Monday, 27 December 2010

Where to live!

The Bank of Scotland have published their annual study of the top ten places in Scotland to live, placing Aberdeenshire first for the second year running.

Half of the top ten locations have a Lib Dem MP, while half also have either a list or regional Lib Dem MSP.

So it's official - Lib Dem constituencies are the best places to live!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Remember the summer......?

It was like this today........

Minus double figures in the middle of th afternoon........very cold indeed.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Who has the better chances......?

This excellent cartoon appeared in Scotland on Sunday today.
So true.......!!

Sna the day.......

The snow was back today with a fair old blizzard in the afternoon across Perthshire. Below are some photos out and about today on my way down to an excellent, informal pre-Xmas meal cooked by Lib Dem fundraiser Ken Spittal and his wife Jane........near snowy Auchterarder.

The Tay today


Is it a Highland coo....?

........ no, some ash keys hanging from a tree.

Ken's road

On the horizon

Friday, 17 December 2010


ScotGov published their green paper on future funding for Scottish universities yesterday. We were told to await a "uniquely Scottish solution"

It did not appear. there is no silver bullet apparently.

We might:

* Have education for free
* Have it paid for by £6000 fees on other UK and European students
* Have a graduate tax
* Have business sponsor students
* Receive donations

We dont know what the order of magnitude of any deficit in funding actually is, but we might in February. The Conservatives want a graduate contribution regardless, Labour are hinting at a graduate tax....Mike Russell is saying to wait and see.

So are the Lib Dems.....but with this much uncertainty, who can blame them?

Our focus now must be on ensuring that we know the full scale of the undertaking in February, and not allow this last opportunity to be lost. Otherwise, a key area of debate at the next election will be ill informed and future students will not know who to beleive.

We were led to beleive that yesterday would inform future debate on education in Scotland, but we dont appear to much further forward really.


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Scots Pine in the winter sun

Ben Lawers today

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Taxi for Mr Stevenson........

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson resigned today, having suffered a torrid week of criticism over his handling of the snow storms on Monday.

First he was adamant he was in control, then he was full of apologies. Then Alex Salmond was leaping to his defence, then happy to accept his resignation.

It was obviously curtains for the feckless minister once Wee Eck and John Swinney started to fill in at interviews for him. The men in grey kilts kept him off the TV screens so that he could do no more political damage, and he was then sidelined by the Resilience Committee on which he should have been playing a central part.

No wonder the poor man resigned. Bad enough being made to look a fool by Annabel Goldie in Parliament, another thing completely when your own side turn against you.

He did the decent thing in the end.

Mr Stevenson was famously Alex Salmond's taxi driver, and reputedly one of his few close friends over 30 years. Wee Eck got him to stand for a parliamentary seat at short notice because he had no-one else, and he moved on from there.

This resignation will hit home hard at the very heart of the SNP, with Wee Eck losing one of the very few MSPs he can truly count on in his inner circle.

The real problem might be to come....finding a replacement when there are very few, if any, backbench SNP MSPs to choose from.

That said, the unlucky minister did'nt set too high a standard to live up to, and his replacement will only now have a few months before they are back in opposition again anyway.

There wil be much analysis done of this incident, but it is hardly worth the bother really. We have humoured the SNP for long enough now, time to look forward to what we can do in 2011 and beyond and let this hopeless shower become a distant memory.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Teaching numbers don't add up

Figures released today by the General Teaching Council of Scotland show just how much newly qualified teachers have been failed by the SNP government. 5 years ago 64% were able to find full-time employment, while this year the level stands at a staggering 16%.

Education Secretary Mike Russell seemed quite pleased with this, saying "After falling for four consecutive years, the proportion of post-probationers in full-time teaching has now stabilised."

Call me old-fashioned, but I can't remember 16% being considered a success in any of my school exams. Did you pass your O grade maths, Mike...?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Who's sorry now.....?

Last night seen thousands of motorists stuck on the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh, potentially an extremely dangerous situation, with many of them having been there since morning, and temperatures down to -15 degrees last night. Watching Newsnight, an emergency was clearly emerging. Who would have been surprised this morning that perhaps some-one had died in all this? Happily, this did'nt happen. People dug in and helped each other get through, and mercifully, everyone seems to be all right.

In to the Newsnight studio strode Stewart Stevenson, the SNP Transport Minister, and one-time taxi driver for Alex Salmond. The combination of events could off course have happened to anyone, it just happened on his watch. Stewart Stevenson famously reads from his script all the time, sticking religiously to his rehearsed lines, never deviating. He was asked four times if he would apologize for the chaos. Four times he waffled his way around the answer. Given the circumstances, an apology was in order. He completely mis judged the mood.

Today, he was of course full of apologies. The men in grey kilts must have had a word with him. This evening, Alex Salmond was on the news explaining, a sure sign he thought his man had made a mess of it and that he could somehow put things right. When Jon Snow mentioned that Alex-Salmond-in -opposition would have made hay with this scenario, he clearly got under the First Minister's skin. Wee Eck's touch is clearly now well gone as well.

It looks as though the situation will eventualy resolve itself, but thousands of people have been hugely inconvenienced, put in danger even, and this will do doubt be remembered for a long, long time.

The hapless Mr Stevenson is being asked to explain to Parliament tomorrow.

Who's sorry now.....?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Little Ed in trouble already......

No sooner has Ed Milliband came back from maternity leave, than the Labour Party are apparently questioning his leadership already, and making noises that they want him replaced.

Labour have huge differences of opinion on policy. Their big players, what few that remain, are all keeping their heads down, and the whole body language of Little Ed suggests that he is not the leader at all. Labour, as we all know, have a long track record of pulling themselves apart when in opposition. This lot are not going to be a threat to the Coalition Government in this parliamentary session.

Little Ed seems to be struggling to get started, and it is doubtful if he has it in him to succeed.

But before Labour start to ferment their old animosities and decide whether Little Ed is up to the job or not, they should consider one thing:

You chose him...!!!! Just a few months ago in fact. Just like you chose Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

As Liberal Democrats, are we interested in all this?



Thought not.........

Is Parliamentary debate still allowed.....?

Listening to Jon Sopel interview Conservative MP David Willetts on the Politics Show today, it struck me whether the Press will actually allow politicians the opportunity to debate issues of national importance any more?

The issue, of course, was student funding. Parliament is to vote on the proposals on 9th December.

ie Thurs this week......

Liberal Democrats, as we know, are on a sticky wicket on this one, and others are taking great delight in all this, but are we not missing the point here?

Vince Cable has said he will support the policy which he has devised, as will Nick Clegg, and not abstain, as has been suggested others might do. But they do also want to find consensus within their own party. Between now and Thursday, there will unquestionnably be deals done, amendments voted on, and all the rest. Already, today, we hear that poorer students are going to have their first year of fees paid. There will likely be other concessions as well, the significance of which we can judge when we hear more about them.

Is this not political debate in action? Is it not commendable that the party leadership should seek to hold their MPs together and acheive the best overall outcome that they can, not just for the party but for students as well?

David Willets obviously understood the dynamics of coalition government, and the procedures and pressures that his Lib Dem colleagues must deal with this week.

Good for him.

Jon Sopel obviously does not. This is lazy journalism of the very worst kind. Liberal Democrats MPs must be allowed to deal with matters this week as they see fit, in what is undoubtedly a difficult political situation for us.

People can pass judgement on us after the outcome is known.

Saturday, 4 December 2010


Scots Pine

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

In the country.......

In the toon......

Heading home........