Friday, 26 March 2010

A Safer World - but not in Scotland

Today, The United States of America and the Russian Union have agreed to a further 30% reduction in deployed nuclear warheads. The world is a wee bit safer for that - another step toward total removal of these weapons from the face of a planet with no need for them, and no wish for them.

But in Scotland, can we feel that wee bit safer? Our Westminster Government still cling on to their pathetic wish to keep their place at the UN Security Council by dint of keeping hold of, and upgrading Trident missiles and the archangels of underwater death, the submarines that carry them. The real cost of upgrading Trident is £100 billion - I'll say that again - one hundred thousand million pounds - and again - £100,000,000,000.

What, in these times of recession and hardship, against the background of massive national debt, could we do, if we didn't spend this money?

Both Labour and Conservatives would continue with the replacement programme. The Lib Dems as usual prevaricate and only say they won't replace trident 'on a like for like' basis. Perhaps this means they will replace it with something still nuclear, but cheaper?

So even against a background of the world's major powers reducing their nuclear arsenals, still the only option realistically available in Scotland to send the message to scrap the obscenity of the weapon of mass destruction that is Trident altogether is to send SNP MP's to Westminster.

Here in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, it's time to dump dithering Danny Alexander and elect a real National and Local Champion - John Finnie.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Barriers to Barriers

Highland SNP MSP Dave Thompson has been conducting a concerted campaign to get ungated level crossings across the rail network outlawed. There have been so many incidents of people being caught out at these crossings and an appalling 21 our of 23 open level crossings are in the Highlands.

Some parts of the media wholeheartedly backed Dave's campaign, and Network Rail's response to mounting criticism of their unwillingness to address the problem seems to have been two-fold; first, they suggest that the cost of fitting half barriers would be one million pounds a shot - yet in Denmark, similar structures cost a mere £200,000; second, Network Rail has sought to smear Mr Thompson and his campaign, by selectively quoting an email from an industry expert who had initially not been in favour of the campaign, but who has subsequently come to agree with him that barriers are needed, subject to proper assessment, at several Highland crossings.

Network Rail's press release had the temerity to describe Mr Thompson's campaign as 'increasingly hysterical and biased', and worse, when contacted by his office, Network Rail's PR people sought to deny all knowledge of the press release they had issued.

So clearly, Network Rail seem determined to continue to put up barriers to the eminently sensible proposal to fit barriers at these level crossings, but there is another issue here too. Had this been a Labour MP in Westminster, would Network Rail have dared to describe him as 'hysterical and biased? Would they have dared to attempt to deny knowledge of their own press release? Would they have felt it appropriate to be so dismissive of an elected member of parliament?

There seems to be a different view of elected members to the Scottish Parliament and to the Government of Scotland itself. UK organisations seem to think that they are above the need to respect Scottish politicians. It's perfectly reasonable for Network Rail to baulk at the costs of introducing barriers at open level crossings - and the public can make their own minds up as to the priority the organisation attach to safety.

But it is not reasonable for an increasingly hysterical and biased organisation to attempt to discredit a hard working politician in an effort to divert attention from their own lack of action.

Friday, 12 March 2010

words, words, words

Have you ever noticed how particular phrases seem to float into fashion to the point of extreme annoyance, often, thankfully, only to disappear just as suddenly?
In terms of the current round of annoying phrases, it's about two in particular - 'in terms of...' and 'it's about...'
Anyone else fed up of this terrible twosome?