Thursday, 27 November 2008

Out of sight...

...but hopefully not out of mind!

Very busy with work just now so blogging is on the backburner - I will return to the fray as soon as a I can.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Football Nightmare 2?

So after the brutality that was the politicians vs journos game, the politicians are now to take on some of Scotland's religious figures.

Will it be an even more brutal game, or will we find out that the hard tackles were saved for those who earn their living from writing cheeky comments about those in public view? Having seen some of the politicians who are involved, I think that the major religions in Scotland might be looking for some new recruits once the battle, I mean game, is over.

And there is also the juicy possibility of the pols playing the polis - a game I would pay to watch. Interesting to see that some of our elected reps appear to be sliding into the world of professional football rather than professional politics...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Here we go again...

Interesting article in the Guardian today hinting at the possibility of an early General Election being called alongside the European Parliamentary elections next year. The speculation is being fuelled by un-named backbench MPs and the fact that the Conservative lead in the polls has been slashed to 3 points. The Labour Party is trying to move on to a war footing and excitement as to a Fourth Term is starting to grow...

Surely we can't be seeing this again!

The mishandling of the election that never was at the beginning of Gordon Brown's term in office was one of the most catastrophic blunders in recent UK political history. Almost single-handedly the mess undermined GB's popularity with the British public; undid his secure handling of the issues which had cropped up in his first few weeks in power; and propelled a Tory Party which was preparing to implode into the frontrunner status of government in waiting.

You would presume that the party has learnt from the disaster of that time and wouldn't replay the failures all over again. After all, it has taken a year and a global economic crash unmatched in modern history for us to be looking like we might be able to avoid complete wipe-out at the next election - to undo this after all the hard work of the intervening period would be unforgivable. And to be fair, the Government is having nothing to do with these rumours, allowing them to drift past while they get on with the work of running the country.

The point is, of course, that the Government needs to keep doing what it has been doing recently and allow the election to arise naturally at a suitable point. The Conservatives had a fun year, essentially sitting back and watching Labour try to destroy itself. However, they are now starting to come under increasing scrutiny and this is going to inevitably provoke difficulties.

George Osbourne, the credit crunch, ditching Labour spending - already the issues are starting to mount up. The ditching of the spending plans does give the Tories the chance to outline their own plans for taxation and spending, however they managed to announce their decision at the same time as the CBI and Institute of Directors came out in support of the Government's proposals - neither are exactly hotbeds of socialism! Cameron is now looking rather isolated in his opposition - should the Government's plans prove successful then this decision has the potential to kill his chances off completely (Of course, if they are a disaster then it may guarantee him a win - such is the risk and reward of gambling!). At the same time, Osbourne has gone from being a lauded and crucial part of the shadow cabinet to a liability who many members of the Conservatives would like to shifted (in many cases they feel this is for his own good/political career rather than out of backbiting).

So, the election that for a dark period looked unwinnable for the Labour Party is now starting to look like a real competition. However, the party has to ensure that this opportunity, won through the hard work of activists and elected representatives, is not lost through the folly of renewed speculation over an election. Making the mistake a second time would be unforgivable.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

CalumCarr on .... Whatever: Let's Fight For Mrs Carr

CalumCarr on .... Whatever: Let's Fight For Mrs Carr

I just wanted to drop attention to Calum Carr's excellent blog and the ongoing struggle that he is engaged in, details at the link above.

It is a depressing situation when people who require help and support are abandoned. We have much to be proud of with the NHS, but there is also much that needs to be changed with it, particularly in regards to the service's approach to mental health.

I am lucky enough to be married to a Counsellor and to be able to see snippets of the wonderful work that she does in supporting people in times of need. However, as a Counsellor from the person-centred approach, the NHS is uninterested in what she and others can offer. Rather it has decided that there is one approach will be used (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT) and all others are ignored. This ignores the reality that people are individuals and different people, even if they present with similar diagoses, may well respond best to different styles of support.

But unfortunately, the NHS is focussed on its limited services - if you don't fit into these then you are cast aside, as it is obviously the patient's fault that they cannot 'work' with the service rather than the failing of the NHS is not providing appropriate support. It is a disgrace and an embarrassment, and must be changed before more people are failed.

So check out Calum's site and draw attention to the fight for Mrs Carr - it is a sad fight and one that shouldn't need to be fought, but it is an important one that has implications for us all.

Blooming Missouri...

Well that was a historic week last week wasn't it?!?

I am of course referring to my predictions as to the outcome of the US elections - I believe that out of 50 States (and the District of Columbia) I called 49 and DC correctly.

The only one that I think I got wrong was Missouri. You know, the state that is the most dependable bell-weather, that always calls it right, that never makes a mistake. Yeah, they got it wrong and therefore so did I.

On a more serious note, it was an important week. The election of Obama is truly historic. As you will know, I am not an Obamabot by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought that his acceptance speech was magnificient. The religious presentation of it can be a bit worrying at times, but there is no denying the effectiveness of his style and the fact that he cut a very Presidential figure on stage - I would expect him to very quickly seem at home in the White House.

I also thought John McCain's concession speech was very impressive. It was a reflection of the old McCain, the one who truly is a maverick and a hero. This McCain has sadly been lost during the campaign season as he has been subsumed into the elements of his party which he had previously fought against. There seemed to be almost a relief from him in conceding, and hopefully free from the fervour of this campaign he can return to his previous status. For the Republicans it is a time of disaster, but one which is deserved - they have displayed an arrogance in government which has been their undoing. A sensible period of reflection could see them return to importance, however the election losses have hit their sensible centrists more than the radical right, and it may be quite a period of isolation for them.

I will blog more on US stuff later, but must move on to the other big election...

Yep, Glenrothes!

Take that one Alex Salmond!

Sometimes I despair of democracy, but then something like Glenrothes cheers me up no end (along with the council by-election victories of the same day). It was a great result for the Labour Party, made even sweeter by the arrogance which Salmond had demonstrated in the run-up to the election. Political leaders have to be confident in the run-up, but his overbearing presumption that people would vote for him just because he told them to was very offputting. The margin of the victory was stunning and caught everybody by surprise - I think there was unionist tactical voting against the SNP, but this is something that they should have anticipated.

I don't want this to be a partisan rant - I don't think that Labour holding Glenrothes signifies the end of the SNP or an inevitable Labour victory. In fact, if the Labour Party makes the mistake of reading too much into the result then they could end up in a worse position than if they had been beaten. However, it is a significant result and a sign that the SNP Government is not the invulnerable and eternal entity that some of its members and supporters have allowed themselves to believe. Being in office means that you will start to annoy people and be held accountable - the SNP have encountered this for the first time in Glenrothes. The interesting point will be whether they can take this lesson on board, or whether they dismiss it.

But I'm still not going to forgive Missouri...