Thursday, 25 August 2011

Two Down

Managed to spend a bit of time "Festivaling" this week, or "Fringing" to be more accurate, mostly comedy so not particualry high brow I must confess but good fun nonetheless and great to enjoy the city centre when all the festivities are in full swing. As well as the momentous trams decision taken at today's Council meeting which is being adequately and extensively reported elsewhere, I also learned that the two Conservative candidates selected to stand in the Pentland Hills ward at next year's Council elections have both withdrawn from the process, due to health problems and work commitments, apparently. As Oscar Wilde might have said ; To lose one candidate may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. I did meet one of them, a very pleasant young man, recently, and he seemed set for the challenges ahead. I do hope the prospect of being elected to the demanding role of a local councillor didn't cause second thoughts and I look forward to the identity of the next pairing of selected Tory candidates being revealed.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


Least said about Thursday night the better. Busy day yesterday though, spent all day in the Regulatory Committee which rejected the SDL application to march in Edinburgh, amongst a great deal of other business. The right decision in my view, but not an easy one. It doesn't come naturally to restrict people's ability to express their views no matter how much I find them abhorrent, but the threat to safety and order in the city on a Saturday was just too great. Meeting finished around 4.30 and just had time for a drink with Karen Doran's beaten, but not downhearted, campaign team. They're looking forward to next May already. Then went to the Unison offices at Belford Road last night for a festival session as part of their Mobilise against the cuts campaign ; stand up, music, a bit of banter and all in an office converted into an intimate comedy club type venue. Very enjoyable and quite nostalgic, mixing entertainment and politics. Takes you back to the Thatcher era so it does ......

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A Sell Out ?

Regulatory Committee ran on past 6pm last night which meant I didn't get to the Wester Hailes Community Council meeting as promised, which I was a bit p***ed off about. Also attended an ABM briefing earlier in the afternoon. Lots of detailed work being progressed, all with a view to achieving "best value" for the Council I'm sure, but the fact remains that it could lead to privatisation of large parts of Council services and efficiencies / savings being achieved by eroding the terms and conditions of people who work in these services, most of whom are not particualry well rewarded in the first place. Trying hard to remain objective about the process and the decsions that lie ahead, but its a struggle. Out to help in the by-election this afternoon then hoping to grab a well deserved pint before the big Euro match tonight at Tynecastle, all tickets sold out days ago. Really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Election Hustings

Was delighted to step in as a substitute last night for our indisposed City Centre by-election candidate Karen Doran (nursing a broken ankle) at the Unison sponsored election hustings in the City Chambers. Not far to travel, my office is on the floor below the main chamber ! Well attended (approx 100?) so I expect the organisers will be pleased. Not for me to comment on the performance of the other speakers but anyone present must have felt that the SNP and Lib Dem reps made a complete hash of trying to justify the Alternative Business Model programme (privatisation of in house services to you and me) which could shortly see £1bn worth of council services and 4,000 council workers transferred to the private sector under contracts that could last between 7 and 12 years in duration. Don't go looking for any reference to this in SNP or Lib Dem local manifestos because its not there. Surely the only honest thing to do is suspend the process now and have a public debate in the next 8 months or so ahead of the May 2012 Council elections and let the people decide if they want this to happen. ABM aside, the ubiquitous trams questions were raised and we again had to deal with the ridiculous myth that the SNP are anti-tram when in fact all 12 SNP Councillors voted to sign up to the original contract in May 2008. To the best of my knowledge they have now supported, opposed and called for a referendum on the project. A contortionist would struggle to hold that many positions !

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Army Base Backlash ??

"Flitting" went well last night, all done and dusted in a few hours. Two more mouths to feed for a couple of weeks ! Out early delivering leaflets for Karen Doran by-election campaign this morning in Royal / Calton Terrace / Greenside areas. Nice morning but was very careful on the wet steps following Karen's dreadful fall earlier this week. Interesting story in this morning's Hootsman, "Army Base Backlash" - it would appear that not everyone in the Army / MoD are particularly supportive of the idea of building a new 6000 personnel army base outside Balerno and one or two are even revolting, even a LibDem MP ! I await further developments with great interest.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Moving on...

Successfully reselected last night as the Labour candidate for the Pentland Hills ward for next May's Council elections. Bit of a formality really but good to get it out of the way and start concentrating on the campaign ahead. Very grateful too to the small but select band of activists who turned out to ensure that all the procedural boxes were duly ticked. Before that election though there's the small matter of the City Centre by-election next week and for once I've managed to free up some time this weekend to make a contribution. Had bad dreams last night featuring city centre tenement stairs ! As a warm up, tonight I'm helping my eldest move back home temporarily from his student flat while him and his mates sort out the arrangements for the next place they're moving to. I see my role as being mainly supervisory, although that may change......