Tuesday, 31 July 2007

New Beginnings

I have not abandoned my blog! I have been preoccupied with changing jobs. The last couple of weeks at my last job were frantic trying to tie up loose ends and write a hand over briefing. And then I was preparing for my new job...

It's going to be quite a change - from lobbying on behalf of small businesses to campaigning on human rights!

So, as soon as I get my head around the information overload (and the now-necessary commute), I will be back blogging on a regular basis on the issues - rather than the ins and outs of my life which I'm sure doesn't make for interesting reading.

Thursday, 19 July 2007


On the BBC news earlier there were two particularly shocking stories. The first was a news item about the violence in our communities. Viewers were shown CCTV footage of 3 young men, who randomly attacked 2 other young men, who were sitting minding their own business. One of the victims recovered from his knife wounds. The other died from his injuries. Unfortunately, this shocking attack is just one of many violent incidents that scar our society. I can't understand why people behave in this way. I'm aware of all the explanations that are presented for it - drugs, alcohol, despair, peer pressure, violent films and computer games... But what is going through the minds of the people who engage in such horrendous violence?

I know there are no simple answers. But I am sure about one thing. Anything that legitimises or glorifies violence certainly doesn't help the situation. That's why I found the story about this new cage war phenomenon - especially in the same news bulletin as the above story - so disturbing. I'm not suggesting that the people who go along to watch the fighting in these cage war shows will themselves go out and attack people. However, the audience does stand there and cheer while one human being hurts another human being. That isn't a healthy state of affairs. Frankly, I think it's disgusting that people enjoy watching violence. I know that's a blunt statement to make but that's my opinion.

I am squeamish (I'm vegetarian after all) and that's partly why I find the concept of the cage war so distasteful. But am I far from alone in worrying about the implications of integrating violence into forms of entertainment. If, as a society, we say that violence for entertainment is acceptable, then how can we begin to tackle the violence on our streets? These cage wars should be banned or, in my opinion, the authorities are guilty of severe hypocrisy.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Marriage, Drug Addiction and Tories

What a revelation - the Tories think that marriage is the route through which we will solve all of society's ills!


I could hardly contain my sarcastic comments as I watched the quiet man himself, Iain Duncan Smith, on TV last night parading the streets of Glasgow pronouncing his master plan to rid society of everything from anti-social behaviour to heroin addiction.

Apparently this social justice policy group he has led for his boss David 'just call me Dave' Cameron outlines some 190 measures - but of course marriage is at the heart of the proposals.

Now, I'm not (or at least I try my best not to be) a hypocrite. So, I will state that I am myself a married woman, and I was brought up by married parents who celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this year (congrats folks!). I had a happy, secure and supportive upbringing from two great parents and I'm extremely grateful for that. My experience of marriage has been great.

But that doesn't mean that marriage is for everyone, and it's not the only good foundation for bringing up children. Unmarried parents or lone parents should never be made to feel like second rate parents to their children - especially not by their government.

And the idea that couples will be more likely to marry or stay married because of some tax break is very unhealthy. If a marriage isn't working, is it healthy for parents to stay together?

The implications in Iain Duncan Smith's arguments last night, as he sat comforting the mother of a heroin addict who had died, is that a tax break on marriage could have prevented this tragedy. That is insulting, and also a disturbing way to look at the world. Marriage breakdown does not cause the problems we are facing in today's society - poverty is the real evil that pervades our country and we all know the role of the Tories in creating a society of desperation and despair.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

I'm watching this Live Earth concert at the moment. Yes - I am admitting to watching the TV on a Saturday night, in my slippers too :o) And I can't help but think that the whole thing is quite bizarre.

Now, before anyone complains that I am a cynic and/or whinger, I understand the rationale of the concerts around the world to raise awareness about climate change. But...

Firstly, the mind boggles with regard to the size of the collective carbon footprint of all these concerts - the lights, the sound, the performers travelling to the concert venues in their private jets and gas guzzling people carriers, then there is the audience and their car journeys. Maybe one could argue that tonight's carbon footprint is minuscule compared to the potential impact that the concerts could have in reducing our carbon output in the future. Perhaps. But it is a strange dual message to be sending out to the masses on their sofas.

Secondly, I suspect that most people are in fact aware that they should be doing something to reduce their impact on the environment. Awareness is one thing; changing behaviour is another.
Now, this is a topic I've covered in my blog before, but I think it's worth repeating in this context. As citizens, we look to our governments to do more to help us reduce our carbon footprints. People lead busy lives, and don't always have the time to research all the issues or to go out of their way to do things differently. Many people also need additional support. An elderly relative of mine, for example, who is in sheltered housing and sometimes confused, is not really able to sort her waste for recycling.

Among the things I believe our governments need to do are:

  • Make public transport a truly viable alternative to car use.
  • Increase the provision of convenient recycling facilities AND educate people about how to recycle all the various materials we use in our everyday lives. How many people know how to dispose of batteries properly?
  • Make it easier for people to purchase micro-generation, so they can harness the power of renewable energy for their homes.
  • Educate us. For example, until I read a newspaper article on this recently, I wasn't sure about what foods were actually seasonal in Scotland. Now I have that information, I will try to do something about it in order to reduce the food miles accumulated to feed me.
In other words, the easier it becomes to change our behaviour for the better, the more chance we have of actually combating climate change.

Friday, 6 July 2007

New SNP members

I am not surprised that around 100 people a week are deciding to join the SNP. During the election, there was a lot of interest from those people who support us at the ballot box in becoming members of the party. Most of my family members have been generally supportive of the SNP for years - but have been reluctant to take the step to actually join the party. However, recently three of them decided to join - just like that!

Maybe people now feel more confident about joining the SNP since the election. Perhaps because the party won the popular vote, people are happier to be more committed to or public about their own political affiliations because they know they are far from alone in supporting the SNP.

It may also be a sign of just well the SNP is governing Scotland. To be honest, our ministers are doing even better than I had expected. After all, the SNP has never been in government before and could have been forgiven a couple of initial stumbles in my opinion. Thankfully, though, they have been steady on their feet and steadfast in their determination to blow a wind of change through the governance of Scotland. And the polls show that support for the SNP has increased since the election, and - more importantly in my view - the polls also demonstrate that national confidence has grown too.

As time goes on, and people across the country see the great service they get from their SNP government and local councillors, I'm sure our party - Scotland's party - will go from strength to strength.