Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clegg calls for EU action against Israel over Gaza

Glad to see that our leader, Nick Clegg, is urging the EU to suspend a proposed co-operation deal with Israel.

It would be a start and a major signal that a significant body of international opinion opposes Israel's continued and disproportionate action in Gaza.

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Middle East Peace Protests in Scotland this weekend

For all who are interested in the cause of Middle East peace, there are demonstrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend.

We hope to be going to the Edinburgh one, depending on how Bob is, to show our opposition to the thoroughly disproportionate and indiscriminate Israeli action.

Sending the bombers in is not going to bring about any sort of lasting peace and will only breed greater resentment and carry on this hatred for anothe generation. It has to stop somewhere, and the international community has a responsibility to take action.

Saturday 3 Jan, Gaza Protest, (Glasgow)

12noon outside Lloyds TSB, St Vincent Street Glasgow and then assemble for demo at Blythswood Square, 2pm Supported by Scottish PSC and Stop the War Scotland

Saturday 3 Jan, Gaza Protest, (Edinburgh)

12 noon, Foot of the Mound, Princes Street, Edinburgh Supported by Scottish PSC and Stop the War Scotland

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Congratulations, Andrew Reeves.....

....on being noticed by Iain Dale, the Tory one, finally, despite your wonderful blog having been around for quite some time.

You don't blog often enough, but I love reading it when you do.

Edit just to say that I've just looked on Iain Dale's directory, and he has you twice:-)

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If it were anyone else but Israel...............

....carryng out airstrikes, killing innocent civilians, there would be talk of military intervention, UN resolutions, sanctions, possible invasion and war, lines in the sand and "this will not stand."

Why do they always get away with it?

I'm not sticking up for Hamas, by the way - their record at pursuing peace isn't great. Chosen by the Palestinian people out of frustration after decades of oppression and being ignored by the international community, they are not a bunch of cuddly teddy bears by any stretch of the imagination.

Someone, somewhere, has to make this stop. President-Elect Obama, Secretary of State Designate Clinton, I think this means you.

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Facebook gets in a lather about breastfeeding

Hat tip to Morgan for re-alerting us to the issue of Facebook deleting photographs of nursing mothers posted to members' individual photo albums on the social networking site.

I fail to see how a breast, mostly obscured by the back of the baby's head, could be offensive to anybody. And if some people do have an issue with it then they don't have to look at them.

It's time for Facebook to grow up and be more discerning about what it considers to be obscene.

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A new generation falls for Brucie's charms

BBC2 showed the 1973 Generation Game Christmas Special the other night, which I duly recorded because I adored the show when I was a little girl. I also would never have seen this one as we were on one of the two family holidays we went on during my childhood, in Estoril. In those dark, prehistoric days, there was no infernal wickedness of Sky Plus, or even VHS, and colour tvs were the must-have item.

I was totally unprepared for how Anna reacted when we watched it back together. I had billed it as "come and see what Mummy watched when she was a little girl" fully expecting her to slope off back to her Puppies in my Pocket or Powder Puff the Hamster with a shrug after five minutes or so.

She loved it. And I mean really loved it to the extent that she is still talking about it two days later and has forbidden me to delete it from the infernal wickedness of Sky Plus.

While I was cringing at Brucie's bright red trousers and bright blue jacket, not to mention the patronising way he interracted with all the females on the show, she was laughing her socks off at Frankie Howerd, giggling at the contestants' well meaning but not very good efforts at the mince pie and Christmas cracker making games, and asking what all the topical jokes meant. She now knows that somebody called Mr Gormley wouldn't let the minerrs go to work back then. She loved the seven cuddly toys on the conveyor belt and could not believe that the star prize, a Trinitron Colour Television, which was presumably top of the range way back then, was in fact a tv. She said it looked like a microwave and could not be persuaded otherwise.

All in all, it was an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane for me - I just wish they had more of these that I could show her.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa now in Italy

Is it just me or is Santa on a bit of a go slow this year? I am sure that he's been in Italy round about 8.30 or 9.00 in previous years but he's only just stopped off in Rome.

We are ready for him now and Anna is just waiting her instruction to go to bed from the trackers.

We have left a bottle of water and some home made mince pies and cheese for Santa and some special food for the reindeer, made by crushing weetabix with little glittery stars. I wonder what Nigella would make of that.

She has also warned little Powder Puff, her hamster, that she may be disturbed tonight when Santa comes to call.

It looks like my poor husband is coming down with a horrid lurgy, which is all a bit too much deja vu from last year.

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Santa on top of the world

NORAD have now posted the video of Santa flying over Mount Everest.

The report says that the reindeer eat healthy vegetables all year to give them the strength to fly through the cold.

So, there you are, if you, too want to fly over the highest peaks, you know what you have to do. I suspect it would have to be more than 5 a day, though.

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Tracking Santa Live Blog 2


We've had a short interlude for a visit from family and are now back to our occasional posting about Santa's journey. Please don't think I'm going to sit here shackled to the laptop when there is stuffing and mince pies to make.

We got the promised video from the Great Wall of China and Anna offered the information, which I'd never heard, that Rudolph is Dasher's second cousin. You learn something new every day.

Santa is now apparently in Kazakhstan, edging ever closer to here.

The NORAD site ties in to Google Earth so that you can actually go and watch Santa fly live through the skies. Oh the wonder:-)

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Live Blog - Tracking Santa

Who says the US military has no good purpose?

Every year they track Santa's progress round the world on Christmas Eve and it has become something of a tradition in our house to follow him on his travels.

My daughter is not a child who likes to be early in her bed at night - but as soon as the warning comes that children in Europe should go to bed, she's off there like a shot.

I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a live blog - although we've started late. He's done Australia and New Zealand and is currently in South Korea.

Update 14:53 Santa now in Pyongyang. Hope the brutal North Korean regime don't shoot him down. Maybe the US is trialling cloaking technology or something to make him invisible:-)

15:10 He seems to have survived the totalitarian regime in NK - now at the Great Wall of China. We usually get a video from there......

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Come on, Miss, where is your Christmas spirit?

A primary school teacher in Edinburgh has caused controversy by agreeing that Santa Claus does not exist.

When you discuss these matters, I feel it's always important to respect both believing and questioning children. All will come to their own conclusions in good time and surely it's best to let that process happen naturally.

For me, the truth of these matters is simple. Santa Claus comes to those children who believe in him. If any child stops believing in him, then of course their parents have to step in so that they don't find an empty stocking on Christmas mornning. I have said to my daughter that if she ever doubts, then she should give me the heads up so that I know that I have to buy her presents.

What worries me, though, is that this teacher, who probably has a perfectly good service record, might now be victimised, perhaps forced into the retirement the Evening News says she is close to. If it were for this reason alone, that would be silly.

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Pope likens homosexuality to destruction of rain forests

Ok, I never was going to agree with anything the Pope had to say about homosexuality, but his latest rant has made me splutter with indignation over my morning Earl Grey.

I am not a fan of any organised religion to be honest, but I have studied many of them in my time. To me, the New Testament is all about tolerance, diversity and compassion replacing corrupt legalism.

It's hardly surprising that church attendance is dwindling these days when they get their priorities so, so wrong.

Sure, the destruction of the rainforests is a huge problem facing humanity. Every day habitats and ecosystems are ripped apart for short term commercial gain. We should all be angry about this.

Sexuality is private, individual and as much a part of us as our hair or eye colour. No church or state should interfere.

It really is that simple, as far as I am concerned.

Idina Menzel sums it up perfectly with her song Gorgeous, performed live in London earlier this year. As she says if you love somebody, you shouldn't have to answer to nobody. It makes a good antidote to prejudice and I love the music as much as the lyrics.

Edit - just to add another simplistic but typically funny view from Costigan and a deeper analysis from Liz.

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Vicki Harris - a sad loss

I don't think I've ever known a festive season when so many people I know and care about have been grieving the loss of a loved one, among them the family and friends of Lib Dem legend Neil Trafford and the 3 children in my daughter's school having to face life without their mum, who died of cancer recently.

On top of that, I was very sad to hear last week of the death of Vicki Harris, former Lib Dem candidate in Aberdeen South. I had worked closely with her since moving back to Scotland in 2000 and particularly in the run up to the 2005 election where she so nearly unseated Anne Begg. She worked hard, campaigning ceaselessly for local people. I admired the fact that she let nothing faze her, and just got on with the job, bringing new people in to extend the delivery network and take on roles within her campaign.

My heart goes out to her husband, Mark, whom she married just one week before she passed away. He was her agent during the 2005 election and was such a calm, patient and wise support to her.

My mother-in-law passed away at Christmas 21 years ago. To lose someone close at any time of year is awful, but it seems so much worse now, when the emphasis is on being wtih loved ones.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

T-Mobile send confidential details to wrong person

It's been a weekend for catching up on the paperwork - I had to clear some space on the kitchen table somehow.....

Anyway, I opened my mobile phone bill yesterday to find a letter from them saying they were switching me to online billing. All well and good, until I got to the bottom of the sheaf of paper they'd sent me and found another letter, addressed to somebody else, giving the same information. This letter contained this person's name, address, mobile phone number and log-in details for their account on T-Mobile's website. Had I been of criminal mind, I could probably have done quite a bit of mischief with that information.

What I did do was ring the person up and let them know what had happened and we will both be making separate complaints to the Information Commissioner.

Maybe he will be able to make T-Mobile take this seriously. The person in their call centre who I spoke to yesterday really didn't seem to care that much.

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For once, a welcome Lib Dem appeal letter

Well, I have to say thank you to Tavish Scott for inviting me to set up a standing order to make monthly donations to the Euro campaign recently. It's a good cause, certainly - George Lyon, a farmer from Argyll and Bute and former deputy finance minister, is a credible and dynamic choice to send to Brussels. The current Scottish Lib Dem MEP, Elspeth Atwooll is retiring in June and will be very much missed in the Scottish party. She has been unfailingly generous with her time and support of local campaigns and a star in encouraging women candidates. I will really miss her.

Anyway, I digress. Normally appeal letters go straight in the recycling as I feel that the party has more than enough of my time and energy. Yesterday, though, Christmas spirit and guilt combined provided a powerful motivator to set up a standing order.

I didn't quite understand what I was supposed to do with the form - did I send it to party HQ or the bank, for example - so I decide to set up the standing order online.

As I looked at my account details, I realised that some scumbag had swiped over £150 from my account at an ATM on the other side of the world on Friday. If I hadn't logged on yesterday, I might not have noticed until after the New Year, by which time I might have had no money left.

Both the bank and the police were very sympathetic and helpful. In some ways we are lucky because we weren't reliant on that £150 to live on right now. However, it's still a darned inconvenience. Our cards have been stopped so if we want cash we have to go into the branch with ID, like you had to do in the olden days, until our new ones arrive, which will probably be in the New Year.

The other thing was that my husband was in Tesco doing some shopping as I was talking to the bank yesterday. As usual I tried to get through on his mobile but it was switched off. Not quite sure what the point of him having it is. Anyway, I ended up having to ring the store and get him tannoyed so I could tell him to use another card, cos he'd have panicked if his debit card had been rejected.....

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Slowly emerging from hibernation...

It's now some 6 weeks since that Saturday afternoon when I came over all funny while watching tv, signalling the start of a vicious virus from which I still haven't fully recovered.

I was off work for a whole two weeks and since my return have managed to do not much more than get to the office, do my hours and come home and collapse in a heap.

I feel like I have a wee bit more energy now to devote to this blogging lark and hope to be back up to speed in the New Year.

My Christmas preparations are woefully behind so if you are expecting a Christmas card from me, you are likely to be very disappointed. I suspect I'll manage to make a reasonable attempt at dinner and buy my husband a few presents (Santa still takes care of Anna) and not much more.

At the moment, my niece and nephew are staying with us for a couple of days. Emma is 11 and Ru 10 weeks older than Anna. Ru and Anna are pretty much inseparable and Emma and I are going to hit the shops together later. A trip for us all to Build a Bear looms - sounds expensive for me, but should be fun.

So, merry Christmas to all my friends and family out there, and all the best for 2009from me to you.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For those who grieve the passing of a friend

Many of the people I care about are mourning the sudden death of a friend who I didn't know, but was by all accounts an extraordinary force for hope and good and optimism and cheefulness in his too short life.

I find this song by Kristin Chenoweth, who played Annabeth Schott in The West Wing a poignant and powerful celebration of the way friends can influence and change each other's lives.

My love and sympathy go to all my friends affected by this dreadful event.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tory talks about return of CAPITAL punishment to schools

I don't know whether it was the journalist or Tory MSP Alex Johnstone who got this wrong, but I had to laugh when he was quoted in today's times, calling for the return of the belt to schools, as saying "School discipline is reaching crisis point and giving individual head teachers the power to decide whether or not to use capital punishment would be a good move."

I am sure that even the Tories wouldn't approve of executions at play time.

It's of course disappointing that they can't come up with anything more imaginative than a return to the days of the belt. It is perfectly possible to instil good discipline and be strict without the use of violence. My friend works in a school for children who have been seriously damaged by their upbringings. It's a very positive place, with a lot of work being done to raise the children's self esteem and expectations of themselves. Discipline is firm - but corporal punishment, even if it were an option, is not needed.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

X Factor judges sink to new low

I thought the scenes of bitching and name calling we often see in the House of Commons was the finest example of public juvenile behaviour we had in this country. Not so - tonight the X Factor judges showed that they would do well on the green benches.

Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue let the argument I referred to earlier about song choices spill over into the live show.

Neither of them covered themselves in glory, but I was particularly appalled that a woman of nearly 40 years of age allowed herself to get into such a tearful mess that she was unable to introduce her second act, Rachel, who has proven herself to be pretty vulnerable throughout the series. She spent the rest of the show in a strop in a highly unprofessional show of emotion.

Let's look at it another way, though. Louis said nothing about song choices. Dannii brought it up, presumably knowing that her comments would wind Louis up. She then throws a fit of hysterics to garner sympathy for her acts. Could be construed as very calculating.

Quite possibly this is all a massive attention grabbing publicity stunt, but it's a show of petulance too far. I just hope that none of the acts suffers from the behaviour of their mentors.

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Duncan Borrowman's Twittering advertised to wider audience

In case you haven't seen this on Duncan's blog, do have a look.

What made me laugh most was the line "All well and good if you don't have a life of your own and like to live vicariously through someone like Mr Borrowman..." Like the person who wrote the piece, presumably.

Interesting to note that one of the local MP's hasn't updated her web since July - if you are going to put it out there, you have to update it regularly.......

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Mean Viruses and Saturday night entertainment

Just so you know, I haven't been ignoring you over the last week and a half - I have not been well. Some call it cold turkey after the Glenrothes by-election and have suggested that I head down to Bexley to help in the Council by-election there.

It's actually been a bit of a mean virus which has made me feel very poorly indeed, but nothing serious. I hope it will go away soon - it's seriously annoying me, now, rather than overwhelming me, which has to be a good sign.

I have found it frustrating not to have had the energy to comment on so many of the week's news stories, particularly in such a momentous week for Strictly. For the record, I can understand why it was all getting a bit much for John Sergeant, but I don't necessarily think he would have made the Final. However, when his family were getting abusive phone calls suggesting he should apologise to better dancers who had left before him, you can kind of understand that he thought it was all getting out of hand.

Part of the joy of Strictly is that the contestants can captivate us either by their dance ability, their personality or both. I hope that the furore over Sergeant's departure doesn't detract from that.

The Judges have come in for criticism - I don't think they deserved it. They are there to comment on the dancing.

It's the public who have the choice on that show - and if they choose to take what the judges say with a pinch of salt, then they surely have the right to do so.

John's dance partner, Kristina Rihannof, deserves huge credit for helping us all to fall for John's charms. Her choreographic miracles showed a very shrewd understanding of British humour and she got the best out of John. I feel really sorry for her in all of this. The dancers are hugely competitive and it's a shame that she's had to leave before her time.

It has been quite amusing that as soon as the Sergeant departure hit the headlines (Newsnight, for goodness sake, Question Time - Jim Murphy, you should be ashamed of yourself) the X Factor mob went into overdrive to try to grab some of the attention back. A supposed row between Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh over song choices was the best they could come up with. I suspect they'd need to wrestle naked on the live show to trump Sergeantgate.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of Tax and Jaffa Cakes

I'll be the first to admit I don't know a huge amount about taxation. After the speculation yesterday about whether there would be a cut in the rate of VAT, I was idly wondering to my colleague this morning about whether that would be the best way to help those who were struggling. After all, weren't things like food and fuel zero rated anyway? Wouldn't it be better for there to be a cut in income tax so that each household could see an increase in their take home pay for them to spend according to their needs?

Anyway, this led on to a discussion about jaffa cakes. My colleage half remembered hearing something about them being classed as cakes for taxation purposes - because they were cakes, they did not attract VAT. About two seconds on Google provided us with confirmation that this was indeed the case.

I then randomly altered my Facebook status to say that I now knew that Jaffa Cakes were not biscuits and e-mailed a few fellow jaffa cake lovers to brighten up their day. Well, then the floodgates opened - my friends then began an almost forensic debate on the subject which meandered from the gruesome (rigor mortis) to the downright smutty (can't say on a family blog). There is, however, a general sense of agreement that Jaffa Cakes, whatever they are, are one of life's pleasures.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

X Factor controversy copies Strictly

What is the world coming to when a public vote on a Saturday night entertainment show ends up being discussed in the House of Commons? Tom Harris is even having a strop about it too.

Early favourite Laura White was voted out by the judges after a sing off against Ruth Lorenzo.

I've watched it now - both were fabulous and, to be honest, I'd have picked Ruth to stay after her passionate rendition of Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Laura's Somewhere Over the Rainbow was lovely, but way too similar in style to her earlier performance of Endless Love.

Most people think that Daniel Evans, who, bless him, isn't great, should have gone weeks ago, keeping space in the competition for the likes of Austin Drage. I have some sympathy with that point of view, but I didn't vote so I can't really complain.

Louis Walsh is getting pelters from all quarters as his vote sent Laura off into obscurity. This is not fair - Simon also voted to send Laura home, not least because he fancies Ruth and has admitted as much on live tv.

I actually wonder if all this hype is an attempt to get one over on Strictly, who whomped X Factor in the National TV Awards a couple of weeks ago, much to Simon's disgust. Everyone is talking about Strictly in general and John Sergeant in particular (and didn't he put up a robust defence of himself on It Takes Two tonight?. The row over Laura's demise seems like a crude effort to prise back the spotlight.

Frankly, Tom Harris and Andy Burnham need to get over themselves. You can just imagine them, if, as expected, Labour loses the next election, crying foul. Will Tom be saying "you'll have to go a long way to convince me that the public knows best when it comes to choosing a Government"?

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

42 Writers against 42 Days

I'm impressed by the enterprising chap at Liberty who spent his Sunday trawling the internet looking for posts against the Government's plans for 42 days' detention to plug this new Liberty site in which writers comment movingly on those plans.

Do go and take a look at it and pass the message on.

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HBOS Staff's Lavish Edinburgh Weekend

HBOS staff and customers are bound to be outraged by this display of corporate opulence reported in today's News of the World.

Basically HBOS organised an event for its "star performers" which involved using three of the nicest hotels in Edinburgh for a weekend of revelling.

Comedian Patrick Kielty was on hand to provide entertainment, as if the good food and free booze wasn't enough, which often involved poking fun at those who are facing losing their homes. The cost for his act was quoted as £20,000.

This is a PR disaster for HBOS at and shows how little the organisation has learned from the events of the last few months.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have scaled back this event. Yes, some stuff was probably paid for well in advance, but they could have pulled back on the free bar, for example, and the champagne.

What I want to know is what the "star performers" were being rewarded for? Could they have been the people whose irresponsible lending has put the very foundation of our finance system in jeopardy?

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£5000 project to discover benefits of Wii

Now that all the elections are over, there's now time to report on some of the dafter stories in today's newspapers. I was particularly amused by this one which tells how a University academic has been given £5000 to determine the benefits of computer games to children. Apparently some kids will be split into groups and some will be given exercises from the Wii while others will go about their normal lunchtime activities.

Allow me to hazard a guess as to the conclusions of this research:

If "normal lunchtime activities" involve stuffing their faces with chips and reading the Beano, yes, I'm sure the Wii would be a benefit.

If "normal lunchtime activities" include being active in the fresh air, then it probably wouldn't.

I am amazed that money, which could be allocated to finding a cure for cancer or eliminating poverty or climte change is actually being spent on a project which will do little more than state the bleedin' obvious.....

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

All Hail Colin Rosenstiel and Congratulations to our President Elect

Yet again, Colin Rosenstiel has put up all the internal Party election results in the full entirety of every single stage to satisfy even the nerdiest of geeks (and you can be sure there are plenty of those in our wonderful party), in super quick time.

He does this every single year and I actually don't know where the Party would be without him. Thanks, Colin, for all the time and energy you put into this.

Anyway, I'm thrilled that Ros Scott won the Party Presidency with 72% of the votes cast - that is no mean feat and is testament to the superb campaign she ran, visiting local parties the length and breadth of the party.

I have been a Ros supporter for ages, but I really think she will be a fantastic president and I feel more confident about the future of our party knowing she will be there helping us improve our organisation.

A brief scan on the Committee results shows success for Duncan Borrowman on Fe, Susan Gaszczak on Policy Committee and Arnie Gibbons on Conference Committee. I always thought I would be happy as long as those three got on..........

More on this tomorrow - sleep beckons........

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Glenrothes - Post Game Analysis

So, now it's all over, and I've had some sleep, what does the Glenrothes result mean for everyone.

For us, the result was disappointing but not surprising given that we were not perceived as the challengers from the outset. The media portrayed the Glenrothes battle as one between Labour and the SNP and given the resources we had available, there wasn't a huge amount we could do about that.

Wait until the Election Expense returns are in in around 5 weeks time - I expect that they will show that both Labour and the SNP spent not a million miles away from the £100,000 limit. On the other hand, we will not have spent that much more than the limit for fighting a Westminster constituency in a General Election. It's hardly surprising that we have been seen to lose ground when we have been outspent by a margin of around 6:1 by two rivals.

Being in second place also brings in lots of people to your campaign. There are some stalwarts who go to every by-election. I have to thank particularly a dedicated Lib Dem called Roger from Saffron Walden who came up to Livingston for a week and turned up in Glenrothes last weekend. He has probably seen every door in Markinch more than once in the time he was with us. We had a committed core of people who were never away from the place, but it wasn't a Dunfermline when people flocked from far and near to help out.

I am very proud to have been even a small part of a fantastic campaign team. I think the messages we had were good and positive, showing we understood about the difficulties people were facing and putting forward our unique solutions. The literature was top notch but again where the SNP were managing to deliver the entire constituency by lunchtime on successive days in the end, we couldn't match that - and even if we'd had more people, we couldn't have afforded to do much more than we did.

I stand by what I always said, that Harry Wills would make the best MP for Glenrothes, but the odds were always stacked against us purely from a money point of view and the fact that the media encouraged the thinking that it was a tight fight between the SNP and Labour. The Times, for example, one day this week didn't even mention that we or the Tories existed, and when other publications did mention us it was clearly as also rans with a tiny proportion of the report devoted to us despite us coming up with some good opportunities and messages.

The Tories have no real reason to be any happier than we are with the result. I thought the quality of the stuff they put out wasn't that great. I guess they spent more money and did more direct mail, but nothing they had to say was relevant, distinctive or likely to appeal in Glenrothes.

Labour deserves congratulations for ploughing on with a campaign that seemed on many occasions doomed to failure. They got some things spectacularly wrong - that awkward Sarah Brown visit for a start, and some of their campaign literature was appalling both in terms of quality and content. Last weekend they put out a tawdry risographed A3 entitled the Fifer which carried yet more scaremongering about home care charges and a scurrilous allegation that Peter Grant's people told a Levenmouth resident with problems that he was only bothered with Glenrothes at the moment. I don't believe that for one moment. Peter Grant may be from the SNP, but he's not the Anti-Christ and I don't doubt that he cares very deeply about the people he represents.

However, I have to say that the leaflet they delivered yesterday was very good and their artwork of a pair of scissors going through the SNP logo clever enough to make me wish I'd thought of it.

Lindsay Roy is a decent guy and an excellent rector. He does seem uncomfortable in the spotlight, though, and I can't see him attaining high ministerial office any time soon. I was a little disappointed, and perhaps felt a bit cheated, that he didn't seem to have any sense of elation about having won. I know that the last by-election winner in Fife, Willie Rennie, was thrilled to have been given the privilege of being an MP and threw himself into the role with a huge amount of passion - which he still continues to display. I hope that when the spotlight fades he becomes more settled in his new role.

What this victory does not mean is that Labour's problems are over. The economic crisis overshadowed the campaign and, for now, the voters did not want a change, particularly to a party who have not covered themselves in glory and whose comparisons of Scotland to Iceland have led people to think again about the idea of independence.

This was no Glasgow East. There was a residual affecton for the previous incumbent, it was on the PM's doorstep, and came at a time of huge economic uncertainty and crisis, when people tend to opt for the status quo. In many ways it was a lucky escape for Labour. I suspect that their failures over HBOS will become more and more of an issue in months to come. When the job losses start to hit, the former employees will remember who tried to protect them both at Holyrood and Westminster.

As for the Nats, well, how the mighty are fallen. They have been strutting around the constituency like they own it for weeks. They were everywhere yesterday. You could hardly turn a corner without bumping into Alex Salmond at any point in the last few weeks. I actually feel sorry for the ordinary activists who invested time and money in the campaign and who lost out. I have absolutely no sympathy for a man who blatantly takes the electorate for granted by almost promising victory "My prediction is we'll win. We're nearly there." Alex Salmond has taken responsibility for the campaigns failings . Time will tell if hubris has turned to humility but I'm not sure if this leopard can change his spots.

I'm not sure how much of an impact the home care charges issue did have on the SNP campaign. One mistake the SNP made was to let Labour build a head of steam on this. Labour would have introduced a pretty similar scheme themselves. There are times when you don't really want to allow your opponent to lead you off your own messages - but I think there was a case for strong rebuttal on this one, which just didn't happen enough.

I think Labour won because of the economy at this point in time against a principal opponent who was perceived to be weak on the issue. Alex Salmond has not had a good credit crunch and I doubt he is going to have a good recession either. I suspect that Labour would not have done so well in a tight Labour/Lib Dem contest where the credibility of Vince Cable and his ideas would have come more to the fore.

All of the parties have lessons to learn from Glenrothes. I actually think that while by-elections deliver temporary momentum, given the widening disparity in the expenses limits - they used to be about 3 times what you could spend in a General Election, now it's around 8 times - they are not a terribly effective barometer of the political scene in general. You can't extrapolate from the future from them - and nobody knows that better than the SNP - from victory to wound licking in three and a half months.
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Encounters on Delgattie Court

At around 4.30 yesterday afternoon, I was working on Delgattie Court in Glenrothes. Also there was Katy Clark, Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran who I was at Aberdeen Uni with back in the 80s - it was great to see her, even if she hasn't aged. With her was Kezia Dugdale, much missed from the Scottish blogosphere.

What was really funny was that I had joked during the Livingston by-election 3 years ago that the Nats kept Alex Salmond locked up in a van for the whole campaign and drove him around with the loud hailer going. Maybe it's true after all - he was indeed in the van, on the loud hailer, in person, on the street we were in.

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High Drama in Glenrothes

I'm not talking about the by-election. I'm referring to the fact that I broke down on the A92 on the way back from the Count and had to wait for the AA for 45 minutes before being taken back home in a tow truck. Stephen was with me so I didn't have to be scared of the dark on my own but it was quite scary being beside the dual carriageway with more traffic than than I would have thought at 2 in the morning whizzing past me.

Anyway, there was some irony that this happened close to the Redhouse Roundabout, which both Peter Grant and us had talked about upgrading during the campaign.

As for the result, obviously disappointing, but we were squeezed. It happens. And then when we're in a strong position, other people get squeezed. It doesn't always happen, but this result can't be compared to the constituencies where we're strong.

I'm proud to have been part of an energetic and fantastic team who are hard working and great to be around.

We were absolutely fantastic at predicting the result from our sampling - we knew that there was going to be a Labour majority of 5000+ when the Nats were still telling the press that they had won.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Last Day in Glenrothes

I will be blogging very lightly if at all over the next couple of days - polling day in Glenrothes then the count and tomorrow, at some point, sleep...........

Back at the weekend.........

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

YIPPEE - he's done it! Phew!

Ok, you can't really argue with the other guy giving up. I believe it now.

I'm smiling.

McCain is being very generous in defeat and offering help and support in the future.

I know I should go to bed, but I can't really miss Obama's victory speech, can I? If it's any later than 5am, though, I will give up.

Obama is speaking now and is brilliant. I am going to go to bed as soon as he stops, so goodnight y'all!

Final edit - this speech has everything - grace, dignity, passion, inspiration - an even a puppy:-)

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US Election Live Blog 2

04:18 Hooray - it's over. Dignified McCain concedes.

04:17 McCain to concede shortly according to Dimblebore

04:15 Obama now only 2% behind in Missouri with 60% in. Maybe it might get it right after all.

04:08 CNN showing Obama 5000 or so ahead in Indiana.

04:00 BBC calls it for Obama. YAY!

03:59 - CNN have coloured Virginia in blue...... Obama's lead improves.

03:56 in my absence, BBC were talking about McCain being very bipartisan and conciliatory in his forthcoming concession speech......

03:53 - my laptop completely froze but have restarted and all so far so good. It was the BBC website that did it,I think - every time I tried to load it IE crashed.

Denis Kucinich, all round good guy and Congressman from Ohio, married to 30 years younger English redhead, has just been on BBC.

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Rather Late start to US Election Live Blog

03:36 Apparently Massachusetts and Michigan have approved decriminalising cannabis.

03:31 Remember that Republican who said Obama was unAmerican and called for an investigation and her Dem opponent then raised $1.3million in a week? She is 5% ahead with 24% of precincts in.

03:29 I was talking bollocks about Virginia at 03:21 - I got it mixed up with West Virginia........

03:24 Gap widens in Virginia - now 39000.

03:23 - Nick Robinson just made a point about US electing a novice........

03:21 - my Virginia obsession continues. The highest Democrat vote in recent history was Clinton's 41% 12 years ago. For Obama to come so close - and he may yet win - is good.

03:17 - is Missouri going to get it wrong for the first time in ages. McCain ahead there....... Colorado still looking good. Obama 7% ahead with 16% in.

03:11 I'm getting obsessed with Virginia - now 30,000 votes in it in Obama's favour. If he wins that, then maybe I'll be convinced......

03:04 - Only 12000 votes in it in Virginia - Obama ahead - that's close
02:50 - early days, but Obama 9% ahead in Colorado according to CNN. They've only just really started though and we don't know where the 8% they've counted are....

02:38 Obama projected to take New Mexico - a gain from last time. McCain needed that one. Time for another cup of tea and some chocolate....

02:35 Virginia now 50% each with 72% of precincts in according to CNN............

02:24 - Dimblebore is now saying that Obama has won Ohio. Surely the Beeb can't get it wrong........

02:05 If Fox News is saying that Obama has won Ohio, this has to be very good news indeed..... Would prefer it had come from a more reputable source, though.

02:11 Virginia, hmmm - McCain ahead according to CNN after 60% of precincts in, maybe not so good. Should not have said anything positive about the results. Now having a mild flutter of anxiety.

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Ok, I'm up

Am awake (just), tea made, tv, laptop and heating on. I thought it was only polite to get up to see whether my friend Elspeth has made the difference for Obama in Colorado.

So far, so good, I guess...........

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Am choosing sleep for the mo - text me when it all starts to get exciting

Ok, am going to try to get a few hours' sleep cos I'm a wimp - but I am relying on those of you who know me to text me to wake me up when it all gets exciting.........

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US Election - this will make you cry

Hat tip to Chris Black for this moving story of a trip to the polling booth.

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Clinton '92 -v- Obama '08

Bernard has been running a poll to try to identify the best post-war presidential election campaign. For me it comes down to a choice between Clinton's victory over the older Bush in 1992 to the amazing movement Barack Obama has built over the last 17 months.

If you can't listen to Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow without a tingle, then you will know how captivating and exciting Clinton's rollercoaster ride to the Presidency was in '92. Led by the wild Cajun genius that is James Carville, the phrase "It's the Economy, stoopid" became synonymous with a disciplined, professional and captivating campaign that defeated an incumbent president who, a year before had been at 91% approval ratings following the first Gulf War.

This defeat happened despite the campaign having to deal with what were termed by a Republican staffer in a wine enhanced moment as "bimbo eruptions" throughout the campaign. The Gennifer Flowers scenario would have put paid to a lesser candidate and a lesser campaign - look at Gary Hart, for example. Barack Obama, in contrast, has barely put a foot wrong since his bid for the presidency began.

One feature of the Clinton campaign was their rapid rebuttal operation - no opposition lie or allegation was allowed to go unanswered.

The remarkable feature of Obama's campaign is, of course, the way he has engaged with a whole new set of people, encouraging them to vote for the first time. He's had a really good, solid ground operation too. And he's disciplined, too - expecting the same of his volunteers. I was trawling through his website the other day looking for some faqs on telephone canvassing. One question read "What if I need to return my calls cos I won't hae time for them?" Basically the answer was, "you can't, only you can do them, so get on with it - but you'll help make history." Maybe we're too nice in our Party.

Obama also managed to win through after a fairly lengthy and bruising primary battle which almost went to the wire. He managed to retain his dignity in the process. However, his opponent was ready and primed from April and in a much better position than the older Bush was in '92. Bush had had to deal with a brief but unnerving primary battle with Pat Buchanan and then his campaign was pretty much in disarray.

Both Clinton and Obama had some good sticks to beat their opponents with. For Clinton it was the "Read my lips, no new taxes" promise from George H W Bush - a rash thing to say, and one which was bound to cause him trouble. For Obama, it was McCain's choice of VP, an untested, untried Governor of a small state who knows less than my hamster does about foreign policy and who believed that the French President would ring her up for a chat without extensive discussions between their respective people, and his complete manic panic over the economy. He flew in to save the world and ended up with egg on his face. He clearly hadn't been taking advice from Vince Cable.

Clinton and Obama were both relative unknowns when they started their journey to the White House. Both had spoken at the Democratic Convention 4 years before their campaign - Clinton at great length and at great boredom, Obama with great promise for the future. Clinton had extensive executive experience but he wasn't so well known while Obama was a freshman Senator. The achievements of both campaigns were spectacular - and I hope that Obama does indeed win through tonight.

However, for me it's the Clinton campaign which captivated me the most - and I voted for that on Bernie's poll. So far I'm in a minority of one, but c'est la vie.

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Sleep or Stupidity. Which will win?

Thanks, Labour Party. Not only have they deprived me of a week at home with my daughter during the October holidays, but they have completely mucked up my plans to enjoy some uninterrupted saturation coverage of the US elections.

I need my sleep. I turn into the Bitch from Hell if I don't get enough. Given that I'm going to be up most of Thursday night and will then have to go to work on Friday, it would be very sensible of me to make sure I get my full 8 hours tonight.

But I really want to stay up and join in all the live blogging and see it all happen as it happens, not on Sky Plus over the weekend. I remember how fabulous it was in 1992 when Clinton won. I stayed up all night, on my own and cried my eyes out (I can be incredibly soppy at times) when he gave his acceptance speech. To this day if I hear "I still believe in a place called Hope" it makes me tingle inside.

This is the 10th Presidential election I've been alive for. Only 3 so far have elected Democrats. Tonight is the first real hope in 12 years of a Democrat, and a good one at that, entering the White House.

I suspect I will probably go to bed around 9 and try to get up around 2 to see what's happening. Stephen has promised to text me when anything exciting happens. At least then I will have had some sleep with the chance of another couple of hours later on.

To all of you who are less wimpish than I am, enjoy the night and I may see you later.

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Nationalists, you don't own our flag.

I love Scotland. I have lived here for most of my life and I was desperate to get back for each and every one of the 11 years I was away. I am so proud to be Scottish and to share in a country with such a rich culture, a fascinating history and such diverse, dramatic and wonderful scenery.

It saddens me that the Nationalists use our saltire as if it belongs to their Party alone. There is not one person out there campaigning in that by-election who does not love Scotland or care about our future - I even give the Tories the benefit of the doubt on that one.

I've seen loads of cars full of Nat activists sporting saltires. They already have a unique and instantly recognisable symbol of their cause. In fact it's so good that it impressed a senior Liberal Democrat from south of the border in a previous by-election to the extent that he shinned up a lampost at dead of night to get one to take home with him.

Why do they feel the need to appopriate a flag that belongs to all of us and use it to promote their political cause. Our national symbol should bind us together and the SNP should recognise that you don't have to be one of them to have a deep and passionate love for Scotland.

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Ming, Vince and Tavish campaign to save Post Offices

Today was another bright and sunny day on the Glenrothes campaign trail. Liberal Democrat candidate Harry Wills was joined by Scottish Leader Tavish Scott, Shadow Chancellor and sage and sensible voice of reason on all matters economic Vince Cable and Jim Tolson, MSP for Dunfermline West on a visit to a Post Office to offer support to the Post Mistress whose livelihood is under threat if the Government awards the Post Office Card Account to a provider other than the Post Office.

Call me an old cynic, but this decision should have been announced by now. I wonder why it hasn't been. Is Labour waiting for this by-election to be over, hoping it can save its skin before it axes potentially two thirds of the remaining Post Offices?

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Congratulations to Iain Dale

Love and congratulations to Iain Dale, author of my tribute blog, and his new wife Catherine. IT's always nice to have some good news to brighten the Winter gloom.

Iain announced on Facebook earlier today that he and Catherine were married in Barbados last Monday.

They kept that one well hidden from the rest of us - as indeed did Bob and I when we got married over 20 years ago.

Let's hope that they have a wonderful life together.
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Glenrothes, the FInal Push

Not surprisingly, Alex Salmond is telling everyone who will listen that the SNP are going to win Glenrothes on Thursday. He said they were going to win Livingston. They came second. He said they were going to win Dunfermline. The came a pretty poor third. It's not a record that inspires confidence and after their earlier confidence it will be a huge story if they don't win on Thursday.

I was quite surprised to see SNP Towers in Markinch in darkness last night when I drove past at around 7:30 on my way home, although, to be fair, they were still there tonight when I left at the back of 7.

So far in Glenrothes, I've seen loads of Lib Dems, obviously, cos I've been in our office, a fair few Nationalists - including Nicola Sturgeon, whose driver clearly wasn't expecting to meet another car on the High Street when he pulled out the other week, the odd Tory, which is hardly surprising, because they are next door to us, but the only Labour people I've come across were drinking coffee in the Marks and Spencers Simply Food this afternoon. Of course, there are reports of Labour MPs sporting Politburo Chic, and it would be very remiss of me to ignore these.

If I weren't a liberal, I would suggest that whoever produced Labour's The Fifer A3 crappily risographed piece of nonsense being delivered this weekend should be deprived of cakes for all of time for crimes against political literature. See what happens when you even mention the Politburo? This leaflet breaks virtually all the rules of good literature and I suspect will help Fife Council meet its recycling targets. The photos are terrible, the print quality is appalling and the content simply does not inspire in any way. You would think that they would have realised that they would have to try to win people's votes with decent messages, but this doesn't seem to have happened.

The Nats aren't much better - they've been delivering a postcard with a picture of Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher, which, strangely, fails to mention their own leader's flirtation with the Iron Lady. They've also been putting out a glossy which lands on the doorstep to show the word THUD in red on a sickly yellow background. Gee. That's going to make you want to read it. They have obviously spent tonnes of money - all their literature has been expensive, slick and not really saying so much.

In contrast, the Lib Dem literature is full of colour, photos, relevance to the things people care about like the cost of living and Tavish Scott's clever tax cut plan, standing against illiberal SNP and Labour actions and creating the campaign for Fairer rail fares between Fife and Edinburgh. Already Harry Wills has taken up hundreds of concerns brought to him by local people. As MP, he would continue to fight on their behalf, in the same way that Willie Rennie has done in Dunfermline.

One of our number overheard a conversation between some young people who had been delighted with Harry Wills' mailing to them and said that it inspired them so much that they wanted to vote.

Harry Wills' campaign has the energy and the practical solutions to ease current problems. A vote for him is a vote to add to the already strong Lib Dem team in Fife.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama in Denver 26th October

I wanted to put this up to show the first part of his speech, before he gets into his full oratorical stride - generously thanking all those who helped him and name checking fellow Democrats running for election. It's no mean feat to remember all those names given that he's making loads of these speeches across the country every day. I thought it was also touching that he thanked people for their good wishes to his ill grandmother, done matter of factly and not over the top.

My friend Elspeth would have been there in the 100,000 throng, along with another couple of Lib Dems.

I am getting to seriously like Obama now - I think he has extraordinary dignity, grace, unflappability and good judgment. He has barely put a foot wrong the entire campaign. I still have questions on the substance, but I think the guy is worthy to hold the office of US President for his own sake and not just because he isn't a Republican.

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The Week of Three Elections

Well, this time next week, I will have the first full weekend off I've had since mid August, and three hotly contested elections will be over.

The first is obviously the US Presidential - and don't for one minute think I've forgiven Labour for interfering with my saturation tv watching and plans to sit up all night on Tuesday. It feels good at the moment - let's hope Obama pulls off the historic victory he thoroughly deserves.

The second is, equally obviously, Glenrothes. Everyone involved in all of the campaigns has put their heart and soul into this long by-election fight. Harry Wills would be a fabulous MP, fighting tirelessly for his constituents, like Willie Rennie and Ming Campbell his near neighbours.

Last but not least we find out if Ros Scott has won through in the Party Presidential election next Saturday - all ballot papers have to be back next Friday, so if you are a party member and haven't voted yet - do so this weekend.

All that in one week and Strictly Come Dancing on every night as well - what more could a girl ask for?

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Friday, October 31, 2008

What has Harry Wills got to do with Leonardo Di Caprio and Archbishop Desmond Tutu?

I've got to know Harry Wills, Lib Dem candidate for Glenrothes and his lovely wife Trudy quite well in recent weeks. I have been very impressed with how he has handled his role as by-election candidate and I'm sure he would be a fabulous MP. I've seen him come back from meeting people passionate about the problems they are facing and determined to do something about them.

Anyway, much as I like him, never did I really think of him and Leonardo DiCaprio in the same headspace. Now, I'm annoyed, because I know I saw this on my computer at work, but can't for the life of me find it at home, but I'm going to post this anyway.

I will update with the links when I'm back in the office tomorrow.

Some local Glenrothes genius has a blog and made a few comments about the by-election. They put the pictures of all the candidates through some Celebrity Look a like website. Harry's came back as Ernest Borgnine, Peter Sellers, Leonardo DiCaprio and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I can kind of see where they are coming from with Borgnine and Sellers, but it's maybe a little more difficult with the other two.

Update a few minutes later - I should have been more patient, as I found it very quickly after I posted this. Here is the link.

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I love Hallowe'en - I'm not so keen on the Americanisation of the event and I think that Trick or Treating is an abomination, but I love the dressing up, the dooking for apples, and the decorations, not to mention the sweeties.

This year was slightly different - for the first time, the school's parents' association decided to hold a disco for the kids. I got back from Glenrothes, where I met no ghouls, demons or ghosts, although I had passed myself off as the Green Tax Witch all day, a short while before the disco started. The last thing I wanted to do was help out at this disco, but, not wanting to let the side down, I went along.

My job was to sell glo-sticks to the masses. Last year, my friend sparked concern by blowing more money than planned on glo-sticks. People thought we'd never sell them all. However, the investment into the glo-stick futures market proved highly successful and more profitable than my HBOS shares, for example. Kids just love them and we sold loads tonight. My mood improved with the music - who can listen to Don't Stop me Now without feeling good?

The only blot on the evening was one parent sending a taxi to pick up their child, even though we had specifically, and in no uncertain terms, on several occasions, requested that this should not happen. It's really hard when we have to decide whetehr it is safe to send a child off alone into the night - it's just not fair to put us in that position. Thankfully this child knew their home phone number, but I got a flea in my ear when I phoned to confirm the arrangements with his mother.

Am I over-reacting?

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama takes over networks to ask people to knock on doors.......

I've seen some pretty awful Party Political Broadcasts in my time, not least from my own Party - does anyone remember Rosie Barnes and her rabbit?

The video below is a bit of a masterclass in how it's done - the last bit from the Obama 30 minute ad last night went live to his speech at a rally in Florida.

I'm still not entirely convinced on the substance of what he'll do, but he knows how to inspire, engage and empower - and how good was it that he asked people to go and knock on doors for him?

Anyway, enjoy.

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Obama, the baby Socialist

Barack Obama definitely has the most likeable manner of any Democratic nominee since Bill Clinton. This clip from a rally in North Carolina shows him taking the mickey out of McCain's excessive attacks on him. If you read the article, you will see that he gave up his own bottled water to help two people who were taken ill at the rally.

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Labour Supporter backs Labour in Glenrothes by-election shock

Labour have been putting out a leaflet in the Glenrothes by-election which has Sir Alex Ferguson showing his support for Lindsay Roy, the Labour candidate.

This isn't some great celebrity coup, or anything. Sir Alex has been a Labour supporter all his life, so it's hardly surprising that he's done this.

Maybe it's just me, but the phrase that he used, that the Labour Government ".......deserves support at this difficult time" just doesn't sound right. It's that "now, children, behave" tone from Labour which has always rankled with me. If they'd said something like "times are hard, this is how we're going to make things better for you" that would have been different. Despite all they have gone through, that old arrogance is still there. It's almost as though they think that the electorate has a duty to support them.

Will they never learn?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama to air 30 minute TV spot.........

Barack Obama is splashing some of the millions he's raised on a 30 minute ad to be aired before the big match tonight.

This sounds like quite a change for Americans used to bite sized 30 second ads - and I hope that they have made the film interesting and varied enough to hold people's attention.

As long as they stay away from leaving messages on Sarah Palin's voicemail, it should all be fine........

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Strictly beats X Factor

Strictly Come Dancing beat the X Factor tonight in the best talent show category at hte National Trash Awards. Simon Cowell was not happy, although there was some comfort for him later when he was given a Special Recognition Award.

The saddest moment was confirmation of what we already new - the four specials next year will be David Tennant's last as Doctor Who.

He really is quitting while he's ahead, and no doubt the audience will want a whole load more.

Other highlights of the night include Austin and Erin doing a bit of Quickstep on the stage and Blue Peter presenters John, Peter and Valerie reunited to present an award.

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James Graham's Daily Mail Post

Every so often, a fellow blogger puts up something so darned good that you just have to draw attention to it.

James Graham's robust analysis of the Daily Mail is one such article. Your blood will boil.

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SNP’s Glenrothes Hopeful wants home within five years

Aww, bless. Peter Grant, SNP candidate in Glenrothes, doesn’t really want to spend too much time in Westminster. I sympathise. There’s no way on earth I’d want to leave my lovely life and family in Scotland to work 500 miles away every week. I spent 11 years living in England, which taught me to appreciate how fabulous Scotland is.

However, I have no intention of standing for election to Westminster at any time in the foreseeable future.

Peter Grant is asking people to put their trust in him next week. What will he do if, as expected, Scotland rejects independence in 2010? The referendum might not even happen. What then? Will he stand down as MP, or will he continue grudgingly attending a Parliament he really doesn’t want to be a part of? Would he just stay at home and not bother turning up for vital votes on things like taxes, benefits and ID cards?

The people of Glenrothes deserve an MP who will fight their corner at Westminster. Harry Wills would feel privileged to serve the people of Glenrothes and would be a welcome addition to an already strong Lib Dem Parliamentary team.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Brand and Ross - Boys will be Boys

Anybody allowing Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross in the same room together must have known that something outrageous would happen.

Some people like outrageous things, which is fine. If anyone has the right to be pissed off, it's Andrew Sachs, whose voicemail was the subject of some rather ripe messages suggesting all sorts may have happened between Brand and Sachs' granddaughter, and, of course, the granddaughter herself if she was unaware of what was going to happen.

What's interesting is that the programme itself generated only 2 complaints. The thousands that followed came after the Mail ran the story.

There's probably a good chance that very few of these thousands of people actually listened to the programme.

Cameron and Brown have jumped on the Daily Mail bandwagon, which is predictable but disappointing.

I would rather be personally be made to listen to an outrage by Brand and Ross every day for a year, even though I really don't have much time for either of them, than have to endure the sanctimony of Brown and Cameron.

It's just a shame that this is taking up so much of top politicians' time. Even if there wasn't a global economic meltdown, there would still be the idea of world peace and ending hunger and poverty to get their teeth into. Priorities, people....

Update after watching the Ten O'Clock News - aren't the BBC craven for buckling so completely to the Daily Mail lobby?

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Joe Lieberman polishes his crystal ball

Senator Joe Lieberman, the guy who would have been Al Gore's VP had a few votes in Florida gone the other way, and who is now a McCain supporter, has been showing off some hitherto hidden talents - as fortune teller. He has confidently predicted that John McCain will live until he's 85 years old.

It's a sign that the McCain camp are seeing people turn away from them in their millions, as evidenced by virtually all the polls, in part at least because of concerns about Sarah Palin being that heartbeat away from the Presidency.

I am starting to feel a bit more confident that McCain is going to have a long retirement to leisurely repent his hasty choice of Palin as running mate.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

PCs are just too darned clever these days

Yesterday when I left our HQ in Glenrothes, I forgot to log out of my e-mail.

Another colleague came in this morning, fired up the e-mail site and just assumed it was his that was logged in.

He then started sending out e-mails to people, and responding to messages that had been sent to me by people we both know.

Neither of us would have been any the wiser if I hadn't noticed that e-mails from me were appearing in my Outlook inbox at home.

For the first couple, I actually did wonder if I was going mad because these messages appeared that I couldn't remember sending - and then I sussed out what was going on.

Fortunately, the colleague in question is someone I trust and there was nothing in my inbox that I wouldn't want him to see - but the potential for disaster in this type of situation is very high.............

You have been warned......

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The Erotics of Lib Dem Economic Debate..... a topic insufficiently explored.

So says Stuart Jeffries, here, in a long interview with Vince Cable in the Guardian. That phrase actually makes sense when you read it, but it is a true classic.

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What could happen if you don't vote for Obama on November 4th - Register now

Everyone's playing with this one - Tom Harris and Duncan Borrowman to name but two. Thought I'd get in on the act.......

It's apparently not partisan - I haven't seen a McCain version yet though..........

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stravaigin' in Glasgow

I am really getting to love Glasgow. Every time I go there I learn something new. My favourite pub in the whole world, the Station Bar, near GCal and the Concert Hall is there, and last night I went out with my sister, my second cousin, my gorgeous niece Laura and her friend Beth. The girls went to a Mystery Jets gig. I'd never heard of the Mystery Jets, but I guess that's how it is with 16 year olds and 40 something aunts.

Honor, David and I hit the West End, starting off in the Ubiquitous Chip where we got a table and were served immediately with some decent red house wine. We then went to eat in Stravaigin 2 on Ruthven Lane. The food was marvellous, probably one of the best meals I'd ever had in a restaurant. I started off with a Vietnamese dish made with pork mince, vermicelli noodle and packed full of flavour with lemon grass, chilli, coriander - it was truly fabulous. David loved his duck pate and Honor's haggis was wonderful.

We all had steak for main course. I am very wary of where I eat steak, but David's confidence inspired me. It came perfectly cooked, they remembered whose was the medium and whose was the medium rare, and it came with a delicious rich celeriac and beetroot dauphinoise, chanterelles and kale.

I was persuaded by the others to try a pudding. They both had lemon and almond cake, while I plumped for the bitter chocolate and grand marnier tart which was smooth, velvety and very rich.

Sometimes menus don't live up to their promise - this exceeded it. The service was unnintrusive but extremely good and the atmosphere in the place was perfect. We had such a laugh.

Just as we'd finished eating, the girls rang to say that their gig was over. Laura was in a state of sheer bliss after meeting the band and having them sign her new t-shirt. She reckons it was the best night of her life.

We took David home to his flat on the South Side and then had fun with my sister's satnav. I think I did a better job of finding our way home than the disembodied voice did - it kept turning us to turn left now when there was nowhere to turn left and when we took the next road, we'd get so far and then it would say "make a U turn".

It was the best fun I'd had in ages and a welcome break in my Glenrothes activiities, which resume very shortly..........

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What the Lib Dems Want.....

In response to J Arthur MacNumpty's question, I can't speak for all Lib Dems, but I know what I want, not just for the Glenrothes by-election, but for the future:

- Harry Wills would be a first class MP, fighting for Fife, standing against the illiberal excesses of both the SNP and Labour. Both have disappointed in recent years. ID cards, the SNP pandering to the Catholic Church over the HPV vaccine, 42 days and banning under 21s from buying booze are equally illiberal. The choice between them is kind of like having to choose between eating a wichety grub and a kangaroo's testicle - either way, I throw up. Harry would strengthen further the already excellent Fife Lib Dem Parliamentary team of Ming Cambpell and Willie Rennie at Westminster, Jim Tolson and Iain Smith at Holyrood and Elspeth Attwooll, (and hopefully George Lyon from next June when Elspeth retires).

- Alex Salmond to implement Tavish Scott's tax cut plan. We already have it within our power to do something to help people struggling with rising food and energy costs. We can take meaningful action without picking a fight with Westminster. We can use the Scottish Parliament's existing powers to improve the quality of people's lives. So why haven't you done it, Alex?

- Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling to implement Vince Cable's economic recovery plan to boost the economy, regulate the financial services sector and ensure that reposessions only happen as a last resort - and, Nicola Sturgeon, can you please listen to the lawyers who are saying that legislation is needed in Scotland on this issue.

- The Government to deliver on affordable housing. I see people every week in dire circumstances, families living in bed and breakfast accommodation because they have been make homeless, families struggling to cope with four children in a 2 bedroomed flat, people desperately needing repairs to their homes. Someone has to do something fast.

- Fife's commuters to stop being penalised by season tickets costing £20 more than comparable journeys across the rest of the country. It's not fair and needs stopping. There is no excuse, First Scotrail.

- People to live in peace and safety without the fear of anti social behaviour - which would be a lot easier if the SNP Government had delivered on its pledge to put 1000 more Police on the beat.

I could go on, but that'll do for now.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alex on his travels - again

Alex Salmond was in Glenrothes again for his 7th visit today.

This week he has been there twice and managed to get down to Peterborough to attempt to wow the rest of the UK on Question Time.

Sadly he didn't make it into the voting lobby on Wednesday night to try to stop the Lloyds HBOS merger.

It's not so much I'd do Anything, but I would do anything for HBOS but I won't do that.

Nancy to Meatloaf in a few short weeks:-)

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Friday, October 24, 2008

SNP Councillor slammed for "inappropriate" campaign e-mail

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Mike Rumbles has written to Alex Salmond to complain about a, frankly, disgusting e-mail sent out by Highland SNP Councillor John Finnie alerting fellow nationalists to what he described as three potential by-elections, including one in the Ross, Skye and Inverness West seat held by John Farquhar Munro.

I should make clear that John Farquhar Munro has stated his intention to serve for his full Parliamentary term.

The text of his e-mail is copied below.

"Fellow Nationalists

As you may be aware the potential exists for three local by-elections and the Party requires YOUR help. Those election are;

Highland Council:

John Holden, Labour, Inverness South, faces ongoing criminal enquires - presumption of innocence must apply.

Jimmy MacDonald, Independent, Inverness West remains seriously ill and absent from Council duties for several months.

In the last Council Multi-Member Ward elections our Candidates comfortably won both seats and we can, indeed must, win any by-election.

Scottish Parliament:

J. Farquhar Munro, Lib Dem, remains unwell with continual suggestions of a Spring By-election. Dave Thompson secured a huge increase in our vote at the last election and this seat and can and will be won.

This coming Saturday WE will distribute a newspaper in the Dalneigh area.

This is an important area because it covers the Inverness West Council seat, the Scottish seat plus the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Westminster seat, for which I am the Candidate.

WE meet at 10am, this Saturday 11th at the Highland Council Car park on Glenurquhart Road and will work until 1pm.

I look forwarding to seeing you on Saturday.

Kind regards

Yours for Scotland

(Cllr) John Finnie, SNP Group Leader, Highland Council"

He mentioned that he was the SNP candidate for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey seat held by Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander.

You have to question the political judgment of someone who can send out an e-mail like this, inferring the potential demise of a local parliamentarian. Is it appropriate for this individual to remain in a senior position on the Council and as a Parliamentary Candidate? That will be for Alex Salmond to decide but the very least that should happen is that Cllr Finnie should make a full public apology for this and the SNP leadership should publicly disassociate themselves from these quite sick comments.

I come from Inverness and I know that Highlanders have a reputation for hospitality, courtesy and respect. It's sad when a senior public official does something which is so much the opposite of all of these qualities.

Government backs down on Pensions

At last, the Government has decided to make the pensions system fairer for people, the vast majority of whom are women, who take time out of the workplace to care for children or sick relatives.

This doesn't help the many women pensioners who are living in poverty now, though.

It shouldn't have taken this long to stop penalising those who give up work to take on some sort of caring role.

Read here, though, why Steve Webb reckons why this might not be all it's cracked up to be.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to raise $1.3 million - for your opponent

Elwyn Tinklenberg can't really have thought he would have much hope of unseating the incumbent Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in her Minnesota district - until she went on MSNBC last Friday and called for investigations to root out the anti-American members of Congress. For anti American, you can pretty much substitute the word Liberal.

I didn't believe it until I heard it for myself

Since Friday, the money has been flowing into Tinklenberg's campaign coffers. $1.3 million will buy a lot of air time in 2 weeks so it looks like Ms Bachmann's jacket is on a very shooglie peg.

The Republicans have pulled the plug on Bachmann's campaign.

This will be another one to watch.

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Who is running the country while Three Jobs Alex hits the campaign trail?

Alex Salmond has 3 paid jobs - MSP for Gordon, MP for Banff and Buchan and First Minister of Scotland. A formidable workload, wouldn't you think?

Despite that, the Glenrothes by-election seems to be one of his top priorities at the moment - he has been there 6 times so far. Who is running the country while he's out there putting his political interests first?

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Palin spends $2700 a day on clothes............

While millions of Americans are struggling with the economic downturn and wondering if their jobs will survive, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been splashing the cash on clothes at the expense of the Republican National Committee and a Republican consultant. We have known her for some 55 days now and in that time $150,000 has been spent on clothes for her campaign appearances.

Apparently she hasn't worn the same outfit twice.

I'm sure hockey moms all across America will feel that the carefully crafted "I'm Just Like You" image will be wearing a bit thin.

Anyway, she has to give all the clothes to charity after the election or she'll have to pay tax on their value - anyone up for a shopping weekend in Anchorage?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Hampshire - a Democrat gain on Nov 4?

I never did much like John Sununu when he was the older George Bush's chief of staff. His subsequent record in Congress has been less than inspiring. He voted for the charade that was the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton, gaining the approbation of the New Hampshire Christian Coalition in the meantime. He has opposed abortion and increasing the minimum wage while favouring school vouchers and the death penalty. Exactly the person you would want replaced by a good old fashioned Democrat.

Former Governor Jeanne Sheehan is his Democrat opponent on 4th November. Electoral Vote has her ahead today by 8 points.

Here's hoping that Jeanne's luck holds.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who have pointed out that this Sununu is in fact the son of Bush 41's Chief of Staff. His Senate record still stinks, though.
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High School Musical 3 - first impressions

I'm just back from seeing the new High School Musical movie with lots of little girls - we had about 10 of them, ranging in age from 4 to 13.

The HSM Brand is all about making Disney stacks of cash by tuning into the desires of young kids, mainly girls, and this new offering is likely to be every bit as effective as its two predecessors in doing so.

The movie is shallower than a Conservative Party policy document, formulaic, and entirely predictable, but is redeemed by being energetic, charming and full of catchy songs that I'll be hard pushed to get out of my head anytime soon.

I don't want to give out too much of the plot for the sake of my nieces and friends who haven't seen it yet, but it's safe to say that if Anna ends up in a relationship with someone who doesn't bring her chocolate covered strawberries to cheer her up, then I'll be very cross.

I can't help loving the HSM movies - yes, they're cheesy and trashy but they are enjoyable to watch. It is entirely idealised. Troy's dad is a teacher and they live in a mansion, for goodness' sake. I do quite like the innocence and chasteness of it, too. Although the innocence doesn't extend to the adults amongst us who are now starting to understand The Graduate. While star Troy BOlton doesn't do it for me, his mate Chad certainly does......

I can't help comparing it to its predecessors which came out when I was Anna's age. Grease, 30 years on, is still watchable. My 10 year old self didn't really get the more adult stuff, like Rizzo's pregnancy scare, until much later, and sure as hell couldn't understand why Sandy did that to herself at the end, but I grew into it as I watched it over and over again as I got older. I don't think that today's 10 year olds will be watching HSM with the same affection in 30 years' time.

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We know what George Osborne did last Summer.....

I personally wouldn't trust George Osborne with the contents of my daughter's piggy bank - especially as she's absolutely loaded as she's fantastic about getting her pocket money and not spending it, getting Mummy and Daddy to fork out for the essentials of a 9 year old's life. As Tory Shadow Chancellor he has been shallow, opportunistic and brings nothing to the debate. He is the flat coca-cola to the vintage claret that is Vince Cable.

The Tories are trying to pretend that they are just like us and they understand what life is like for ordinary people - hence Cameron's bucket and spade break for the media. However, his shadow chancellor is in the Med hanging around with squillionaires.

I don't think we'll ever find out what really went on there - it's all he said/she said kind of stuff, but the whole affair does not make me think well of either Osborne or Peter Mandelson.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rennie tries to close Sex Offender Loophole

Willie Rennie MP today launched a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament which aims to end the scandal whereby a driving instructor who has been convicted of sexually assaulting a client can continue to work while the process takes place to remove them as an approved instructor.

He had been made aware of this loophole by a brave constituent who had endured an assault by her driving instructor. She assumed that when he was found guilty, that he would never have the chance to prey on anyone else. Imagine her horror when she found out that he was back working the next day.

The process to remove an instructor in this position takes around 6 weeks. However, there is no facility to suspend someone while this goes through all its stages. This Bill seeks to remove that anomaly and ensure that no convicted driving instructor every has the chance to claim an other victim.

The Bill passed its stage today and is up for discussion again next Monday.

This is the sort of measure which should attract support from all sides of the house - and indeed its sponsors included Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

From Friendliness to Thuggery

Stephen's account of his encounters with the opposition in Glenrothes on Saturday reminded me of a couple of hostile encounters. I have to say that most of the time, especially since we've been back in Scotland, (the Chesterfield Labour Party of the 90s had its own special brand of brutishness), my exchanges with the opposition have been very friendly.

Occasionally emotions run high - I remember a Nationalist friend barely being able to look at me after their disastrous showing in the 2001 election, because she was so upset by our relative success, but we got over that pretty quickly.

The most frightening experience I ever had was in Littleborough and Saddleworth in 1995. While knocking up on polling day I came across a couple of Labour thugs who basically invaded my personal space and told me to f off out of the street - which, I am ashamed to admit, that I did. I don't know what they would have done to me if I had ignored them, but as a woman on my own, I wasn't taking any chances.

A few years later, I was on a polling station during a council by-election in Edinburgh and got completely verbally abused by a Nationalist. I think his main problem was that I existed and that I had a slight English accent from my years down south. Delightful.

In the main, though, there is a certain bond between political activists across the board - we all know what it's like to give up huge amounts of time, money and energy to further our ideals. The rest of the world thinks we're mad - and they're probably right.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

One of the most liberal and reasoned statement ever

Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama today, in full, is one of the most liberal and reasoned statements, and could have historical significance. It's therefore fitting that I turn the 300th posting on this blog over to him.

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Colin Powell, ex senior soldier and Secretary of State, backs Obama

There haven't been many good things about George W's almost 8 years in the White House, but his appointment of the wise and likeable Secretary of State was one of them. It was said at the time that Powell's dissatisfaction with the direction of the administration was the main reason that he left at the end of the first term.

Powell has led men into battle. He has dealt with foreign leaders at the highest level.

It is highly significant that he has today confirmed that he will be voting for Barack Obama.

It strikes me that the Democrats have lost Joe Lieberman to the McCain campaign - but Powell's endorsement is definitely a net gain for them.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

I've always believed the Golden Dozen is the ideal place for me

I shouldn't think that as an argument will get me there any more than Lembit's assertion that he's always thought the Presidency was the ideal job for him will work in his campaign. It's not much of a killer argument, really.

Anyway, I have been amused by the increasingly sensationalist headlines used by Jennie and James to try to dominate the Lib Dem Voice Golden Dozen. What next? "Ros Scott eats Pan Fried Baby with shallots and tarragon for Dinner!"

Stephen Glenn has got in on the act too, although I suspect he left his sense of proportion on a street in Buckhaven when he was delivering last Sunday. Nestle, Jennie and James don't quite go in the same sentence. I did wonder whether it was wise to have a wee pop at Stephen, even in jest, when I am about to go and pick him up to take him to Glenrothes by election HQ for the fifth weekend in a row. The boy delivers leaflets like a demon and I don't want to upset him - especially seeing as it's pouring rain.

Mind you, he won't see this till Monday morning, so why not?

Anyway, some people have been a bit sniffy about how popularity doesn't necessarily mean quality. So what - we all like a bit of trash in our lives every now and then. The whole point of the GD is that the top seven are determined by click throughs and the rest are hand picked by those discerning folk at LDV. Quite a good compromise, I think.

I should point out, of course, that no babies have been eaten in the creation of this post............

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Nats Carry on Regardless with Booze Restrictions

Oh, what an illiberal bunch the SNP are. Holyrood, where they are in the minority, very clearly consigned their unfair, discriminatory and completely unnecessary plans to ban under 21s from buying alcohol in off sales to the dustbin. The Nats showed their disrespect for the will of Parliament by deciding to carry on with their plans anyway. They persuaded their conference to back their plans, albeit not overwhelmingly.

There is a glimmer of hope, though - their youth wing put up a spirited opposition to the proposals.

If I were them, I'd be wondering if independence would be all it was cracked up to be if I had to live under such an illiberal Government.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Palin as President

Thanks to LibCync for finding this wee gem - you just wave your mouse around and click. I liked the names and the bridge best.

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What if? Some questions on the US Presidential candidates

Thanks to Sara for drawing attention to these questions going round the blogosphere about the presidential candidates.

I am fairly sure that if these things had been true of Obama, we'd have seen them in numerous Republican attack ads by now - indeed, would he even have made it to being the Democratic nominee?

It has a point - now, particularly in terms of marriage, some of these questions would be irrelevant here, but you have to remember that the US is generally much more socially conservative.

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, following the debate,including a three month-old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his college graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if Obama couldn’t read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to publicly display a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama’s family had made their money from beer distribution?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected a reality, if the tables were turned, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative characteristics in
another when there is a color difference.

And, think of this - the candidates’ educational backgrounds:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse Unive rsity College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin: Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

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