Year: 2014 (page 2 of 5)

New World Order

So Scotland voted no, we can all get back to normal and the parliaments can focus on dealing with day to day issues again rather than trying to win the referendum. But what is normal? I always thought the days after the referendum would be volatile but it’s safe to say that things will never be the same again.

I’d predicted a Yes vote based on the mood around Glasgow and also on the Yes campaign which was pretty fantastic. You couldn’t escape the Yes campaign in Glasgow. Travelling between Central and Queen Street stations on a drizzly Monday night before the vote I walked by three groups of Yes campaigners who were still out fighting for votes. The Better Together campaign was nowhere. Stalls in Byres Road and Anniesland, Yes stickers everywhere and so many windows with Yes posters so it was no big surprise that Glasgow voted Yes overall. It was also generally a positive campaign from the Yes team both in the flesh and online. There was definitely more antagonism online from Yes campaigners but both camp’s had their loons.

However the Friday and Saturday after the vote took a decidedly nasty turn. I could understand frustration from the Yes campaign that they had lost by 10% especially as they had ran a long passionate campaign but I thought the claims of vote rigging, miscounts and clamouring for a revote were pretty desperate. The worst event though was the orange loyalists descending on George Square which up until that point had seen great celebrations for Yes campaigners. The behaviour and violence was disgraceful and in total contradiction to the events of the last few weeks. The Glasgow Commonwealths felt like a generation ago while watching the Youtube video’s from George Square. The Police should have done a lot more to defuse it but it was shameful how the events were reported by traditional media reporting it was Yes and No casuals fighting. I’d love to say heads in the sand but it was lies, pure and simple.

Also lies were the many many tweets that said No voters had voted for the trouble in George Square and this is what you get for voting No. Oh dear. Equally the vast majority of No voters were not conned by ‘The Vow’ but I guess it makes the loss easier if there is something to target. I didn’t expect Salmond to quit but Nicola Sturgeon is more than capable of filling his shoes and I think will also make the SNP more appealing to voters.

A few other notable points from the campaign:

  • The two TV debates between Salmond and Darling. In the grand scheme of things I don’t think they had the impact that was expected. I was surprised that Darling narrowly ‘won’ the first debate, but Salmond kicked his butt in the second. What changed? Salmond more prepared, more on the offensive?
  • Better Together was awful. Complacent, negative, lacking in idea’s and to be frank they looked desperate after ‘that’ opinion poll. I’m still surprised that the Yes campaign up against such poor opposition and having a dream year for events in Scotland failed to deliver a Yes vote. Tell’s me that there is a real core of Scot’s that do not want independence.
  • For all the Yes campaigns posturing about a fresh start away from Westminster and old broken politics, their cosying up to Rupert Murdoch must leave a sour taste in many an independence campaigners mouth. I still think the YouGov poll 2 weeks before the referendum was ‘questionable’. Online only, a different polling firm than The Times used before or afterwards and leaked by Murdoch who wanted to be seen to be influencing. Nasty.
  • The lack of answers from both sides was disappointing. Vote Yes and we’ll spend the next 18 months sorting out what that really means. Vote No and you may get some extra powers that we’ll spend the next 6 months sorting out. Considering the amount of money spent on the referendum there was a distinct lack of clarity from both camps.
  • Who woke up Gordon Brown? If only the No campaign had shown this sort of passion in the months leading up to the referendum.
  • A week before the vote and Cameron, Miliband and Clegg descend on Scotland. That didn’t annoy me as much as Salmond saying he and the Yes campaign were for ‘Team Scotland’ while everything else is ‘Team Westminster’. Utter bollocks and that stance annoyed many many people, just like the Yes campaign claiming the Saltire as theirs.
  • Funniest moment? Matt Lygate and ‘Bow down to your imperial masters!’
  • Bernard Ponsonby was by quite a distance the best political journalist throughout the campaign. The BBC by contrast looked fairly toothless.

The next few months will be very interesting. What new powers will Scotland get, what the future vote share will look like in Scotland and how will Nicola Sturgeon change the SNP going forward? I’m amazed at the number of sign-ups the SNP have got, almost at 70,000 now which is almost two and a half times the number they had pre referendum vote. I can see this being a real challenge for Sturgeon as almost all the SNP hierarchy have said that the vote was a’one in a generation’ opportunity yet the majority of the new sign-ups are demanding at the very least another vote if not independence if the SNP return a majority to the Scottish Parliament. It’s a nice problem to have for the SNP, but a problem none the less.

As for me I have no idea who I would vote for at the next general election. Thinking through my options:

  • Conservatives. Never.
  • Labour. Not the way they are carrying on at the moment. Matching Tory austerity budgets? Miliband is hard to like but worst of all was standing on the same ticket side by side with the Tories during the referendum. Labour should have stood for the No campaign on their own. I can see it being a generation before they get back in power in Scotland, if not longer. As for Westminster, it should be English votes for English laws and Miliband again looks lost when it comes to this issue. Many in Labour should be ashamed.
  • Liberals. No backbone, lost their principles as soon as power became a realistic option.
  • SNP. I agree with much of what the SNP stand for, except for Independence which is a bit of a deal breaker.
  • Greens. Might be closest to my ideals?
  • Others? Cranks and racists. No thanks.

Scottish politics has changed for the better and we have a generation that is active and energised. If the mood of the people of Scotland spreads throughout the UK we could see the most unpredictable general election for years. The beginning of a New World Order or just a small blip? Only time will tell.

A Simple Question

Should Scotland be an independent country?

It’s straightforward enough and thankfully we will know 5 days from now how Scotland has voted. This has been the longest most drawn out political campaign I’ve experienced and despite the money spent by each camp there is still a vacuum of real answers. It’s clear that the result is closer than many thought and is also causing real division across families and friendships and I just hope once the answer is known on September 19th that we can all move on and accept the result.

There have been some negative aspects to the overall campaign:

  • Better Together’s campaign has been a mess. Negative, lack of a plan A around devolved powers and an obvious last minute panic as the poles narrowed. Their mismanagement will be costly.
  • Alex Salmond’s comments on Team Scotland vs Team Westminster and the snide assertion that if you are Scottish you will vote Yes and if you are a No voter then you aren’t part of Team Scotland. Bullshit of the highest order.
  • The lies from both camps. Never ending.
  • Citizen journalists and analysts and ‘their sources say’. What sources? More bullshit.
  • I’ve had no hassle but I know my mum has been called an idiot for not voting Yes and does feel intimidated by some of the behaviour of campaigners in town at the moment. I’ve also seen some heated Facebook threads just because someone has said they are voting no. Sad.
  • The lack of clear answers from the Yes campaign. In my opinion they watered down what independence really means to guarantee a win – monarchy, currency etc. Be honest and set out a truly independent vision rather than a 3/4 way house.
  • The assertion that ‘big business’ is in cahoots with the No camp only. Jim McColl’s rescuing of Ferguson’s and the subsequent mailshot that I and many others received from him on behalf of the Yes campaign was stage management of the highest order. All from a guy thats stays in Monaco.

However the positives have been great:

  • The referendum vote has grabbed the public imagination and sparked debate and participation after decades where people have felt disenfranchised by the main political parties. The use of social media has certainly exploded over the last few months – even today there is a massive rally protesting at BBC bias over the last weeks and months and if it wasn’t for friends posting about it you’d have no idea it was taking place. Hours after it started it’s only now that the editor of Reporting Scotland has tweeted about it (and much later the BBC reported on it themselves – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-29196912). Thats the only recognition that around 1000 people are now at Pacific Quay protesting. Well done Roy for on the spot reporting 🙂
  • Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, has been great. Spoke well, debated without getting into slanging matches and has campaigned tirelessly for the Yes campaign.
  • One hundred weeks of Scotland is a blog started by Alan McCredie in October 2012. Each week he would write about a different aspect of Scotland highlighted by some great images that he took on his journey. Been great to follow this on the run up the vote with some amazing photo’s and stories.

I’ll be voting No on Thursday as the arguments for change haven’t been made clear for me but my expectation is that the Yes vote will win and on Friday Scotland will be an independent country. I hope then we can all move on and make the best of what lies ahead – it won’t be an easy journey.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Danny nominated me for the MND Ice Bucket Challenge that has swept the social networks over the last week. To donate, Text ICED55 followed by an amount (such as £5) to 70070 and you can find out more here.

Of course I recorded it in slow motion using the iPhone.

Glasgow 2014 – Bowls

It’s halfway through the Commonwealth Games 2014 hosted in Glasgow. I’d tried to get a variety of tickets and ended up with some badminton for later this week. A few weeks ago I decdied to get some tickets for the bowls for me and mum to visit as the event takes place at Kelvingrove which is where my dad used to play.

Over the years the clubhouse and the greens had become unloved and looked pretty shabby so it was great to see then renovated and the facilities looked superb.

As for the bowls itself, it was good to watch and some great competition across the various matches going on.

It was a great day and hats off to the organisation at Kelvingrove which was great. The clydesiders were in good form and it was a breeze going through security. Plenty of toilets and everything was clearly signposted.

The only negative was the range of food on offer. Two food outlets with a poor choice of food and it was expensive and of fairly poor quality. It’s a real shame that some of the great food outlets from around Glasgow weren’t there – were they given the opportunity? Not sure if it’s the same across all venues but felt like an opportunity missed especially with Mother India just across the road and a whole host of great restaurants around Kelvingrove and Finnieston.

Overall though it was a great day and the weather played ball too – full set of photo’s are up on Flickr. Glasgow has never looked better and I’m looking forward to the badminton on Saturday – semi-finals day!

Still Running

Three years ago I bought some proper shoes so I could start running. I lasted 4 weeks. The year after, two weeks. Useless. July 14th 2013 I gave it one more go….and this time it stuck.

In the last year I’ve:

  • Ran 463 miles
  • Ran 110 times
  • Averaged 4.21 miles for each run, much higher than expected
  • Seen a lot of Glasgow
  • Realised that I love running in winter, summer…not so much
  • Tracked all my runs in RunKeeper

I mention RunKeeper for a good reason. Firstly it’s free and using it’s 5k training plan it got me running on a varied program which kept it interesting and challenging. Secondly I can download all the GPX files (XML file of GPS waypoints) and produce graphics like this.

Where I ran in 2014. Each run mapped onto a Google Maps export.

Where I ran in 2014. Each run mapped onto a Google Maps export.

When I read the Flowing Data post called Where People Run in Major Cities and saw the visualisations they had produced I knew I wanted to do the same. I worried I wouldn’t have done enough runs with variety but I’m pleased with how it came out. I’m also surprised at some of the area’s I haven’t run in which means some good options going forward. Nothing better than running somewhere new to keep things interesting. RunKeeper also exports your data in csv so you can graph it with ease.

Distance per month in miles

Distance per month in miles

Number of runs per month

Number of runs per month

Average speed in mph. Getting slower!

Average speed in mph. Getting slower!

Lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months are obvious really with hindsight but worth repeating. Firstly, always stretch, warm up and warm down properly before and after each run. I’ve got lazy with this sometimes and can feel little niggles creep in when I don’t do this properly. Secondly – listen to your body. If you are feeling a bit under the weather or are carrying an injury then tailor the run accordingly. Third – BFH – bus fare home. A couple of times on longer runs I’d be three miles from home, feeling a bit sore, tired or ill and no money to get a bus or taxi home. So I carry a small bit of money on those longer runs just in case. Fourth – hydrate. Don’t underestimate how much fluid you will lose on hot long runs. Plenty of water before and after should see you through a run up to 10km but anything more then I’d carry some water to keep me going. Finally, enjoy it and keep the routes varied. I struggled to get going at first as I stay on a hill and the climb back at the end always defeated me. Building up on a flat canal close to home got me running further and further until I’d got a large enough base to tackle hills. However it was getting boring running up and down the same stretch of water so it was great to branch out and vary my runs.

Looking forward I’ve some small goals to keep me going:

  • Run 500 miles in a year. Narrowly missed this year but if I keep consistent and injury free it should be achievable
  • Improve speed
  • Buy new shoes as the current ones are starting to get a bit done. A trip to Achilles Heel is in order.
  • I’m interested in measuring heart rate but hanging fire on getting anything until Apple announce…something?
  • Play some more with R. Some interesting data in those RunKeeper files.
  • One thing I won’t be doing is entering any races. I don’t know why but racing just doesn’t appeal to me.

So thats my running year. I still can’t believe I’ve been out over 100 times but looking forward to 100 more. At least.

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