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

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Just popping my head round the digital door to say that I have moved....

I return for a brief moment to say that after a very long 5 mins... over 18 months to be exact.. I have begin blogging again... but not here. My new site is to be found at Ewan Aitken for Edinburgh Eastern and is, though I say so myself, worth a wee visit.

I post this simply to help guide you towards my new digital space which has been created, as you might have already guessed, for a very specific task as I take another new step on my political journey, this time, standing for the Scottish Parliament in the constituency of Edinburgh Eastern.

It is proving to be an adventure but then life should be one even if on snowy nights in November it seems a wee bit mad!

Talk soon I hope

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Back in 5 mins (or so)

A wee computer glitch meant I was suddenly unable to blog for 5 days. I really enjoy blogging but but this enforced break has been refreshing, let me step back a wee bit and ask not just what will I say but why do I want to say it here, in the blogoshpere?

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

The birthday girl!

I had the delightful task this evening of visiting one of my constituent on her birthday.. her 103rd birthday that is! Still sharp in mind and able to "see as far as Arthurs Seat" she struggles to get about these days but is a whole lot fitter than many much younger than her. She still lives in her own home supported by a couple of hours a day home help, but otherwise about as independent as she can be.

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

Disaster is looming

The plight of the trams is seriously bad new for Scotland, not just Edinburgh. As rumours fly and opinions form and reform, we need to know who knew what when and what did they d about it.

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

Even a cold touchline is a worry

Spent some of today on the touchline watching my son play rugby for Portobello Hornets against Preston Lodge (a good win for the Portie boys). It is difficult to avoid the temptation to live our sporting dreams through encouragement of our children's enthusiasms but despite dangerous temptation I do find watching him play a real pleasure.

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

Another bizarre piece of SNP "populism

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill's suggestion that killers would pay for their victim's funeral is bizarre. The last thing that a victim's family would want is cash from the perpetrator of the crime that has caused them so much pain but more significantly it could allow those to commit these crimes to feel they had somehow "compensated" for their deed.

It would be a whole new meaning for "blood money" and I don't think we should go there.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Tram brinkmanship is not a new ploy

This is not the first time BSC; the consortium delivering trams in Edinburgh have tried to hold the city to ransom. When the contract was just about to be signed last year, I was briefed as Labour leader along with the leaders of the other groups on the Council that at the last minute that the consortium wanted another huge sum, (somewhere between £12m and £15m), because of alleged "increased steel prices". We all knew it was brinkmanship and officials were encouraged to beat them down hard which they did significantly.

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

SNP/Libdems will have to take responsibility for once

The public statement by TIE, the company delivering trams for Edinburgh that it will be the SNP/Libdem administration that decided whether the tram works stop the world famour Festival cavalcade this year is nothing to do with Festival floats and glorious costumes.

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

This is a do-able task, if we are brave enough

The comment that Labour will "fail" to reach the target of having child poverty may prove to be statistically accurate but is another example of how statistics make easy headlines but never tell the whole story. The fact is that Labour alone set the target in the first place. The Tories would have done it ever because their philosophy could cope with that kind of compassion. The Libdems wouldn't have done it because it would have meant making a decision and the SNP say they want to achieve it but want independence more than they want to have poverty otherwise they wouldn't have ripped regeneration funds from poor areas and hurt those least able to help themselves.

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

Its going to take more than a headline and a few easy words

Sir Peter Birt's comments on the "greed culture" are just the latest in a long line of similar comments from folk right across the political and business spectrum. Easy words but what are we now going to do about that culture? How are we going to change it? I have yet to see, for example, any calls by the financial services industry to review the Cadbury Code which is supposed to form the basis of good practice and ethical decision-making in the industry. Whilst legislation would help, unless the mood and the mind of those involved changes dramatically and voluntarily, then we will continue to be creating the atmosphere of decision-making where greed can flourish

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

A sad day filled with tears and laughter

"Since God is of Heaven and earth
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

A good election result

I was delighted to hear the news that Rev Peter Macdonald of St Georges West Church has been elected the new leader of the Iona Community. I have known Peter for nearly 30 years and I feel very confident that he will do an excellent job as leader

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

An apparently smart move might turn sour soon...

It is not a surprise that most councils are setting a 0% council tax freeze. To do otherwise would cost money and set them against the rest of the country. But it is unsustainable. It puts less cash in public services, undermines local democracy and will mean cuts elsewhere. It seems fairer but actually will have unfair consequences and with the demise of the local income tax, simply perpetuates a system it was introduced to remove.

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

A strange idea of consensus

The City Council Budget meeting today could best be described as an example of poor political theatre; no vision from the SnP/Libdem mal-administration and a torrent of personal abuse from those on their benches with nothing helpful to contribute. One wee interesting thing came to light; the SNP/Libdems had had "budget talks" with the Tories and the Greens, but admitted that they decided not to talk to us. Apparently their idea of consensus politics is to only talk with those they agree with....

If they had talked with us they wouldn't have had to push through their cuts; instead they could have done these things;

On Schools - reversed last year’s funding reductions in those budgets giving schools an extra £2.7million; established a ‘£2million revenue’ schools “Energy and Efficiency Fund” for the city – established a ‘£1.2million capital’ school ‘Refurbishment and Upgrade Fund’; to provide funding to undertake the essential works at Wave3 schools; and to establish a new (year 1) £12million ‘capital fund’ with further funds being prioritised in future years to enable development of the remaining Wave3 Schools.
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.

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)
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