Sunday, 25 February 2007

Streets Paved With Gold?

I've been trying to get my head around the whole road pricing debate. Part of the problem is this debate is being led by discredited politicians. No matter what they say (especially Tony Blair), we don't believe them - we've lost confidence in those who govern us.

So, when we hear from both the UK government and Scottish Executive about plans to introduce road pricing, we assume they are merely trying to squeeze more taxes out of us. Are they?

Well, it's not as simple as that.

On the one hand, it's certainly the case that we can't go on as we are. Protecting our planet for the future means we have to reduce our carbon emissions, congestion in our cities and on major roads is getting worse, and the cost of driving is soaring - which is a problem when people have little option but to drive e.g. in rural areas with virtually no public transport. How do we tackle, and at the same time reconcile, these issues?

On this basis, road pricing would seem like an attractive option. It could reduce overall car use, cut congestion and reduce the cost of driving in rural areas (if it was balanced by the abolition of fixed driving costs like road tax).

But there are potential problems with road pricing.

Firstly, there is the issue of surveillance (and civil liberties). Like many people, I would be appalled at a system that tracked your every movement in your car.

Secondly, there is no guarantee that road pricing won't just become an additional tax on driving.

Thirdly, this scheme presents a problem for businesses, who often don't have a choice about when and where to travel. If business travel costs go up, these costs will have to be passed on to us as customers.

I can't make up my mind on this one. But I can't help thinking that no matter how expensive we make driving, until our public transport is up to scratch, our drivers won't hang up their car keys...

Monday, 19 February 2007

New Party for 20-Somethings!

Are you interested?

It will be MY political party, and all the policies will be based on what I PERCEIVE TO BE in the interests of Scotland’s 20-somethings. Because it is a party for 20-somethings, I won’t care about any other age group – only the interests of those in their twenties. I will produce a long and expensive wish list of policies, and I won’t care what needs to be cut to pay for it.

Does this sound at all selfish, naive, egotistical or irresponsible?

Yes it does! So why is it that people have such praise for single issue candidates (like hospital campaigners) and interest group parties (like SSCUP – the pensioner party in Scotland)? We are told that they are a sign of dissatisfaction with the traditional political party, and that their emergence is healthy for democracy. Is it?

Now, before I argue against that proposition, let me make one thing clear. I have respect for people who feel strongly enough about an issue to get involved in electoral politics. It’s certainly no picnic. Credit where credit is due – it must be even harder without the support of a political party.

However, the reality is that such politics are dangerous for our democracy. Let me use the pensioner party as an example. I agree that pensioners have been treated shabbily by successive governments at Westminster and Holyrood, and I can understand why they may think they can achieve more as a party solely for pensioners. But the fact is that democratic politics is about reconciling lots of different competing interests – not serving the interests of one section of society more than another. If the pensioner party got everything on its wish list,what about everyone else?

That’s why people with a shared vision come together in the form of traditional political parties, to put forward a coherent programme of policies for government, which balances the interests of all our citizens.These political parties are the building blocks of our democracy.

And that’s why it’s irresponsible to have a host of interest group parties and single issue candidates promising a one-sided wish list, without recognising the sacrifices that would have to be made to deliver them.

Voters in Scotland are fed up being lied to. Unfortunately those candidates who think they are breaking the mould, by standing on a single issue ticket or seeking to represent a single group in society, are doing the citizens of Scotland a great disservice and undermining responsible, honest politics.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Underwhelmed for Scotland

While working on campaign materials for the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth campaign this afternoon, I stumbled upon Nicol Stephen's speech to Lib Dem conference (he's their leader by the way, but you would be excused for not knowing that - most people don't).

I have no desire to attack the guy personally. But as a leader, and even as a politician, he's dreadful. He used his bland speech, done in a cringe-worthy 'conversation-style', to outline his plans for Scotland. Among these plans was a promise to build big swimming pools in Aberdeen and Inverness. Now, we probably do need more swimming facilities, but in a speech about his 'vision' for the future of Scotland, two new swimming pools is hardly noteworthy.

I want more than a couple of new swimming pools for Scotland! That's why I believe Scotland should be independent, and why I vote SNP.

To be fair, Nicol did outline other policies - some of which were good. For example, his pledge to scrap the Graduate Endowment scheme (i.e. tuition fees). However, he completely failed to mention that the Lib Dems are actually in Government with Labour in Scotland, and responsible for introducing this scheme - which is burdening so many students with even more debt - in the the first place!

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Are they for real?

Now, I've been involved in politics long enough to realise that when people don't have anything sensible to say, or a cogent argument to make, they resort to tactics like scaremongering. This is particularly true of politicians desperately trying to defend the union and talk down Scotland.

Their latest tactic? They are writing to the letters pages of newspapers, challenging the SNP to explain how we could possibly fund independence. Excuse me! This is beyond the realms of ridiculous - even for the usual suspects.

An independent Scotland would, of course, be funded in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as every other independent country on the planet! The wealth created in any given country is taxed by the government of that country. This money is then used to pay for everything from schools and hospitals, to social security and defence. Not exactly rocket science (but maybe a bit beyond the average unionist politician...)

Oh, and apparently after Scotland is independent, people will leave in droves. Really!?! Where will they go? To other independent countries? Surely not. If they are so adverse to independence for their own country, surely they would find it equally distasteful elsewhere...

Romantic Interlude

My lovely husband took me out for meal last night in honour of Valentine's Day. I'm not really into mushy nonsense, but I do like any excuse to go out for a nice meal with my favourite person in the whole world!

Back to reality now though - with a bump! Tonight was spent sticking stamps on envelopes...

Monday, 12 February 2007

Gordon Brown and my Chocolate Cravings...


Yet another evening has been spent stuffing envelopes for the election campaign while watching Eastenders - while Jamie is out speaking to people in Cumbernauld. I've convinced myself that chocolate is the perfect fuel to get me through all this campaign admin. By the time this election is over, I'll have consumed enough chocolate to fill a swimming pool! There's so much work to do behind-the-scenes for a campaign, so I won't be able to get out and about with other SNP volunteers much for a while yet. At least then I'll get the chance to walk off all this chocolate!

Begging Brown

Apparently, Gordon Brown and his mates have been up in Scotland, begging business people to 'come out' in support of the union. The silence so far has been deafening... In contrast, business people have been lining up to support independence for Scotland. And why shouldn't they? Independence is normal! It will give us the power to make our own decisions - about everything from the economy, to the distribution of the wealth generated by economic success.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Having set up this blog (which was no easy task for a technophobe like me!), I've decided to use it to record my experiences of the Scottish Parliament election campaign. After all, it takes up all of my time these days - apart from work of course.
I've been a member of the SNP since university and I worked as a researcher for the SNP until last year. I also met my husband through the SNP. Jamie (see photo) is standing in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth constituency for the Scottish Parliament. So, I plan to use this blog to give a somewhat unique perspective on the election - that of an activist and candidate's wife!
So far, I would describe my role in this election as Jamie's campaign manager, diary assistant, stylist (very important!), agony aunt, cheerleader, advisor, 'glamorous' assistant and administrative worker - to name a few.
I promise to keep complaints to a minimum, while giving an honest account of life on the campaign trail!

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Welcome to my blog! I'm new to blogging, but everyone I know seems to have one - so I thought I'd follow the crowd!