Trams, Mince Pies, Cyclists and the PBR

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 @ 12:14AM

I have neither the time nor the coherence of thought to do a proper post at the moment - so what you’re about to get is more of  a download of the things going through my head:

1) I used my lunch break today to go and speak to 100 of Scotland’s returning officers and electoral adminstrators who were having a conference in Edinburgh in preparation for the election. In the panel session that I was taking part in there was myself, a lady from Tory head office, the returning officer from Dumries & Galloway Council and a senior official from the Electoral Commission. It was my task to tell the audience what election agents like me need from them in terms of help and guidance and the whole concept of a forthcoming general election suddenly became all to real and clear.

2) There’s been much talk of a March General Election today following the Pre Budget Report. I’m not sure I quite buy the logic but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

What is clear for me though, is that my life is about to become even more monopolised by the Labour party cause and the grave need to ensure that it is Labour values which guide us out of this recession. I think it says a lot about the character of our two major parties that Labour so desperately want to win the next election. We want to win it so that we can take the right and fair passage out of recession into growth and reduced national debt - no matter how difficult it will be - in stark contrast to the the Tories illcontained glee at the prospect of ripping the welfare state apart and gifting the rich huge tax breaks.

3) I thought Steven Purcell was extremely impressive on Reporting Scotland tonight regarding the £30 million worth of cuts facing Glasgow courtesy of the Scottish Government’s funding settlement.  He was proactive, honest and clear in his approach. He said yes, there would be significant cuts to services in Glasgow but there was a set of guiding principles, a set of values underpining his strategy towards dealing with it; protecting education, particularly in theearly years, protecting vulnerable groups and promoting employment and apprenticeships. I thought that demonstrated real and commanding leadership - the type of which was is so severally lacking in Edinburgh at the moment.

4) I got a taxi back to work from the conference today (naturally, I paid for it in cash - you’ll note that our office’s expenses are the second lowest in Parliament behind Margo) and it turns out that my driver used to be Alex Salmond’s chauffeur around 20 years ago. He told me how he used to drive Alex Salmond around Central Scotland during the election but being the professional that he was, he didn’t devulge any scandal or amusing stories unfortunately.

What he did say though was that he’d be voting Labour at the General Election. He said he voted SNP last time for a change but the change hasn’t come and the thought of independence turns his stomach.

That’s two Labour taxi drivers I’ve met in the past week - practically unheard of! Incidentally - I don’t make a habit of voter IDing taxi drivers but they do tend to offer up all sorts of personal info once you let on that you work in Parliament.

5) First thing tomorrow, I’m going with the boss to visit the Sick Kids hospital and turn on the christmas tree lights to the Christmas tree we’ve donated. It’s a little known fact that all MSPs get a free Christmas tree from the Foresty Commission which they can nominate to an organisation, charity or group of their choice. Why not email your MSP and ask them what they’ve done with it?

6) This story about an Edinburgh Wheel is ridiculous. As is this story about a cyclist getting his wheel stuck in a tramline.

I went on a school trip to Wurzberg in Germany whilst in 5th year at school. Practically the first thing I did was get my bike wheel stuck in a tramline and propel myself over the handle bars. I got over it and as you know, I love trams. In fact, ditch the big wheel and build tramline 1b.

It has the best business case of all the tramlines and the biggest travesty of this tram debacle would be to create the spine of a tram system without having the tenacity and courage to build the rib cage of a system to go round it.

7) And finally, I’ve noticed a significant leap forward in the Tory’s policy development process. Having gone from having no policy to speak of, they’ve taken the dramatic leap of  now saying that they’re “not opposed” to various things. Not least the tax on bankers’ bonuses.

What a completely ridiculous standpoint.

I’m not opposed to losing  weight but that doesn’t mean it’s a priority for me or I’m going to do anything about it. It doesn’t mean I have the commitment to do it, or the foresight to rearrange my working style so that I don’t sit down to my dinner at 9pm every night and eat junk food over the weekend. It doesn’t mean I plan to take any more exercise.

…I’m just not opposed to it. Is that clear?

We could be as little as 4 months off a General Election - I don’t believe there’s ever been a time when the electorate have known so little about what the main opposition party stand for.

I’m off to ponder that thought over a mince pie.

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Categories: Economy, Edinburgh Politics, Labour, SNP, Tories

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