the area
  • cut school budgets, in one case by £90,000
  • cut learning assistants in schools
  • cut the number of youth workers
  • cut money for youth club staff
  • cut community concierge from 16 to 9 and given them a bigger area to cover
  • cut home care packages for older people, in one case from a 99 year old woman
  • cut adult education programmes and posts
  • cut support for playgroups
  • cut over £100,000 a year for grants to voluntary groups in the area
And that's just 10 cuts that I could think of immediately. If I really worked at it the list would be three times as long and more

And they wonder why satisfaction with the Council has dropped dramatically since they came to power. Its because people believe they do not care about anything except cash and their own self preservation....

The church is rubbish, official!

I was involved yesterday in the writing of a press release to tell the world that the church is rubbish... well, at least that, in Glasgow, a church is about to build a new building out of old materials. In an attempt to be very antithesis of the throwaway society, Colston Milton Parish church in Glasgow has just been awarded £42,000 from the Scottish Government's climate challenge fund to see if it can build a new home for the congregation out of the waste around them.

It is a brilliant project which will do much more than simply give the congregation and the community a new resource. It will embed into the very fabric of the community the idea that one persons waste is another persons valuable commodity. It is an idea that is already taking shape in the minds of local people. Apparently even the local street drinkers have been turning up with their empty beer cans at the manse to make their "offering to the Lord!"

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

It is not often that Pars fans can use phrases like unbridled joy, yah stormer and other such expressions of footballing contentment, but last night victory over St Mirren was one such moment!

Sure its only the 3rd round of the CIS cup. Sure there's a long way to go to Hampden but a 2- 0 victory against SPL opponents is such a rare moment these days that some public ecstasy is called for, if only briefly. Come on ye Pars!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

He did what he had to do and he did it well

I am not sure if Gordon had an "Obama moment" but it was a very good speech. Reflection tells me that Gordon will never do an Obama. His skill set does not allow for that but then he is not Barak Obama, he is Gordon Brown, to borrow from the school of the bleedin' obvious, so why should he. It was Gordon Brown we needed to see today and we did

The speech seemed well received with of course, the usual knockers who had though up their own sound bite before the day had begun, For an insider view I am expecting a comment from our own CLP delegate though at time of writing that has not happened.

Gordon choose not to include any of my ideas but that was to be expected. What he did do was what i really wanted him to do offer a consistent set of clear values, in this case based around the idea of a traditional Labour value of fairness. Fairness is something the Tories do not understand and the Libdems want but are not prepared to make the decisions to get there. (what, for example, is fair about a 2p cut in taxes which will reduce public services and most benefit the rich?) and to that end Gordon spoke as a Labour politician ready to use power well, not as simply some-one who wanted power for its own sake.

The journey back to electoral competitiveness is a long one and we do not have much time but this was a good start. There remains much work ahead and it will not be either easy or pleasant but, because it will be about fairness for all, it will be worth it.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Here's a starter for ten Gordon..

Though I know my place in the political food-chain is not one of influence I would offer these thoughts on what Gordon Brown could suggest as he faces the Labour Conference;
  • Tax is what we do to look after each other; to ask those who have more to look after those who have less is a good principle of the human good and so raising taxes of the better off to achieve that is not a vote looser, on the contrary, it would help people believe that you cared.
  • Happiness is something borne of the soul, it comes from our feelings of contentment with our living. To call a peace born of fear a good thing is to misunderstand the human condition. Nuclear weapons as symbol of peace being no more than a lack of war, they do not bring peace and should be removed from our soil, not simply because of their cost but because they damage our shared national soul.
  • Poverty is not simple a statement of economics, it is something that eats at the very soul of those who suffer from it. If we can find huge some to bail out the banks because it is good for the economy, then surely lifting those who are in poverty would have a similar good effect for our economic well being. A plan to build real eco-towns with homes that are carbon neutral would both help those who need the work and the planet that needs the break. We cannot depend on the market to lead where real risks are required.
  • If relationships are built on trust and communication then a Union that is well connected is a union that will stay strong, for example through a fast link between Scotland and the south of England, Building a serious fastlink service will cut short haul flights, allow movement betweenScotland and England faster than planes can provide, create jobs and be a huge expression of confidence in the Union., With the new planning laws it could be done more quickly and be serious green contributor to the idea of public transport as a core service.
None of these are particularly radical policies but they are clear, consistent and concentrate on what people care about, fairness, sharing, having a home over their heads, a job to go to and how they get around, oh and the environment. The so called green agenda is the one that will make or break the aspirants for political power in Britain; and thank God for that, because if we screw that one up then we are all doomed, not just Gordon.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Its time for temple table turning again!

I have some questions about the HBOS fiasco and all the other similar events around the world.

If this is such a predictable event why was nothing done to prevent it?

Do we really want a society built on the greed of a few?

Do we want an economy built on taking risks that mean a few get rich when they come off but the poor suffer when they fail

Why is it is that money talks? When the profiteers are making money from buying and selling what they do not own they reject regulation as "stifling creativity” but when their greed means thousands could loose their jobs and homes, the begging bowl is placed at the feet of the taxpayer and somehow the money industry gets what it wants. No other industry gets that kind of support. Why is it that we can suddenly find billions to put into a bank because it makes money but not into real change to end poverty, which with the same cash could be well within our grasp?

Economics is not a science, nor is it rational. It is based on human emotions, just as all our other relationship are based on how we feel about our experiences of living. Look at the language of the markets; a “confident market”, “traders were nervous”, there was uncertainty in the stock exchange” “an aggressive take-over”, If our economics are ruled by human emotions then is it not rules of rationality but a moral framework that we require, a moral framework must have a bias to the poor?

The answer to the question why was nothing done about what was predictable is because it required a systemic change in what we agree as a society is morally and ethically acceptable from those who work with our money. The problem is not poverty but wealth when the acquisition of wealth has become the definition of success?

When Jesus threw the traders out of the temple he was not saying you shall not trade but that you shall not cause suffering by by your trade. It is time some tables were turned over in our cathedrals of capitalism so we can begin to make sure that those who suffer at the hands of the rich do not again become the victims of their greed.

A great night for the City

I was privileged to be at the dinner for the Edinburgh Award last night where JK Rowling was honoured. This woman has made billions of pounds out of her books, is famous the world over, could live where ever she wanted but chooses to live in the city where her journey from struggling single parent to world famous author is itself the stuff of story writers. Last night we saw some-one who has made her choice of home based on not what she could buy but what she experienced and even her sense of gratitude for her adopted city. She has won hundreds of accolades for her work but it clearly meant a great deal to her that Edinburgh had given her this award.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Now we really need leadership

In moments of crisis we have a choice. We can say "its a disaster" and look for some-one to blame, or we can say, "its a huge challenge and what are we, together, going to do to lead the way to a solution". This weeks crisis in the global markets that have led to the demise of Lehman brothers investment back and the merger of HBOS and Lloyds TSB is such a crisis. The solution begins with the attitude we take to the problem.

Today's specially extended FMQs was a good start to Scotland's response to the global banking crisis. The calls for changes to what can or can't be sold on the stock market were predictable but had a ring of truth. The call for a banking summit is a good basis for a plan. The next step is making that plan real and doing all the others things that needs to happen to make sure we act together with a purpose not separately just for our own survival. It is now that we shall see who really are the leaders we need when it really matters...and not just in the Parliament but at City level as well. Edinburgh, as Scotland's Capital must lead from the front and I await in some trepidation for something resembling a plan of action from that hallowed chamber...

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Once again ineptitude is SNP/Libdem order of the day

Silly me. There was I think we had made progress on the Number 12 bus, (I know its a very local issue but it is what matters to my constituents and its demise symptomatic of a wider malaise), but lo and behold it is being cut anyway! So yes my motion to look at other option was passed yesterday at the transport committee but that will now be to restore something that is gone rather than keep something we might loose.

What's more galling is that this has all come about because the SNP/Libdems refused to debate this at full council, insisting that it be moved immediately to transport committee which meant that by the time it got here, the plans to cut it were ready to be implemented before the report comes back, where as if it has been debate at full council then the report would have been back before the service was lost. This is typical of an administration who cannot plan further than how to avoid a discussion or body swerve a difficult choice.

It is just not fair!

I spent time yesterday evening and again tonight at angry public meetings at opposite ends of the ward. It would appear that amongst my constituents that there is a real sense of feeling unsafe and unprotected by those whose job it is to be seen to be protecting them. There is also a perception that other areas get all the resources and they are getting ignored. On the second point, having won the argument to get more police and a community concierge team in the area it makes me angry to see both being lost to cuts and re-organisations that bear little resemblance to strategic planning

The police are in an impossible position. No matter how many times they say crime figures are going down, or at best not going up people say one of two things

  1. That's because no-one reports many petty crimes because they are fed up calling and no -one coming
  2. That's all very well but I want to see a policeman going past my house on a regular basis.
The police don't have the resources to respond to every call in 10 minutes nor to give the beat presence that everyone would like and anyway beat officers are rarely in the position to catch criminals or stop crimes happening as such, though they may have an effect of reducing the occurrence of some petty acts of vandalism activities. But yet they are seen as a panacea for many to feel safer. And that's the rub. This is not a debate about numbers but how folk feel and no statistic will make folk feel better, only a presence that makes folk feel they matter, that they've been listen to and that should something happen, there is some-one around to deal with it, (even if a beat officer quite possibly won't actually be able to provide the last one precisely because they are on the beat!)

Some of this was dealt with by the community concierge team which I successfully got for the area. people did feel that something was being done, some-one a was around with their interest's at heart and that they mattered to them But as part of the swingeing SNP/Libdem cuts that team has been cut from 16 to 9 and given a much bigger area to cover. So although the staff are working hard the people never see them and so their most powerful effect, re-assurance, has been lost.

The feeling of both meetings were that the people have been let down. I have to say that I agree and it sadness me because it could have been avoided.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Is this a sign that progress can be made

A day verging on the constructive with my motion on the number 12 bus calling for a report on how to fund it being accepted by the administration at the transport, infrastructure and environment committee If it goes whole swathe of my ward will be without a bus service just as we are created in very first truly integrated transport system in Britain with one, council owned, company running buses and trams.

It was good to see a crowd of local ,residents who carry no party card nor the tag of activist as they walked on to support the motion in a delegation. Not that being a party member or an activist is a bad thing, simply that with wider support, so the potential for change is much greater.
Publish Post

Monday, 15 September 2008

Worth it for the laughs!

I have laughed out loud each time I have watched this video , allegedly of a Senator Collins of the Australian Parliament "re-assuring" the public after an 20,000 ton oil spill in August 2007 which has just reached me. Although the veracity of this video is perhaps in question it is well worth a watch just for its closeness to some political realities...(apologies of having to link to the video and not uploading directly but somehow I just can't get that bit to work, but I promise that it will be worth it!)

A leader who has what it takes

A difficult weekend for lots of reasons but some good news too, not least of which was the election of Iain Gray as leader of Scottish labour. Whatever might be suggested or interpreted from the comments of some Westminster MPs, anyone who wins 58% of the vote from an electorate of 200,000 and two of the three categories within that electoral college has a mandate to be leader in my book. Iain has the toughness, the tenacity and the insight to do the job we need done and I for one will be with him all the way.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A local succces achieved by local tenacity

I was delighted to hear that Lochend Youth Football Club with whom I have been working for several years to get a proper home, have finally be awarded a long term lease at Seafield pitches and changing rooms. The club runs several teams from wee kids to adults including a Sunday morning football academy with over 100 local lads. Its run entirely by volunteers and provides a phenomenal service to the local community. I don't know yet the details but suffice to say this gives all that hard work by dedicated coaches and committee members the reward it deserves and all those involved are to be congratulated for this massive achievement.

There is of course still the small matter of the pitch and pavilion they were promised at Lochend Park which I will not give up on as it can only add to their resources and help them provide opportunities for even more local youngsters

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

She is not what it says on the tin

There has been great deal of talk about how Sarah Palin's gift is to be the wow factor the Republicans needed. She is seen as a straight talking, successful mother who stands up for what she believes in and what she believes and what she believes in is good for America.

Yet as is so often the case, perception and reality are two distant cousins. Here's a video a friend from over the pond sent that suggests that she is even more right wing that we feared, and that's before we talk politics...and I quote "the war in Iraq is Gods will, part of God's plan". This is not good news-

A chance to reflect on what makes our communities tick

A wee advert for an event that I think will be very interesting. The speaker, Rev Joe Naika, a South African Presbyterian, has been ministering in Leith for around 3 years and is due to head back to South Africa in a few months. He says that it's been an interesting experience to come from a country that is around 80% Christian because of at least in part, the work of Scots missionaries, to Scotland because of a shortage of ministers in Scotland...

His talk is about much more than that but the influence of faith on very different communities is a key point of reference.

scottish churches parliamentary office annual lecture

"From Xaba to Leith:
Communities in Scotland and South Africa and What Makes Them Tick"
Rev Joseph Naika

17 September 2008
at 7pm

in the Scottish Storytelling Centre
43-45 High St, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR
refreshments and conversation to follow
rsvp to rosemary@actsparl.org (0131 558 8137

Monday, 8 September 2008

A day when things are put into perspective

A difficult day as we try to come to terms with Elizabeth's death. And if its difficult for us then it must be doubly difficult and more for her family. There are a couple of nice tributes in the papers and group members are contributing to an obituary, the writing of which may help some in the difficult times. What is also helpful is the huge number of messages coming in various forms into the group office and via group members. Elizabeth may have been a feisty character who did not fear a disagreement but she was clearly greatly respected by many people from across the political divides and beyond.

I had a whole bunch of things to write about the ward and in particular the Community Council meeting tonight which was dominated by a debate about Meadowbank stadium and the campaigns to save the No.1 2 and No 13 buses, but, important as these are, and I do not be-little it in any way, none of it seems significant in the context of Elizabeth's death

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A sad loss to her family, to Edinburgh and to the Labour Movement

It is with deep sadness that I write to mark the death of a colleague; Cllr. Elizabeth Maginnis who dies in the early hours of this morning following a brain hemorrhage.

Elizabeth was deeply committed to her family and to the community that she served for over 20 years. She will be missed by many.

Elizabeth and I did not always see eye to eye but we never fell out nor were any of our disagreements ever personal. She stood against me for the leadership of the Labour Group in 2006 and we crossed swords on other issues but never with rancour. Robust, firm and assertive, but never cross or aggressive, would describe some of our conversations which I always enjoyed. When I won the leadership, she put her shoulder to the wheel and was a committed member of our campaign team. Following the election she was the one who nominated me for the leadership again and continued in her support for me for which I am very grateful.

Elizabeth was clear in what she wanted. She was passionate about social justice and the rights of the excluded and was willing to take risks and lead where others would have shied away. Her story will be told in other places better than I can, but I tell one story of my own experience. Elizabeth was not a Christian in the orthodox sense but she did carry a deep sense of the spiritual. She told me once that where she to find faith it would be as a Roman Catholic because she found a great deal of meaningfulness is their sense and practice of liturgy. She said words to the effect of "a good sermon is a nice intellectual experience but their liturgy captures the mysterious much more effectively". My thoughts and prayers are with her family for whom finding a way out from their pain of this moment will be a mystery and for whom, right now, words will bring little solace.

Friday, 5 September 2008

A modern day parable

A true story for those sad souls who think global warming is not happening or that even if it is, it's nothing to do with us and so we should not respond. It may be set a long way away but the way we ignore anther's cry for help is the day we do damage to our own lives

Soccer net at the end of the runway - in the world's smallest nation By Kim Cain

Funafuti, Tuvalu, 4 September (ENI)--As most of the world was lauding gold medal winners in August under the ancient Olympic slogan of "fastest, highest, strongest", life in the smallest nation on earth, Tuvalu, drifted on normally. It sent pretty much the slowest, lowest and
weakest team to the games.

Not surprisingly none of Tuvalu's three-person Olympic team won a medal, but the nation itself has a bigger race to win - the race for survival.

Tuvalu is in a beautiful backwater of the Pacific where life is very slow. Barring the Vatican City State, Tuvalu is the world's smallest nation, and far from being high - it is the world's lowest nation.

The highest point in Tuvalu is 1.5 metres (five feet) above sea level. All nine islands that make up the nation are in danger of being swept away by rising tides caused by climate change.

Yet, even as each Olympic day in Beijing heralded a new batch of gold for the great athletes, in "slow, low, weak Tuvalu" young people stepped out to play their sport. Come dawn each morning the nation's only airstrip, one constructed by the U.S. Air Force to ward off Japanese control of the South Seas in the Second World War, becomes home for a host of sporting activities.

Here on the tarmac, before it gets too hot, young people play volleyball, some run laps along the length of the landing strip, and several soccer games are under way. In fact, most are playing the "world game". At the very end of the runway a soccer net catches the early
morning rays as the sun rises over the pristine, Pacific waters.

There is nothing between this little island and Peru thousands of miles away to the East, but the soccer net stands there as if to catch any old soccer ball - or errant aircraft - lest they slip into the waves that pound the coral shore.

Yet Tuvalu is in terrible danger of slipping below those same tropical waters due to climate change. No soccer net will save it.

A person can walk the width of Funafuti Island, the biggest and most populated of the Tuvalu group. It takes just 687 steps to cross the country - including the airstrip. At another point all but a sliver of bitumen road separates the open ocean waves on one side from the lagoon
that shelters the island on the other. It's a nation that is literally a matter of metres wide.

If just being so small and surviving is not hard enough, it's as if the rest of the world is ready to hand out flippers and snorkels to the entire population - as if the fight is already over.

Almost everyone internationally, it seems, has given up saving Tuvalu - if they know where it is, that is. But that is not how Tuvaluans see it.

Government, Church and the people want Tuvalu to survive. They have plans. They have hopes. They have ideas on how they can survive. And they are in demand at every international forum on climate change you can imagine. But they can't themselves make any of the changes needed to save anyone - themselves or us. Only the powerful polluting nations can do that.

It is as if "the weak, the low, the slow" have to change the strong, the fast, the high-and-mighty nations so everyone can survive. The question is, "Does size really matter"?

At what point does the world actually say to the 12 000 Tuvaluans: "Your nation, your language, your culture" can be sacrificed for the convenience of the Western world's material comfort?

And by what measure does the world say, "you are too small to survive? You are disposable. You, tiny Tuvalu, can sink - start swimming. But there will be no gold medals!"

Then there is the other option. What would happen if the people from the "fastest, highest strongest" nations understood that if together we were to save Tuvalu from the worst impact of climate change, we would be saving ourselves, too. Maybe we can be the soccer net Tuvalu needs.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

on the one hand and then on the other...

The SNP's list of legislation is varied and includes some subjects that needs to be dealt with like health, climate change, flood management and children's hearing system. But the truth is, the only one of significance is the Council tax bill and that significance is nothing to do with deciding how Council's raise their money. All the others are about the things of government that any party would have to deal with. this one is about the potential of independence

The First Minister has been very clever. If he get's defeated, he will say I wanted to be fair but the other, (unionist) parties didn't. If he wins he will say I kept my pledge. But it goes deeper than that. this is about how power is used and perceived to be used. The SNP want to show that he can manage the challenges of minority Government and still bring about radical change for Scotland. That will show they can both be consensual and stick to their principles. And to that end, I think that would be an achievement for the power of Proportional Representation. I just wish it wasn't on this subject. Somewhat ironically, should the Council Tax be abolished and we get instead a income based tax set centrally achieved by a minority government achieving a parliamentary majority, we could have one huge political victory with immensely positive consequences for our political process and yet in the same act be destroying local democracy and accountability in one fell swoop, (and that's before the problems of collection and loss of cash for public services kick in). Politics: its a funny old game!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Conspicuous consumption in the name of the Lord!

I have heard of many gimmicks to improve church attendance but this wee gem from America is a beauty; In the Congregational United church, Valley City N.D. church attendance gets you free entry in a raffle where the prize in $50 voucher for petrol (or gas at they would say over the pond!). I always knew that gas was viewed as precious in American eyes but something to draw you closer to God was one that I had not seen coming...I guess they will not be joining the Eco Church movement just quite yet!

Choosing life;

Below is text for a press release on a subject close to my heart and one I have struggled with: suicide. I have buried victims, walked with those left behind and wondered what it must be like to reach that place in your mind where that seems the only option...

My biggest concern is for young men, amongst whom suicide is on the increase. In a world that runs on instant communication why are they left with no-one to talk to or no idea how to talk...

I recommend these events...

National suicide prevention week runs until Sunday 14 September and to mark the week in Edinburgh, Choose Life have organised two events.

On Saturday 6 September there will be a screening of the film FreeFall - A Personal Guide to the Prevention of Suicide.

Through personal testimony and expert comment, this sensitive documentary film offers a wealth of social and scientific insight for anyone who has been touched by suicide and its consequences.

It explores the complex nature of suicide, looks at its many causes and identifies life situations that might make people vulnerable. It makes all of us more aware of the risk factors enabling us to spot those who might need our help. It outlines the positive steps that can be taken to aid those in crisis. And it provides practical and effective ways to get people to help themselves in their darkest hour.

The screening takes place at 3:30pm at the Filmhouse.

On Sunday 7 September there is a special service for those touched by suicide. Taking place at Augustine Unite Church, 41 George IV Bridge at 3pm. All are welcome to attend.

Choose Life is a 10 year strategy and action plan to reduce suicide in Scotland, launched by the Scottish Government in 2002.

Choose Life sets out a framework to ensure that action is taken nationally and locally to build skills, develop training, encourage people to seek help early, improve knowledge and awareness of 'what works' to prevent suicide, and to encourage partnership working and improved co-ordination between services.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Its just not acceptable in 21st Century Scotland

The sad news that Celtic Coach Neil Lennon was the victim of another sectarian assault is an indictment on us all. I was not a fan on Lennon's as a player but no-one should face what he has faced over the years.

I find it astonishing that some morons put their bigotry before their, and everyone else's, humanity.

And its nothing to do with religion or faith as I know it.

Why is it that the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland can travel not only with Roman Catholics but folk from the Sikh, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Baha'i faiths to Jerusalem on an interfaith pilgrimage this summer but these idiots think their violence is the answer to sectarianism?

Why is it that when my church was badly burnt the first person at my door was the local priest with the keys to the chapel and the words "use it for whatever you need it for" but these fools think their violence is acceptable?

We are all damaged by the bigoted minds that assaulted Neil Lennon and we all have a duty to stand against such abuse of the idea of faith and the call to love our neighbour and our enemy that is the hall mark of the vast majority of faith communities.

Monday, 1 September 2008

I fear for the future of our City

I have been saying for some time that the Libdems are too feart to fight for trams (see e.g. here and here) and that they would pay a price. And I have been proven right, Their fear to fight has meant that Local paper Evening News, who are pro trams, have turned against them because, instead of building alliances, the Libdems have slagged them off because they have said the road works are going to be tough for motorists, which is just stating the obvious.

It takes an astonishing level of political incompetence to annoy hard won allies in the media who would be willing to help you sate you case on one of the most difficult but yet most crucial policies for this city. You could not make this up but sadly, its real and our city, Scotland's Capital, will suffer as a consequence.

finally, a call to the headie that is Good News!

Excellent News! Scottish Labour has picked Local Headie Linsday Roy to fight Glenrothes. I have known Lindsay for several years especially during my time in CoSLA and his at the Head teachers Association when we work together on several areas. He is a man rooted in Labour values who has serious experience in dealing with the kind of tough decisions that face politicians. He's committed to Fife and in particular to young people. I will certainly be out chapping doors for him, that's for sure.

Surgery Times

1st Wed @ Piershill Library, 30 Piershill Terrace.
2nd Wed @ Craigentinny Community Centre, Loaning Rd.
3rd Wed @ Duddingston Primary School, Duddingston Rd.

All 7:15pm -7:45pm

and the last Sat. Lochend YWCA, 198 Restalrig Road South
12noon -1pm

(no appointment needed, all during school terms)
Printed and Published by Ewan Aitken on behalf of the Edinburgh Labour Party, 78 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9NH