Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Morning Sunrise in Strathbraan

And again........

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Regional Party Hustings for Holyrood 2011

Mid Scotland & Fife had an excellent hustings last night in the Loch Leven Community Campus in Kinross. Ably chaired by Regional Party Convenor Willie Wilson, Depute Provost of PKC, each of the candidates had 5 minutes to present why they wanted to be No1 on the regional list, followed by quick-fire questions from the audience, who responded excellently to the challenge, with each candidate getting through 10-12 questions each across a broad range of policy areas.

The candidates are out and about canvassing for support at the moment. Ballot papers go out at the start of September, and must be returned by noon on 17th September.

Our candidates for the Regional List are:

Russell Auld, Peter Barrett, Tim Brett, Callum Leslie, Jane Ann Liston, John Mainland, Willie Rennie, James Taylor and Jim Tolson.

Good luck to you all.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

New Council housing within local council area

Local Liberal Democrats have played a key role in delivering new council housing within the PKC area, with 81 new houses costing £10 million announced in the Press & Journal today.

Peter Barrett, Convenor of the Housing and Health committee at PKC explains:


Friday, 20 August 2010

Perthshire South and Kinross Constituency Hustings

We had a very entertaining hustings for the Holyrood constituency of Perthshire South & Kinross-shire last night, attended by a good crowd from the two local parties within the constiuency.
The three candidates all gave a good account of themselves. Ballot papers are going out today, and candidates can canvass among the local membership between now and Friday 3rd September at 5pm, with the count that weekend.
Good luck to Russell Auld, Peter Barrett and Willie Robertson.
We will post any photos that appear from within the hall in due course.

St Mathews Church

Tay Street evening skyline

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Message from the Deputy PM

David Cameron is away on holiday, and a Lib Dem is in charge of the country!!

Nick Clegg, below, takes the opportunity of outlining progress to date:

"Today, the coalition Government is 100 days old.
I want to take this moment to say thank you once again for all your support, all your hard work, all your generosity. Thank you for everything you did to help us win over a million more votes for the Liberal Democrats in the General Election. Thank you for getting Liberal Democrat ministers into government for the first time in generations.
Today I made a speech about how the Coalition government is building a fairer society in Britain. You can read it
Both David Cameron and I have always made it clear that we are governing Britain for the long term, not for tomorrow's headlines.
One of our main long-term goals is to increase social mobility. A fair society is one where everyone has the chance to do well, regardless of their beginnings. A society where no-one is held back by the circumstances of their birth. Where what counts isn't what school you went to, the job your parents did or the colour of your skin, but your ability and ambition.
When the history books are written, I want them to say that this government paid down the budget deficit and laid down the foundations of economic prosperity for years to come. I also want them to say that children born in 2015 are less constrained by the circumstances of their birth than any previous generation.
There is a huge amount of work to be done. Labour spent huge amounts of money pushing low-income households just above the poverty line - but with no impact on the chances of the next generation.
The two most important areas which I outlined in my speech today and will guide the Government's social mobility strategy are:
* Tax reform. We will reform the tax system so it encourages social mobility, rather than social segregation. We took a first step towards that at the Budget by raising the income tax threshold, taking 880,000 people out of tax altogether. Reforming income tax is explicitly aimed at those who are in paid work - the surest route out of poverty. Making income tax fairer will not only be a measure to boost fairness today, but is also an investment in fairness tomorrow.

* Education. We are introducing a Pupil Premium to make sure investment is channelled to the children and schools who need it most. The level of the Pupil Premium will be announced in October. Schools will be able to spend the money as they see fit - so long as its purpose it to help pupils overcome the accidents of birth.

I will also be chairing a new ministerial group on Social Mobility, including Conservatives like Iain Duncan Smith and David Willetts as well as Liberal Democrats like Sarah Teather and Lynne Featherstone. Alan Milburn, who is widely respected across the political spectrum for his tireless work on social mobility, will act as an independent reviewer of the Government's success in delivering social mobility."

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Room for efficiency savings in Scottish dentistry??

There is an interesting piece in the P & J today detailing how ScotGov are paying Scottish dentists for people who are actually dead, or have moved abroad, or to another practice and hence are being counted twice or in some cases three times.

The scale of the problem is staggering, involving almost 150,000 cases and costing upwards of £6 million annually.

ScotGov pays dentists 96 pence for every NHS adult on their books, and over £14 for every teenager. However, there are no systems in place for recording when some-one has moved, or has indeed died, and the dentists get paid regardless. The information has only recently came to light, ScotGov being oblivious to the problem.

Our public services are vitally important to us all, and require to be protected in the forthcoming era of public sector spending cuts, but many people do wonder how the Scottish budget can have doubled under devolution and we have had somewhat less than a doubling of the service provided as a result on that. This little episode seems to confirm a least one leak in the bucket, and doubtless there will be many others as well.

It is well known that our teeth are the first part of us to start to rot when we are alive, but the last part to go when we are dead. It appears as if Scottish dentists are taking advantage of this. Indeed, taking advantage of us.

This is nothing less than a scandal, the story will doubtless run now, and who knows where it will go.? It will be a scandal if it were not pursued.

It would appear that in terms of our Scottish "government" at least, that us Scots are not so canny with public money after all.

David Cameron and George Osbourne will no doubt be feeling vindicated, having suddenly been given ammunation like this to fire back at us.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

George Lyon doing his bit in Brussels

Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon has really hit the ground running in his new role since being elected to the European parliament in 2009. His regular Press Releases have been down-to-earth and to the point, he has completely eclipsed other Scottish MEPs such as Conservative Struan Stevenson and Nationalist Alyn Smith in representing the Scottish rural community, and he is driving proposals for transforming the CAP post 2013, arguing for a retention of the current budget and giving farming equal priority to rural development and the environment. His latest policy paper received almost unamimous support. In Westminster, our coalition partners have Caroline Spelman and ex-farmer Jim paice in key roles, and they are much more sympathetic and knowledgeable about rural issues than the Labour party were. Acheiving a good outcome for our local communities requires good representation at European, Westminster and Holyrood levels......if we can acheive some changes at Holyrood in 2011 then we should have a good overall team.
Well done George!!!
Here is the text of George Lyon's most recent Press release, being typcally direct in dealing with priority issues and sweeping away problems created by the previous admnistration at Westminster:
"George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has written to Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, calling on the Coalition Government to dump the previous Labour Government’s plans which would have destroyed much of UK agriculture, had it been implemented.
Labour’s “Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy”, published in 2005, called for the abolition of direct farm support under Pillar 1 and the slashing of import tariffs. Instead Labour’s ‘vision’ focused its measures on environmental and rural development, at the expense of agriculture.
Two independent reports were carried out for DEFRA, analysing the impact of such proposals. The reports clarify the extent of such damaging plans. The FAPRI report predicted nearly a third of beef and sheep numbers in Scotland would be lost and returns declining by 20%. The second report by Dutch researchers painted an even bleaker picture with 75% of UK livestock farms and nearly 60% of all UK farming businesses being unable to make a living if these plans went ahead.
Commenting, Mr Lyon said:
“I’m calling on the UK coalition Government to dump Labour’s ‘vision’ for the CAP. If Labour’s proposals had ever been implemented, farm businesses across the UK would have faced a very bleak future with many forced to quit.
The impact on Scotland would be even more pronounced as livestock farming accounts for a greater share of our agricultural output.
It is time for a new beginning and a fresh start in this new coalition Government’s approach to farming and there is a desperate need to go back to the drawing board and draw up new plans for a sustainable future for UK and Scottish farming.”

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Alex in Wonderland again

Another good piece in Scotland on Sunday today. Instead of concentrating on the findings of the Beveridge Report (aka the Internal Budget Review IBR) and looking for ways of managing the budget for 2011, our First Minister continues to stick his head in the sand, trying to dream up ways of generating income for the nation without having to make an difficult choices that might harm his chances of re-election next year...not that this was ever goingto happen anyway. People in Scotland will be canny enough not to give him more than one chance in office, and he has'nt done much with the chance that he has been given up to now, with the clock now ticking down.
His latest wheeze is that we must keep Scottish Water in public hands at all costs, to leave open the option of us selling water to drier regions in future. With the logistics of moving water around the world, this policy essentially means us selling water to the English in years that they have exhausted their supplies. You can see at once why such a policy would be attractive to the lunatic fringe in the SNP...........it just feels right to them somehow.
Whatever way you cut this, it essentially means one thing.......we would need to increase our water storage capacity on a massive scale, to have surplus product available for such times that others (the English) are in need of water to buy from us. In doing this, we would have to massively disrupt Scottish eco-systems, drain rivers and make sure that us Scottish peasants were not somehow using water to benefit ourselves. SEPA would have to be given draconian powers, Big Brother would have to be everywhere. In the past, water shortages have been circumvented by limiting supply, and in Britain, we have a long history of making do with a bit less if we have to. Mother nature then invariably makes up the shortfall at a later date, and we get back to normal again. OK, there may be times in the future when more extreme water shortages are foisted upon us, more than 1976 or 1995 or whatever, and we have to plan for that.
We will still need extra storage, and this could only come from additional large-scale resevoirs, on a similiar scale to some of the large hydro-electric dams. Such new resevoirs could be used to give us extra renewable energy at the same time, of course...a win-win situation. But Alex's idea is not yet that well developed. All Scotland's recent hydro developments have involved small scale run-of river schemes with no capacity for storage. Policy would need to change, developing a small number of big schemes instead of a large number of small ones. The investment required is also likely to be in the £ billions.....not impossible, but not on the cards at the moment by any means.
Would the English buy water from us, and how often would they require it, given that they have never required it in the past? Not if they could possibly avoid it, would be the likely answer. I also seem to remember Wales and the Lake district being closer to their centres of population than Scotland is, and they are much more likely to look there first.
No, Wee Eck is coming up with these ideas because he is under pressure, trying to ignore the obvious. Pressure does things to people, it makes them act irrationally, and in his party he has people who hang on his every word and believe every word he says. Selling water to the English when they are dying of thirst may feel right to the SNP policy boffins, but dont expect this idea to be taking off any time soon with the wider electorate.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Holyrood Hustings in Perth 19th August.

South Perthshire and Kinross are holding a hustings for their constituency candidate for the Holyrood elections in May 2011 in St Mathews Church in Perth on 19th August. They have three very good candidates in Russell Auld, Peter Barrett and Willie Robertson. Manifestos from the candidates will go out directly after the hustings, and candidates will then have three weeks to canvass for local member votes before the ballot in early September.
Good luck to all.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Tough times ahead.........

The Independant Budget Review was published this week, setting out potential areas of savings that could be made by ScotGov in 2010-11 and beyond. They include pay freezes, privatizing Scottish Water, dropping free care for the elderly, reforming funding for higher education and all sorts of other nasties. This is going to be a big challenge to all politicians in Scotland, across the political divide. As the Cabinet Secretary for Almost Everything, John Swinney (above) will however have to declare his hand first, and is under huge pressure to do so at the moment to allow others to plan ahead. He is trying to put off declaring his views for as long as possible, hoping that something will happen that will allow him to avoid being branded as the evil axe-man. The SNP were hoping to be saltering in to this autumn with an Independance election taking place in November. Not much talk of that now.
The above photo is taken from Scotland on Sunday today.........a touch of humour being used to illustrate a very serious matter that will effect all of us over the next few years.
Very few people would begrudge John Swinney his job at present.....all politicians will have to be up to the mark very shortly. Expect more colourful journalism like this.