30 January 2012

Lessons Learned from The Mahatma

Long Report Template release 7.0 When I was last in Delhi several years ago I took the opportunity to visit the home of Nehru - a large mansion with extensive gardens but not ornate and, in its way, quite simple for an International Statesman. I was amazed to see his almost austere metal bed with his bedside table and his watch laid out as if he had just stepped out for a minute.  A long corridor of books shelves linked the bedroom  to his office, with its boomerang shaped desk and cordite telephones, from where he ran the world’s largest democracy. The impression I took was of a relatively simple lifestyle of a great intellect and not much in the way of luxury when you compare him to his British counterparts or Princes in their States.  

I then took a short walk to the place where Ghandi last resided. This is now also a museum and I walked into his last room. A glass case displayed his remaining possessions – his sandals, a spoon, his staff and his famous spectacles. This was a manwith  a really simple austere life and he made Nehru’s home look almost luxurious in comparison. 

To the right of the glass case was a French window and as I walked though I noticed a set of raised and painted cement footsteps. These led out to the garden and round towards a Hindu shrine. They then suddenly stop before reaching the shrine. This was the place that The Mahatma was gunned down and the cement footsteps represented his last journey. 

Today mark the anniversary of the assassination in 1948 of Mohandas Gandhi. The lessons he taught of non violent change are still as relevant today as they were then. Others, notably Dr Martin Luther King, have taken those and emulated him and in Kings’ case also given their lives so that men and women alike could like free and as equals. 

Gandhi was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – it isn’t awarded posthumously – but I do wonder if in this instance they shouldn’t make a special case.  

29 January 2012

Forty Eight Hours To Go!

Shelves being stacked  with some of the 20000 new books

In 48 hours the forty year wait by the Drum Brae, East Craigs and Clermiston communities for their Library will finally be over.

The new Drumbrae Library Hub will open to the public for business at 10.am on Tuesday. The hub will include a Day Centre for frail older people who also will be taking up occupancy this week, as well as council offices, occupied before Christmas. 

This extraordinary project has gone like clockwork - on time and on budget. well done all involved in making that happen. 

This library simply would not have happened if the Liberal Democrats were not in power in Edinburgh. The project featured in every one of the Lib Dem group budgets when we were in opposition. To see it finally delivered is immensely satisfying.

My friend and colleague Cllr Robert Aldridge deserves much credit for tirelessly fighting for this since before he was elected back in 1984 as do the Drumbrae Community Council, led by the admirable Reg Kingman. Their patience and persistence has finally paid off.

I understand, from our local Neighbourhood Manager, that kid have been pressing their noses against the glass doors itching to get inside for some weeks now. In just a few hours the wait will be over.

You can keep up to date with development on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/drumbrae

Lessons Learned from the Holocaust

Last week I spoke at my old High school. Not exactly the same building  - that was raised to the ground a couple of years ago - but the new  incarnation a few yards away.

The event was  part of the Speak out Speak up Holocaust memorial project run across four schools in the area. As well as an exhibition, which is travelling the Western Edinburgh area and will be at the Drum Brae Library in a few weeks, there will also be a talk by one of the survivors of Auschwitz. 

To begin the project a very powerful play was performed by the students at the school focusing on the run up to war, what happened and the lessons we can learn. 

The spectre of intolerance and racism are omnipresent in this day and age. In times of economic down turn these forces play on peoples insecurities to poison our society.

The Speak out Speak up project is excellent and I would recommend anyone to come and see the exhibition when it  goes to the new Library in a few weeks.

17 January 2012

Louisville Lip at 70

Many happy returns to Mohammed Ali who celebrates his 70th birthday today. I'm not a boxing fan but I recognise a great athlete, and a great poltical activist, when I see one. 

Ali campaigned against war in Vietnam before it became fashionable at great personal and professional expense. His epic fights against George Foreman and Joe Frazier in the 70's  rank amoung the best ever.

Was he the "Greatest"? Hard to argue against it!

5 January 2012

Drumbrae Library to Open for Business on the 31st!

I am just back from my first visit to the Drumbrae Library Hub since the Council got the finished building and staff moved in. 

The place is looking really good. I understand that Day Care staff will be moving in over the next week or two and the library is being fitted out and today staff have felt confident enough to announce that it will be open for business on the 31st of January, just over three weeks away. 

The staff are occupying their new offices and loving them . The new Ground Source Heat Pumps are very effective - it wasn't just the welcome that was warm!

I am so pleased that this project has gone so smoothly. Every election I have stood for building a library up there has been a key plank of my platform. I am so pleased that this has happened. 

It simply would not have happened if the Lib Dems had not been in power at the City Chambers.

3 January 2012

Same Old Same Old as Hibs Slump to Local Rivals

Happy New Year all.

2012 started pretty much the same way 2011 did. I am not a New Year person so spent it  having a quiet night in watching DVD's and reading Hemingway.  

January the 2nd saw the New Years Derby between the Mighty Hibernian and local rivals Hearts.  Hearts ran out 3-1  winners extending an unbeaten run in the fixture to 9 games. I fear we are only a third or so of the way through another of their long  unbeaten runs in this fixture - 28 I think was the last one. Never easy being a Hibs fan and sadly it looks like business as usual.

2012 will see the London Olympics, The European Football Championship. Hopefully it will see Andy Murray win a Major  and Hibs lift the Cup for the first time since1902. OK that last one is unlikely  from where I am currently sitting but I would love to be proved wrong.

This year will also see the local council elections.

I for one will be doing all I can to get as many Lib Dems elected.  Despite the sling and arrows we have  faced over the last four and a half year we have been a good administration doing the difficult and necessary things well. 

We can look back at a strong record in Housing and Social Care - cutting Homelessness and crime, building the first council housing in a generation and radically reforming our care set up so more people are getting the care they need when they need it and we are delivering it more effectively. In Education attainments are at greatly improved as is Children's social work. The city is cleaner in spite of a bin dispute and recycling rates are substantially improved. I could go on at length but I will save that for another posting. 

At these elections local issues will  be more to the front than usual. Local reputations will count for a lot and we have a PR election system and at this stage I don't think any party is putting up enough candidates to get an outright majority. Accurate predictions this far out are very difficult.