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Matt's Mic

Updated: 2016-09-08T05:35:34.944+01:00


Cash In Hand


(image) In some tribes a boy, when becoming a man, is sent into the woods. He is afraid because he fears he is alone, but unknown to him, his father watches over him the whole night.

The report today is set to help those most in need, and is I feel another example of the strength and reassuring increasing self confidence in Labour and Gordon Brown once again.

It has struck me over the past few weeks how much more confident the PM is looking. No one would say he's been politically capitalising on the economic situation, but one could argue that in these times of need his steady hand guides us in a safe but bold direction.

Supporting pensioners, small businesses and working families.

I don't understand half the stuff he talks about, but I trust him, and it seems to be working.

George Launches Campaign


George started his campaign at Edinburgh Uni yesterday by chatting to students and asking them what issues were of concern.

The evening news picked it up well, and it can be found here.

I'm really pleased the campaign got off to a positive start, and I hope it can continue for our campaign for George and others'.

By George I hope he gets it!! (Yeh- that's right... I used it again... It was just that good...)

George for Rector of Edinburgh University


George has spent his life supporting Edinburgh and its great University

I am pleased to announce that today George Foulkes will declare his candidacy for Rector of Edinburgh University.

George will be kicking off his campaign in the Union's Teviot Library Bar at 3pm today. He hopes that it will give him an opportunity to talk to students and allow them to make a 'wish for Christmas', where students and staff they can write on a decoration and hang it on a Christmas tree.

Since 1963 George has served Edinburgh University.

It was that year he was elected Senior President of the Student's Representative Council, and he later went to become President of the Scottish Union of Students (now NUS Scotland).

Throughout his career he has been a big supporter of the university and all that it does to be one of the finest educational institutions of the world, and he hopes that as of February 2009, he will become the highest representative for all students and staff, and serve the university once more.

By George I hope he gets it!!! (Please laugh at the line- it took me ages thinking it up...)

For details of the Edinburgh University Rectorial Elections, including a timeline and rules, click here with this trendy link thing I've got...

A call for peace to the BNP


I found out yesterday about the full list and addresses of BNP members being published, but decided against blogging about it as I didn't want to spread knowledge of the situation, and wanted to wait and see how the press picked it up.

However, I noticed it's on the front page of The Times today, so it's kinda out there...

I searched all the Edinburgh ones, and one the members actually backs onto my house!

I beg everybody, however much we all resent the BNP, to not lower themselves down to their level, and engage with them at the ballot box; not the front door with an egg... Although I admit the latter sounds more fun...

On facebook, many Labour students who I'm friends with have put out very public statements and links to this list, encouraging people to give the people featured on the list much more than just grief.

I am completely opposed to violent action against any of them.

If nothing else, the list may be wrong.


John Swinney is a lovely man


I'd heard a fair bit about John Swinney from people who knew him or had met him a number of times.

He'd always struck me as someone I wish I got to know, after having heard that in recent years his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and that much of his time (and more than he would admit to) is spent caring for her. That kind of strength and grace within an individual is something which I have always greatly admired.

I, however, had the privilege of seeing one of his modest gestures for myself.

While in the Member's Restaurant this week with other Labour people we noticed that John was sat at the table next to us. He shared a laugh with a colleague as he over heard his name, and the best of luck was passed to him from our table to his in regards to the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards that were on that night.

During the meal, newly elected Glenrothes MP Lindsay Roy walked in. As heads turned, I looked straight over to John, expecting to see a roll of the eyes or an obvious blank [please insert *bothered* here] look. But instead, once he'd given Lindsay a chance to talk to the people he was clearly meeting, John politely excused himself without fuss from the table and approached Lindsay, shaking his hand and congratulating him on his recent success.

Our table of "we will literally die Labour" people started talking about it, and all of us reluctantly agreed that he seemed like a fairly decent guy. But we seemed embarrassed, and we shouldn't have been.

They spoke for a while, and while I couldn't hear every word, I took a great deal from that conversation.

Put that in my big bag of bothered. (If it'd fit...)


He'll not be as pretty once I've finished with him...

I was concerned to hear, while out for a pint with new Councillor Cammy Day of Edinburgh Forth, that John Loughton had been on the war path following my blog about his candidacy for Councillor of the same ward last week.

He apparently made frantic phone calls, following the discovery of my horrific blog which highlighted the fact he'd been to Labour and the Liberals for a seat before being forced to stand as an independent, asking who I was and what I had to do with anything.

He also said he wanted to "kick my f**king head in", and that he'd "batter" me the next time he saw me. So at least we can't criticise him for being a bad loser...

Cammy managed to secure almost 10 times as many votes as he did, and although none of us will be able to beat his ego, there are many people from many other parties who will be able to beat him on character, credibility and judgement.

I await my beating with great anticipation.

What a pleasant surprise


It's strange how quickly you become used to things, not necessarily because they're the way they should be, but just because they're the way they sometimes are.

I felt back in Glasgow East that Labour could really do with a win, not just for political or social reasons, but for our sense of self, and self esteem. I think Glenrothes delivered that for the party, and that is invaluable.

Who does Lindsay Roy remind me of again?- oh yeh, Barack Obama. Anyway, I was pretty pleased with his win too. I believe the opinion people have of America will fundamentally change in the months to come.

There was another thing. I remember being given the 'two-fingered salute' on my way back from Glasgow East by a car load of SNP campaigners. I don't think they speak for everyone, but I reflected on how no such incident in my knowledge had occurred with Labour supporters. (And then there was John Prescott...) Anyway... I heard there was a line between confidence and arrogance, and I believe in Glenrothes it was confidence that overcame an arrogant SNP, and I hope that it is that which is the future face of Scotland.



OK, so some reasons for not blogging this week...

1) Gran died

2) Uni emailed saying I owe them £1775

3) Work over paid me (I now owe them £1000)

4) Victim of credit card fraud- I now own a business in Australia

4 ii) Account suspended

4 iii) No access to cash

5) SAAS still haven't given me my loan.

6) Bumped in to ex. It did NOT go well...

7) Bumped in to other ex. It did NOT go well...

8) Had a car crash

8 ii) My neck hurts

9) Essay due in 2 days time. Haven't started it yet...

So... this week hasn't been great to be honest... Apologies for lack of input into the blogosphere. I am only too aware of how constructive our 'chat' is...

Stay cool, people, and pass the paracetamol...

All For One and One for... Emmm... Me...


I learnt today that staff at a JCB factory, one of the companies suffering most as a result of the housing bust, voted to cut their hours rather than face large redundancies.

It's very seldom you hear people display such comradeship as those workers did when they voted just hours ago. We saw it after 7/7 and when a whale got lost in the Thames, but solidarity has become much less a central structure of our society, and much more a one- off event.

During the war bread wasn't rationed. You could have as much bread as you liked. You probably couldn't have butter with it, but you could have the bread.

But at the end of the war, once fathers, brothers and friends came back from the beaches of France, the sands of Africa and the islands of the Pacific, we rationed it.

To everyone I tell this to nobody knows why. It seems to make no sense.

But we rationed it so we could feed the German people who were now starving. We fed our enemy when they were most in need.

In this world, never mind our society, there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Not as nations or groups, but as human beings. Now we talk about carbon credits: this strange idea where the rich can buy the right to pollute the earth while the poor can't.

I hope these times of crisis, like many others, will bring us closer together as Scots, as Brits and as people.

At least we now know where his values lie


Politician? Em... Not so much...
It was with great suspicion that I heard John Loughton, the self proclaimed 'activist' and 'advocate' for young people in Scotland, had announced to be standing in the upcoming Forth by-election in Edinburgh as an independent.

It was always known that John was closely linked to the Lib Dems, and he made no secret of that.

In the Herald in 2007 he said, "I take account of the party as well as the candidate, and the Liberal Democrats are the key party for young people in Scotland".

Within a year, he approached the Labour Party and stated that he was going to stand at the Westminster election for either the Lib Dems or Labour. "Whichever one gives me the better offer," he stated. I know because I was there.

He, on this particular occasion, had his eye on Gavin Strang's seat in Edinburgh East, as at the time it was thought Gavin was standing down.

I wouldn't go for selection for Edinburgh East, and if I did, I wouldn't get it, but I would get behind the candidate that did. I'm sure most would, and it's evident that the vast majority do.

They do it because they believe in the values the party stands for.

They do it for the cause, not the career, and so should he.

John Loughton, after being rejected by both Labour and the Lib Dems, shows that it's not a set of values he believes in. In return, the two parties have shown him that respect, judgement and the ideology of equality and justice can't just be bought by being on a celebrity show.

I heard the other day that MP really stands for 'Man of Principal'. And I like that, because no one can ask more of a man than that, and in politics, we shouldn't expect any less.

Identifying Identity


If this child's name was James, and he lived in a council house in Sighthill, there would be public outcry across our nation. But he's not. I don't know his name, but he's from Darfur, and suddenly his image and situation become less important to our society. As quick as we are to talk about the moral worth of every child, we are just as quick to turn that vision inward, onto our own dreams, ambitions and idealised identity.I have had to become used to sometimes having a minority opinion.My frustration with the increasing celebrity and values of our western culture often angers me, as it looses sight of values which are so terribly important: not just to my socialist values, but to human kind's very existence.It was reported today that a mother's child is in the care of social services in England after she left him alone in her flat while she went to the shops. (The full story can be found here). She left the hob on, and the fire brigade were called. After breaking in to the house they found the boy alone.The mother has been arrested for child neglect, and released on bail.Allow me to clarify that there is no doubt that the mother made a terrible mistake, and put a 2 year old's life on the line, and that this counts as child neglect.But what makes me angry, and what I feel is a huge injustice, is that the parents of Madeleine McCann were never seriously blamed or held responsible for leaving their 3 children alone in that apartment in Portugal while they dined else where.Now it pains me to say it, and I have no personal vendetta against the McCanns, nor do I want to put down or discredit any of the work they have done in highlighting abduction and child exploitation around the world. But it is here where a much more serious point is highlighted.It is our shared identities, and our expectations of others which led the press and the UK to fall into a black hole of sympathy for the McCanns. Had that family been black, who knows whether that sympathy would have been as great.But what I do know, is that 100 000 missing children are reported every year in the UK, 9000 of which are from Scotland. Looking through the names and pictures of the 27 children listed on the UK Missing Children site who have gone missing in the last year, there's one striking feature: the vast majority are not white.The slow and dating website seems to be fitting to the names of these children, none of which I had heard of. Maddy McCann was not featured on the list.Why did the world fall for Maddy?Because she managed to perfectly encapture our ideal and perfect vision of what we think being British is. I don't think the other children did.I don't imagine Bashir Ahmed from Peterborough, or Irene Kattah from London managed to raise millions for their campaign. And I know the press didn't give them as much coverage.But I do believe that their moral worth is no lesser than that of Maddy McCann.No one needs to say that Maddy McCann is valued more than these other children's names. No one has to. And it makes me very sad, that our shared identity of 'being British', creates a looking glass through which all of our individualism and moral worth are distorted.[...]

...And Tiscali Said, "Let There Be Light", and There Was Light.


Well Helloooooo.....!!!!I am delighted to announce that the good people of Tiscali broadband have finally accepted that after a £30 'installation fee', and a £15 line rental charge, it is appropriate that maybe they should stick to their end of the deal, and actually provide my flat mates and I with broadband.Over the past few weeks, there have been many moments when I craved for this time. This moment where I could share some of my thought with you, and hopefully hear some of yours. Not blogging for a while has left me with some unwanted free time, which walks hand in hand with really dull activities. On Thursday, I spent 12 mins taking off a pair of washing up gloves. I have come to learn that we as humans are above all else thinkers. We need to be mentally stimulated. So whether you're ruling the world or doing the washing up, great care goes into each detail, and the thought processes of whether you're doing it right or wrong, efficiently or not, are similar, whatever the activity.I thought it would be a really fun game if we played a bit of catch up, so here are just a couple of things I would have blogged about had my flat, as great as it is, not been stuck in the mid 80s.1) I have a new radio alarm clock. (It's amazing- it's got an ipod dock and everything...), and on I think it was Wednesday (it's hard to tell what day it is now sometimes...) I woke up to this guy Alex Salmond, who I think is First Minister or something...?? Anyway, he was complaining that the UK Government hadn't given him the £1 billion he'd asked for, which I thought was rather ironic considering the fact that all the SNP have done in the last year is reduce taxes, and Alex has more money than any First Minister of Scotland has had before to spend on whatever he wants.I think he's just picking fights...2) Unemployment. The absolute horror of our nation. What more can a nation be denied of than the hearts and dreams of its own people?I was also woken up by my radio alarm clock to women's hour on Radio 4 this morning. Apparently the unemployment statistics show a sharp rise in the women in unemployment. It is still not known whether women, who tend to be more flexible, part time workers, will suffer more in the long run than men. One of the healthier trends, not just in our country but globally, has been the rise of women in the work place. To see that progress slip away in these times of difficulty will be very hard.3) Fred Goodwin.He resigned.Excellent news.I met him once. Wanker.(Not such great news- he has an estimated pension of around £540 000.)We are all taking the weight of the economic circumstances, but as usual, the rich are left with choice and opportunity, and pay a disproportionately low price for the loss.4) I passed a charity shop on my way to uni yesterday. I thought there was a Santa costume in the window. As the windrow parallel to me drew nearer I got more and more excited. But then when the moment came and I passed it, I realised it wasn't. It was just a red coat with a white furry scarf wrapped around it. What a disappointment.That story had no point what so ever.5) Nobody knows anything about the church. It was the first organisation to build schools, hospitals, and raise awareness (never mind try to combat) global poverty and disease. People make fun of it an awful lot, and are completely ignorant to the work that it does, despite the fact that it built the foundation for most of the fundamental freedoms we enjoy in society today.Hurricane Katrina? Christian Aid was there before the US Government (who cares- they were poor black people, right?)Make Poverty History? It was a Christian Aid campaign, which was quickly adopted by the media and celebrity, and as a result the church and anything to do with Bible- bashing Jesus [...]



Margaret Thatcher, unfortunately very much alive with power in Scotland and the UK today

One week Salmond says he "didn't mind" Thatcher economics, and a fortnight later Cameron says "Thank God we elected Margaret Thatcher".

I was really really really surprised Cameron said that yesterday, I think it was a politically foolish move... And if I had more than 3 minutes of internet time to comment on it then I would.

Don't say I didn't tell you though...

(Still no internet... May have to start using semaphore. Or Indian smoke signals.)

Home from Home


Obama, despite remaining refreshingly ambitious and new, has matured as a politician over the duration of the campaign.

I am currently at my mother's house. trying to capitalise on the free food, dish washing, laundry and internet services which are on offer.

It has all been a bit strange leaving work and becoming a student again. Trekking around Tesco and having to buy really dull stuff like Fairy Liquid is I suppose one of the truly hash realities of life, which I once tried to embrace in Dundee studying Social Work but which made me deeply unhappy. I do however feel that this is slightly different. The air of my flat and even that of Tesco's graces me with a slightly warmer prescence. A sense of freedom from the restraints of the narrow corridors of Holyrood and into the ocean of opportunity that is Edinburgh University.

Last night I stayed up until 5 am watching the Presidential debate live from "the best political team on television", through the semi-legal median of my friend Emma's internet.

My fellow viewers and I (one of which was a political researcher to an ex- Minister in the UK Cabinet) failed to come to a definitive agreement on who came off better last night.

I was delighted to hear this morning that Obama polled (just) slightly better than his Republican rival McCain. This was fantastic news for one very good reason: the economy and foreign affairs were at the beginning of this campaign McCain's home turf. He should have owned Obama, but he didn't. Obama presided over questions with an exciting presidential quality, and showed depth of knowledge and presence unseen before.

After the last couple of wins, Scottish football fans may be disappointed with only a draw from a game with France, but we shouldn't be. In this case, as with football, a draw is a fantastic result for Obama.

McCain's insular 'Americanised' answers were lifted out of the debate by Obama's openness and sense of humanity, not just as an American veteran, but as a human being.

Yes we can.

Yes he did.

I think he will.



Gordilocks back in the day

Well I should have listened and taken advice... Tiscali suck. I was impressed at the speed and efficiency with which they took all my money and account details off me. I hoped this was evidence of what more there was to come. At this rate my router should have flown through my bedroom door and set itself up before making me a cup of Earl Grey and a sandwich, but as much as it pains me to say it, nothing has happened.

Of course this has made blogging difficult, and I want to sincerely apologise to all you good people out there (and Professional...) who read it regularly and contribute to the debates views which I throw into the cockpit that is blogging chaos.

Well, well done Gordon.

I know I haven't blogged too much on Gordon Brown. If you remember I wrote an article in support of him after our Scottish Labour's Aviemore conference, and since then I haven't really been very sure what to make of him. But yesterday he reminded me why we as a party loved him so much.

He was in a difficult situation yesterday (and I'm not saying that wasn't his fault), and as a result he had to take risks. For those of us hoping for a big policy announcement, disappointment was shared, but it was never going to be an election- esque speech. Something people always loved about Brown was the way in which he never spoke negatively of others. I remember his first speech as party leader only made one reference to the Tories, in a line about opportunity being for all not just for some. But yesterday was different.

He had a few things he needed to do. He had to;

  • Draw a line between Labour and the Conservatives

  • Acknowledge that mistakes had been made

  • Be open and transparent as a person

  • Reinforce that the action the Government was taking was right

  • Remind the party and the public why they loved him so much

  • He achieved all of these things.

He achieved all of these things.

The most important of these the top one. There is a choice at the next election. A clear choice between right and wrong.

He reminded me why I joined the party, and why I am so sick of Scottish political debate. A debate so far withdrawn and disengaged with the actual issues facing society, our great country and our world.

This is about the big boys now.

Uh... Excuses excuses...


Well I've just started at Edinburgh Uni this week, and unfortunately the internet has not graced our flat yet, so blogging is a bit behind to say the least...

I have phoned the good people of Tiscali who have informed me that my router and cables are on their way, so I should be online in no time.

I was really disappointed about David Cairns resigning from the Government yesterday. I spent a fair bit of time with him in a by election a couple of years ago. Except at the time I had no idea who he was. We spent the day together leafleting and having lunch, then at the end of the day he gave me and my good friend money for fish suppers. Later on that evening people asked us if we knew who he was, and we were like, "Yeh, that's David. You'd like him, he's really cool."

Then they broke the news to me that he was Minister of State for the Scotland Office.

"Ahh... Right..."

A little embarrassing, but encouraging and refreshing too. A really good guy.

Tonsil Tennis


One of the less visually offensive tonsil tennis moments

There are often phrases used to describe things which become almost cult; usual every day language between us young people, and physical repulsion for our parents. Of course Granny doesn't get it, so it's all good. For me, the worst and most cringe-worthy of these is 'tonsil-tennis', which is used to describe the situation in which two (or I suppose more) people are engaging in an activity which involves tongues and lips and stuff... okokok.... SNOGGING. Yes, snogging.

Now, sad to say, I have not been participating in any such activities, but I have however managed to contract tonsillitis. And it sucks.

It does however beautifully compliment the fact that I got chucked at the weekend, which was hardly surprising considering the fact that she disclosed to me that she was a Tory to me on Friday night. Well, ok, that wasn't the reason, but I guess it's better than none, which was the reason given to me...

I don't think I have any political rants for the day, other than the fact that every time I got a comment on my Salmond's Carbon Footprint story, I felt more right than I did when I wrote it.

Although I would like to thank President Salmond, because my antibiotics only cost £5 rather than the usual £6.75. Cheers, penicillin never tasted so good.

STOP THE PRESS!!! More Gas Comes Out of Salmond Than I Thought!


Salmond's carbon footprint is almost 6 times the national average

I have always found the First Minister to be a bit of a hypocrite. He speaks of social justice, then slashes taxes and cuts services. He speaks of ability to pay, but his career is based upon a cause which would put all of Scotland's fantastic jobs at risk. And, and arguably most importantly, he speaks of the need to address climate change, but actually has one of the biggest carbon footprints in Scotland.

It didn't take long to go through a few PQs and find some intersting facts...

- From May 2007, to January 2008, the FM took 542 trips in Ministerial car and 0 by train

- One of the only two times the FM has taken the train since being FM was in the USA.

- From just May to November 2007, he racked up 0.93 tonnes of CO2 emissions in his ministerial car alone

- On 24th May 2007, Salmond took a ministerial car from the Parliament to Holyrood Palace

His 98 flying hours which was disclosed was worth, I thought, banging into a wonderous carbon calculator, and it made me a pretty graph...

It told me that even excluding all of Salmond's household or other personal energy, he managed to rack up over 32 tonnes of CO2 emissions, coming in at almost 6 times the national average of 5.5 tonnes, and over 7 times the UK government target of 4.2 tonnes by 2020.
Salmond continues to lead from the top, without his toes ever touching the ground, carrying the message to the people across our great nation, "Do as I say, not as I do".

Glenrothes- a Definition of Attitude


"Zanna, Don't", is a musical set in a society where being gay is the norm, and heterosexuals are a persecuted minority. It climaxes into a fantastic moment where a boy and girl fall in love and kiss, and the audience feels awkward because they desperately want something gay to happen again. It struck me that if our attitude can be changed in 40 mins, surely it can change in the next 6 weeks.You know those summer jobs that you hate? You get paid terribly and have to work your arse off day after day, whether hungover or not. I also feel that the Edinburgh festival is slightly responsible as the clubs don't shut until 5 and that as a result some days involved me coming home, having a bath, getting changed and watching tv until work without so much as a wink.Anyway... my point is... in order to motivate myself and the other dedicated students of Aitken and Niven, the private school uniform shop in Morningside, a poster existed in the staff room which attempted to serve the purpose of motivating us in times of woes and sorrow...It read something along the lines of..."For many years athletes had tried to run the four minute mile. Many came close, but none succeeded. John Landy, an Australian runner had come so close, but never made it within that magic four minute mark. He tried and he tried, but lost by tiny seconds which in his heart felt like hours.But on an Oxford morning in 1954, a young medical student at Oxford University called Roger Bannister, cheered on by thousands, ran the four minute mile.Just two months later, John Landy succeeded and broke the magic mark.What changed? His trainers? His track? His running technique? His fitness?No. His attitude."Now I don't think my attitude made much of a difference to pricing shorts, or trying to communicate to an Edinburgh Academy mother that if she's had a blazer for a year, broken the zip and kept biscuits in the pockets then it couldn't get replaced, but nevertheless I always remembered what that poster said.It is our attitude which this upcoming by election is pinned upon. I don't think the candidate was too much of an issue. The Labour candidate has been of much greater interest and scrutiny than any candidate the SNP have put up, but I don't think that's too important. All 3 candidates in the short list were perfectly qualified, but I fear that whichever one is chosen is being forced to walk a set path in this election. Not a path set by London, but a path created by London. A path created by the attitude which our government has allowed to happen, without making enough of a stand to justify why it was or was not doing what it did.The attitude we hold of ourselves is what is killing us. It happened in Glasgow and it will happen here unless we change. We need to believe in ourselves again. We need to know that we can do it.I believe we can, and I think we will.But then again I'm a little bias... Maybe it's my attitude, right...?[...]

GlasGAY 2008


(image) A rainbow over the streets of Glasgow

I am pretty gutted that due to a rehearsal tomorrow I am missing this year's gay pride rally and march. I am sure it will be to the mutual relief and forgiveness of the gay community to know that I am in fact missing it because of a rehearsal for a musical. Seriously. And if we can't trigger social, cultural and political change through the median of musical dramatics then how can can we?

I did find it mildly amusing to learn that this year Glasgow and Edinburgh are holding their rallies seperately, due to a feud between the two coasts' organisers... (Now I'm not saying anything, but I bet the popular Republican fundraising annual Texas beard and moustache competition doesn't have to put up with that kind of shit...)

*I jest I jest*

But I do think it's a shame they're not doing it together. Seriously!

So for all you wanting to stand up and speak out with pride and with I am sure a few laughs and good music, they will be meeting...



11.30 am

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be a guest speaker

Have a great time everybody!

And the winner is...



The good people of the blogosphere have spoken, and by a knife- edge win have sent the message that it is healthy that Scotland's political debate is of nothing other than independence.

I love polls. Thank you to all 22 people who took part. 54% of you voted yes, with 45% voting no.

I of course win either way.

- Either people vote 'no' and then I write about how unhealthy it is and how the people don't want it

- Or you, as you did, vote 'yes' and I write an article about how biased this proves the blogosphere to be.

This is obviously means I have to write the second one, but I'll not waste your time...

***Insert rant here***

Are you a man of God, Mr Salmond?


It seems strange that despite his increasing popularity and his infinite praise for not only his party but himself, we know very little about our First Minister.

While we know that he likes curry, enjoys racing and playing golf, we are yet to find out what his substantial political opinions are. The USA (always good for examples on how NOT to run a country) has issues such as abortion, the death penalty and same sex marriage make up a crucial part of its political debate.

The politics of its society balances out with the sociology of its politics.

But anyway, Mr Salmond has kept his mouth very shut over these crucial issues. I pray that our political arena doesn't become about the above issues (but then again I would never have believed it would become just about independence). However, we know very little about a man who claims to understand us as Scots so much.

Tony Blair, David Cameron, along with half the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet have been expected to answer to calls of if they've smoked marijuana, if they believe it's OK that some kids have two mummies or two daddies and have had to answer to calls for killers and if those who stole Maddie should be hanged.

But it is not only his views which have been unquestioned by the public- his policies have as well.

Following an FOI request, 5 out of 23 local authorities have made direct cuts to services dedicated to reducing suicide, despite the fact that 800 Scots took their own lives last year, and that that figure is on the increase.

From 2001-2007, investment into support services managed to steadily reduce the suicide rate year on year, in contrast to the SNP, who have cut funding for suicide prevention by a third to NHS Highland, who has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK.

Are you a man of God, Mr Salmond? Because this political game you're playing has a real effect on other people's lives.

I couldn't tell you one thing about the person 'Alex Salmond', but I think there are parts of him I am getting to know too well.

Birthday Boy


(image) This is me enjoying my birthday surprise

Well, that's it, I'm no longer a teenager. It's official. 20 years old today. I do however wish to thank Jacq, who phoned me to wish me a happy birthday this morning, and mentioned that according to the EU I still have 6 more years of being considered a 'young person', which was to my private relief.

I remember consoling a friend whose boyfriend had dumped her over msn (classy, eh...?) the previous evening, when she said to me, "I just never would have believed a 19 year old could regret so much". She was talking about herself that night, but I never forgot what she said, because however people see the youth of today, some of the problems young people face, and the emotions of which they have to deal with, are just as bitter and harsh as anyone else's.

As young as I know I am inside, I can't help but feel that I've learnt a fair bit in my time on this earth, and so I thought I would share some of it with you.
20 Things I've Learnt in the Last 20 Years

1) Your mother is always right

2) Anything goes with vodka

3) Except milk

4) Going out 9 nights in a row makes you feel dodgy

5) If it's how you feel, then it can't be wrong

6) If you're in love with your stunning girlfriend, don't chuck her for someone who resembles a horse

7) If you're really tired and hungover in the morning, still try your best to remember to put on your pants

8) Don't get too involved with politics

9) If you ever go to an organ recital, bring a book

10) If you've gone through life being really talented at the thing you love, for God's sake just do it at uni

11) Social work makes really simple things really complicated

12) Try to keep romances with flatmates to a minimum

13) Any drink can be fizzed in a soda stream

14) Except milk

15) If you think people are wrong, speak up, because they probably are

16) The kind of people who complain about things complain about anything, so what's the point.

17) If you're good at a subject, take it, and don't set yourself a challenge in something you're not good at. You don't get anymore UCAS points

18) Elvis really is the king

19) Don't buy a tux on the way to a club

20) Bad things in life are OK, because without the darkness, we would never see the stars

SNP Running on Oil


I wouldn't build an entire country's economy on one commodity which fluctuates as much as oil, and nor on which would I choose my government.

After much consideration and also a bit of wishful thinking from my good self, I have come to the conclusion that Labour worrying about the next election is the last thing we should be doing.
I took the liberty of looking up some stats on the SNP's success in recent years. Obviously the most recent breakthrough in the polls has been the fact that voting intentions indicated an SNP lead over Labour (YouGov for Daily Telegraph, 33% to 29%). While it was rather... emm.... 'annoying'... it also did just remind me how short term polls can be. Labour were of course ahead in Scottish Westminster voting intentions a year ago (YouGov for Sunday Times, 40% to 31%), and we had strong long-term sustainable policies which weren't as 'headline grabbing'. They were tougher and less glamorous, and were not strategically put in place to serve another purpose.

This boom and potential bust of the polls made me feel this was symbolic of the politics each party represents.

SNP= like a pop song- catchy, cheap and cheerful. Like your sister's Spice Girls CD you listen to when she's not in. (Or is that just me...?)

Labour= we actually built schools and hospitals. It wasn't as catchy and took longer, but we did it because we didn't just have one political aim. Social justice is like walking around the world- you never come to the end, even if you have to go back to the beginning.

The polls are up for the SNP, but their politics is like the commodity they talk too much about- oil. It is finite and is completely unsustainable. I wouldn't rest a whole economy on any one thing as unstable as oil, in the same way I wouldn't leave a pop song on repeat, even if it's good to listen to once in a while.

Yesterday my friend Carla had a moan to me about no schools being rebuilt.

The political stagnation we're living in will catch up with the SNP sooner or later. The boom and bust politics will make way for a renewed Labour Party of stability and growth.

I just pray that day comes before a referendum on independence.

Social Work Don't Work for Me


I have promised a good friend of mine (and an even better friend of my good friend Pies, if you know what I mean...) that I would blog about something I went through life never knowing enough about. "Everything" I hear you cry? Well, no, just social work.

I was, like we all were, a person who left school wanting to get stuck right into the very heart of people, and the very heart of society. I had always loved working with vulnerable people, and studying social work at university seemed like a good idea at the time. The truth was, and continues to be, that I always wanted to study music, but I was told that as a singer my voice wasn't mature enough. Well, now I can hardly sing a note without it hurting, and I haven't performed for 2 years. I would have thought that social work required more maturity.

It's quite remarkable how little attention social work and care gets by governments and the press. Whatever happens to the NHS or the slightest change in the routine of our schools manages to grasp the public's attention, but as with most things, and sadly more so over the last year of SNP cuts, the most vulnerable people within our society have been cleared to make way for the middle-class masses.

It didn't take long for me to realise that I was very small for the world of social work. On placement I would sit in a secure room facing a drug addicted father with an illegitimate child who couldn't afford the bus fare home, and I was the one, I, that public school 18 year old boy from Edinburgh, who had to pretend I understood his situation, and that I could in some way represent him in the path that lay ahead.

One of the things that angers me so much about nationalism, is that I feel it has adopted our public debate, when the real line of politics lies between charity or justice.

Conservatives believe that acts of good will are to made on a charitable basis, while Labour believe that acts of ensuring people have health care, equal opportunities and representation are acts of justice.

Maybe the reasons I chose social work were too selfish. I thought I would be good at it would see the light in dark situations, but I never did, because so often there was no light or goodness to be seen.

Society is sometimes like me at the gym- I spend a lot of time on the weights and machines that I'm good at because it makes me feel good and that I am achieving, when actually I should be training on the machines which I find hardest, because that makes me stronger. Maybe social work for me was just too hard a machine.

I think our country needs to turn its head an awkward angle, and start to pay attention to the world of social work and front line care.