Thursday, 20 November 2008
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Without notes, David fielded questions from an audience made up largely of people who returned my recent constituency survey and who identified themselves as undecided voters, (oh and my Mum and Dad). Our audience included school children from across the constituency as well as a number of pensioners who had put the cost of living and fuel poverty as their top priority in their survey returns.
With questions including those best described as hostile, I am sure no one left able to accuse David of ducking a question or lacking substance. I am not sure that everyone got the answers they were necessarily looking for but I am sure they got the truth.
One moment of fun came in the form of a request rather than a question with a young man who came along with his father asked David to call his mother and wish her a "happy birthday", although he refused to divulge which birthday. As it happens I was with David later in the evening at dinner and he took time out between the starter and main course to call this lady and to wish her a happy birthday. I hope that made her day!
Bringing politics back to ordinary people is something I am sure would be welcomed by most local residents if they genuinely believed it was sincere. Yesterday I watched a man who believes in democracy and who is not scared to let people test his principles or his resolve. Cameron Direct is a blueprint for politics of the people in the 21st century and I am delighted David brought it to East Renfrewshire and proved its worth!
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
On the same quarter last year today's figures represent an increase of 2,000 on the corresponding unemployment figure for last year and yet the governments own statistics for the number of people employed in Scotland fell by 10,000 over the corresponding period.
While depopulation, an increase to the number of people retiring and some people going back to retrain may account for some of this difference so many of us have anecdotal stories to tell of family, friends and friends of friends who have lost their job in Scotland as our economy falls into recession and this yet again reinforces the old adage - "lies damn lies and statistics".
The cheery words of our Secretary of State for Scotland, designed I am sure to reassure us that we have little to worry about, simply do not cut it when you have a mortgage to pay and can see the prospect of unemployment on the horizon. It is time for government to set ordinary businesses free to create prosperity and secure jobs by giving them an amnesty on red tape and cutting business taxes so that they have money to invest in their employees.
UK Plc is perfectly capable of making a go of things in difficult times if government leave us alone and give us the tools to do so!
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Mr Murphy has long been an integral part of this Labour government, but that has not prevented his constituents in East Renfrewshire suffering in the same way as the rest of our country. Hard pressed local families and individuals are being taxed as never before at the very same time as government policy, conceived and delivered by his boss, hits them hardest.
I look forward to continuing to campaign against Mr. Murphy and to seeing how he intends to defend Labour’s record of failure. Scotland has a long tradition of booting our its Secretary of State for Scotland at the ballot box and I intend to make sure this continues by letting the people of East Renfrewshire know just exactly what a David Cameron Conservative government will do for them - in contrast to the prospect of more of the same from the Labour government who got us into this mess!
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Combine the success of our Police with our new drugs strategy based on abstinence, adopted by the Scottish Executive after it was first advocated and then demanded by Annabel Goldie MSP, and you have the start of a process I believe will radically alter the publics perception of politicians attitude to tackling illegal drug use and abuse.
Not before time too. We must be seen to be coming down hard on the criminals who push drugs onto the vulnerable and at the same time to be offering a positive option to those who seek to get themselves off drugs once and for all. With a little bit of luck and faith in our people, I am sure we are about to see an end to the drugs culture in Scotland that has been so damaging to communities over recent years!
Saturday, 20 September 2008
The death of a Enya Doohan from Clarkston, to a mystery illness, at just 5 years of age, gives me a sense of perspective and ones heart can only go out to the family and friends of a little girls described as 'delightful' by her school.
Politics is important but not as important as life itself and I think we would all do well to remember that!
Thursday, 18 September 2008
Monday, 15 September 2008
Friday, 12 September 2008
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
Restorative justice is something I would normally support, however I suspect today's announcement has more to do with a complete failure to deal with prisoner numbers and not a tough new approach to what criminals should be required to do to pay for their crimes against society.
I believe criminals should be put to work for the communities they have offended, but nor if this puts people into communities who fear their involvement. Building sites can be dangerous places with dangerous tools and equipment and the thought of letting prisoners out on day release with access to potential weapons is something we need to guard against.
If this proposal is indeed about finding ways to reduce the prison population I have news for Mr MacAskill. The Scottish people want its government to stand up for them and to build new prisons if that is what it takes to make prison a deterrent to crime.
Court sentences should mean what they say! One year should mean you serve one year; Life should mean you serve life etc. And if this means prisoner numbers rise in the short term as we keep dangerous people incarcerated while we educate them not to re-offend then we should build the prisons necessary to keep our law abiding majority safe.
Monday, 8 September 2008
No one has more admiration for the way Gordon Brown has tackled his partial blindness than me. As someone who was so active in sport at a young age the loss of sight in one eye and the partial loss of sight in the other must have been devastating. It takes someone of particular character and courage to be able to put this aside and battle to achieve in other fields and Gordon Brown's achievements, both academic and political, speak for themselves.
Nevertheless to be making claims of preparedness to take action in tough economic times and to be feeling our pain leave us with one big question. Where have you and your government been for the past 12 months?
The 10p tax debacle was of your doing, the credit crunch and failure to deal properly with Northern Rock was of your doing and the fact that inflation is crippling households and need an interest rate rise when the housing market needs an interest rate cut is of your doing.
It is very admirable to give us kind words and big promises but it you do want to help us there is something you could do for us NOW - CALL AN ELECTION!
Thursday, 4 September 2008
No one likes paying tax, unless they have to, but today's proposal by the Scottish Executive to pay for local services based on a supposed ability to pay means that, for the same Council services, two households beside one another might be faced with one paying nothing for their bins to be picked up, their streets to be lit and their libraries to be open while their next door neighbours pay £3,000 a year to receive the exact same services, based on a combined household income of £100,000.
And this of course assumes that the 3 pence in the every pound level mooted by the SNP is actually sustainable. Glasgow City Council calculates that at 3% a Local Income Tax would leave them with a shortfall of £133 million on current budgets - in other words to maintain current expenditure Local Income Tax would have to increase by 50% to 4.5%. Here, in East Renfrewshire, I believe that with our extremely high percentage of population that is either old or young our expenditure, in what is a relatively small local authority, is pretty big per head of population and we too would have to seek to raise the level of Local Income Tax just to be able to maintain the standard of our schools and other services.
And whenever you raise a tax on a regional basis you also find a large number of people who seek to avoid paying that tax. For example, with Corporation Tax in the UK higher than that in the Republic of Ireland a number of large companies have moved their head offices from London to Dublin to take advantage of the tax break this provides. In the case of Local Income Tax, I wonder how many people will register for tax purposes in England, Wales or Northern Ireland to avoid paying a Scottish Local Income Tax were it to be introduced.
In summary, the SNP's Local Income Tax proposal is poorly thought through, will lead to inequities in payment for local services in local communities and will undoubtedly not be paid by those who can afford to find ways of avoiding it. All this would be damaging to the social cohesion of Scotland and potential ruinous to our economy. That is why we must all oppose its introduction and leave no stone unturned until it is consigned to the political scrapheap.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
So why has the Government rushed through a £1.6 billion package of measures for the housing industry that no one seems to think really address the route cause of the current housing downturn?
Quite simply, it is because they don't understand the reasons for the current downturn and have insufficient funds left in the pot to really help out now we are experiencing 'a rainy day'.
And the one thing missing from yesterdays announcement? How are Chancellor Alastair Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposing to pay for this state handout? The mind boggles when you consider the irresponsibility of it all!
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Sunday, 31 August 2008
I have news for Mr Darling and his Labour Government!
We, the British people, are a resilient lot and will do everything we can to exit the difficult times we face bigger, better and more wealthy than we are as we enter into the tough times Labour condemn us to.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Monday, 25 August 2008
Finishing fourth on the medals table, behind China, the USA and Russia, proves that our investment into sport through the National Lottery is both productive and worthwhile. Our sporting men and women became heroes for young and old alike and return with a haul of gold, silver and bronze beyond our wildest dreams on the 8th of the 8th 2008.
Even tonight the British played a massive part in the success of these Games. Our contribution to the Closing Ceremony let no one down and showed that the London Organising Committee have a distinctive concept as to how our Games will be staged.
Leona Lewis, David Beckham and Boris Johnson all represented the very best of British tonight and showed we can live up to the honours of hosting the Olympic Games.
Well done Team GB. Here's to 2012!
Saturday, 23 August 2008
It is that simple, and yet Jacqui Smith and her Labour government are dithering, yet again, over a tough decision they should be taking as a matter of course.
The contractor who lost this data broke the rules on security of data and yet they continue to be paid vast sums. They are contractors on major projects involving the most sensitive of personal data, including the introduction of ID cards and biometric passports and are being paid millions in return. In other words they are now being rewarded for incompetence!
I don't believe this is fair and I don't believe this government is capable of taking the tough decisions our country needs at this time of uncertainty. The sooner we get a General Election and rid ourselves of this dreadful lot the better!
Friday, 22 August 2008
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Both Cathy Jamieson and Iain Gray, who are fighting for leadership of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament, turned out on picket lines to profess their support for those on strike. Unison, in turn, promised more misery for us all with a "rolling programme" of industrial action unless their inflation busting pay demands are met.
While I am no supporter or apologist for the SNP Scottish Executive I do think that the current public sector strike action is a Labour Party motivated plot designed to unsettle the governance of Scotland now that this isn't the sole preserve of Scottish Labour. It suits the Labour Party to have strike action that takes the political spotlight off the internal machinations and which provokes a thought process that a large section of Scotland's workforce are unsettled under a different administration.
So the message to Unison and Scottish Labour is we are on to your scam and are resolved to take Scotland forward in a positive fashion, not look to you for divine intervention. Scotland is a nation with hope for the future and you did nothing during your dominance of Scotland's political establishment to provide us with anything other than despair.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Glitter apparently wants to come back to the UK because he wants free treatment from our National Health Service for a heart condition, but he doesn't want to enter the country on our terms - preferring instead to seek to enter at his leisure. Our Home Secretary also apparently wants him back in the country to show us all her Government is capable of controlling people with vile personal preferences.
Around the world people must be asking why the British government was not able to plan getting Glitter back to the UK on his release from prison. It isn't as if we didn't know where he was for the past 3 years, (jail), and it isn't as if we couldn't have asked the Vietnamese government to give us a bit of advanced warning of his release to ensure we assisted them to deport this criminal from their land.
On his return to the country you would also have thought our Government would have made provision to force him into the maximum level of supervision possible under our law. Unfortunately this foresight does not exist in British government. Apparently Glitter has not posed a threat to children within the past 6 months because he has been in jail and as a result we cannot put him into the highest category of sex offender management. Instead he will simply be put onto the sex offenders register and will have to abide by standard offender management arrangements.
As I always say, if something is foreseeable it is avoidable. Gary Glitter should have been brought straight back to the UK and any loophole that enables him to avoid proper management of him in this country should have been closed. Our children deserve proper protection from this vile man and anything less than our best endeavours to ensure this is simply not good enough!
Monday, 18 August 2008
All too often we forget just how hard our fellow Scots work and fail to recognise that the work ethic our upbringing instills in our workforce stands us in good stead for the challenges life throws up from time to time.
While our public sector workers form an essential part of our way of life it is our private sector who create the new wealth required to pay for investment into services and that ensures our country is able to maintain the highest standards of living.
So, today's figures should provide us all with a sense of comfort that the entrepreneurial spirit of Scotland lives on in our business community and that we will work our way through the toughest of times thanks to our nations spirit!
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
The Office of National Statistics believe someone spending £100 a week on food last year, will have to find another £712 this year to put the same items on the table. The Daily Mail's 'Cost of Living Index', which looks at a smaller basket of shopping basket essentials, now suggests they have increase by 25% over the past year, equating to a whopping £1,300 extra this year.
Monday, 11 August 2008
Sunday, 10 August 2008
And what is the international communities answer to an attack by Russia on a sovereign nation state? Quite simply we verbally condemn their action but appear unwilling, or unable, to do anything about it!
Monday, 4 August 2008
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Saturday, 2 August 2008
Friday, 1 August 2008
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
With Glasgow born businessman Michael Brown, who donated more than £2 million to the Liberal Democrats, having skipped bail and gone on the run it seems to me he is a symbol of the Party he once supported.
Mr Brown is charged with money laundering, theft, perverting the course of justice and other fraud-related offences.
The Liberal Democrats are known, from time-to-time, to indulge in a bit of political fraud themselves - campaigning with one position on a policy in one constituency and a completely different position on the same policy in another constituency where this suits their pursuit of votes at any cost.
The lesson for the Liberal Democrats is that, like Michael Brown, things you do and say eventually catch up on you! I am sure the Police will catch Mr Brown and the electorate will catch on to Lib Dem policy. The good news is we will all be better off without them when this occurs!
Sunday, 27 July 2008
So many of my friends don't understand how I can possibly get any fun or satisfaction out of trudging streets, attending meetings, delivering speeches or so very many leaflets. I suppose that makes them ordinary people and makes me a sad political hack!
While many of the tasks outlined above are, on the face of them, pretty mundane there is one little piece of political fun to be found online which I recommend to everyone as a fun way to enjoy politics.
The website www.electoralcalculus.co.uk allows everyone to indulge in a bit of harmless political prediction. Most sad political hacks, like me, simply use this site to see what a combination of all the latest Opinion Polls predict will happen in their own Westminster constituency, but to everyone else the site allows you to have a bit of fun trying to predict what will happen in all 650 UK constituencies.
On the left hand side of the website there is a 'Make your prediction' tab. Simply click on this and a small table appears asking you to insert the national percentage of the vote you think the Conservatives, Labour and Liberals will poll come the next General Election.
Simply insert your own percentage prediction and click 'Predict Election'. If you don't pick a constituency, the website will then calculate the total number of seats each Party will enjoy if you are right and the overall majority the largest Party might enjoy. Your own prediction table will also be accompanied by a chart showing which seats your prediction forecasts will change hands, together with the name of the incumbent MP you have predicted will have lost their seat.
You can of course be very clever and factor in additional swings from any one political Party to another or you can pick just one region of the UK if that is of more interest to you. The only thing the site falls down on is that it does not allow for the SNP to be factored in on a regional basis, which is particularly disappointing given the current state of play here in Scotland.
For what it is worth my last prediction, (Conservatives 41.6%, Labour 31.1% and Liberals 16.8%), forecast a Conservative majority of 40 in contrast to the sites own prediction, from Opinion Polls, of 160.
Who knows what the outcome really will be come the next General Election. Until we find out why not have a little bit of fun with your politics and have a go at predicting what might happen yourself!
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Although I do so through gritted teeth, and with a heavy heart, it is true that they fought a positive campaign in the face of Labour propaganda that was almost entirely negative, ill-judged and without any heavyweight support visibly deployed to the constituency.
In contrast, the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party fought a positive campaign led by a positive candidate supported by a very positive Annabel Goldie MSP. Annabel's cancelled her holiday to stay in Scotland and coordinate our campaign and that our vote was not squeezed as you would normally expect any party in third or fourth place to be, (just ask the Liberals), is a testament to her efforts, alongside those of Davena and all our Scottish Conservative Central Office team.
I spent 10 years heading up the national sales team of a PLC operating across the whole of the United Kingdom. In that time I learnt that it was much more important to sell your own positives than to try and trash your opposition, with negatives about their brand, if you hoped to win any sizable business from the British people.
People want you to tell them why they should buy from you, not why you should not buy from someone else.
That is why Unionist Party's must get away from focusing on why Scotland should not be independent and concentrate instead on the many social and economic reasons why we should all remain together as a happy and harmonious UNITED Kingdom.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
In recent years Mearns Village residents have witnessed a significant rise in crime and anti-social behaviour as a result of the Council's housing allocation policy and today we hear that this crime wave has reached new heights with a Police siege, including armed officers, of a house on William Mann Drive.
I am sure the full details of this will become available as the Police and Procurator Fiscal proceed with their investigations but from all that neighbours tell me the man arrested was bearing a gun and threatening to use it. It seems that this man is not a local of Mearns Village and another person placed into what was once a harmonious local community by a Council with no idea how to promote social cohesion in their 'Social Housing' allocation policy!
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
In February of this year East Renfrewshire's Conservative Councillors proposed a budget amendment that would added an additional 50% to the roads repair and renewal budget for this year. Pretty good given the limited resources of our local authority, but even this would not have been enough. The current roads budget of £667,000 per annum doesn't begin to touch what needs to be done and yet the administrations Councillors voted against our cost neutral proposal to increase this budget to £1,001,000.
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
At a 'Public Meeting' held tonight in the Fairweather Hall around 140 people from the Mearns Village area turned out to voice their complete opposition to Council proposals to refurbish two blocks of housing on Anderson Drive, to install CCTV outside the complex and to put a 24 hour warden service into the buildings because the Council simply have not done anything to reassure local people that the people these blocks will house will not create even greater public disorder than they currently experience.
Councillor Jim Swift, Conservative Group Leader, rightly pointed out to local residents that he proposed extra policing for 'Hot Spots' in the evenings, 7 days a week - 52 weeks of the year, in his Council budget amendment and that this would have been a first step to addressing local concerns on crime, anti-social behaviour and youth disorder. The other three Councillors present tonight who voted against this amendment, without proposing any alternative to crime management, should hold their heads in shame for asking local people to give them suggestions as to what to do about anti-social behaviour emanating from Anderson Drive when they had the power to do something about it only weeks ago by voting for Jim's amendment.
Tonight we saw a exercise in local democracy that proves the people of East Renfrewshire still care about their local area. Well done to the people of Mearns Village - they can be assured of the support of their local Conservatives as they fight a bad plan for the wrong location!
Saturday, 12 July 2008
It was my 37th birthday yesterday and from start to finish family and friends did all they could to ensure I enjoyed my day and to make me feel just a little special - if only to them!
Whether it was my cards in the morning, a bottle of champagne from a business partner before lunch, or the trip to London for dinner and a relaxing weekend organised by my wife, Elaine, everything people did for me yesterday emphasised to me how tremendously lucky I am to be surrounded by the people who are important to me.
So thank you everyone, I had a wonderful day thanks to wonderful people! Let's hope I am able to do the same for you when your time comes.
Friday, 11 July 2008
If Glasgow East abandons the Labour Party and goes SNP it sounds as if it is highly likely Gordon Brown would be forced out of Downing Street. After all there are not too many Labour MP's with majorities of 13,500+ and given this basic arithmetic the Parliamentary Labour Party would surely rebel in fear for their own job prospects should Labour lose in the Prime Minister's own backyard.