Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For those who grieve the passing of a friend

Many of the people I care about are mourning the sudden death of a friend who I didn't know, but was by all accounts an extraordinary force for hope and good and optimism and cheefulness in his too short life.

I find this song by Kristin Chenoweth, who played Annabeth Schott in The West Wing a poignant and powerful celebration of the way friends can influence and change each other's lives.

My love and sympathy go to all my friends affected by this dreadful event.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tory talks about return of CAPITAL punishment to schools

I don't know whether it was the journalist or Tory MSP Alex Johnstone who got this wrong, but I had to laugh when he was quoted in today's times, calling for the return of the belt to schools, as saying "School discipline is reaching crisis point and giving individual head teachers the power to decide whether or not to use capital punishment would be a good move."

I am sure that even the Tories wouldn't approve of executions at play time.

It's of course disappointing that they can't come up with anything more imaginative than a return to the days of the belt. It is perfectly possible to instil good discipline and be strict without the use of violence. My friend works in a school for children who have been seriously damaged by their upbringings. It's a very positive place, with a lot of work being done to raise the children's self esteem and expectations of themselves. Discipline is firm - but corporal punishment, even if it were an option, is not needed.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

X Factor judges sink to new low

I thought the scenes of bitching and name calling we often see in the House of Commons was the finest example of public juvenile behaviour we had in this country. Not so - tonight the X Factor judges showed that they would do well on the green benches.

Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue let the argument I referred to earlier about song choices spill over into the live show.

Neither of them covered themselves in glory, but I was particularly appalled that a woman of nearly 40 years of age allowed herself to get into such a tearful mess that she was unable to introduce her second act, Rachel, who has proven herself to be pretty vulnerable throughout the series. She spent the rest of the show in a strop in a highly unprofessional show of emotion.

Let's look at it another way, though. Louis said nothing about song choices. Dannii brought it up, presumably knowing that her comments would wind Louis up. She then throws a fit of hysterics to garner sympathy for her acts. Could be construed as very calculating.

Quite possibly this is all a massive attention grabbing publicity stunt, but it's a show of petulance too far. I just hope that none of the acts suffers from the behaviour of their mentors.

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Duncan Borrowman's Twittering advertised to wider audience

In case you haven't seen this on Duncan's blog, do have a look.

What made me laugh most was the line "All well and good if you don't have a life of your own and like to live vicariously through someone like Mr Borrowman..." Like the person who wrote the piece, presumably.

Interesting to note that one of the local MP's hasn't updated her web since July - if you are going to put it out there, you have to update it regularly.......

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Mean Viruses and Saturday night entertainment

Just so you know, I haven't been ignoring you over the last week and a half - I have not been well. Some call it cold turkey after the Glenrothes by-election and have suggested that I head down to Bexley to help in the Council by-election there.

It's actually been a bit of a mean virus which has made me feel very poorly indeed, but nothing serious. I hope it will go away soon - it's seriously annoying me, now, rather than overwhelming me, which has to be a good sign.

I have found it frustrating not to have had the energy to comment on so many of the week's news stories, particularly in such a momentous week for Strictly. For the record, I can understand why it was all getting a bit much for John Sergeant, but I don't necessarily think he would have made the Final. However, when his family were getting abusive phone calls suggesting he should apologise to better dancers who had left before him, you can kind of understand that he thought it was all getting out of hand.

Part of the joy of Strictly is that the contestants can captivate us either by their dance ability, their personality or both. I hope that the furore over Sergeant's departure doesn't detract from that.

The Judges have come in for criticism - I don't think they deserved it. They are there to comment on the dancing.

It's the public who have the choice on that show - and if they choose to take what the judges say with a pinch of salt, then they surely have the right to do so.

John's dance partner, Kristina Rihannof, deserves huge credit for helping us all to fall for John's charms. Her choreographic miracles showed a very shrewd understanding of British humour and she got the best out of John. I feel really sorry for her in all of this. The dancers are hugely competitive and it's a shame that she's had to leave before her time.

It has been quite amusing that as soon as the Sergeant departure hit the headlines (Newsnight, for goodness sake, Question Time - Jim Murphy, you should be ashamed of yourself) the X Factor mob went into overdrive to try to grab some of the attention back. A supposed row between Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh over song choices was the best they could come up with. I suspect they'd need to wrestle naked on the live show to trump Sergeantgate.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of Tax and Jaffa Cakes

I'll be the first to admit I don't know a huge amount about taxation. After the speculation yesterday about whether there would be a cut in the rate of VAT, I was idly wondering to my colleague this morning about whether that would be the best way to help those who were struggling. After all, weren't things like food and fuel zero rated anyway? Wouldn't it be better for there to be a cut in income tax so that each household could see an increase in their take home pay for them to spend according to their needs?

Anyway, this led on to a discussion about jaffa cakes. My colleage half remembered hearing something about them being classed as cakes for taxation purposes - because they were cakes, they did not attract VAT. About two seconds on Google provided us with confirmation that this was indeed the case.

I then randomly altered my Facebook status to say that I now knew that Jaffa Cakes were not biscuits and e-mailed a few fellow jaffa cake lovers to brighten up their day. Well, then the floodgates opened - my friends then began an almost forensic debate on the subject which meandered from the gruesome (rigor mortis) to the downright smutty (can't say on a family blog). There is, however, a general sense of agreement that Jaffa Cakes, whatever they are, are one of life's pleasures.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

X Factor controversy copies Strictly

What is the world coming to when a public vote on a Saturday night entertainment show ends up being discussed in the House of Commons? Tom Harris is even having a strop about it too.

Early favourite Laura White was voted out by the judges after a sing off against Ruth Lorenzo.

I've watched it now - both were fabulous and, to be honest, I'd have picked Ruth to stay after her passionate rendition of Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Laura's Somewhere Over the Rainbow was lovely, but way too similar in style to her earlier performance of Endless Love.

Most people think that Daniel Evans, who, bless him, isn't great, should have gone weeks ago, keeping space in the competition for the likes of Austin Drage. I have some sympathy with that point of view, but I didn't vote so I can't really complain.

Louis Walsh is getting pelters from all quarters as his vote sent Laura off into obscurity. This is not fair - Simon also voted to send Laura home, not least because he fancies Ruth and has admitted as much on live tv.

I actually wonder if all this hype is an attempt to get one over on Strictly, who whomped X Factor in the National TV Awards a couple of weeks ago, much to Simon's disgust. Everyone is talking about Strictly in general and John Sergeant in particular (and didn't he put up a robust defence of himself on It Takes Two tonight?. The row over Laura's demise seems like a crude effort to prise back the spotlight.

Frankly, Tom Harris and Andy Burnham need to get over themselves. You can just imagine them, if, as expected, Labour loses the next election, crying foul. Will Tom be saying "you'll have to go a long way to convince me that the public knows best when it comes to choosing a Government"?

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

42 Writers against 42 Days

I'm impressed by the enterprising chap at Liberty who spent his Sunday trawling the internet looking for posts against the Government's plans for 42 days' detention to plug this new Liberty site in which writers comment movingly on those plans.

Do go and take a look at it and pass the message on.

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HBOS Staff's Lavish Edinburgh Weekend

HBOS staff and customers are bound to be outraged by this display of corporate opulence reported in today's News of the World.

Basically HBOS organised an event for its "star performers" which involved using three of the nicest hotels in Edinburgh for a weekend of revelling.

Comedian Patrick Kielty was on hand to provide entertainment, as if the good food and free booze wasn't enough, which often involved poking fun at those who are facing losing their homes. The cost for his act was quoted as £20,000.

This is a PR disaster for HBOS at and shows how little the organisation has learned from the events of the last few months.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have scaled back this event. Yes, some stuff was probably paid for well in advance, but they could have pulled back on the free bar, for example, and the champagne.

What I want to know is what the "star performers" were being rewarded for? Could they have been the people whose irresponsible lending has put the very foundation of our finance system in jeopardy?

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£5000 project to discover benefits of Wii

Now that all the elections are over, there's now time to report on some of the dafter stories in today's newspapers. I was particularly amused by this one which tells how a University academic has been given £5000 to determine the benefits of computer games to children. Apparently some kids will be split into groups and some will be given exercises from the Wii while others will go about their normal lunchtime activities.

Allow me to hazard a guess as to the conclusions of this research:

If "normal lunchtime activities" involve stuffing their faces with chips and reading the Beano, yes, I'm sure the Wii would be a benefit.

If "normal lunchtime activities" include being active in the fresh air, then it probably wouldn't.

I am amazed that money, which could be allocated to finding a cure for cancer or eliminating poverty or climte change is actually being spent on a project which will do little more than state the bleedin' obvious.....

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

All Hail Colin Rosenstiel and Congratulations to our President Elect

Yet again, Colin Rosenstiel has put up all the internal Party election results in the full entirety of every single stage to satisfy even the nerdiest of geeks (and you can be sure there are plenty of those in our wonderful party), in super quick time.

He does this every single year and I actually don't know where the Party would be without him. Thanks, Colin, for all the time and energy you put into this.

Anyway, I'm thrilled that Ros Scott won the Party Presidency with 72% of the votes cast - that is no mean feat and is testament to the superb campaign she ran, visiting local parties the length and breadth of the party.

I have been a Ros supporter for ages, but I really think she will be a fantastic president and I feel more confident about the future of our party knowing she will be there helping us improve our organisation.

A brief scan on the Committee results shows success for Duncan Borrowman on Fe, Susan Gaszczak on Policy Committee and Arnie Gibbons on Conference Committee. I always thought I would be happy as long as those three got on..........

More on this tomorrow - sleep beckons........

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Glenrothes - Post Game Analysis

So, now it's all over, and I've had some sleep, what does the Glenrothes result mean for everyone.

For us, the result was disappointing but not surprising given that we were not perceived as the challengers from the outset. The media portrayed the Glenrothes battle as one between Labour and the SNP and given the resources we had available, there wasn't a huge amount we could do about that.

Wait until the Election Expense returns are in in around 5 weeks time - I expect that they will show that both Labour and the SNP spent not a million miles away from the £100,000 limit. On the other hand, we will not have spent that much more than the limit for fighting a Westminster constituency in a General Election. It's hardly surprising that we have been seen to lose ground when we have been outspent by a margin of around 6:1 by two rivals.

Being in second place also brings in lots of people to your campaign. There are some stalwarts who go to every by-election. I have to thank particularly a dedicated Lib Dem called Roger from Saffron Walden who came up to Livingston for a week and turned up in Glenrothes last weekend. He has probably seen every door in Markinch more than once in the time he was with us. We had a committed core of people who were never away from the place, but it wasn't a Dunfermline when people flocked from far and near to help out.

I am very proud to have been even a small part of a fantastic campaign team. I think the messages we had were good and positive, showing we understood about the difficulties people were facing and putting forward our unique solutions. The literature was top notch but again where the SNP were managing to deliver the entire constituency by lunchtime on successive days in the end, we couldn't match that - and even if we'd had more people, we couldn't have afforded to do much more than we did.

I stand by what I always said, that Harry Wills would make the best MP for Glenrothes, but the odds were always stacked against us purely from a money point of view and the fact that the media encouraged the thinking that it was a tight fight between the SNP and Labour. The Times, for example, one day this week didn't even mention that we or the Tories existed, and when other publications did mention us it was clearly as also rans with a tiny proportion of the report devoted to us despite us coming up with some good opportunities and messages.

The Tories have no real reason to be any happier than we are with the result. I thought the quality of the stuff they put out wasn't that great. I guess they spent more money and did more direct mail, but nothing they had to say was relevant, distinctive or likely to appeal in Glenrothes.

Labour deserves congratulations for ploughing on with a campaign that seemed on many occasions doomed to failure. They got some things spectacularly wrong - that awkward Sarah Brown visit for a start, and some of their campaign literature was appalling both in terms of quality and content. Last weekend they put out a tawdry risographed A3 entitled the Fifer which carried yet more scaremongering about home care charges and a scurrilous allegation that Peter Grant's people told a Levenmouth resident with problems that he was only bothered with Glenrothes at the moment. I don't believe that for one moment. Peter Grant may be from the SNP, but he's not the Anti-Christ and I don't doubt that he cares very deeply about the people he represents.

However, I have to say that the leaflet they delivered yesterday was very good and their artwork of a pair of scissors going through the SNP logo clever enough to make me wish I'd thought of it.

Lindsay Roy is a decent guy and an excellent rector. He does seem uncomfortable in the spotlight, though, and I can't see him attaining high ministerial office any time soon. I was a little disappointed, and perhaps felt a bit cheated, that he didn't seem to have any sense of elation about having won. I know that the last by-election winner in Fife, Willie Rennie, was thrilled to have been given the privilege of being an MP and threw himself into the role with a huge amount of passion - which he still continues to display. I hope that when the spotlight fades he becomes more settled in his new role.

What this victory does not mean is that Labour's problems are over. The economic crisis overshadowed the campaign and, for now, the voters did not want a change, particularly to a party who have not covered themselves in glory and whose comparisons of Scotland to Iceland have led people to think again about the idea of independence.

This was no Glasgow East. There was a residual affecton for the previous incumbent, it was on the PM's doorstep, and came at a time of huge economic uncertainty and crisis, when people tend to opt for the status quo. In many ways it was a lucky escape for Labour. I suspect that their failures over HBOS will become more and more of an issue in months to come. When the job losses start to hit, the former employees will remember who tried to protect them both at Holyrood and Westminster.

As for the Nats, well, how the mighty are fallen. They have been strutting around the constituency like they own it for weeks. They were everywhere yesterday. You could hardly turn a corner without bumping into Alex Salmond at any point in the last few weeks. I actually feel sorry for the ordinary activists who invested time and money in the campaign and who lost out. I have absolutely no sympathy for a man who blatantly takes the electorate for granted by almost promising victory "My prediction is we'll win. We're nearly there." Alex Salmond has taken responsibility for the campaigns failings . Time will tell if hubris has turned to humility but I'm not sure if this leopard can change his spots.

I'm not sure how much of an impact the home care charges issue did have on the SNP campaign. One mistake the SNP made was to let Labour build a head of steam on this. Labour would have introduced a pretty similar scheme themselves. There are times when you don't really want to allow your opponent to lead you off your own messages - but I think there was a case for strong rebuttal on this one, which just didn't happen enough.

I think Labour won because of the economy at this point in time against a principal opponent who was perceived to be weak on the issue. Alex Salmond has not had a good credit crunch and I doubt he is going to have a good recession either. I suspect that Labour would not have done so well in a tight Labour/Lib Dem contest where the credibility of Vince Cable and his ideas would have come more to the fore.

All of the parties have lessons to learn from Glenrothes. I actually think that while by-elections deliver temporary momentum, given the widening disparity in the expenses limits - they used to be about 3 times what you could spend in a General Election, now it's around 8 times - they are not a terribly effective barometer of the political scene in general. You can't extrapolate from the future from them - and nobody knows that better than the SNP - from victory to wound licking in three and a half months.
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Encounters on Delgattie Court

At around 4.30 yesterday afternoon, I was working on Delgattie Court in Glenrothes. Also there was Katy Clark, Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran who I was at Aberdeen Uni with back in the 80s - it was great to see her, even if she hasn't aged. With her was Kezia Dugdale, much missed from the Scottish blogosphere.

What was really funny was that I had joked during the Livingston by-election 3 years ago that the Nats kept Alex Salmond locked up in a van for the whole campaign and drove him around with the loud hailer going. Maybe it's true after all - he was indeed in the van, on the loud hailer, in person, on the street we were in.

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High Drama in Glenrothes

I'm not talking about the by-election. I'm referring to the fact that I broke down on the A92 on the way back from the Count and had to wait for the AA for 45 minutes before being taken back home in a tow truck. Stephen was with me so I didn't have to be scared of the dark on my own but it was quite scary being beside the dual carriageway with more traffic than than I would have thought at 2 in the morning whizzing past me.

Anyway, there was some irony that this happened close to the Redhouse Roundabout, which both Peter Grant and us had talked about upgrading during the campaign.

As for the result, obviously disappointing, but we were squeezed. It happens. And then when we're in a strong position, other people get squeezed. It doesn't always happen, but this result can't be compared to the constituencies where we're strong.

I'm proud to have been part of an energetic and fantastic team who are hard working and great to be around.

We were absolutely fantastic at predicting the result from our sampling - we knew that there was going to be a Labour majority of 5000+ when the Nats were still telling the press that they had won.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Last Day in Glenrothes

I will be blogging very lightly if at all over the next couple of days - polling day in Glenrothes then the count and tomorrow, at some point, sleep...........

Back at the weekend.........

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

YIPPEE - he's done it! Phew!

Ok, you can't really argue with the other guy giving up. I believe it now.

I'm smiling.

McCain is being very generous in defeat and offering help and support in the future.

I know I should go to bed, but I can't really miss Obama's victory speech, can I? If it's any later than 5am, though, I will give up.

Obama is speaking now and is brilliant. I am going to go to bed as soon as he stops, so goodnight y'all!

Final edit - this speech has everything - grace, dignity, passion, inspiration - an even a puppy:-)

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US Election Live Blog 2

04:18 Hooray - it's over. Dignified McCain concedes.

04:17 McCain to concede shortly according to Dimblebore

04:15 Obama now only 2% behind in Missouri with 60% in. Maybe it might get it right after all.

04:08 CNN showing Obama 5000 or so ahead in Indiana.

04:00 BBC calls it for Obama. YAY!

03:59 - CNN have coloured Virginia in blue...... Obama's lead improves.

03:56 in my absence, BBC were talking about McCain being very bipartisan and conciliatory in his forthcoming concession speech......

03:53 - my laptop completely froze but have restarted and all so far so good. It was the BBC website that did it,I think - every time I tried to load it IE crashed.

Denis Kucinich, all round good guy and Congressman from Ohio, married to 30 years younger English redhead, has just been on BBC.

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Rather Late start to US Election Live Blog

03:36 Apparently Massachusetts and Michigan have approved decriminalising cannabis.

03:31 Remember that Republican who said Obama was unAmerican and called for an investigation and her Dem opponent then raised $1.3million in a week? She is 5% ahead with 24% of precincts in.

03:29 I was talking bollocks about Virginia at 03:21 - I got it mixed up with West Virginia........

03:24 Gap widens in Virginia - now 39000.

03:23 - Nick Robinson just made a point about US electing a novice........

03:21 - my Virginia obsession continues. The highest Democrat vote in recent history was Clinton's 41% 12 years ago. For Obama to come so close - and he may yet win - is good.

03:17 - is Missouri going to get it wrong for the first time in ages. McCain ahead there....... Colorado still looking good. Obama 7% ahead with 16% in.

03:11 I'm getting obsessed with Virginia - now 30,000 votes in it in Obama's favour. If he wins that, then maybe I'll be convinced......

03:04 - Only 12000 votes in it in Virginia - Obama ahead - that's close
02:50 - early days, but Obama 9% ahead in Colorado according to CNN. They've only just really started though and we don't know where the 8% they've counted are....

02:38 Obama projected to take New Mexico - a gain from last time. McCain needed that one. Time for another cup of tea and some chocolate....

02:35 Virginia now 50% each with 72% of precincts in according to CNN............

02:24 - Dimblebore is now saying that Obama has won Ohio. Surely the Beeb can't get it wrong........

02:05 If Fox News is saying that Obama has won Ohio, this has to be very good news indeed..... Would prefer it had come from a more reputable source, though.

02:11 Virginia, hmmm - McCain ahead according to CNN after 60% of precincts in, maybe not so good. Should not have said anything positive about the results. Now having a mild flutter of anxiety.

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Ok, I'm up

Am awake (just), tea made, tv, laptop and heating on. I thought it was only polite to get up to see whether my friend Elspeth has made the difference for Obama in Colorado.

So far, so good, I guess...........

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Am choosing sleep for the mo - text me when it all starts to get exciting

Ok, am going to try to get a few hours' sleep cos I'm a wimp - but I am relying on those of you who know me to text me to wake me up when it all gets exciting.........

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US Election - this will make you cry

Hat tip to Chris Black for this moving story of a trip to the polling booth.

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Clinton '92 -v- Obama '08

Bernard has been running a poll to try to identify the best post-war presidential election campaign. For me it comes down to a choice between Clinton's victory over the older Bush in 1992 to the amazing movement Barack Obama has built over the last 17 months.

If you can't listen to Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow without a tingle, then you will know how captivating and exciting Clinton's rollercoaster ride to the Presidency was in '92. Led by the wild Cajun genius that is James Carville, the phrase "It's the Economy, stoopid" became synonymous with a disciplined, professional and captivating campaign that defeated an incumbent president who, a year before had been at 91% approval ratings following the first Gulf War.

This defeat happened despite the campaign having to deal with what were termed by a Republican staffer in a wine enhanced moment as "bimbo eruptions" throughout the campaign. The Gennifer Flowers scenario would have put paid to a lesser candidate and a lesser campaign - look at Gary Hart, for example. Barack Obama, in contrast, has barely put a foot wrong since his bid for the presidency began.

One feature of the Clinton campaign was their rapid rebuttal operation - no opposition lie or allegation was allowed to go unanswered.

The remarkable feature of Obama's campaign is, of course, the way he has engaged with a whole new set of people, encouraging them to vote for the first time. He's had a really good, solid ground operation too. And he's disciplined, too - expecting the same of his volunteers. I was trawling through his website the other day looking for some faqs on telephone canvassing. One question read "What if I need to return my calls cos I won't hae time for them?" Basically the answer was, "you can't, only you can do them, so get on with it - but you'll help make history." Maybe we're too nice in our Party.

Obama also managed to win through after a fairly lengthy and bruising primary battle which almost went to the wire. He managed to retain his dignity in the process. However, his opponent was ready and primed from April and in a much better position than the older Bush was in '92. Bush had had to deal with a brief but unnerving primary battle with Pat Buchanan and then his campaign was pretty much in disarray.

Both Clinton and Obama had some good sticks to beat their opponents with. For Clinton it was the "Read my lips, no new taxes" promise from George H W Bush - a rash thing to say, and one which was bound to cause him trouble. For Obama, it was McCain's choice of VP, an untested, untried Governor of a small state who knows less than my hamster does about foreign policy and who believed that the French President would ring her up for a chat without extensive discussions between their respective people, and his complete manic panic over the economy. He flew in to save the world and ended up with egg on his face. He clearly hadn't been taking advice from Vince Cable.

Clinton and Obama were both relative unknowns when they started their journey to the White House. Both had spoken at the Democratic Convention 4 years before their campaign - Clinton at great length and at great boredom, Obama with great promise for the future. Clinton had extensive executive experience but he wasn't so well known while Obama was a freshman Senator. The achievements of both campaigns were spectacular - and I hope that Obama does indeed win through tonight.

However, for me it's the Clinton campaign which captivated me the most - and I voted for that on Bernie's poll. So far I'm in a minority of one, but c'est la vie.

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Sleep or Stupidity. Which will win?

Thanks, Labour Party. Not only have they deprived me of a week at home with my daughter during the October holidays, but they have completely mucked up my plans to enjoy some uninterrupted saturation coverage of the US elections.

I need my sleep. I turn into the Bitch from Hell if I don't get enough. Given that I'm going to be up most of Thursday night and will then have to go to work on Friday, it would be very sensible of me to make sure I get my full 8 hours tonight.

But I really want to stay up and join in all the live blogging and see it all happen as it happens, not on Sky Plus over the weekend. I remember how fabulous it was in 1992 when Clinton won. I stayed up all night, on my own and cried my eyes out (I can be incredibly soppy at times) when he gave his acceptance speech. To this day if I hear "I still believe in a place called Hope" it makes me tingle inside.

This is the 10th Presidential election I've been alive for. Only 3 so far have elected Democrats. Tonight is the first real hope in 12 years of a Democrat, and a good one at that, entering the White House.

I suspect I will probably go to bed around 9 and try to get up around 2 to see what's happening. Stephen has promised to text me when anything exciting happens. At least then I will have had some sleep with the chance of another couple of hours later on.

To all of you who are less wimpish than I am, enjoy the night and I may see you later.

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Nationalists, you don't own our flag.

I love Scotland. I have lived here for most of my life and I was desperate to get back for each and every one of the 11 years I was away. I am so proud to be Scottish and to share in a country with such a rich culture, a fascinating history and such diverse, dramatic and wonderful scenery.

It saddens me that the Nationalists use our saltire as if it belongs to their Party alone. There is not one person out there campaigning in that by-election who does not love Scotland or care about our future - I even give the Tories the benefit of the doubt on that one.

I've seen loads of cars full of Nat activists sporting saltires. They already have a unique and instantly recognisable symbol of their cause. In fact it's so good that it impressed a senior Liberal Democrat from south of the border in a previous by-election to the extent that he shinned up a lampost at dead of night to get one to take home with him.

Why do they feel the need to appopriate a flag that belongs to all of us and use it to promote their political cause. Our national symbol should bind us together and the SNP should recognise that you don't have to be one of them to have a deep and passionate love for Scotland.

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Ming, Vince and Tavish campaign to save Post Offices

Today was another bright and sunny day on the Glenrothes campaign trail. Liberal Democrat candidate Harry Wills was joined by Scottish Leader Tavish Scott, Shadow Chancellor and sage and sensible voice of reason on all matters economic Vince Cable and Jim Tolson, MSP for Dunfermline West on a visit to a Post Office to offer support to the Post Mistress whose livelihood is under threat if the Government awards the Post Office Card Account to a provider other than the Post Office.

Call me an old cynic, but this decision should have been announced by now. I wonder why it hasn't been. Is Labour waiting for this by-election to be over, hoping it can save its skin before it axes potentially two thirds of the remaining Post Offices?

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Congratulations to Iain Dale

Love and congratulations to Iain Dale, author of my tribute blog, and his new wife Catherine. IT's always nice to have some good news to brighten the Winter gloom.

Iain announced on Facebook earlier today that he and Catherine were married in Barbados last Monday.

They kept that one well hidden from the rest of us - as indeed did Bob and I when we got married over 20 years ago.

Let's hope that they have a wonderful life together.
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Glenrothes, the FInal Push

Not surprisingly, Alex Salmond is telling everyone who will listen that the SNP are going to win Glenrothes on Thursday. He said they were going to win Livingston. They came second. He said they were going to win Dunfermline. The came a pretty poor third. It's not a record that inspires confidence and after their earlier confidence it will be a huge story if they don't win on Thursday.

I was quite surprised to see SNP Towers in Markinch in darkness last night when I drove past at around 7:30 on my way home, although, to be fair, they were still there tonight when I left at the back of 7.

So far in Glenrothes, I've seen loads of Lib Dems, obviously, cos I've been in our office, a fair few Nationalists - including Nicola Sturgeon, whose driver clearly wasn't expecting to meet another car on the High Street when he pulled out the other week, the odd Tory, which is hardly surprising, because they are next door to us, but the only Labour people I've come across were drinking coffee in the Marks and Spencers Simply Food this afternoon. Of course, there are reports of Labour MPs sporting Politburo Chic, and it would be very remiss of me to ignore these.

If I weren't a liberal, I would suggest that whoever produced Labour's The Fifer A3 crappily risographed piece of nonsense being delivered this weekend should be deprived of cakes for all of time for crimes against political literature. See what happens when you even mention the Politburo? This leaflet breaks virtually all the rules of good literature and I suspect will help Fife Council meet its recycling targets. The photos are terrible, the print quality is appalling and the content simply does not inspire in any way. You would think that they would have realised that they would have to try to win people's votes with decent messages, but this doesn't seem to have happened.

The Nats aren't much better - they've been delivering a postcard with a picture of Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher, which, strangely, fails to mention their own leader's flirtation with the Iron Lady. They've also been putting out a glossy which lands on the doorstep to show the word THUD in red on a sickly yellow background. Gee. That's going to make you want to read it. They have obviously spent tonnes of money - all their literature has been expensive, slick and not really saying so much.

In contrast, the Lib Dem literature is full of colour, photos, relevance to the things people care about like the cost of living and Tavish Scott's clever tax cut plan, standing against illiberal SNP and Labour actions and creating the campaign for Fairer rail fares between Fife and Edinburgh. Already Harry Wills has taken up hundreds of concerns brought to him by local people. As MP, he would continue to fight on their behalf, in the same way that Willie Rennie has done in Dunfermline.

One of our number overheard a conversation between some young people who had been delighted with Harry Wills' mailing to them and said that it inspired them so much that they wanted to vote.

Harry Wills' campaign has the energy and the practical solutions to ease current problems. A vote for him is a vote to add to the already strong Lib Dem team in Fife.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama in Denver 26th October

I wanted to put this up to show the first part of his speech, before he gets into his full oratorical stride - generously thanking all those who helped him and name checking fellow Democrats running for election. It's no mean feat to remember all those names given that he's making loads of these speeches across the country every day. I thought it was also touching that he thanked people for their good wishes to his ill grandmother, done matter of factly and not over the top.

My friend Elspeth would have been there in the 100,000 throng, along with another couple of Lib Dems.

I am getting to seriously like Obama now - I think he has extraordinary dignity, grace, unflappability and good judgment. He has barely put a foot wrong the entire campaign. I still have questions on the substance, but I think the guy is worthy to hold the office of US President for his own sake and not just because he isn't a Republican.

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The Week of Three Elections

Well, this time next week, I will have the first full weekend off I've had since mid August, and three hotly contested elections will be over.

The first is obviously the US Presidential - and don't for one minute think I've forgiven Labour for interfering with my saturation tv watching and plans to sit up all night on Tuesday. It feels good at the moment - let's hope Obama pulls off the historic victory he thoroughly deserves.

The second is, equally obviously, Glenrothes. Everyone involved in all of the campaigns has put their heart and soul into this long by-election fight. Harry Wills would be a fabulous MP, fighting tirelessly for his constituents, like Willie Rennie and Ming Campbell his near neighbours.

Last but not least we find out if Ros Scott has won through in the Party Presidential election next Saturday - all ballot papers have to be back next Friday, so if you are a party member and haven't voted yet - do so this weekend.

All that in one week and Strictly Come Dancing on every night as well - what more could a girl ask for?

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