Archive for April, 2007

Things are hotting up, and Labour is really beginning to panic if the Sunday Papers are to be believed.       They are clearly in for a ‘bad night’ on the 3rd May.    

While there have been endless grumbles about the parliament, devolution has actually been very good for devolved things like farming and tourism.    Civil servants and Politicians, including Ministers are really very easy to access, and will listen to well presented points.    Scotland coped much better with the Foot and Mouth outbreak than they ever did in England, and we have a much better tourism framework in place than England as well.    Scottish Tourism has made the case for and secured a very generous amount of public money.   OK, it is less than Ireland, but much more than England.

Whoever wins on the 3rd, I really hope that the policies are not too radical, otherwise it would be very disturbing for businesses.     What business needs is stability and a climate of confidence.     Given that there will probably be a huge horse trading exercise (‘cats in a sack’ time) after the election, I expect that the emerging regime will not be too extreme.

 Although if smirky Eck is in charge, anything might happen.

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Scottish Election 5

Postal Votes.    It is 5 days to go, and an amazing number of people have already voted.    By post.   

Well, call me a traditionalist, but I think this really spoils the fun of the election.     I actually like going to the polling station (or ‘place’ as we now have to call it) and putting my cross (or number) in the box.   I like talking to the people running the show, and the political folk standing about outside.    

Where is the fun in a postal vote?     And opinions can change in the last few days.    There are plenty of ‘don’t knows’ about still.

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Scottish Election 4

A morning spent canvassing in the sunshine.    I can’t get over how much time and trouble people take with their gardens.    Some people have made the most fantastic effort with very little space available.

Also, most folk are very polite when you speak to them.    Even the ones who tell you that they are voting for the opposition.     I have not come across any nastiness.   It must be pretty intrusive visiting someone’s house unannounced and asking about voting intention after all.

The canvasser’s smile is a really useful asset.

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Scottish Election 3

I predict a riot.

This election sees ballot papers being counted electronically for the first time.     A nervous evening for the officials then, particularly if the vote is close.     If the electronics go wrong, we are in for a huge mega fuss.   Already, there is a shortage of electronic fixers on election night – fewer fixers than counting centres.

We have been bundling papers and counting them for many elections now.    It is tried and tested.    I hope the new system works.

I will be at my local count, so will keep you posted.

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Scottish Election 2

Canvassing tonight.    Western edge of Perth.    Warm sunshine.     I get the feeling that folk really don’t have the measure of this election yet.    The MSPs are elected on a first past the post system for each constituency with a party vote for a list system of MSPs to make up the balance.     So you vote for a candidate and then for a party.

On the same day, we are voting for Councillors – but on a different voting system – single transferable vote.   Voters will have to rank candidates from 1 down to wherever they want to stop.

The trouble with all of this is that it is complicated – it is genuinely impossible to calculate the effect of voting tactically, for instance.    I met people today who would never vote for the SNP – ever, but who failed to grasp the message that the only way to shift the SNP out (first past the post, constituency vote) is to vote Conservative.   (In the Perth seat).

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Scottish Election 1

Only a few days to go until the election in Scotland.   We are electing our third set of MSPs as well as local councillors.      It is going to be a very interesting result.    Much disillusionment with the Lab/Lib coalition that has been in for the past 8 years, so the Nationalists SNP may gain from a protest vote.    That is understandable, but the major question of independence makes this a protest vote with a difference.      There are many who are fed up with the current arrangement, but who also really detest the Nationalists.     Who will these people vote for?

The Tories are running a good solid campaign, and Annabel Goldie is doing surprisingly well as leader.    Unfortunately thay have ruled out going into coalition with anyone else, which rather closes all doors at an early stage.    They do have a well thought through, and achievable manifesto.

The SNP promises will not add up without big income tax increases – The Financial Times has a damning report today.      And the prospect of smirking Alec Salmond as First Minister genuinely fills me with dread.    Please …….. no.

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Fairly horrible story about all of Edinburgh’s weekend sewage ending up in the Forth.    Apparently one recently serviced pump failed while the other was ‘waiting for spare parts’.    

Not too long ago, the sewage was pumped into a large boat which sailed out into the North Sea for a bit then emptied itself, so we have moved on a bit since then thankfully.   But there is now a large amount of recreational activity in the Forth Estuary, with some Blue Flag beaches and sailing etc.    Hopefully the stuff will decompose soon by action of tide and weather – it was a massive discharge, so it may take awhile.

Hopefully the Kinghorn lifeboat which covers the estuary won’t be needed for a day or two.

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Pixar – 20 Years of Animation

Caught this exhibition at the Chamber Street Museum on Sunday.    I think that we are now supposed to call it the National Museums of Scotland – have they ditched the Royal title?

The exhibition was pretty crowded, and featured lots of Pixar artwork, with explanations about how characters are developed, and stories storyboarded.    I can’t say I’ve seen many Pixar films:  I did not like Toy Story, but liked The Incredibles, and might have enjoyed this more if I had seen more of the films.   I was hoping to learn much more about the actual process of animation – how the characters are made to move, how the voices are chosen, how the backgrounds work and so on.

Pixar clearly have moved animation on to a different plane, but I wanted to know more.    I am a big fan of animation, particularly films that address serious subjects, as you can often say things there that would be simply impossible  using natural photography.     Clever though Pixar are, I think I actually prefer the attractiveness and childlike quality of simpler techniques.

Best thing in the exhibition was the Toy Story Zoetrope – a revolving sort of merry-go-round of animated characters which go faster and faster until they are a blurry whirl.   A strobe light is then turned on and the whole thing animates.   It was great to just stand and hear the gasps of astonishment from the crowd.

Probably worth it if you are a Pixar fan.   If you want more, this is a bit disappointing.

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What has happened to the oak trees this year?    Round here, they are already bursting into leaf.   That’s ahead of the beeches and of course, the ash.     And it is before the swallows have arrived.    It is really unusual, as oak usually comes into leaf in May. 

As the saying goes:

“If the oak flowers before the ash, then be ready for a splash;    if the ash flowers before the oak, then get ready for a soak”.

We must be in for a really scorching summer then.

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