Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The First Flush of Love

It's a long time since I've fallen in love, but I do remember the passion, the intensity, the desire to share every detail with my friends. However, unlike Gabriela Imiria, my friends did not include Fiona Phillips and her one million viewers, not to mention anyone who read the full account on the BBC Website.

I wish both her and Lembit well, but do we really need to hear every intimate detail on every media outlet?

I hope this relationship lasts because I don't think I could cope with the break up.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Touch My Bum

Don't worry, I don't mean literally.........

Poor old Lembit. You couldn't make it up. Old girlfriend talks to Mail on Sunday, new girlfriend talks to the News of the World.

One of the problems of being in public life - you can't do the normal things that happen in life without the world knowing about it. It's sad, but relationships do end. I'm sure the intervention of tabloid newspapers can't make it any easier for anyone, though.

I hope that everyone's favourite asteroid spotter finds happiness in the future.

Much Ado About Trident

There has been much controversy about whether we should replace Trident. My instinctive reaction is that we should not. While we can't equip our troops with the basics, I'm not convinced that we should be rushing out to Bombs 'R' Us to spend billions on some smart missile which, we hope, will never be used.

The policy to be debated at Party Conference in March has obviously been carefully thought out. It is based around the recommendation of an influential Parliamentary Select Committee that the decision does not have to be made yet. The debate within the Party over the next 3 months will, I hope, be constructive and thoughtful.

The whole thrust of the policy is to encourage disarmament eventually, with an immediate halving of our nuclear arsenal. There is a part of me that thinks that the UK has spread so much bad karma around the world over the last few years that maybe we should spend some time trying to get disarmament to happen on a global scale.

If we abandon our weapons unilaterally and slink away from the international top table, nobody will really notice or care. However, if we were to use the forthcoming few years to make some progress in some way towards sustainable worldwide disarmament, then the question of buying a new system may not arise. It may well be worth a try.

The Government's unseemly dash for renewal is completely unnecessary and typical of their knee jerk responses to most things. Remember, these are the people who think ID cards will combat terrorism..................

Sad Times

It has been a rather sad few weeks in our house. First there was the untimely demise of the daughter's much loved hamster. It was horrible to see her go through real grief for the first time. I was so impressed by the way she dealt with it - particularly as it was she who lifted his body out of the cage and laid it in a shoebox for burial. I could never have done that at her age and probably not even now. She drew some pictures of him and we had a small burial ceremony in the garden at which she and her best friend lay flowers.

This lesson in the rituals surrounding death unfortunately turned out to be reinforced just a week later when my legend of a great aunt died. I will miss her so much. To an outsider she could have appeared formidable, but I could talk to her about anything. When my husband and I got together amid shock and horror from some parts of the family, she was very supportive. I was so surprised when we went to stay with her a few months after we had started living together and were shown to a double bedroom. I would never have expected her to allow such a thing but she was totally cool about it.

She and I disagreed politically on just about everything. She couldn't have been more Tory but we had some illuminating and enjoyable debates. Her son, my second cousin, is a bit of a leftie and he, in the most perfect eulogy I have ever heard, summed up how they had their differences and arguments, but how the arguments didn't matter because they were about interesting things.

One thing she could never be accused of was holding back her opinions - she told you exactly what she thought, but never with any malice, and usually with a great deal of humour.

She and her husband, who died 8 years ago, were kind, welcoming, wise and humorous. I spent a fair bit of time with them as a small child and loved it, but it wasn't until I grew up that I really got to know and appreciate them.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Strictly Voting Systems

Since I'm revealing guilty secrets, I should possibly also reveal my bordering-on-the-obsession passion for Strictly Come Dancing. Every Saturday night, and every weekday evening, my video now knows to record every ronde, every tantrum, every chicken walk and every bad joke of Bruce's.

As a stalwart of a number of online SCD Forums, I have been quite amused by the analysis of the votes which goes on every week as somebody's beloved couple gets knocked out. I would love to see such interest in the vagaries of the political system. Indeed, I am reminded of the many electoral systems anoraks within the Lib Dems.

In SCD, it isn't in the early stages the worst dancers who leave. The celebrities and the professional dancers each have their followers who vote for them and the person at the bottom of the table can be guaranteed to pick up sympathy votes in proportion to how horrid the judges have been to them. The middle of the table is the worst place to be, as last night's result shows. Spoony and Ola were almost in the middle, yet 4 couples at the bottom overtook them in the public vote so they were the ones to leave.

They lost out to someone who a judge described as not being able to walk and chew gum, to my personal favourites whose dance had not been wonderful, but who were fab for entertainment value, despite them both being dressed in ferrari red lycra and to the avowed bad boy who had teased us through a filthy jive.

It's funny how people can see injustice in the voting system on a Saturday evening light entertainment show, but not appreciate that they are effectively being done at local and parliamentary elections. Ultimately the councillors and MPs make decisions which affect all our lives and should be elected in such a way that reflects our opinions. The Liberal Democrats in Scotland have assured fair votes for local councils up here - how long before our friends in England enjoy their chance to break up the unfair Labour and Tory monoliths?

Farewell, Schuey

I know the Party has just launched its Green Tax Switch campaign and we're really not in favour of wasteful burning of fuel, so it's not the best time to reveal my guilty secret - my almost lifelong passion for Formula 1.

However, today was a sad day, being the end of Michael Schumacher's 15 year career - particularly sad as I feel very old as I was there at the beginning. From his very first race for Jordan, through his seven world championships, his sometimes inexpicably bad behaviour, I have followed every chicane, every pit stop.

His hope of departing with his 8th world championships effectively ended at Suzuka two weeks ago when his engine blew, but today was typical of his competitiveness, his spirit and his sheer driving talent. Coming from 10th on the grid to suffer a puncture, he ended up at the back of the field to pull himself back to one step shy of the podium.

Whatever he does in the future, I and many other fans wish him well.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Veils and Crosses

This week two employees have been suspended from their jobs because of the clothes and jewellery they wear. I have to say that I am quite appalled to see Government Ministers call for Aishah Azmi to be sacked if she doesn't remove her veil at work. She has agreed to take off her veil while teaching the children, but to wear it while male colleagues are present. Why can this not be an acceptable compromise?

Now BA has suspended a check in clerk for refusing to cover her necklace with a cross on it. They say that all jewellery, including religious symbols, should be worn underneath clothing.

Now, when I check in for a flight, I expect this to be done quickly and efficiently. I also like the check-in clerk to be friendly and to smile. I don't care what they are wearing. I understand that need for corporate identity and wearing uniform, but there is place for individual expression within that.

When I send my daughter to school, I expect her to be taught in a positive environment which encourages her to learn. I expect the staff to treat the children and each other with respect. Similarly, I don't care what they wear.

I am quite concerned about the quality of the management decisions which have been taken in both of these cases. Employees perform better when they are treated with respect and given a certain amount of autonomy. There seems to be a move to completely depersonalise work areas in some places, with employees being forbidden to bring in pictures of family to put on their desks. A happy employee is a productive employee, so, unless there is a very good reason, why interfere with what they wear or display?

These are both rows which should never have got this far. They will now presumably be settled in the Courts, at great financial and emotional cost to those involved. What a waste.

A Bright Future

It was very heartening to see a packed Scottish Liberal Democrat conference embrace the radical and positive Bright Future pre-manifesto document yesterday. With its focus on opportunities for young people, innovation and investment and its commmitment to produce 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

The mood was optimistic. Everybody is aware that we can be the largest party in May next year and is committed to playing their part to make that happen.

Ming Campbell made a strong speech, reaffirming our commitment to ensuring fairness within the justice system, pledging that we would continue to oppose plans to retain people in custody for 90 days without charge.

I did not support Ming's campaign to be leader, but I have been continually impressed with the clarity of his public statements, the new green tax switch proposals and the common sense he has used in the internal decisions and appointments he has made in the Party.

Here's to a bright future for the Party and for Scotland.

Pink Dog: Playground action movie

Pink Dog: Playground action movie

Nice to see that our canine friend is enjoying her holiday in Australia. It will give you motion sickness, though, so be careful.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Veiled Threats

Jack Straw has beautifully illustrated that fundamental Labour inability to respect individuality. If he finds it difficult to communicate with women who are wearing a veil, then I would suggest it is he who has the problem.

Where would you draw the line? One could argue that wearing a Celtic shirt in certain parts of Glasgow is "a visible statement of separation and of difference." I've been the only Lib Dem wearing a rosette at a count surrounded by Labour people. Maybe Jack would say I should just have conformed and joined Labour so I was the same as everybody!

You would never find me wearing either a veil or a Celtic shirt (I'm not picking on Celtic, by the way, I could just have easily have used the other lot as an example) but I worry very much when politicians show such blatant contempt for individual expression.

We should respect each other's right to show whatever allegiances, interests or beliefs we hold dear. We might not like them, but so what. Labour have never been able to really understand diversity, which is a shame as we can all learn something from other cultures and ideas. To close your mind to dialogue because of what someone is wearing is to lose the opportunity to understand and share.

There are times when I truly despair of that lot being in charge of civil rights issues.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pigeon Removal Policy

The Tale of the Holyrood Pigeon is just pure class. A pigeon has made its nest on the Holyrood Parliament. Don't worry, though. The situation is clearly under control. Someone has actually gone to the bother of writing a Pigeon Removal Policy for the building. For the tidy sum of £250, someone will come and remove it to a wildlife sanctuary. It's a flying rat, for goodness sake.

Margo MacDonald has offered to wring its neck for nothing. While I would not endorse such violence, I do wonder at our sense of perspective, sometimes.

Award for most bonkers idea of the day goes to Bruce McPhee MSP who was talking about shooting it. I'm not convinced that taking a rifle anywhere near the Parliament building is a wise course of action in these security conscious days.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why not a Scot?

There are so many reasons why Labour are not fit to govern the country. Let's not forget that for every expensive disaster, whether it be ID cards, illegal wars or money wasted on an inefficient tax credit system which causes so much pain for so many people - one Gordon Brown signed the cheques.

There are many valid reasons why he should not be PM, but the one which seems to be making the most headlines is because he's a Scot. What utter nonsense. The PM covers the whole of the UK, not just England. Why on earth should'nt he or she come from Scotland, Wales or Ireland. It's like saying the President of the US couldn't come from Arkansas 'cos it's a little state.

Even 7 years after devolution, supposedly intelligent politicians and journalists still fail to understand what it means - despite the obvious successes in Scotland.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Labour's Answer to Anti Social Behaviour

Andy Kerr, Scottish Health Minister has said that the tonic wine Buckfast is a "seriously bad" cause of antisocial behaviour. This naivety fills me with horror. If you take his comments to their logical conclusion, all we have to do to have a nation of happy, respectful, responsible
people is to ban Buckfast. It's the sort of scapegoating we are used to from Labour - anything to avoid looking at the root causes of a problem.

The availability of cheap alcohol is a worry - but why blame one drink when you can get a half bottle of vodka in the supermarket for less than £4.

The whole issue of anti social behaviour is incredibly complex and anyone who thinks there is going to be a quick and easy fix is kidding themselves. Part of the problem, I feel, is the culture in which we raise our children. They need a strong attachment very early on or, as scientific research is now telling us quite strongly, their brains are flooded with the stress hormone, Cortisol. This can hamper the development of the part of the brain which deals with social and emotional skills. Our parenting culture is geared to teaching children to be independent at unrealistically early ages, and encourages parents not to respond to their early needs for close contact and emotional security. It stands to reason that if we don't do this, many children will not be able to fulfil their true potential. With one in five of us suffering depression at some stage of our lives, and mental health problems generally on the increase, isn't it time to look at ways of ensuring that our children are given the best start in life.

One of my favourite books is called Why Love Matters, How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain by Sue Gerhardt. The Guardian's review of this book stated that it should be required reading for every politician.

I can just see some of you thinking that I'm advocating creepy New Labour like parenting classes. No, but there needs to be some way of getting the information about this research out there so that parents can consider it when making their parenting decisions. There are plenty books out there advocating various unpleasant regime orientated parenting methods - it's time to redress that balance.

I'm not stupid enough to think this is the whole answer, but it's something we have to consider before another generation is damaged.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Best Speeches of Conference

Well, I'll be honest, I haven't managed to watch every single hour of Conference, but out of the bit I've seen, here are the speeches I thought were good.

The one which impressed me most was by probably the furthest travelled conference rep. Dominique Rommel from Shetland eloquently spelled out the realities of life in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where a 4 x 4 is a necessity in the battle against the vicious Winters. If you have any doubt as to the veracity of her comments, I can only suggest that you plan to spend November to March on the Scottish Island of your choice.

In That Tax Debate Paul Holmes to my surprise supported The Leadership with the quality of speech that almost changed my mind about the proposals.

Arnie Gibbons was sound as ever and I loved his comment, quoted on the BBC website, that "we don't have many populist policies. Why ditch one of the few good ones?"

I would have loved to have written a glowing account of the Scottish Presentation. I had set the video to tape it from BBC Parliament, but, unfortunately, my daughter, who was on holiday from school, changed the channel and I got 6 hours of Discovery Kids instead.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Saturday Afternoon Panto

While friends and colleagues gathered in Brighton for Party Conference, I went to my first ever football match on Saturday afternoon. I have struggled to see the point of football, but my heart does belong to Inverness and the Inverness Caledonian Thistle stadium is in such a beautiful spot, just next to the Kessock Bridge.

The weather was absolutely glorious and we were basking in the sort of untypical September heat that makes you really worry about global warming, especially in the light of the predictions late last week.

Anyway, I expected to hear two hours worth of shouting and singing, a bit like the Glee Club at Party Conference only more sober, but was shocked at the reserve of the Caley Fans. A quarter of a stand full of Dundee Utd fans made much more noise than 3000 locals. My brother in law did try to make up for it but he was one of a few lone voices. He is one of the loveliest people in the world and he makes my sister very happy, but it was a bit of Dr Jekyll and Mr Ned. After he'd used both the f and the c words I did turn to him and say that he didn't need to restrain himself just because I was there:-)

There was a bit of needle to the match as this was the Dundee Utd Player Manager's first trip to Caley since he'd deserted them in January. We thought at half time that it would be fun if he put himself on the field for the second half in the hope of provoking some emotion from the Caley fans. Sure enough there was a lot of booing and hissing. As Davina would say, it was all a bit panto.

The football itself was unspectacular - a goalless draw, after Caley's goal was disallowed for offside. There was a bit too much diving after the ball was long gone from certain Dundee Utd players and more pushing and shoving than I would have thought it was possible to get away with.

Would I go again? Probably, 'cos it was a relaxing way of spending a Saturday afternoon with friends and family - but I'd quite like to see other teams to see fans really getting behind thetir teams and spurring them on to victory.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Paul

I never knew my friend Paul's birthday was today. I first discovered 5 years ago, so I will never forget it.

Happy Birthday Paul.

As well as being overcome with the horror of the events of 9/11 - thinking of the families which were torn apart by the events, I remember being gripped by fear of what George W would do to avenge the attacks.

The subsequent actions of Bush and Blair have hardly made the world safer, and in fact the bloodshed caused by their failure to sort out Israel and Palestine has worsened the international situation.

We need a Jed Bartlet to sort the world out, but there doesn't seem to be anyone out there capable of fulfilling that role.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Annie Souter

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the death of my wonderful Granny, Annie Souter. She was the most patient, gentle and kind lady. I spent such a lot of time with her as a young child. I have no idea how she coped with having to look after a toddler at the age of nearly seventy when she lived at the top of a block of flats with no lift and treacherous stairs, but she never gave me any indication that having me around was anything less than a total pleasure.

She was fun to be around. She spent so much time reading stories to me and giving me lots of things (like bubble gum and Mandy and Judy comics) that I wasn't allowed at home. She loved her cups of tea, served in china cups, made in a metal teapot. She would so disapprove of the way I nonchalantly steep my Earl Grey teabag in a mug. She loved her tea with the kind of passion I reserve for red wine and dark chocolate. If she ever thought there was going to be a tea or sugar shortage she would fill her cupboards, probably causing the shortage. But then she had lived through two world wars, so she knew about scarcity.

Her unconditional love and gentle nurturing did me untold good and I will never forget her.


Welcome to my new blog.

This will be an occasional indulgence where I hope to share my thoughts on all sorts of random things, whether they be on family life or world events.

I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Caron Lindsay and I am an active Liberal Democrat in Scotland.

The next year is probably the most exciting one yet for our party as we approach the third elections to the Scottish Parliament as well as Council elections, being held for the first time under proportional representation. This was part of the 2003 Partnership Agreement with the Labour Party at the instigation of the Liberal Democrats and will free up many parts of Scotland from the neglectful and contemptuous grip of the Labour Party.

So, there is an exciting 8 months ahead. Election campaigns are a bit like giving birth - as soon as they're over, you forget the bad bits - the lack of sleep, the pain of not seeing enough of the family for months on end, the pressure of trying to meet deadlines, making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time, being a shoulder to cry on when it gets too much for your colleagues, the emotional and physical rollercoaster that is coping with the day to day traumas of a national election. Afterwards, you only remember the adrenalin highs, the team spirit, the sheer fun of it all, as well as the reward at the end.

Feel free to join in - I want this to be a blog where everyone feels comfortable to share their views and has respect for their fellow participants.



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