Saturday, 14 February 2009

destiNation goes nuclear!

The latest issue of destiNation has been published and can be viewed here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Andy Kerr on your doorstep

Andy Kerr knocks on your door. He is furious, absolutely furious, he tells you.

“It’s outrageous!” says Andy, “the SNP have abandoned their plans to scrap the Council Tax”.

“Why is that outrageous?” you ask.

Andy: Well, because they promised to do it.

You: OK, well why are they not doing it now?

Andy: They can’t get it through parliament at the moment.

You: Why’s that?

Andy: Well... because both Labour and the Tories object to it and they know we won’t support the legislation.

You: But, if you don’t want to scrap the Council Tax, why are you so angry?

Andy: Because they promised they would do it.

You: But it’s not their fault that they can’t do it; surely it’s yours for blocking the policy?

Andy: But it was in their manifesto – so they should deliver it!

You: Aren’t they a minority government? Don’t they need the support of other parties to get legislation through?

Andy: Yes, but they promised!

You: So, let me get this right. You are angry because the minority SNP Government is being prevented from delivering a reform that you object to anyway?

Andy: Yes

You: Goodbye!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Anne McLaughlin

Bashir Ahmad was a lovely man, one passionately committed to the cause of Scottish independence, and he is a huge loss to the SNP and Scottish politics. His presence in the Scottish Parliament was about more than symbolism – he was much more than just his race or religion. He was a great politician in his own right.

His passing inevitably means that a vacancy had to be filled in the Scottish Parliament. That was always going to be a difficult role for anyone to take up, especially given how close people in Glasgow SNP are to each other.

Anne McLaughlin has therefore found herself in the position of Scotland’s newest MSP in the most tragic of circumstances.

Given those circumstances you would expect the media and opposition politicians to show some sensitivity towards Anne, at least for a few days. But that is not the case. Instead, we have seen some ludicrous attacks on her from various quarters.

Anne is a good friend of mine, and I find it hard to see her being unfairly attacked.

A better friend you could not hope to meet. Anne’s only flaw (apart from her love of karaoke) is that she always puts others first, often to the exclusion of her own best interests. In a world where I increasingly despair at how selfish people are, I often find myself urging Anne to be more selfish!

Anne has spent her adult life campaigning for independence, with humour, passion and commitment. She is honest, considered and compassionate. And you would be struggling to find somebody who works harder than she does.

Her personality is irrepressible – in a good way! That certainly comes across in her blog, and it is rather disappointing that people are trying to use some of her comments against her. People always complain that politicians are dull, but when they do show they are human beings with personalities they are often metaphorically slapped down or ridiculed for it.

Anne is far from dull, and she will make a first class elected representative for Glasgow and Scotland. I am proud to call her a friend.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Budget - a more personal reflection

I have found some of the coverage of the Budget process in the Scottish Parliament vaguely interesting, but most of it rather dull and predictable. It’s really easy to come to some of the conclusions that many of the journalists have come to, and to an extent they perpetuate many of the stereotypes of politicians. Winners and losers. Players and wannabes.

I don’t want to engage with the ins and outs of all the analysis, but rather put my tuppence worth in from a more personal point of view.

For me, the most interesting element to this whole Budget situation has been John Swinney (I hope he doesn’t mind being described as an element!). Having worked for John a few years ago, I was privileged to see at close quarters both how he worked and what he was really like.

And I have to say, as I’m sure I have done before on this blog, that John is a thoroughly decent, hard-working, principled, genuine bloke. He also has a very good sense of humour – something that comes in very handy in the rough and tumble world that politics can be!

His skill in navigating the Government’s Budget through parliament is not due, in my opinion, to him being an ‘operator’ or ‘master manipulator’ – skills that many people in politics have to utilise because they are lacking in others… Rather, his strengths have been his intellect and honesty. He is good at what he does because he knows his brief. He was able to pull together broad agreement because he is a straightforward negotiator, with the best of intentions. You can’t catch somebody like that out, because they aren’t hiding anything or playing tricks.

As for the suggestion that Patrick Harvie (or more accurately the Scottish Green Party group – don’t forget Robin Harper!) has been punished for his/their actions last week, I think that is unfair. I’m sure it was the instinctive reaction of many who wanted the Budget to pass last week, but that’s not how John works. I’m sure he will be disappointed that the Greens did not get on board, but I sincerely doubt he will freeze them out as an act of revenge. After all, he just worked with both the Lib Dems and Labour Party to secure a deal, despite their no votes last week (and the motivations of those parties were arguably less defensible than the Green position).

John Swinney – well done that man!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Busy Day!

Yesterday was a busy day, as we had a campaign workday in Cumbernauld and then both Jamie and I were speaking at a Burns Supper in Falkirk last night.

The Young Scots for Independence (YSI) were meeting in Cumbernauld yesterday, so they hooked up with our Westminster campaign, to help with canvassing. Thanks folks!
Then off to Falkirk, where Jamie gave the Toast to the Lassies and I did the Reply from the Lassies. These kind of speeches are always quite nerve-wracking, much more so than a political speech. But thankfully people laughed, and it was a good day all round.