Friday, 30 April 2010

The Third and Final Leaders debate

We had the final debate last night on the BBC, focusing on the economy. This was a real debate with a lot of passion, each of the three defending their own positions and records and attacking the others as chances arose. All three did well. Gordon Brown was very tired looking. Nick Clegg was a bit nervy at times, but did not give any ammunition to the others and let rip against David Cameron on several occasions. David Cameron did well, and was judged to have won the debate, but he was very evasive in not answering questions.
In summary, very similiar to the 2nd debate. David Cameron in the lead, Nick Clegg a close second, and Gordon Brown some way behind.
I think we have to say that over the course of the three debates that the Liberal Democrats have to be very, very happy, and this sets us up well for the next week. Well done Nick Clegg. We have a very good leader AND a very good potential chancellor in that other man, what do you call him?.... Oh, yes, Vince Cable. Vince got things warmed up for these debates against the other would-be Chncellors, and also did very well on Question Time last night.

The Boss

The last debate was hosted very well by David Dimbleby.

In the thick of it......

Nick Clegg has a good set-to with David Cameron.

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg did well, perhaps a bit more nervy than other appearances, but no obvious mistakes and no ammunition for others to pick on the Lib Dems in the coming week.

Look in to my eyes........

David Cameron

David Cameron gave a very confident and aggressive performance, attacking both the other candidates and creating his own opportunities to do so.

And again......

Checking his notes.......

Gordon Brown gives a spirited performance......

Gordon Brown gave a passionate performance but was clearly very tired and swimming against the current........

And again........

Revealing moment...........

This was one of the very few moments that David Cameron looked at Gordon Brown, and it does'nt look like either he or Nick Clegg hold him in high regards. Whether Labour end up in a coalition government or not, Gordon Brown is toast now.

Afterwards- The Analysis

Thursday, 29 April 2010

A happy canvassing team

Some of the team stepping out to canvass in the sunshine in Kinnoull on Saturday afternoon, when Peter Barrett was filmed and interviewed by STV.

Follow me folks.........

........we're off to the ice cream shop.........!! Peter barrett knows exactly how to keep morale high among our campaigners.

Ice cream stop..........

Here we are, a trip to Lickwid Ice Cream Parlour in town, to sample their special election flavour Lic Lem. Richard Kelly of the ice cream parlour has come up with a taste sensation for each party. Commenting in the Courier, Richard said “the Labour ice cream is dependable but a bit dry – you could say it is not unlike Gordon Brown. The Lic Lem is an old favourite that might just come back into fashion while the Tory flavour is a light blue cool mint. It is something a bit different and may seem initially attractive but you probably wouldn’t fancy it every day. The SNP is represented by blueberry and white chocolate – light on the tongue but at the end of the day the flavour doesn’t really linger in any meaningful way”.

Our tasting team, pictured outside with Richard, declared Lic Lem “a definite winner”.

Climate Change Hustings in Perth

Speaking at the "Ask the Climate Change Question" hustings organised by Oxfam at the Perth Christian centre, Liberal Democrat candidate Peter Barrett advocated a passionate case for his party's record and position on climate change, sustainability and renewable energy which had consistently been assessed as the greenest of the main political parties.

Cllr Barrett said " We have demonstrated that the Lib Dems are the party that takes climate change seriously enough because our commitment to investing in green infrastructure is not undermined by support for nuclear energy and we are opposed to any new coal power stations without carbon capture and storage."
The Perth and North Perthshire candidate described how green energy and conservation was the way out of recession for the UK.

He said “There is a huge opportunity to get out of this recession by going green, strengthening the economy sustainably and creating jobs that will last. By investing in green technologies, insulation for homes and public buildings, and public transport we can create new jobs and make the economy sustainable for the long term.”

Describing his efforts at a local level in Perth and Kinross Cllr Barrett said.
“I have championed greener warmer homes in Perth and Kinross, upgrading insulation for existing council houses, piloting air source heat pumps and ensuring higher insulation standards for the new council houses we are building in Methven, Letham and Craigie.The Liberal Democrats will ensure that Scotland and the United Kingdom to take a leading role in tackling the challenge of Global warming.”

The Tories' biggest problem locally?....Peter Lyburn.

Gordon Brown is'nt the only one making gaffes recently. Local Conservative candidate Peter Lyburn has been sending election communications to non-voting age teenagers at the taxpayers expense, including to the son of our Westminster candidate Peter Barrett, who quickly noted the dubious tactics apparently being used. It is reported today in the Courier and elsewhere. Whether this is indeed a dubious & conscious tactic to increase their mailings, or an administrative blunder, it does not reflect very well on the Tories locally. You expect the Conservatives to be ruthlessly efficient in their administration, but not it seems in Perth and North Perthshire.

Peter Lyburn has been making a string of such mistakes recently, including alienating various business leaders by claiming their support, and falling out with Miss Scotland. In the past, he has famously been quoted as saying that his Scottish Party leader Annabel Goldie is not up to the job. He had some party pics in the Daily Record last week as well which wont be endearing him to the party faithful locally.
He is only 24 years old with next to no working experience. When we say that Peter Barrett is the best candidate in this election in Perth & North Perthshire, it is actually a complete no-brainer when we compare him with Peter Lyburn. He is just a boy really, and it shows.

Bizarrely though, the SNP are not doing very well either, despite having the sitting MP Pete Wishart, and Peter Lyburn could potentially win this seat. Many in his party would consider him the favourite. Imagine a situation where Peter Lyburn was the only Conservative MP returned in Scotland. It could well happen. He would then be effectively the shadow Secretary of State, he might even be the Secretary of State if the Tories win. He would be on TV and radio all the time, making gaffes all the time. The Tories would surely become a laughing stock, probably ruining their chances for another generation.
Maybe it would be a good thing in the long run if Peter Lyburn won this election, as he would give them a dilemma they would find very difficult to manage and other parties, including ourselves, might benefit from that in the longer run. Maybe we should start suggesting to SNP supporters that they should vote tactically for Peter Lyburn. Their votes are wasted anyway. This way they might acheive something for themselves in the longer run. The problem with this of course would be that Perth & North Perthshire would not be effectively represented at a national level.

Voters in this area have 3 choices in this election. A Conservative candidate who will constantly be requiring a baby-sitter, an SNP candidate who will be irrelevant going forwards as he is now, or a hard working and experienced local campaigner who would operate effectively within a strong Liberal Democrat grouping, almost certainly at the heart of a new national government.

If you were wanting the best representation for Perth & North Perthshire, who would you vote for??

With opposition candidates like Peter Lyburn around and the SNP not doing very much, returning a Liberal Democrat MP in this area is entirely possible and we are certainly campaigning with a view to giving ourselves every chance should others choose to throw the opportunity away.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Looking to do well in Perth & North Perthshire.......

We will be leafletting and canvassing and attending hustings non-stop between now and next Wednesday. This is our final leaflet going out at present. It is positive and upbeat and gives an excellent account of our parliamentary candidate Cllr Peter Barrett, easily the best candidate in the field and head and shoulders above the opposition in terms of what he has delivered for Perth and north Perthshire in recent years.

Some can, some cant.......

Poor Wee Eck couldnae get on the telly......all his bluster over the past year or so has come to nothing, raising his supporters' hopes, wasting taxpayers money with the appeal and losing SNP supporters £50,000 in to the bargain. I would imagine a few words might be said about that. If you are going to gamble your money, you should at least put it on a horse that stands a chance of winning. This illustration was published in Scotland on Sunday in November 2008 after the Nats failed to win the Glenrothes by-election. They have been on a downward spiral ever since.............expect to see something similair on 7th May.
What was his other prediction? Oh yes, the SNP are going to win 20 seats next week. Aye, right!!

Spring Clean in Muirton

Local Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Peter Barrett and his wife Liz took time out from the general election campaign on Saturday morning to join in a litter pick organised by Muirton Park residents as part of the National Spring Clean campaign to improve the environment and local amenity. Liz and Peter lent a hand to the team of volunteers of all ages. Peter said “I was very impressed by the safety briefing and instructions. But the best thing was the enthusiasm and community spirit of the volunteers who collected so much rubbish. It was also very good to see how much of the area was actually free of litter and great to see youngsters and older folks working side by side. I noticed a big difference in how much cleaner so much of the neighbourhood is now compared to the past."

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Canvassing in Scone

After a successful session canvassing in Scone, Willie, Lewis, Peter and Joanna are looking particularly happy as they are about to go to the pub. Joanna enjoyed her first taste of canvassing, found it fun and interesting and not at all scary.

Peter Barrett submits his election nomination papers

Lodging his nomination papers as candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the Perth and North Perthshire constituency, Cllr Peter Barrett (centre) said,
"With only a couple of weeks to go before polling day our local campaign has been boosted tremendously by the performances of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable in the national televised debates. Following the Prime Ministers’ TV debate more and more people are saying “We agree with Nick” and are turning away from the failed old politics of Labour and Conservative. Local people know that the SNP are irrelevant at Westminster and, this time, are switching to back my campaign and the Lib Dems. All the polls are showing that this election is going to be really close."
In Perthshire people tell me you want change, you like what the Lib Dems stand for: Like our fair tax proposals, raising the tax threshold to £10,000, reducing tax for low income earners, a saving worth £700 a year and an incentive encouraging people into work.
We have set out how our fair tax cuts will be paid for, by closing tax loop-holes for those that can afford to pay more, a mansion tax and taxing aviation fairly. We are being upfront and honest about taxes. We have identified more savings than any other party, scrapping ID cards, biometric passports and the like-for-like replacement of the Trident missile system and a imposing a tax on the profits of the banks that we bailed out.
I am campaigning for a fairer society, a fairer start for all children. The Liberal Democrats “pupil premium” provides £2.5bn to help a million disadvantaged pupils and will let teachers decide how best to spend it in their schools.
We will create jobs by making Britain greener, investing in renewable energy, creating sustainable jobs, insulating more homes and public buildings, delivering energy efficient affordable homes.
We will give people the power to sack corrupt MPs and a fair voting system to clean up politics.
I have a strong record of action for Perth and my pledge to you, if elected, is to be a hardworking MP for Perthshire."
Also pictured are election agent Cllr Wilie Wilson and campaign manager Liz Barrett.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Blair Castle this morning

This is the last full week of campaigning before the General Election. There will be another Leaders Debate on the Economy on BBC on Thursday. Alex Salmond is trying to get it stopped. We will know better tomorrow how that challenge is likely to work out. I cant say I would be best pleased if we were denied the opportunity to see the last debate, and I am sure many others would be the same. Wee Eck needs to be careful what he wishes for, this could easily rebound on him.
Anyway, back to priorities. This was Blair castle this morning, a stunning morning in Highland Perthshire. We have received a very kind donation that will allow us to leaflett Highland Perthshire again before election day, so we will be doing that over the next week or so.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Behind the scenes preparations.......

Election campaigning is not just all about pounding the streets, attending hustings, canvassing & debating. A huge amount of preparations are required behind the scenes......preparing literature for going out, writing letters, ordering supplies, getting groups of volunteers together.
Over the past few days, we have been rescuing old poster boards from people's garages and getting them all togther to paste & poster them for the many voting stations on 6th May. Today's job was cleaning off all the old posters with a steam cleaner...and the posters will be put on tomorrow. When they are dry, they are distributed to our local helpers who will ensure that they are out before 7am on polling day, and collected that night before anyone else makes of with them.
Well done to May and Willie Matheson for getting this done today. All simple, behind the scenes stuff, but essential to overall success of a campaign.

May & Willie Matheson

May is Secretary of the Liberal Democrats in Perth & North Perthshire.

The invaluable steam cleaner......

Cleaning up an old board......

.......5 seconds........

Ready for a new one.......

Scottish Liberal Democrats......

Friday, 23 April 2010

All square and all to play for........

The second Leaders' Debate last night really opened up. All three Party Leaders did very well. Nick Clegg had now lost his novelty value but held his own, with some saying he came out on top, although a majority gave that accolade to David Cameron who was confident and aggressive. The Prime Minister did much better as well, although the polls suggest he still came third on the evening.
Fascinating stuff........the big one is next Thursday on the BBC, Chaired by David Dimbleby. Interesting to see what will happen between now and then.

In the Chair

Adam Boulton of Sky News presided over matters.........he did a very good job, letting a bit of argument and counter argument take place, more than last week, but without ever risking things getting out of hand.

Listening carefully......

And again.......

Nick Clegg did well again......

Nick Clegg did well again. Some put him in front, others a few points behind David Cameron. He certainly held his own and did not crumble under any of the subjects addressed. He will be pleased with his performance, and so were we. Well done again Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg gets a point across....

A more confident David Cameron.....

David Cameron was aggressive and confident and did much better than in the first debate. Some of the polls (sponsored by the Sun for instance) gave him the verdict on the night.

Setting out his vision......

David Cameron plans a riposte......

The Prime Minister speaks his mind........

The Prime Minister was typically gruff but most would acknowledge he did much better than last week. Gordon Brown has never been that concerned about his image........

Gordon Brown takes the atmosphere in.......

Will the Prime Minister soon be a distant memory.....?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Debate night again.

Debate night again. On Tues there was a Scottish election debate, with Alastair Carmichael (centre) representing the Liberal Democrats well. The audience particpated, the politicians argued in a fairly good-natured manner and it was very good entertainment. Alastair Carmichael and Jim Murphy, the Labour Scottish secretary are both terrific wind-up merchants. David Mundell of the Conservatives also had the odd cheeky comment to throw in. Angus Robertson of the SNP was more serious and aloof and struggled to get his points across.
The national Leaders' Debate this evening will be a high pressure event, with a massive amount to win or lose. Nick Clegg will be under some pressure to perform again and show that the Lib Dems have indeed some substance......but not half as much pressure as the other two, who still have'nt really developed an effective election strategy.
On the news this morning there was an article about the massive rise in registrations to vote among young people and students. Of the five students that Bill Turnbull was interviewing, all five said they were going to vote Lib Dem.
Something has changed for the better, and there may be more to come yet. Let's hope there is something good to report tomorrow.

Alex Salmond advises "Vote Liberal Democrat"

I notice Wee Eck this morning putting his foot in his mouth again, as has been his habit now for the past eighteen months or so. What a liability the First Minister must be to all those around him. His latest political strategy is to advise voters south of the border to vote Liberal Democrat, to increase the chances of a hung Parliament and thereby give Scotland (or that proportion of it represented by the SNP) a stronger hand.

Alex Salmond is a banker by profession and a political gambler by inclination. He must surely know what the odds are in all this. Of the 650-odd MPs returned on 6th May, probably ninety five percent will either be Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat. Two of these three parties are likely to form a coalition government if there is no outright winner. Labour and the Conservatives will not co-operate, so the Lib Dems are likely to be one of the two parties in government, and will moderate the excesses of the other party, which ever that one is. Put together any two parties who have approximately 30 percent of the vote each, and the new parliament will have a comfortable working majority. There will be no need to complicate things and strike deals with anyone else, and the markets will not tolerate a loose “issue by issue” working arrangement. We will need stability. The Lib Dems will almost certainly hold out for voting reform and their changes to the tax system. Both these policies will massively benefit Scotland.
The Lib Dems will have nearly ten times as many MPs at Westminster as the SNP, and probably twice as many Scottish MPs, as they have just now. They will be no less Scottish than their SNP counterparts. Following the First Minister’s logic, a vote for the Liberal Democrats in Perth and North Perthshire will be every bit as effective in protecting Scotland’s interests as one in Bristol or London, and much more effective than sending some numpty of a “local champion” up a mountain to shout “Scotland!” and hope that some-one will hear them. What good will that do? With the issues we have to face in our everyday lives in 2010, we will need to play the odds a bit more carefully and think before placing our vote. Our First Minister is playing the odds badly, just as the bankers did, trying to get us to back a horse that will never really be in the race.
Alex in Wonderland, indeed!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Tay Today

This is the Tay at Dalmarnock, looking north towards Kinnaird and the hills beyond to the west of Pitlochry. Dalmarnock is where the A9 crosses the river about a mile north of Dunkeld & Birnam.
There is a little bit of calm at the moment before the next big debate tomorrow night. We have been quietly going about our business, leafletting and canvassing, catching up with the necessary admin and making sure we have a solid foundation for going in to the final fortnight.
Nick Clegg's performance last week has really given us confidence. We have picked up some new members and helpers on the back of that in the last few days, and our last election appeal has brought in over twice the level of final donations that we were expecting. So, all is positive on the General Election front for the Liberal Democrats in Perth and North Perthshire.
There was a very good Scottish debate on STV last night, with Alastair Carmichael doing very well for the Lib Dems, bringing a welcome sense of humour to the occasion and coming across well with the crowd responding very favourably. Very well done Alastair. The Lib Dems have a good team now working at all the different levels.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Thought for the day

It is four days now since Nick Clegg decisively won the first Leaders' Debate. Predictably, the knives were sharpened very quickly, but they have'nt really been used yet, bar a few hecklers for Nick Clegg today which he dealt with pretty well, and a bumbling Boris Johnston who was so inarticulate that I can even remember what he said. It is only another three days now to the next debate, during which time the three leaders will be focusing on Thursday, not on their opponents.

If they were going to have a good go at Nick Clegg, they have surely missed their chance now for this week, putting all their eggs in to one basket for Thursday evening. A high risk strategy indeed. In truth, the Lib Dem leadership have done their homework and have not allowed Labour or the Tories a clear line of attack, and, all the while, the thought that this all might be a good thing has seeeped in to the public consciousness, with nothing obvious yet to make them change their minds.

We can get the beers in for Thursday then with some confidence.

Can we win a hat-trick of debates on Thursday......YES WE CAN.....!!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Another busy week comng up......

There will be lots going on this week. The election is another weekend closer, and the excitement is definitely building now.

Perth & North Perthshire Liberal Democrats have been confident all the way though, raising a good budget to work with, getting our messages out and about throughout the constituency and picking up new helpers and party members as a result of the campaigning that we have been doing.

Now, of course, there is the Nick Clegg debate factor. We knew he would hold his own in the debates, get in between the other two party leaders and stir things up a bit. Did we expect him to comfortably win the debate and generate the new national dynamic that he apparently has done?
Well, we probably hoped that he would, but like everyone else, we anticipated the event and the outcome nervously. The outcome quickly became apparent however, much better than we dared hope for. While part of this may be down to the novelty factor, the British public as a whole is not easily duped, and therefore it must be that they approve of the key domestic messages, and they see substance as well as style. Although some of the projections might be exaggerated, this is not a flash in the pan. There will be an enduring bounce because of this, of that there is little doubt.

The dynamic in the Press this weekend is curious. We have the positive Liberal Democrat stories as you would expect. Others are clearly sharpening the knives for Nick, but are not sure how to go about using them. Both the Conservatives and Labour will want to put him down, but might need him in coalition government at the same time. Such is the confusion created by a third horse getting right up in to the race. Quite rightly, Nick Clegg maintains that the Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign on their own manifesto and let the public decide. He will continue to campaign as if the Liberal Democrats can win. We might not, but the suggestion that he could be Prime Minister is suddenly not quite so ludicrous. The debate this coming Thursday on Sky Television will focus on foreign affairs. Curiously, both the Labour Party and the Conservatives think they will have an advantage in this one.......conveniently forgetting that it was the Lib Dems who caught the public mood over Iraq, and in Party stalwarts such as Menzies Campbell they have very well respected voices on the international stage. Nick Clegg will be well prepared again. Almost certainly, the Tories and Labour would not be able to co-ordinate an effective ambush on Nick Clegg anyway, both having to try and salvage their own floundering campaigns first. If there was pressure last week on David Cameron and Gordon Brown, the stakes are much higher this week.

On Tuesday, there will be an election debate involving the Scottish parties, and that should be worth watching as well. Alex Salmond, despite all his bluster about the debates, is delegating Angus Robertson to take part. As we have long known, when it comes down to it, he is a "big feartie" really. He may come across well when he has the chance to speak uninterrupted and with a benign journalist asking the questions, but he would have been destroyed in these leadership debates, and he knows that really. The SNP are not relevant in this election.

Anyway, we will be out and about this week doing our bit and not thinking too much about other parties, concentrating our canvassing in Perth and in the Carse, continuing our leafletting across the constituency and doing all our necessary preps for 6th May. Needless to say, candidate Peter Barrett has another full diary, and we will all have a spring in our steps this week.

There is nothing like the power of a positive and winning message for generating momentum.

Can we do a Nick Clegg in Perth and North Perthshire? ........YES WE CAN....!!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

At Rannoch Station

Rannoch Station is the further point west in the Perth & North Perthsire constituency, and a very long way from Perth. Below are some photos taken from our trip up here on Wednesday evening past.

Two names......

Schiehallion from Rannoch Station

Tranquil Loch Rannoch