Sunday, 31 August 2008

On the European Campaign Trail ...

As this blog was originally set up to follow my progress as a European Candidate for the SNP, here's a photo of myself with Ian and Alison from Stirling Constituency. Last Sunday the Euro candidates were invited to address members at a beautiful location in the Trossachs. The questions were interesting but the first was "tell us 5 things that make you a better MEP than the others". There were six of us there and I was last to answer! Apart from that and my forgetting that I don't really suit large blue flowers, it was a great day and I spotted many members in the audience who'd been a tremendous help in the Glasgow East by-election - that always makes me feel good!

Get up off yer knees!

Call me churlish but I just can't be doing with these endless talent shows. They're full of folk who seem to lose all perspective and pin all their hopes on making their "dream come true" by winning. I think I've watched about 3 hours of TV this month and most of it's been rubbish. I just switched over there to see "Only Men Aloud" win that choir contest on the BBC. Last Choir Standing it's called - except one of the men nearly wasn't standing when they announced that as winners, they would be "by royal appointment" (just to sound even more pompous) performing at the Royal Variety Show in front of the queen. This grown man nearly burst into tears, his legs appeared to buckle under him and he did that fake shake thing, you know, the pretending to tremble act, and was almost overcome with emotion. Please! I don't mean to keep knocking the queen and her clan but honestly, what is the big deal? By all means celebrate your achievements but don't behave like it's a life or death matter and definitely don't imagine that the queen is any more important than anyone else in your audience. Republican rant over ...

Iain Dale's Diary: Top 40 Scottish Blogs

Iain Dale's Diary: Top 40 Scottish Blogs I was voted 13th best Scottish blogger in this poll. Quite chuffed with that I am. And no, I didn't vote for myself, I've been so busy over the last few months that I've barely read a blog never mind voted for one. So, apologies to everyone I should've voted for but never, congratulations to the 12 above me and everyone else, and thank you to everyone who voted for me, it's much appreciated. I haven't blogged much recently but I have updated my photo blog and I'll catch up with everything soon - I hope.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

From MacDiarmid to La Pasionaria

My big cousin - okay not big, just old(er) - Lorna liked the Hugh MacDiarmid quote I had on here the other day and sent me her favourite one.

It's from Dolores Ibarruri Gomez who was also known as La Pasionaria which means Passion Flower. You can find out more about her and her involvement in the Spanish Civil War here but meantime, the quote:

"Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees".

Verdadero. Muy verdadero.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hoy! Chris wants to represent Scotland

It's not often I'll link to anything in the Daily Record but seeing as their article here has allowed me to think good thoughts about Olympic Champion Chris Hoy, I'll make an exception. I was mad as hell when I read that he described the idea of a Scottish Olympic Team as "ridiculous". I won't tell you what I said about it but I will share my 16 year old niece's response. She was furious and decided there was only one thing for it - she'd have to learn to ride a bike and beat him ("into the ground" apparently) at the next Olympics. Revenge indeed. But there's no need now because he said the point he was making was that there wasn't the sporting infrastructure in place at the moment in Scotland but that he would love to be part of a Scottish team. You're off the hook Chris, I'll stop snarling and Christie will leave the way clear for more medals from you!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Hugh MacDiarmid

A plaque I spotted in Biggar on Saturday:

"Let the lesson be to be yerselfs,
and to mak that worth being."

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Heatwave in Donegal

I am currently on holiday in Ireland and as I’m heading from Belfast to Donegal tomorrow for a few days, I thought I’d check the weather forecast. I wondered if it might perhaps be a little less wet in the Republic. Today in Belfast was bloody wet! So wet the roads flooded and the tour bus I was sitting on the top deck of (you’ve got to get into the spirit of these things haven’t you?) got stranded in the floods!!!

Anyway I live in hope of better weather so I googled “Donegal weather forecast” and was ecstatic to discover I should expect sunny days with temperature highs of 27 degrees. Result! Except … who’s ever heard of Donegal in Pennsylvania? Two Donegals? Why?! A quick re-google was to discover the highs are in fact going to be few and only 12 degrees. Hope the pubs are good!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Here I go again!

I finally got to see Mamma Mia last Sunday having tried once before when it was fully booked! It took me a while to make my mind up about it. It was, after all, cheesy in the extreme and I was to be heard saying "that just wouldn't happen" on a number of occasions. Mhairi who I was with had to keep reminding me it wasn't real.
My overall conclusion was that you can't help but getting into it. It's definitely a film that will appeal more to females however. For anyone who doesn't know it's basically about a girl getting married and using her mother's old diaries to narrow the field for potential fathers of the bride, down to 3. So she invites them all. That's it really and it's jam packed full of Abba songs.
Now I always thought Abba songs just couldn't be sung by anyone else but somehow they pulled it off. They weren't the best singers in the world so they made up for that with a passion for the music and by completely throwing themselves into it. There's a scene where Meryl Streep sings "The Winner Takes it All" and her performance was spellbinding.
The reason I think it works and works mainly for women though is because it's about female friends supporting each other and throwing themselves at life with abandon - it's what we all, as females, want from our friends. The two groupings (the daughter and her 2 bridesmaids and the mother with her 2 lifelong friends) show us friendships in the nurturing stages right through to those that have survived the test of time - again, what we all want from our friendships.
So it's kind of aspirational - the idea that the girl friends we have now will still be there supporting us, laughing with us, crying with us and most importantly of all, singing Abba songs with us, no matter what age we are, is something to aspire to. That's my assessment of the film anyway.
The only thing that distressed me about it (and I do not use the word "distress" lightly) was what they did to the Colin Firth character. I won't tell in case you've still to see it but let's just say that was the most unconvincing part of the film. And his final appearance on screen? I am just warning all those who, like me, fell in love with him in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice, to close their eyes at the end. It's not a sight you'll want to see. The film itself however, is - so if you need your spirits lifting, I suggest you go and see it.

Traditional Scottish Wedding

Councillor Alison Thewliss and Joe (Mr) Wright got married last Saturday, 9th August at Trades Hall in Glasgow. It was a lovely wedding and many of the men arrived in traditional Scottish attire. Lots more photos can be viewed here.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Restricted from blogging

Very little blogging happening on this blog this week I'm afraid. I've moved back to Glasgow but little access to the internet and I don't like to do it in work time. Not that there's been any shortage of things to blog about. Example, the opinion polls out this week which, if replicated, would see every single one of the Labour Leadership candidates lose their seats at the next election. That put a smile on my face at least. A sad story in Port Glasgow of an 18 year old boy losing his life on a motorbike. My niece actually saw the accident and I think the boy was not wearing a helmet. Absolutely tragic, what more is there to say? I also visited an alcohol rehab unit in Greenock which is facing closure and I met some very impressive people there. If I don't have time to blog on it this week I will certainly do so in the near future because it really got me thinking. And finally I had a meeting with John Loughton from fairbridge Scotland only to discover it was ThE John Loughton of Big Brother fame. Anyway so much to say and so little time online so it will all have to wait. I'm off to Ireland in the morning, away for nearly a week. I'll try to update but I don't think there will be many wifi cafes in Gortahork :-)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Introducing ... the next leader of Glasgow City Council

Huge congratulations to my very good friend James Dornan, who yesterday was elected as the SNP Council Group Leader in Glasgow. He will make a fantastic Leader of the Opposition and I'm delighted to see him getting some recognition at last for his many skills. The post was vacated of course by John Mason, the new MP for the East End of Glasgow. We are very fortunate in the SNP in Glasgow in that we have a very talented and committed group of councillors. An observer at the hustings last week reckoned he would struggle to choose between the 4 candidates - James himself, Alex Dingwall, Alison Hunter and Cllr Tartan Hero Grant Thoms. The word was that they all gave excellent speeches and had great ideas for the future development of the group. I chaired the meeting yesterday and every one of the candidates congratulated James Dornan warmly. With a team like that and a leader like James Dornan, we can't go wrong!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Conservatives: a bad idea indeed!

Thanks to Frank from Clydebank for pointing this out to me - the Tories really ought to get their website redesigned. Click on here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find out why. Class!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Derring-do from Free Tibet protester

You can't have missed the escapades of Edinburgh man Iain Thom today as he scaled the heights of a lighting pole near to the Olympic stadium in Beijing. He then unfurled a banner calling on the Chinese to get out of Tibet before phoning the BBC from his mobile phone! Forget John whatsisname at Glasgow Airport, this is my new hero.

Despite his modesty in saying any fear he felt was nothing compared to how Tibetans living under Chinese occupation no doubt felt, he must have been scared. Not only was he hundreds of feet up in the air but he was in a country where he doesn't speak the language protesting about that country's government and in particular protesting about human rights abuses. They weren't likely to be happy with him. He was of course arrested and he'll now no doubt be kicked out but I hope he returns to a hero's welcome for showing an incredible amount of courage. In fact we should invent a new Olympic medal for what he did.

The dictionary definition of derring-do incidentally, is this: valiant deeds in desperate times. Very apt!

PS What IS that Airport guy's name again?! How fickle we are with our heroes!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Saltire is Banned!

Good one from my friend Jamie Hepburn MSP, who somehow managed to spot that the Olympic Committee in Beijing has ruled that the saltire may not be waved in support of Scottish athletes at these Olympic games. And before anyone accuses me or him of being parochial, he also pointed out that England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be banned from flying their flags too. Ridiculous isn't it? I have to admit I was wondering why on earth Jamie was doing reading the "house rules" of the Olympic Committee. Then I remember that he and Julie have just moved house and as yet, they've no TV aerial and no internet access. If that's how bad it gets, please never let my internet access be taken away!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

I wonder who the Sunday Mail wants as Labour leader

Ah the Sunday Mail. That impartial observer and reporter of all things Scottish. There to serve the people and simply report the truth. You've gotta laugh haven't you? Today they've done a "harmless" little skit on the Labour leadership contest in Scotland. They decided to test how ordinary voters react to photos of the 3 contenders - Iain Gray, Andy Kerr and Cathy Jamieson. Just to be "funny" they added in a pic of some actor. Not quite sure what that was for but maybe my sense of humour's different.

It was all fake and a set up to give Cathy Jamieson a higher profile (who, of course, more people recognised than any of the others). You can tell it's fake by looking at the answers the "ordinary" folk give. One says of Andy Kerr "I'm guessing he's a politician" implying that these ordinary folks have not been told that it's Labour leadership contenders. The same person says she can't name Iain Gray but "it's a sorry state if they're all running for the leadership". Ah, so she DID know. Why did she have to guess one of them was a politican then?

And funnily enough, the comments about Cathy Jamieson are all positive - whilst the comments about the other two are just rude! One person even refers to one of the contenders as "an ugly man". I don't really care what the Labour rags do to Labour politicians but I do care about the principles involved. Newspapers are not supposed to be there to unduly influence public opinion but they do it all the time and blatantly so. I think I prefer that, however, to this sneaky kind of nonsense written with the assumption that its readership are all too thick to work out what they're trying to do.

Friday, 1 August 2008

George Foulkes - funny or not?

Sometimes ye gotta laugh at his greatness Lord George Foulkes. And other times, he is so nasty and small minded and so ANTI ALL THINGS SCOTTISH that it's not funny anymore. Today he was being interviewed about us bad Scot Nats. "They're brainwashing the Scots" he asserts. And what we doing to brainwash you all? We're sneaking in the saltire to all manner of everyday events. It's "Independence by creep" according to LGF. Evidence of this?

Why - our trains are to have a saltire design when next they are repainted. NO WAY?!!

"These Scots really are taking things a step too far don't you think?" - not an exact quote you understand, more how I imagine George to have reacted.

Secondly, we're now "allowed" to declare ourselves Scottish rather than British on the next census form. (Bet him and his fellow Lords and Ladies nearly choked on their port when they heard that outrageous concession to the wretched Scots - "why on earth did they have to discover oil? If it hadn't been for that we could have built ourselves a MUCH higher border"!)

And that pesky Alex "de Brainvasher" Salmond has had the flaming nerve to change the name of the Scottish Executive to Scottish Government - giving the commoner Scots an over inflated idea of who they are!

The foxy one claims that all of this is because the SNP can't win on the real arguments. He then devotes as much time as the interview will allow (not much, he can see the complete irrelevance of this and no doubt, of George himself) to telling us that he gets a train sometimes but Alex Salmond hasn't been on a train since becoming First Minister. "Why is he so afraid of trains?" blusters the Lord with the common touch!

Now I don't know if Alex Salmond has been on a train in the last year. I don't really care whether he has or not. Do you? Does anybody? But if George is trying to use this to say Scotland's First Minister is afraid to talk to people, perhaps he should have paid more attention to the Glasgow East by-election. (Perhaps they should have paid more attention BEFORE it and maybe they wouldn't have lost it.)

Yes, I'm still talking about it. The by election that Gordon Brown, the Leader of the Labour Party, failed to show up to. Whereas Alex Salmond didn't just show up, he was accused of being there TOO MUCH! And when he was there, shall I tell you what he was doing? He was visiting places like Carmyle, Shettleston, Tollcross, Easterhouse, Wellhouse.

It wasn't set up appointments. He turned up with John Mason and a team of leafletters. They leafletted whilst Alex and John chapped on doors and spoke to ANYONE who wanted to speak to them. That was quite a lot of people I can tell you. In many housing estates people were coming out of their houses and crowding round them keen to have a chat.

Alex Salmond has been in many a house in the East End this summer, having a cup of tea and listening to people's problems. Gordon Brown didn't set foot in the city never mind the constituency. The SNP is very unlike the Labour Party in that the SNP is not afraid to listen to ordinary people and to act on their concerns. I know because as the Campaign Co-ordinator I was in charge of ensuring we DID act on all concerns.

So, George, whether Alex takes the train or not is a complete irrelevance. The decision to rebrand the rail stock with a Saltire design was taken by Transport Scotland BEFORE the SNP were even in power. The repainting will take place when the trains are due to be repainted anyway so I can't see there being cost implications. The rise in national pride we have seen in Scotland is nothing to be feared. It is not necessarily associated with a rise in those wishing to see an Independent Scotland but even if it was, you have no right to talk down this country and the desire of the people to have a strong positive national identity. That is not funny, it's not the usual nonsense we're used to from you, it's more sinister than that and it is completely unacceptable.