Tuesday, 3 March 2009
So I am going to continue that break. Not for long, just enough time to refresh my thinking and replenish my ideas. Don't go far, I will be back, the site will stay up and I will be looking at other site for some inspiration but for now, goodbye and happy blogging.
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
She came to Edinburgh during the war to work in a biscuit factory and "just stayed". Its astonishing to think that she is 99 years older than my daughter and seen just so much change, (not all of it for the better, she says!). I hope that I have that ability to be independent when old age comes my way though given my state of health these days, I doubt I'll make it to 103!
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Here are the 6 questions that we need answers to:
1. Is it true that the project is running 8 months late?
2. If so, why was the Princes Street closure put in when it was?
3. Did BSC warn the Council that there were problems?
4. who did they warn, when and what was the response of those they warned?
5. What are the so called "contractual obligations" that allegedly have not been met?
6. What are the costs of delay?
More than ever, this city needs leadership. It needs the SNP in particular to realise that to pull out now would make Edinburgh a laughing stock with no nerve. They need to get a grip and the Lib Dems need to realise that they cannot avoid the decisions before them nor can they blame someone else.. This is their time and they cannot fail us. Right now, much as I despise much what they have done to our city in the last 2 years, I don't want them to fail on this one, even if it meant that we were to benefit electorally. I am willing them to succeed. This is not about party politics any more, its about our capital city and our nation and we cannot fail or we will reap the pain for years
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Having said that , this was the first competitive game his team has had since early December. I know that there's often a winter lay off but this seasons seems particularly bad. I am not sure of the reasons are as simply as the pitches not being properly looked after or a complex as global warming or somewhere in between but whatever the reason, the consequence is fewer games and the potential of hundreds of young people hindered that wee bit more. I hate to be a prophet of doom but we'll never win the big games if we can't get the wee ones sorted first. Unless we do it won't just be my vicarious dreams that will be shattered, it will be the Nation's.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
It would be a whole new meaning for "blood money" and I don't think we should go there.
Friday, 20 February 2009
The SNP/Libdems need to face BSC down again. That is what they understand. Stare them in the eye and say no, you can't hold us to ransom and your attitude is unacceptable. That's exactly what they would do where they in our place and we should do the same to them. It's the only language these guys understand. My deep concern is that the Libdem don't have the bottle for brinkmanship and the SNP want trams to fail. These are bad times indeed for our city.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
It is, instead, a sign that TIE are finally fed up with being the fall guys for the SNP/Libdem administration total lack of leadership. The SNP/Libdems want to take all the credit for the good things and none of heat for their incompetence. That's why they were posted missing when the closure of Princes Street fiasco happened but why they demand that their names are on plaques on all the new schools for example, (and I mean demand), even though these are schools Labour started and secured the funding for. Their motto is "it wusy me". This time however, it will be them in the firing line and not before time too.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
That being said, the fact that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation can identify the funds needed to get to where we need to get to as being only around £4.2b when we can find more than £37b for the bank bail out is a serious challenge to the labour Government. If investing in banking capital is worth that kind of cash, then investing our 12% of the same in the social capital of freeing children of poverty is surely a win win for all of us. This is areal chance for Gordon to practice what he preaches.
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Somewhere, somehow, we need to be asking what our economics are actually for. exploring how economics, far from being a morally neutral scientific endeavour is a reflection of human emotions and the quality of human relationships with the self, the neighbour and the stranger.
By defining success as a human being by the accumulation of wealth as had begun to happen, the production of profit moved from the creation of liquidity to being end result and so greed became justified as a means to achieve an idea of success that was then celebrated and affirmed. Far from fulfilling human need it ate away at our very humanness. It is these kinds of explorations that will change the culture that has brought us to the place we now find ourselves in. This has to be a debate and a discourse not about pounds and euros, dollars and yen but about morality, the soul and what it is to be human. Much more difficult to put into words than "its a greed culture" but the end result will be a better place for us all; the self, the neighbour, the stranger.
Monday, 16 February 2009
how can I keep from singing?"
No politics today as more fundamental things are on my mind. I attended the funeral this afternoon of an old friend and fellow Iona Community member Rev. Richard Baxter. Famed for his ability to have a song for every moment, Richard was a man of contradictions; an ex commando who became a campaigner against trident (including getting arrested several times), an irreverent man who was deeply respectful of tradition and ritual, a brilliant singer who knew the power of silence.
He spent 15 years in Malawi, helping to fight the British Colonial attempts to create a "Central Africa Federation" out of what was then Nyasaland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Instead, Malawi was formed and Richard help create their education system. He hasd such an influence on that country that that a letter of deep sympathy was read out at the funeral written by Malawi's High Commissioner on behalf of the President Bingu Wa Mutharika.
Committed to the Ecumenical movement, Richard believed in the strength of diversity. He was a very serious man, committed to social justice in every action who was always full of fun and laughter. A talented artist he would brighten up many a boring meeting with a wee cartoon quickly sketched and passed round on a scrap of paper!
I worked with him when I was assistant minister at South Leith Parish Church. He was a massive support to me as I struggled with the strictures of church, institution and faithfulness. I owe him a great deal.
There were well over 500 people there today laughing and crying as we laid to rest a great man whom we will all miss terribly. My thoughts and prayers are with Richards wife Ray and their family.
Sunday, 15 February 2009
I have been a member of the Iona Community for over 20 years and my membership is what keeps me both sane and continually challenges as I struggle with the idea of what it is to be a person of faith in the 21st global village.
Peter will have very hard act to follow in Rev Kathy Galloway who has been a brilliant leader for the last 7 years, (our leaders are only in post for up to 7 years), but he will carry the torch of leadership well.
Friday, 13 February 2009
The Council tax freeze, as a precurser to the local income tax (much as I think that was more unfair) was, in itself, a clever political move in the short term. Now the short term is getting longer and longer, it may well come back to haunt the SNP in ways they never imagined.
Thursday, 12 February 2009
On Economic Development - made an additional investment of some £1.3million in ‘economic development activities’, and established a £5million “Affordable Housing Fund” for the provision of affordable housing across the city.
On Protecting the Vulnerable - invested an additional £2million revenue in ‘Care for the Elderly’ and ‘Respite Care’ services and accommodation services for ‘Young People with Disabilities’; provided an additional £320,000 to towards the provision of 10 new, local Police Officers; and 2 new ‘Care Homes’ for the city.
On Transport -invested an additional £300,000 to protect and enhance all currently ‘supported bus services’ ‘£1.5million capital’ in bus-priority measures and to re-phase all non-essential ‘capital’ roadworks for the duration of the current tram works, prioritising pavement repairs to a ratio of 60%/40% -£8million of capital expenditure in 2009-10 on pavements and £5million of capital expenditure on roads.
On Local Environment - invested £0.6million to provide £50,000 per annum, of new monies, to each of the local Neighbourhood Partnerships. £0.5million per annum to World Heritage Trust to protect the fabric of the city.
On Culture and Leisure - Invested £120,000 towards cultural education and outreach work and to invest ‘£2million capital’ in parks, pitches, pavilions and play areas.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
But lets look at whats happened here. A minority Government has admitted it can''t build a consensus in parliament so it has dropped a manifesto promise (a pretty major one at that). It is at least honest; " we can't build a consensus so we won't waste time trying any more" but that does also mean that immediately others get the blame rather than any real analysis of why the policy couldn't get support. "the unfair tax remains because others would not help get id of it"
It means getting bad news over and done long before an election so any "broken promise" opportunities have lost their edge. But it also begs the question "what about the council tax freeze?" It was an interim measure for a policy that won't now be implemented. It will, by 2011, have removed £240m from the public service budget but not removed the tax it was introduced to help shift. So the question becomes, will it stay? If the SNP removed the freeze next year that would do two things; first give them an addition £70m to play with, (a tiny amount in the whole Scottish budget but hey, was the price of the Tory votes on the budget), but it would also allow them to argue that the Council tax rises have returned because the other parties wouldn't let the SNP get rid of it; "they wanted to keep it so let them pay the political price if it being used again"
It would be a risky strategy but would mean that the locus would shift from a broken promise (and a big one at that) to look what these nasty opposition parties have done to you....call me a cynic if you will but....
Monday, 9 February 2009
Sunday, 8 February 2009
What I do know is that he achieved two important firsts; first Asian MSP and first Muslim MSP. That is a record to be proud of in any ones book and the Parliament will be the poorer until the 2nd (and more), of each is elected. Diversity is a strength and he gave the Parliament some of that strength in, I am told a quiet, unassuming but powerful way.
What will be a true tribute to him and those who hopefully follow him in being other ethnic and/or faith community first would be when the time comes that the ethic and faith (including those whose faith is not in a divinity), diversity of our parliament is such that no one is counting and there's no need to herald firsts.
Friday, 6 February 2009
Thursday, 5 February 2009
There were some highlights though;
When challenged about a broken promise, one leading Libdem admitted that their manifesto was "mostly aspirational" rather then promises they had made to the electorate! It would have been nice if they had made that clear to the votersThe SNP/Libdems admitted that, despite claiming that the new Scottish budget was a potential "lifeline" for Edinburgh schools, there is no new money in the budget for school buildings. Not much of a lifeline then..
The SNP said that to ask for a sustainable approach to air travel was unacceptable and madness...that will be the Green vote grabbed then!
Roll on next week and the budget meeting; that is going to be soooo much fun! I will lay money that it will last a whole lot longer than two hours.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
There is no evidence that peoples clear confusion with the Scottish parliamentary elections was in any way caused by having the election on both days, evidenced by the fact that the new system introduced for council elections caused far fewer spoilt ballot papers.
The idea that Councils will be called to account on their own record has to be countered by the clear evidence that midterm Council elections are always seen as a opinion poll on the Government.
If this is a response to what happened in 2007 then its the wrong target. The solution lies in having the ballot paper as it was before, with the list vote second.
If it is about making Councils more accountable then it will not achieve that to the extend that might be assumed and there remains the issue of voter fatigue. There are better things for Parliament to to be doing with legislative time and resources.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Interestingly however, there's a wee twist to this tale. According to the BBC, one of the parts of the deal that brought the Libdems to the table was an agreement that some schools will be commissioned under PP/PFI because the Scottish Futures Trust remains a chocolate teapot.
But isn't that the same Lib Dems who on Edinburgh Council voted and campaigned against PPP. Will they now bid to be amongst the Councils to have school under PPP (and will there be level playing field support as there was under Labour...)
Sunday, 1 February 2009
The offer to pray would have been no more than a statement of concern for another human being who was ill. Who is this mythical person who "might be offended" by what was a misguided act of compassion? If they do exist and are offended, let them speak up for themselves. Would we suspend anyone else to investigate the speculation that some-one "might be offended" by a nurse who in the course of conversation with a client who happened to be a Christian said, "I don't believe in God". No chance. This was an unwise expression of care, not a hanging offence. We need to get a grip here otherwise, in the name of equality, the Christian community is being treated unequally.
And the other prayer? It is the allegedly "long lost second verse" of Burns Selkirk grace which I was given a copy of by the Portobello Burns club who invited me to give their immoral memory this year. I will tell you it as long as you promise not to be offended by a prayer or on behalf of those without their own teeth;
"some hae teeth to eat the meet
whilst others o' this nation
rely on gums and porcelain
to aid their mastication!"
Thursday, 29 January 2009
They have endorsed a call from Scottish Churches Housing Action for a return to post-war levels of affordable house-building as a way of avoiding the worst effects of the recession.
The call comes in a paper which Scottish Churches Housing Action has sent to First Minister Alex Salmond MSP, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling MP and other political leaders which calls on the administrations at Holyrood and Westminster to get together in facilitating a massive boost to public investment in affordable housing.
The church leaders’ argue that building affordable homes for rent and for sale will have a triple impact: it will help those who’ll be made homeless in the recession; it will keep people in jobs in the property, building and related industries; and it will keep tax revenues from those jobs flowing to the exchequer, while avoiding unemployment pay-outs. It just takes a wee bit of political will. The full text of the statement can be downloaded from www.churches-housing.org
The Poverty & Homelessness Action Week partnership comprises Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action. The week runs from Saturday 31 January to Sunday 8 February, and includes Homelessness Sunday (31 Jan) and Poverty Action Sunday (8 Feb). www.actionweek.org.uk
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
No the significance is that there is now a real opportunity to again grasp the nettle of consensus politics. I was in the public gallery today and the debate was not a pleasant experience. I am used to the hurley burly of politics and we need to know the differences between parties. But we need to put energy not into scoring debating points but discovering what it will take to find common ground which will allow us to have grown up conversations about whats possible, plausible and frees the potential of the people (I really do sound like a politician don't I!). We don't need to agree with everything to find common cause.
The trouble is that all parties are still obsessed with power and hanging onto it rather than letting it go and having influence instead. The opposition, (even the descriptions of our political roles are confrontational), need to let the largest party take the lead. The SNP, as the Government, need to have conversations with the other parties that are not couched, as the recent ones were, in terms of "what will it take to buy you off"..."but what can we do together" Then a consensus can be created that respects difference but finds a way through for the people instead.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
I think that Holocaust Memorial day is one of the most significant in the political calender. It is a stark and deeply powerful reminder to all nations, and I mean all nations, of the consequences of choosing war based on religious belief, prejudice and/or assumed superiority. It not only causes huge suffering, it damages the whole of humanity and its collective soul. No-one exempt from that lesson. even those who have been victims themselves.
Monday, 26 January 2009
It appears that our campaign has had two effects. First a new turning circle is proposed at the old Eastern General site (at a cost, not of 20k as first estimated, but 80k), which will allow the No 12 to service the care home and Craigentinny Avemue North. This would not have happened without the campaign led by local people but still leave a large section of the ward without a bus service.
Secondly, the administration have put several options out to tender to get costing for a number of routes, including one that would make use of that turning circle to re-introduce another of the routes cut by the SNP/Libdems, the No 13 and in addition provide a service to the area isolated by the cuts to the No 12.
However, this will only happen if the SNP/Libdems put the money in their budget. So the campaign is far from over. Much is to be done. But at least the SNP/libdems will have to final admit what they have been denying for so long; this is all down to their decisions. The future of these bus services is in their hands. The campaign continues!
Sunday, 25 January 2009
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Two are to adult audiences, one in Portobello for the Burns club there and one in Glasgow for the Scout Associations annual fundraiser. They will be difficult enough but the one on Saturday night is the hardest one of all. Its for a group of 8-12 year olds who are part of a sports club my boy attends. Seemed like a good idea at the time but now I am panicking. Anyone got any ideas for an "immortal memory for 8-12 year olds.....
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
I offer simply this thought. What struck me about President Obama's speech was that it was rooted in values and offered something deeply spiritual to a hurting nation (and world). It said simply, times are tough and he and the nation he now leads need to dig deep into their souls as they struggle to find solutions to their challenges, domestic and international. He said;
"in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness".I don't pick this out to make a theological or a "pro-God" point. Nor do I suggest that some-one without faith in a divinity couldn't do the job. This is not a man who says "God told me what to do because he's on my side but instead asks what do I need to do to be on God's side".
and; "This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny".
I do think that it is interesting that what met the need of a broken nation was a language that has been sometimes despised in political circles on both sides of the language. I know that he will need to find policies that match those words but at least we will know what drive the man, what he depends on and why he might have the stamina to make it through the pain that he faces. Faith itself will not bring the hard political answers he needs. But knowing what he believes to be true about the nature of world is a good starting point.
Monday, 19 January 2009
Saturday, 17 January 2009
But sometime we forget that sports are just that, sports. Which is why I find the idea that a football team, in this case Manchester City, can even contemplate handing over £107m for one player morally repugnant. We are in a time of financial crisis, people are loosing their jobs, debts are growing and families are hungry. across the world, poverty grows and the poor are dying. And then a sports team spends £107m on one player. This cannot be right. I know that that £107m would be available for other purposes, nor would it solve all the poverty in the world. But is deeply sadness me that we have created such a system that means it can, even at a time when others are starving, produce sums of that quantity for the sole purpose of buying a footballers talents.
This isn't Manchester City's fault as such. They are simply part of the system. Something is not right with the system itself. These price tags for players demean sports and demeans all of us as human beings and that means no-one wins.
Friday, 16 January 2009
It is easy for me to speak about being "anti-nuclear, I have been for years and so the words come easily to me. I have never heard of these three generals before before but I now hold them in high esteem because it must have been a hugely difficult task to be who they are and say these things out loud. Brave men, all three.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
"the drive, inventiveness and initiative of the Palestinian people needs to be given an opportunity to flourish. And for that to have half a chance, the conflict must stop and it must do so now. That is the message that should be sent from us all, including all real friends of Israel, to its government".I still believe that it does not go far enough. I think we need to act in support of a people suffering at the hands of a nation apparently intent on ethic cleansing. So I would add my support to Palestine Israel ethical shopping initiative. (piesi). Having called once for a boycott, I reiterate that call now as do the folk behind piesi. In a world where much of our individual power lies in our consumer choices so we should put that power to good use.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
I asked officials for more information about the lack of progress. They have now told me that the completion date is 3rd April (6 months late) and that they still don't know how much the delays will cost or what other work won't be done because of the overspend on this project.
I know that I said I wanted to find a new language for my comments about the SNP/Libdems, but I struggle to so what other words I can use than completely incompetent on this one
Monday, 12 January 2009
That being said, we don't need any old bridge, we need to use this opportunity for grasping at the nettle of radical thinking on transport. A new bridge should be so designed create the capacity to massively increase public transport, including the potential of trams from Edinburgh connecting with all of Fife. It should include even more park and ride and dedicated bus lanes and not actually increase overall car capacity. Infact, if we do this right, the new bridge could actually decrease car use, not increase it.
Properly grasped, this nettle could be an opportunity to make the kind of regional connectivity for the Edinburgh City region that is vital for its survival and in some parts, regeneration, but in a very different way. A new bridge yes, but not for cars, now there's a plan worth breaking out the Governmental hobnobs for.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
I think that, in the main, it has, or at least it wants to. But so much depends on this one guy who holds on his shoulders the expectations of literally billions of people to get it right, first time, every time, with no more dress rehearsals. This is no longer the West Wing or the trail run. it is for real. I would not want his in tray for anything....
Friday, 9 January 2009
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
The truth is that whilst this campaign will be little more than a one day media wonder with little real furore, had it's promoters really wanted to make controversial statements about what people believe or don't believe and what that might mean for others, they would have had more luck with ads that announced that "there probably is no Santa"!
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Monday, 5 January 2009
But I also get that political spending choices are made based on the priorities of a given moment. That mean the same politician may make a different decision on the same subject in different situations. There are always competing moral goods and judgement calls need to be made based on what is needed most.
Which is why the decision by the SNP Government to spend (allegedly) £17.5m on a painting by Titan painting at this moment in time is ill-judged in the extreme. At a time when every politician is saying that what we need to is to spend money of public works to keep the economy going, to choose to spend what could build a primary school on a painting that, for all its merit won't, in itself create one new job nor keep one job safe is can only be described as a seriously bad political judgement call.....but then that's the first of these that we've seen from the SNP
Sunday, 4 January 2009
Hamas have done some utterly unacceptable things and they continue to be their own worst enemy, but the actions of the invading Israelite forces, bringing mayhem and death to the Palestinians of Gaza, are so disproportionate as to be almost at the level of ethnic cleansing.
I know that my calling for a boycott of Israeli goods will not exactly have the Israelis quaking in their boots as they trample over the human rights of the Palestinians in Gaza, but given the immorality of the Israeli actions we all have a moral duty to do what we can, no matter how apparently insignificant, to stand up and say no, this is wrong and we will not support it or anything else associated with a state prepared to inflict such untold death and devastation on others, no matter the alleged provocation.
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
(no appointment needed, all during school terms)