Sunday, 27 June 2010

Lib Dems have the right arguments for Constitutional reform in Scotland

There is an interesting piece in Scotland on Sunday today regarding the virtual impossibility of Alex Salmond now being able to hold a Independance Referendum (surely not!), leaving Calman, or the Lib Dems' preference for Calman Plus as the only show in town on the constitutional front.

Since the General Election, there has been a lot of ineffectual talk about how the Lib Dems being in coalition government in Westminster is going to result in them being squeezed in the Holyrood elections in 2011.People can sometimes get squeezed if they are in the very heart of things, or they can fight their corner there and start to influence things to their advantage. The Lib Dems being at the very heart of national politics will not go unnoticed by the Scottish electorate. Appropriate constitutional change is important for many people here, not just as an end in itself, but closely interconnected with our economic prospects. The Scottish Liberal Democrats have all the right arguments on this at present and are in the right place to influence proceedings, not just to our advanage, but to the advantage of Scotland as a whole.

Far from being fearful going in to 2011, we are looking forward to an exciting challenge. The numbers of people putting themselves forward as potential candidates for election is testamony to that.

The Press are finally waking up to what we might have to offer on Scottish constitutional reform, and even Alex Salmond has now smelt the coffee as well. He may well be wanting to cosy up to us in the months ahead. Whether we want anything to do with him of course is another matter entirely.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Nick Clegg on the budget.........

"Yesterday I wrote to you about why we have to take difficult decisions to tackle the deficit and lay the foundations of a fairer society. These are not decisions that any government wants to take but we have no choice except to clear up the financial mess that Labour left us. Today’s Budget takes these difficult decisions in an honest and fair way and with the clear stamp of Liberal Democrat values running through it.
In the past, efforts to tackle a big deficit have always hit the poorest the most. The coalition has ensured that – for the first time – this will not happen. The richest will pay the most, while pensioners and children will be protected.
Look through the Budget and you will see key policies we campaigned for being put into effect.
The £1,000 increase in the Income Tax allowance will mean that 880,000 low paid workers will be freed from Income Tax altogether. This is the first step towards delivering our manifesto commitment to ensure no-one pays tax on the first £10,000 they earn.
The Budget puts in place our promise of a new tax on banks, ensuring that they help to pay to clear up the mess left by the financial crisis.
Top earners will pay a full 10% more in Capital Gains Tax than under Labour, with no loopholes or tapers or get-out clauses. That change helps ensure those with the broadest shoulders take the greatest strain.
We will guarantee that pensioners get a fair deal, putting into effect the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment for a “triple lock”, so state pensions rise every year in line with earnings, inflation, or by 2.5%, whichever is the highest. Never again will pensioners be allowed to fall behind.
The Coalition Government will not let regions, towns or cities that depend heavily on the public sector be forgotten. That’s why this Budget establishes a regional growth fund to ensure those parts of the country get meaningful support to help create jobs and opportunities for all.
Tackling Child Poverty remains at the heart of the government’s approach. So while we have decided to cut child tax credits for those who can most afford it, we have increased tax credits for the poorest families and put up to £ 2 billion into child tax credits to help ensure children of all backgrounds get a fair start in life.
These measures will ensure that the burden of deficit reduction is shared fairly across society.
This Government is being honest with people about the road ahead. Together, we can make it through these difficult times and restore health to our economy and to the public finances. These difficult choices are the foundation stones for the fairer Britain we will build over the next five years."

No doubt there will be plenty of discussion and analysis in the days ahead.......

A big day for the coalition

After all the talking, the emergency budget will be announced today, setting the tone for the rest of this Parliament. It is a big day for the coalition government. Hopefully the Lib Dems will have been able to influence the overall package enough so what we get will make strategic sense going forwards.

We all know that the deficit has to be addressed, but never before has the phrase "the devil is in the detail" been so relevant. If we get this right however, we will set things up for the next five years.

Tune in this afternoon.......

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Tay and Aberfeldy

Looking across to Griffin Forest

Sunshine in Perthshire........

Looks like a glorious week coming up in Perthshire.........

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Manifesto Roadshow in Kinross today

Scottish Liberal Democrats held a Manifesto Roadshow in Kinross today, consulting local members to help put together a manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2011. There will be a series of events held around the country over the next few weeks, and ideas coming forwards will help develop the pre-election manifesto that will be taken to the autumn conference.

In both 2003 and 2007, a significant proportion of the final manifesto was developed at these meetings by local party members putting forwards their ideas.

Today we discussed the four main themes that were central to the UK General Election campaign, and how they would be applicable in, the green economy, a fairer and more effective political system and taxation and spending.

Education and the economy dominated the discussion.

Anyone who missed the event can e-mail ideas they might have to

Clouds over Aberfeldy

Beautiful day today.......

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Scotland- Forever at the cutting edge of scientific progress

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, Irish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Irish, in the weeks that followed, an English archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story published in the Morning Herald read:"English archaeologists, finding traces of 130-year-old copper wire,have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-techcommunications network 30 years earlier than the Irish".

One week later, the Dundee Courier reported the following:"After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Auchtermuchty, Fife, Jimmy McSporran, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely f**k all. Jimmy has therefore concluded that 130 years ago, unlike their backward English neighbours, that Scotland had already gone wireless."

Boom, boom......!!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Oot on the river.......

We had a great day out today on the Tay, taking a boat from Newburgh in Fife up to above Friarton bridge in Perth and back. It was organized by North East Fife Liberal Democrats. There was a full boat load of people, the trip took about 3 hours and the weather was just perfect. The trip was a one -off, arranged especially. A number of people from Newburgh came along as well, some of whom had worked on the salmon nets on the Tay in the past, and knew the river really well. You see all sorts of things from the water that you would not otherwise be aware off.
Well done to Janie Kerr and all from North east Fife Lib Dems for a really enjoyable day out. No doubt the exercise will be repeated. All sorts of things are possible when you know man with a boat!!

Our boat for the day.......

........The Maid of the Tay

Name on the side.......

Boarding the ship........

The boat rose up about 8 feet on the incoming tide to allow us to step on.

And again........

Lunch ( & drinks) are served......

A full boat load......

VIDEO- Off she goes.......

This video makes the boat sound a lot noisier than what it was, although it was just getting speed up at this point. Jane Kerr entertains.............

....this was the boat just leaving Newburgh.

VIDEO- Lib Dems boat raffle

No matter where you go, you just cant avoid the obligatory Lib Dem raffle.......!!

River wildlife.......

There were lots of birds out on the river today, mostly swans and mallard ducks, including several broods of young ducks.

Bridge over the river Tay.......

We went up above Friarton Bridge, almost right up in to the harbour in Perth, before heding back to Newburgh again.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

SNP Logo confusion......

There have been some snippets in the papers today about the SNP supposedly wanting to change their logo to the Scots Pine.

Whether true or a malicious rumour, this all seems a bit odd and confused for a number of reasons.

Firstly, if you are going to re-vamp your image, surely the golden rule is not to let your new image leak out in advance of a proper launch. Suggestion of poor management/ control there for starters..........a sure sign of a party losing its touch. (It has been doing this for some time as we all know anyway)

Secondly, it really does smack of desperation for the party supposedly in "government" to be changing its logo ten months before the Scottish Elections. Is Wee Eck feeling a bit anxious I wonder, seeing his big plans and political machinations all slipping away maybe....?

Thirdly, the SNP logo is not, and never has been, the Saltire. The SNP logo is their X-vote mark on a yellow background, which is surely the height of simplicity, easily recognized and easily replicated. Even children can recignize it and know what it means. Are the SNP now so utterly unsure about their own identity, or maybe even ashamed for their record of non- acheivement, that they want to pretend to be somebody else?

Finally, the Scots Pine is a Highland tree, found in only part of Scotland as a native species. For a party that does so badly in the central belt and Borders, this could be a very bad idea indeed, suggesting that they represent only part of the total country. It is also very much in decline in some areas, again, not a good subliminal message to be sending out.

The final irony is that tree planting levels in Scotland under the SNP have been the lowest ever for the past two years, highlighting yet another area of failure that they might be better not highlighting.

Change your logo to revive your fortunes? No. Change your leader, accept a period in opposition, and dump your arrogance and parochialism and you might then revive your fortunes, after first accepting your inevitable fate in 2011.

And leave our wonderful Scots Pine alone..........

Cooncillors told to get blogging!!

Scotland's 1,222 councillors have recently been given instructions to make full use of blogging and other such media to communicate what they are doing more effectively to a wider audience. Advice is to make blogs informative but entertaining, not to go off on a rant and always to be aware of legal sanctions.

If anyone wants tuition on using this blog, be they cooncillors or local party members more generally, please get on touch with me directly or indirectly through the e-mail address and I can get you started.

20-30 minutes is all that is required to get you blogging independantly. Blogs are a great way of letting people know what you are doing, for letting others see what photos you have and what you have been writing, for putting up videos and for putting up links to all sorts of interesting things that might be going on. Blogs that are constantly updated will also keep the Google visibility of the local party website high, making it easier for people to find us.

The main danger is in becoming addicted..........