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

Sunday, 30 November 2008

An impressive event

I was honoured to be a guest of Hutchison Vale football club last night at their award ceremony. I was only able to stay for the first hour because of another engagement but what an impressive event. They have 20 teams with over 500 players aged 10 to 21, male and female and the whole organisation is run by volunteers. Who says all kids are apathetic, don't do sport or join anything. There were many statistics shared last night but one that particularly impressed me was the fact that there are 110 professional players playing this season who are former "Hutchie" players.

It was brilliant to see so many parents and family and friends there to support and celebrate the achievements of these young sports people and I was grateful for the opportunity to be there if only for a short time. I pay tribute to the dedication and commitment of the veritable army of volunteers who make it all happen for Hutchie, who lead by example, and the compatriots in sports clubs all over the city and beyond, giving literally 1000's of young people the chance to achieve great things through sport.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

A win, a congratulations and a question

Watching Edinburgh thump the Osprey's last night at Murrayfield was a joy even though the second half performance was not nearly as good as the first half and the freezing temperatures meant that there was limited shouting and dancing as we huddled for warmth! The Ospreys were without many of their internationalists as they were down in Cardiff ready to ( as we now know) defeat the Aussies and serious "hats off" to them. I caught the last bit of that match and the Welsh seemed to deserve their win despite a hairy last few minutes. Hopefully I can see the highlights later on.

On the subject of highlights, can anyone tell me why the BBC website has highlights of all the recent matches except the England South Africa.... wonder why....?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

WIll we be voting again soon...?

There has been much talk of an early election, (June 4th is the date suggested), and I think it may well happen. There's no doubt that no matter how good the "rescue package" is and its about as good as it could get, things will still be tough by autumn next year and it won't be a good a time to go to the polls. If the date is June then if three things happen, there will be a Labour Majority;
  1. The recession is not too deep and Labour can associate itself with that being the case
  2. Cameron continues not to build a credible economic alternative strategy
  3. Labour continues to produce policies like the new to rate of tax that make people feel that those who can help more in these tough times are being asked to do so
The journey out of this recession will not be about economics but emotions; "how do I feel about my situation, who do I trust to get us through tough times, is what is being done to get us out of this situation fair" will be the basis on which most people will vote.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A word to the rich from a place of the poverty...

Avid readers of this blog may remember my stories about one of my heroes, the wonderful ex monk Paul Baker Hernandez whom I had the joy of re acquainting myself with last year after nearly 18 years. Paul is a wonderful activist and wandering minstrel who lives these days in Nicaragua. His Charity Echos of Silence supports some of the poorest and moist oppressed people in the world. He's just written to folk here in Scotland with his view of the Global crisis from a place where abject poverty is not a political football but a personal reality. Its worth a read...

Crisis! The spreading econo-eco tragedy is bringing home to us all what most Nicaraguans live through day after day: homes, savings, jobs, forests - even lives gone. And of course, charity also contracts when the system that supports itself largely by decimating the 'Third World' goes into shock, so the outlook for serious international support is more than ever bleak.

However, solidarity is different. In the best Nicaraguan and human tradition of courage under fire, we believe this crisis is actually the moment for us all to reach out across frontiers and divisions and really go for building the new world order we've longed for so, an order based on peace and justice, cooperation and community. Now, at last, as individualistic consumerism begins to self-destruct, we can reclaim our values, our children, our very planet.

So, instead of the usual Christmas cry for help, Echoes of Silence invites you to join us in Water not War, a campaign requiring all governments to commit 1% of all military budgets and personnel to providing fresh water to every person on Earth. Not only would such a measure save millions of lives and reduce global warming significantly, it would also make the profound psychological shift of beginning to build down weapons and war, while preventing ever more terrible resources wars.
Please check the WNW website: http://waternotwar.pbwiki.com. Time is of the essence. And, especially since the collapse of the UK pound has devastated our income, donations are still vitally needed (www.PeaceWorks.com). Thanks, and much love from our tiny but indomitable Nicaraguita.

Now there's a wee challenge to our ideas of how to respond to the credit crunch. For get your cash for more spending, lets give up a little more to help a lot....

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Sometimes its not the news thats important

I know that I really ought to commenting on the well thought out and bold pre budget package aid for the recession package announced by Alistair Darling or the outrageous and morally offensice comments by Tory MP Andrew Landsley that the "recession is good for us" but actually its tonight's debate I had with Margo Macdonald about assisted suicide that I flagged up yesterday that is on my mind so these other matters will have to wait for another time.

Margo was her usual thoughtful but firm self, challenging but respectful and open minded. For her, the moral imperative of autonomy over the choice to die when life becomes in tolerable was paramount. For me, the issue was (and is) how we as a society would reconcile the desire to allow a release of pain in an individual that we can only imagine and the danger that accepting the view of a life, even by the persons whose life it is, is a burden, or without meaning, or valueless. Once we do that we open a door to a role of death in life that can only invade already struggling relationships in a dangerous way.

I do not presume to judge.. I do not see this as a debate about right or wrong but my fear is that in our desire to be compassionate we loose something significant about the value of life in and of itself.

What is clear is that the status quo cannot continue. we need clarity as a society about what we will permit and why whatever we conclude is the case. So whilst I do not agree with Margo, I will be contacting Iain Gray to say that this debate should happen ans Labour should help make it happen, whatever the views of individual members on the subject matter.

Monday, 24 November 2008

A debate of life and death proportions

Tomorrow night I will be taking part in what will be one of the toughest debates I have ever engaged in. I am "in conversation" with Margo MacDonald MSP on assisted suicide, 7.15pm at St Johns Church in Princes Street.

I hold Margo in the highest regard and her private members bill on this subject is brought with the deepest of thought and the most compassionate of motives. But I cannot go to where she is. For every case where the choice of assisted suicide seems understandable, there are other circumstances that would make me fear that a decision was not being taken with a full sense of awareness of what other options there are.

This cannot be a debate about moral judgementalism or condemnation nor can it be reduced to situationalism. It must grapple in some form with deciding which a moral 1st principle to hold as being closer to protecting us from ourselves; the right to choose when to die or the right of a society to say we will act sacrificially to severe every need of a fellow human being and not see it as a burden but as a gift and an opportunity so life may continue.

Yet even as I try to write with clarity I know that this is not about a God of black and white but a divinity of the grey areas. This is really going to stretch my thinking and my feeling and though I know where I want to go I am not sure that it is where I will end up...

I will let you know what happens

Sunday, 23 November 2008

You heard it here first, (maybe!)

Well mercy me! Could it be that Alistair Darling reads my blog. Certainly if he does as is suggested here and puts up the top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000 then, even if it didn't get it from me I will be very pleased. Its the right thing to do and will very much send the right messages of support and commitment to those who are struggling.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Saying no to racism is not enough

I think Hazel Blears is right! Now there's a sentence I didn't expect to write too often! But on the BNP she is spot on. The drift of folk to the BNP who at one time were Labour supporters is as much an indictment on my Party as it is a concern at the rise of racism. If some voters feel that we no longer speak for them and they choose to go elsewhere politically is part of the political process. But when they feel we no longer speak for them and there is no-one else doing so except a bunch of far right racist nutters, then we have failed them as to support the BNP in that case is an act of political desperation.

The Labour Party cannot afford to dismiss this as a tiny trend that is a political side show, We have the means to stop it. We need to listen hard (getting past the racist rhetoric or the fears of immigration spun by the BNP to pull them in) to those who have made that move make sure we do what it takes both to bring them back to the fold and take them away from racist solutions that damage not just the reputation but the soul of our nation. Link

Friday, 21 November 2008

loosing the will to live

10 hours is how long the City of Edinburgh Council meeting lasted today. 10 hours almost to minute of directionless, badly handled and incompetent decision-making where even good news stories are making people mad.

Today the SNP/Libdems:
It was an astonishing display of weak leadership and defensive politics. Its 10 hours of my life I'll never get back but more importantly it is ten hours that mean the city will continue to suffer under their incumbency

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A gift is not what it might seem

The revelation that business leaders are against the SNPs Local income tax, (LIT), proposals might at first appear to be music to Labour ear but we need to be careful here. Implementing the LIT is never the issue. Being seen to be fair and equitable is. That's why the SNPs council tax freeze was so effective. It does not make fiscal sense because it removes £240m out of public services but it does make political sense because people feel, for good or for ill, unfairly treated by the Council tax. They do not have to implement the LIT, which on all figures show that it would produce at least £400m less tax take than at present. They only have to be seen to try, because what they want to be seen as is fighting unfairness. Another barrier, like business objections, will help them seem even more on the side of the little guy, without having to go through the hassle of implementing a policy they know is deeply flawed,

Gift horse, false dawn, call it what you will, but this attack on LIT might well have the effect of stopping the change but helping the SNP to achieve a greater goal of more support eventually, for independence. Labour tactics need to move from the difficult ground of who might win or loose from LIT to focusing on the "broken promise" of LIT and the really dangerous thing of Independence where our struggles to survive would be only just beginning.

such insenstivity will just rub salt into the wounds..

When I had political responsibility for schools in Edinburgh I proposed he shutting or merging of 14 schools. I didn't like it but it was the best way of improving not only buildings but the resources we put into schools. That meant that teachers, already doing great job in difficult circumstances, could do even better with new resources and support. Every pupil in a school we shut or merged went into one of 34 new or refurbished schools. In additions we spent millions of pound spent on maintenance and development of other schools.

Having failed dismally to shut 22 schools as they first proposed, The SNP/Libdem mal-administration that we now suffer under want to shut 3 schools with no investment or building programme. What's worse, they have managed to insult staff and pupils along the way with their arrogance. I am told that one of the arguments given at the public meeting to debate the shutting of Westburn School was informed by that " a bigger school will mean better teachers for your pupils" . What a slap in the face for staff who are working extremely hard in difficult circumstances. No wonder this lot are getting a reputation for riding roughshod over the views of local people and not listening to anything that challenges their limited view of the world.

Monday, 17 November 2008

It shouldn't have happened but a witch hunt won't help

I have waited all weekend to write about Baby P to see if I could calm down but I haven't. I find myself angry on three levels;
  1. that adult humans could do these unspeakable things to a child who should have been held in their love and protection;
  2. the tragedy could have been avoided if decisions had been taken;
  3. and at the veritable witch-hunt by press an politicians which will do nothing whatsoever to make children any safer.
I have been on the end of the phone getting the call from senior staff in a department for which had political responsibility saying there has been a tragedy and that child protection procedures I had helped put in place had not stopped it.

I have listened to social workers going over every minute detail, all of us wishing they had made a different decision-making.

I led the restructuring of a department so that we might make sure the right decisions would be made and still some fell through the net. It is utterly impossible to create a legislative system that will mean every child, in every circumstance will be safe, or that every social worker will always make the right decision. And lynch mob responses to their mistake s do not lessen the chances of them recurring.

A witch-hunt against hard pressed staff who have to make the most difficult of decisions in often volatile circumstances will not make children safer. It will instead create a climate of fear, defensiveness and isolation for those we ask to make those tough calls. It will mean few folk will want to do the job and it will mean those that do will leave before their experience is honed such that they are more likely to make the right decision. Yes, different decisions should have been taken and yes those involved need to be challenged, but unless we change how we deal with our collective anguish at such tragedies then we will continue to fail to honour the short life of Baby P.

Friday, 14 November 2008

A novel idea but not a new one

Rumours of tax cuts from Gordon Brown are rife and there's no doubt that they might boost a little confidence in the short term. make folk feel that they had a little more cash again. The trouble is, as I have said before, e.g. here, to meet a failed consumerism with more consumerism is not a sustainable strategy. If effective political decision-making relates to how people feel however, and I think it is, there is one thing Gordon could do in conjunction with tax cuts; raise taxes for the rich. Not for those just over the 40% bracket, but say an additional 1 or 2 % for those earning over £150,000 or even £200,000 of which there are still plenty. This would have three effects
  1. It would raise some cash to pay for the tax cuts for the less well off so limit the political damage caused in folks minds by the idea of increasing government debt even for tax cuts.
  2. It would be classically redistributive and not a difficult political sell once the high volume protests from the few who were having to pay a little more had died down.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, it would feel like he was being fair, because he was being so.
  4. The Tories would not have anywhere to go with it as to object would see them the party of the rich and to support gives them no political traction with their followers.
So how about it Gordon; there's always room for a wee move back to your roots ever now and again.....

another movement for change

I spent this evening at an excellent event to celebrate the registration of the 200th eco-congregation. in Scotland. It was good to see MSPs Des McNulty and Patrick Harvie there, both members of the Scottish parliaments Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee, Patrick being convener. Both spoke well and Patrick did the presentations.

Eco congregations are part of an ecumenical movement of congregations who commit to changing not just the energy use of their buildings but also reflecting on their individual lifestyles. They have the potential to be huge catalysts for change in the communities they serve, not simply as within their congregational life.

They also epitomise the perspective that acting ecologically is not simply a response to scientific warning but a moral stance that connects the consequence of all our actions on others. In fact it goes further than that. We act ecologically not because we are in danger of loosing something but because the world is sacred and should be looked after, whether or not global warming exists. We know it does, but if it did not, we still should not waste what has been given to us to look after.

It was great evening and there's more to come from this movement, I promise you

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

one last wee laugh before reality hits

I was sent this video which purports to be the reaction at SNP HQ to Lindsay Roy's great win in Glenrothes. It is a bit over the top, especially some of the language, which sadly takes the edge off it a bit, but there are some very funny lines in it....

Hope in difficult places

I spent some time this afternoon visiting the outstanding mediation project amber which specialises in helping parents and teenagers sort out their difficulties. Identified as a method of early intervention to stop teenagers end up homeless because they can't get on with their parents, it has proven to be hugely successful in its 18 months existence. I was privileged to be part of the launch back in 2006 and my high hopes then have been more than exceeded.

What is really exciting about this project is that it mot only prevents homelessness but it also rebuilds families by the simply method of teach folk to listen to each other,. its not rocket science, but it does work. I left enthused by the dedication and commitment of the staff, but also the inspiration of the stories I heard of families healed and lives turned round. Unsung hero's and heroines; the lot of them Link

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Another fine mess you've got into!

View Larger MapAnd from the global to the local. There a huge piece of road infrastructure happening in my ward. The roundabout at Kings Road is being changed to traffic lights. its a good move and will improve traffic flow and safety. but then I would say that as it was an Edinburgh Labour plan with funding Edinburgh Labour obtained that's now being put in place,

Trouble is, once again, the SNP/libdems have managed to make a good story into a bad plan. Their recent announcement that the project plans have had to change drastically are just yet another chapter in this sorry saga. The project is now late and will not be finished before Christmas. It was supposed to be finished at the end of October. It has meant more than a dozen roads being closed and many angry locals being given conflicting and unhelpful information. Its also meant teh closure of Portobello high street which inspire the classic bit of SNP/Libdem spin that "shoppers could enjoy the calmer atmosphere of no cars!"

Sure, I/m all for car free zones but shoppers can't get near the place in the first instance thanks to the roads being blocked to everything including buses and, having cut 4 bus routes in the area, there's few enough of them as it is!

We need good safe roads. But we also need our money spent well and we need projects to run to time and budget. Sadly, the SNP/Libdems struggle to make sense of such simple ideas and so any good ideas are lost to their botched implementation

tax cuts might make us feel good but are they good for us?

I am worried. Gordon's tax cuts make some sense in the short term because of the "feel good factor" they will bring. All of ecomonics is based on how we feel so its nt a bad move from that perspective. But I have real concerns about how sustainable this is.

Firstly, given that it was consumerism that helped fuel this crisis, why do we look to the same response as the solution. Tax cuts are a market driven solution and its the market model that ahs failed us. There is some sense in giving for cash to save, but to encourage spending again as the solution suggests that lessons have not yet been fully learnt.

Secondly, despite the views of some that all tax is bad, we actually pay taxes for good reasons; to invest in our communities, to build infrastructure to meet our needs and to help the vulnerable. Additional spending under Keynesian thinking uses these infrastructure needs as a vehicle to keep the economy going when the market fails (as it always does in the end). Keynesian models have a track record of working, but if we reduce the tax revenue at the same time as spending more on infrastructure, then we will be less able to help those in need, especially those who are suffering because of the market failure.

Tax cuts may buy time and a little popularity but they will not help in the long term aim of making sure more and ore folk are lifted out of poverty. In fact they may well mean instead that more and more folk find themselves in poverty without the support to get out again and that's not a good place for a Labour Government to find itself in.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Rememberance Day as it ought to be

Today's Remembrance Service seemed to go well but were I doing it again I would not write or say anything.

Instead I would simply play this video from youtube that Guido Fawkes has on his blog. As ever, music, images and the insight of folk younger that I speak far more effectively than I could ever do even though its about something neither of us have actually experienced. Link

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Preparing a silence to tell a difficult story

Preparing to take a Remembrance Day Service at a church that has no minister at present has proven to be an interesting journey back down my changing view of how these events should be approached.

I started out my ministry taking a very anti war, no militarism line. My services were about peace not war and no words of victory and God on our side ever left my lips.

i still hold to those views but they manifest themselves in very different ways now. These days I focus on the real human stories, not simply those of the service men and women but also those who had to stay behind and wait, never knowing if the knock on the door meant a telegram and or a reunion.

I also take the view now that war is never good, but sometimes, just sometimes, thanks to our human frailties and selfishness, war is all we have left to bring peace. This is not an argument for a "just war" that still remains for me a rationale too close to saying some wars are are good. I don't think that can ever be true, just that sometimes they are simply the last resort. The Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan don't fall into that category but I think now that, given what went before them, WW1 and WW2 were eventually unavoidable and we should mark and continue to mark their ending in a manner that recognises that and the sacrifices that were a consequence.

This idea is, in part at least, captured in this poem

A time for Silence

A time for silence
and a time for noise

A time to remember
and a time to forget

A time to be mournful
and a time to know joy

A time to read
From the war memorial
Names we recognise
sacrifices we can’t imagine

Lives we have heard of
but will never really know

Love we can guess at
but heartbeats we will not hear

Hopes we can speculate
but dreams we’ll never see

in the silence we can hear many things
in the silence we can glimpse another time
when war because what the time demanded
no matter how we wanted another way

and when waiting meant an eternity
waiting for news
waiting for orders
waiting for words
to bring tears of laughter
to bring fear or relief
to bring danger or safety
to bring new times or old worries

In the silence
so much to remember
so much to respect
so much to question
so much to take in
so much to mark
so much it can’t be said
only the silence can speak for us now

Friday, 7 November 2008

What Cammy's by election victory really means

There will be much analysis of Lindsay Roys great win yesterday in Glenrothes by folk far closer to the detail than I, so I will simply say that it brings great hope that we can still communicate and we are beginning to act like a coherent, scrutinising opposition, But to mangle a cliche; one by-election victory does win the war that will be a General election. Nor does it completely heal a hurting brand..though it helps tremendously.

I will however, offer a little closer scrutiny of what happened in Forth with Cammy Days superb win for the people of Forth. In Elizabeth they lost a fighter for their cause, in Cammy they got one back;

Here's 5 reasons why Cammy won

1.High quality local candidate who put in the hours on the door step

2. Backed up by better use of voter id than we'd done before for a Council level election

3. We kept it local, very local, like street to street local

4. The Libs are already a tainted brand; Robes, junkets, traffic chaos, botched school closures, cuts to the voluntary sector to name but a few wounds. Interestingly, it did not seem to taint the SNP who have sneakily distanced themselves from the tough calls.

5. The Tories voters realised that if their man did not win, the 29/29 balance on the Council needed to be maintained and so were prepared to transfer to us in almost equal numbers to us as to the SNP.

Which is why we are in a new politics like we have never been before. Without Cammy and his teams brilliant campaign to get home to the place to be the recipient on those transfers he would not have won, but need them he did. This suggests something of a sophistication in votes that rarely, other than in a classic "anybody but" campaign do they have the chance to express in first past the post.

I have always been a fan of proportional representation even though I knew initially it would cost my Party a great deal, But it is fairer, demonstrably so, as can be seen by this by election. Some of my less enlightened colleagues will say "ah but Cammy would have won under 1st past the post" True, but that assumes that winning is enough on its own. This way, more people than labour voters now have had a hand in electing Cammy. He now has a base wider than our voters to work with. They probably won't vote Labour 1st preference but with a good hard working track record as He will no doubt have, he now has a relationships with those beyond the party faithful that, if nurtured will form the basis of the consensus political culture that many call for but our present political structures severely inhibit. Yes, things have changed, and not just across the pond but here to in our own back yard.

Hold on- I was wrong and how glad I am to be so!

Silly me for listening to those "close to the action"! What a win for Lyndsay Roy, a majority of 6737, an increase in our share of the vote and hope once again for the party.

That being said, and I don't want to put a damper on a great night (two council election wins as well), my previous points about trust remain. This was fought on local issues and hammered an SNP council record. I am elated tonight but I will be contented when I see a deeper turn in our national poll numbers and folk saying not just that Gordon's the man of the credit crunch moment but that he's the man for the next election as well. Still a brilliant night for us, especially for Lyndsay and Cammy, (though not for my ability to predict election wins!)

VICTORY FOR EDINBURGH LABOUR-what a difference a Day makes!

I have just heard that Labour has won the Forth By election. Its amazing! We had a great candidate in Cammy Day but it was always going to be tough with an AV system on a 4 person ward. But maybe its a sign I am wrong on Glenrothes. I hope so!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

close but no cigar is what I hear

I am hearing that the BBC are correct and that the SNP have sneaked the Glenrothes By election by about 500 votes.

This clearly is not good news. Although things were moving our way there's clearly a great deal more to do for folk to trust us again for all of politics is about trust. Lindsay Roy, our candidate, was trusted by a great deal of folk. I saw that on the door steps myself. But its the brand. The Labour brand is damaged and is in need of repair. Sure its about policies but for people to believe in a policy, to be willing to go with the change a policy brings, they need to believe in the person promoting that policy and their party. And that's what we have not yet achieved. We can and we will, (I nearly said Yes we can but that's been said before somewhere!), but we haven't done it yet and Glenrothes is a clear indicator of that.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Change and the parable of the plumber

So the change has begun. Barack Obama is President, (or will be on January 20th) and America will begin to steer another course away from the politics of greed and the playground bully. Or so we hope. There is huge expectation and faith in this man about whom we knew very little until 3 or 4 years ago...so let us pray...

John McCann, on the other hand, lost it looking for a plumber. His mistake was that, in his struggle to find a metaphor to speak of who he stood for, he used one that was not true. The plumbers name was not Joe and his "self made business" was not all it was claimed to be about. Barack Obama used metaphors to speak of a change like we have rarely seen in politics, metaphors that touched people deep in their souls. John McCann's metaphor suggested he didn't know what he was talking about and that's when it all started to go horribly wrong. An object lesson for anyone trying to speak up and speak out whatever the subject matter.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

In the election that really matters; vote 1 for Cammy day

A moral outrage

It is an absolute scandal and a moral outrage that the former chief executive of HBOS is now being paid £60,000 to help Lloyd TSB in the takeover. The greed culture that created the Credit Crunch has clearly not changed one iota is the perpetrators of the collapse get paid exorbitant sums to mop up the mess whilst the victims loose their homes, their jobs and their families.

How different this is to the clear moral and ethical motivations of Rev Hendry Duncan who founded the TSB to help the poor. How he must be spinning in his grave as his successors feed on the suffering for whom the TSB was set up to help.

Monday, 3 November 2008

More cuts, more pain, more anger

I spent the early part of the morning catching up with ward correspondence. All of it was complaints about the consequences of the present SNP/Libddem mal-administrations cuts and cock-ups;

In today's mailbag people were angry about:
  1. The number 12 and 13 buses being cut "because we are at the end of the bus route"
  2. That there has been no progress on Portobello School
  3. The work on the Seafield roundabout now running more than 3 months late
  4. The lack of support for challenging anti-social behaviour
  5. Leaves not being cleared up
  6. Being given the run-around by officers on a parking issue
  7. Traffic problems in Duddingston village
  8. No one listening to an elderly man who had a fall because a drain wasn't cleaned
  9. Their community group being unable to compete for a tender for work they have done for years because the money offered would kill the project
  10. Why their community centre still has not had confirmation of their budget for the year
And that's just the ones I can remember but there were many more. My colleagues tell me that my postbag is not unusual. All the time folk scunnered with an administration that is intent on making cuts and ignoring needs. Its quite an achievement to have annoyed so many folk so quickly, but at least they are consistent; they are rude to or ignore everyone!

More to do but it could be the start of something big

And so to Glenrothes I went. and it was excellent. I spent time in three different parts of the constituency, including a 2 hour "blitzing" with Lindsay himself and the response was excellent. Labour voters rock solid and Lindsay's reputation as a well liked and very effective local head teacher playing well with the don't knows. Its still very tight, very tight indeed. But I left feeling that there is a real chance we can defend this seat.

What's been very interesting is just how easy it has been to expose the SNP council as utterly inept, driven by cost cutting beyond all else and rapidly loosing the trust of the voters. Linday's has been seen as some-one worth supporting because he's delivered for local pupils, he's not a career politician (remember, he will take a pay cut if he's elected!), and he's independent of mind. Fifers like that in a politician because that's how they see themselves. We're not there yet, but its going to be close, very close and it was good, even just for a day, to be part of that feeling because we haven't had that for some time now.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Its going to be close in Fife..

I am off to campaign in Glenrothes tomorrow, finally getting a chance to support Lindsay Roy whom I knew in my CoSLA days when he was President of what was then known as the Headteachers Association of Scotland. He was very good at that job and he's doing a great job for us.

I'm told that its very tight, that our polling shows a wide variant in levels of support for all candidates and that its a very different experience from Glasgow East. This is a fingernail job, but in my guts I think Lindsay going to get there but he won't have much skin left on his teeth or seat in its pants..

some things money just can't buy

I was at a joint 50th birthday party last night for two friends of nearly 30 years standing with whom I once shared a flat as part of a street work project based in a Glasgow housing scheme. Domestic hygiene may not have been in our vocabulary but it was a life changing experience for which I will be forever grateful; as I am for their friendship still strong after almost 3 decades. Such things cannot be bought, but they are for me much more the bedrock of a contented life and have a value way beyond anything the illusory "golden calf' wealth of the market could ever offer. It was a great party and even better friendships.

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