Election Time - Too Close to Call?

This Thursday sees Scottish Parliament Elections and Local Council Elections and for the first time in ages the elections are actually interesting and forecasting a shift in power or at the very least a very close fight between SNP and Labour.

ToriesThe SNP have run a great campaign. Removing the independence question, slickening up the campaign and ‘hiding’ some of the more dubious members of the party and their views has certainly helped their cause. Alex Salmond has also turned down the cheek and smarm that I often associate with him – he’s looked like someone who could run the country which I’ve never thought before. I struggle to see how they’ll pay for their promises – the maths are still an issue for me.

The SNP campaign has also been relatively positive in total contrast to Labour. On the back of Iraq and sleaze they were always going to have a tough time but the repeated bashing of SNP rather than focussing on their own achievements and future plans, apart from education, is annoying and patronising. A poll tonight shows them neck and neck with the SNP but in so many ways they don’t deserve a third term. I’ve generally been a Labour voter but in reviewing what the parties are offering that’s in real doubt.

Lib Dems…anonymous and an almost public embarrassment at using Menzies Campbell. Charles Kennedy was seen and heard more than their leader. Nicol Stephen hasn’t done anything wrong but he appears a bit timid, quiet and he really has to drop the word passionate, especially when it’s said with so little conviction.

Tories. A party I’ll never vote for due to their actions in the past but hats off to Annabel Goldie who I think has done really well. Appears to answer questions honestly, to the point and at least they aren’t plotting a power share before the election has even taken place. Still, like the photo, I can only see them slipping down the polls.

I’ve also had so much propaganda through the front door, not just from the mainstream parties but also some I’ve never heard off. The 9% Growth party? Scottish Christian Party?

No matter who wins on Thursday (although I reckon it will take days to sort out) the shape of the parliament will be very different to the last four years and I’m looking forward to the next few days and how it all shakes out. I just hope the turnout is a lot higher – one vote could make a big difference.

Common Sense

Glad to see that a tribunal has ruled that there was no discrimination shown by a school in suspending a classroom assistant who insisted on wearing a veil. While I’m against any sort of veil ban as has been suggested elsewhere, the wearing of a veil in a classroom shouldn’t be tolerated. Not a racist view, or denying anyone their rights…just common sense in my book. I would be uncomfortable seeing any teacher wearing any sort of face cover while teaching kids no matter what religion or beliefs they had. it should also be remembered that it was the kids that complained that the assistant couldn’t be heard that brought the matter to the authorities attention.

The fact that the wearing of the veil (niqab) is debated by Muslim religious leaders makes the issue even more clear cut for me. Unfortunately the assistant at the centre of the controversy is appealing the decision, hence dragging this one issue on a little further. I am concerned about how polarized the debate has become, something touched upon by Roy but surely it’s more important to debate and discuss the issues than brush them under the carpet and hope they never rear their ugly head, no? The main political parties staying away from race and integration issues have only aided the lies spread by parties like the BNP.

World cup - who to support?

There was a real kerfuffle this week over Jack McConnell’s comments regarding England at the World Cup. So he won’t be supporting them. No big deal unless your an MP at Westminster hoping to make some petty gain from the statement or Jack Straw still stinging from his demotion. This Stuart Cosgrove quote summed up my feelings.

By what weasel arrangement are England fans allowed to dislike Argentina, Germany and France, while we have to snuggle up to them as if history and rivalry meant nothing?

This was taken from a Daily Record article which stated his position and his annoyance at the anger around Scots not supporting England. I have much the same view – I won’t be supporting England and it’s not anti-English, racist or whatever anyone else wants to paint it – it’s football and I don’t support them. I support Scotland who are surprisingly missing from this years tournament and hence I want a team that plays good football to win – no great allegiance to anyone. I do know that I don’t want England to win or even do well – they are a rival. There’s also another reason.

PropagandaThe most grating aspect of England at the World Cup is the hype and propaganda that the whole country has to suffer in the run up to and during the World Cup, even after they have been kicked out at an early stage (fingers crossed). For me summed up by the re-release of Escape To Victory – since when was it England vs Germany – John Wark was playing for them – Pele too. A free England flag as well. Agggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh. Same with Mars now called Believe. This is across of the whole of the UK – not just England. The whole Rooney broken foot saga is also getting out of hand with Alex Ferguson now getting cast as the nasty Scots villain. Tragic.

Saying that it’s less than a fortnight until it all kicks off. Can’t wait. I’m hoping for a more open tournament and some real performances from the flair players.

Who'd be a politician?

Two Scots politicians made the news this week. One told some lies, was totally back stabbed by his party but then gained respect in how he finally stepped down. The other has also told some lies (but no one can really prove when), has also been back stabbed by his old party and could only find respect by naming his new party after the word.

…just a bit of a dick.

So a well done and sympathies to Charles Kennedy who suffered a pretty messy execution by his own party. I actually thought he did well for the Liberals and took them to places they could only previously dream about. It’s also a ‘wish he would just go away’ to George Galloway who entered the Big Brother house this week. I remember when he was MP for Glasgow Kelvin – I thought he did nothing for his constituents then – how can he be serving those in Bethnal Green when he’s on a TV show bathing in his own self publicity. Murial Gray summed him up nicely in today’s Herald – just a bit of a dick.

Live 8...was OK

I would love to say it was great so keeping the message that was endlessly played throughout yesterdays concert (Live 8. G8. Be great.) but it wasn’t. Like the original Live Aid no doubt in a few years time people will look back and say it was amazing but for me it’s all about what happens over the coming week. Already it looks like debt relief for the poorest nations has been secured and that aid will be doubled. The third key measure is fair trade. The amount of money the US and Europe (in particular) subsidise their local producers is amazing. They also force developing nations to open up their markets while at the same time ensuring their own are protected. This has to stop.

Key for me also is the government in Africa. Many countries which are poor also have a concentration of wealth and armies fighting over small strips of land which leads to questions of “why should I donate”. I’m not sure how this should be solved – I definitely don’t support the idea of regime change where the west takes over the running of some of the worst countries. Maybe a half way house is required where aid,debt relief and trade rules are introduced only if key UN advisor’s placed in each African country can see that the money is being used wisely and that the poor really are getting the help they need. But to think that all countries in Africa are like this is naive – I was surprised at the amount of calls that yesterday was an ego trip for most taking part and it will make no difference. Even if this turns out to be true and not one thing will change surely people have got to try in the hope that their efforts, particularly in Edinburgh, will make a difference.

Finally – concert highlights – Coldplay & Richard Ashcroft even though their timing was way off, Madonna proving she’s still got it even in her 60’s, Travis who actually got the whole crowding moving, The Killers who were robbed and got to play only one track, Velvet Revolver…rooooooooooock and Robbie – Come On!! Lowlights – Elton, Dido, Mariah Carey – fuck off with your mike stand requests and Pink Floyd – yawn. Over 60 and don’t we all know it.

All in all an OK concert – hopefully by Friday we can say it was great.

The Girl in the Café

I guess you could say the film The Girl in the Café is typical Richard Curtis – doddery english guy falling for lovely woman, and a woman way out of his league. All the usual content is there but I’m a sucker for it and always like his films. This also had a political…edge isn’t the word but you know what I mean…undercurrent – that’s better. Set against the G8 summit the politics were dumbed down but the message still hit home more down to the acting of the two leads – Bill Nighy and Kelly MacDonald. Kelly MacDonald was superb and also had the best quote of the film:

dirty dirty dirty John

I could listen to her saying the word dirty all night but enough of my fantasies. Her speech to the G8 dinner was superb with the clicking fingers every 3 minutes really hitting home. The end was left open – G8 summit in Scotland and what will these 8 men do, but it should have been more. Where was the appeal to support Make Poverty History? Where was the plea to march to Edinburgh? Live 8 has always struck me as ‘disorganised’. This just added to that feeling – I hope the organisation doesn’t let it down.

Weather

Was I the only one that liked the new BBC weather graphics? More detailed, easier to understand and bang up to date. I wasn’t even bothered by the angle the UK was looked at but it has been changed so that Scotland is more in proportion – and it works.
weather
Annoyingly the SNP are now claiming a victory over this change. How sad. One MP even raised a motion in the House of Commons for the map to be changed – great use of political time. The Tartan Tories strike again.

 

Election 2005

After a slow start the election is starting to get interesting. This time round there are some fantastic websites that really make you think. I’d started to group some links together for a post but plasticbag’s article says it all plus more so it’s a better starting point.

If you can’t be bothered reading the article then visit some of the following links. Political Survey 2005 is a series of questions that are then used to compare/contrast you with the rest of the electorate..well those that have bothered to take the survey. The results are great – highly recommended. Next up is Who Should You Vote For. This is a bit more simplistic than the Survey as it asks your opinion on 23 statements and from that determines who you should vote for. I’ve published my results at the end of this post.

Next up are some stat pages. First is The Public Whip which allows you to see how your mp performed in the House of Commons and also has some surveys to try. The Ministerial Whirl is superb and well worth a visit. For more detail on your mp and links to Guardian content try They Work For You. Some very telling stats including how much your local mp claims back in expenses. Shocker. There’s also a good search engine at the site for everything that has been said in parliament since 2001 although that can also be found at the Houses of Parliament.

The major news websites are also doing their best to explain in plain language exactly what each party stands for. This is partly based on the success of similar sites set-up during the American elections last year. The Channel 4 website has introduced FactCheck and also election blogs. FactCheck hopes to analyse each of the main parties claims and verify who is actually telling the truth seen here when analysing a George Galloway quote. The blogs are also a fairly good read and give an insight into some of the electioneering that goes on although not all of them are up to date.

BBC also uses a blog but for it’s reporters only though the reporting is more honest than the reporters regular news reports. BBC wins for it’s news coverage, seat calculators and poll tracker. Everything an election stat whore could dream of.

After all that if you still can’t be bothered to vote, at least register with Not Apathetic and let the world know why. Finally, my who should you vote for results are…

Who Should You Vote For?

Your expected outcome:

Labour

Your actual outcome:

Labour -16
Conservative -29
Liberal Democrat 39
UK Independence Party -9
Green 24

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For