Season of tiffs & mellow fruitiness…

If there hasn’t exactly been Miliband-fever, at the beginning of the week the blogosphere at least broke sweat over  the new Labour leader’s first big speech, which conspired to load and bless his party with electoral fruit. Kezia Dugdale suggests the speech was…

“… an absolute triumph. It was vibrant, honest and full of depth. There was a clear line drawn against the past and a clear set of values established for the future. An admission that Iraq was wrong and that we should never have considered 90 day detentions were very welcome – and i know will be appreciated by members in Edinburgh East.”

The Kirk Elder thinks that in future, Miliband should reign in his youthful rhetoric. Too much green sap, he says. With a maternal eye, Ellen Arnison suggests that the “Miliband brothers set tone for siblings in the spotlight” while Dispatches from Paisley writes on post-modernist Labour. SNP and trade union activist Chris Stephens suggests that the SNP should be glad that Ed has won. Others picked up particular elements of Miliband’s speech. On his assertion that the Iraq war as a mistake,  Labour MP Eric Joyce argues:

In the end, if you deify any human it’s going to end in tears.  At the Chilcott Inquiry, Tony Blair said the 2010 question was; ‘where would Iraq be today under Saddam?’.  For Labour in 2010, he was wrong and Ed is right.

I wondered how his statement – when Ken Clarke says we need to look at short sentences in prison because of high reoffending rates, I’m not going to say he’s soft on crime” – might impact on Scottish Labour’s “soft on crime” rhetoric. In a related argument (to which I’m indebted) the assiduous Stuart Winton looks at how Unionist parties rationalise different policy approaches north and south of the border, in particular on the living wage.

This week the SNP announced its rankings on the regional list for the Holyrood election of 2011. Of the party’s 47 Holyrood seats won in the 2007 election, 26 were members by dint of the proportionalising list system. Will Paterson offers the blogosphere’s definitive analysis, with likely promotions and relegations in each of the 8 Scottish regions. A number of incuments will almost certainly not be returning. Meanwhile, a certain critical Corbie has pecked out the ranking’s implications for women’s participation in Nationalist politics, assessing that:

“However, if the SNP takes the same number of constituency and regional seats in 2011 as it did in 2003 it is likely to have only 8 women MSPs, from a total of 27.  That would be 2 less than it actually achieved in 2003, resulting in less than 30% of its group being women. If the SNP wins 47 seats next year, repeating its triumph in 2007, then it will have 14 women MSPs:  exactly the same as it has now.”

Gerry Hassan has a piece on the “Slow transformation of gay Scotland”, while on the  related theme of the difficulties which can assail public avowals of sexual identity, Stephen has this emotive and deeply personal reflection on the place of sexuality in his own life. This week, US Senators revivified their suspended hearings on the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. As ever, Professor Robert Black keeps us informed on developments.

It was, by common consent, a turnipy edition First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood this week. Tumshies thwapped off another, perhaps causing a little blunt trauma to the respective parties, but hardly producing heat or illumination. Many in the blogosphere seem to have perked up at Green MSP Patrick Harvie’s question to the Maximum Eck, inviting him to support a moratorium on deep-water oil drilling.  Suitably Despairing, in impish echo of a certain SNP from bygone days, contends that “Its Salmond’s oil”. Jeff picks up the thread in an incendiary post, headlined “Oil be damned”. In other news from Holyrood, this week the committee scrutinising Margo MacDonald’s assisted dying Bill finished taking evidence from its second-last panel. I argue that the doughty tribunes failed to ask a few pertinent questions on the criminal law as it stands, which is a pity.

Typical instruments for protesting include but are not limited to – loud-hailers, daubed banners, a vocal and preferably alliteratively-scripted crowd. Pleasingly idiosyncratically, a group of enthusiasts have drawn attention to the petition on the Wigtown Bay windfarm by using … er … kayaks. Bigrab has also been donning his Admiral costume and taking to his canoe this week, with a diverting, waterlogged and geological reflection on the Highland boundary fault.

This week, carbon emission reduction group 10:10 released an explosive (literally) campaign video directed by Richard Curtis, better known for languorous metropolitan Rom-Coms. To say it has  gone down like the proverbial lead balloon is probably an understatement. More like a wrought-iron-reinforced lead balloon. One fruminous Greek Baby calls the ad an “epic, epic PR fail”, while Adam Ramsay of Bright Green Scotland attempts to salvage some crumb of comfort from the wreckage, but nevertheless agrees – “brave, bold, bad” – he suggests. On a related note, ThinkScotland hosts a post from Neil Craig, entitled “Climate folly of all the political parties” on Holyrood’s Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009.

Love and Garbage has an amusingly satirical piece that in no way relates to Migration Watch’s nimious attempts to sue Sally Bercow for libel. I look forward to the announcement that Migrainewatch will be receiving core funding from the Scottish Government any day now. Former Hue & Cry musician Pat Kane fronts new-ish blogging endeavour Thoughtland, self-styled as “a blog of ideas based in Scotland, interested in the future of the country, but referencing itself against the best of global theory and practice”. Currently, they’re mapping some of the sites of the life of the mind in Scottish life.

Peace-loving Liberal hippie Caron writes angrily, contra the Daily Mail, on the need for more council housing, a post that prompted Malcolm of Better Nation to grow mill owner’s mutton-chops and suggest that those with limited means should knot their sexual organs if necessary, and behave more responsibly. Mindful of both pieces, His traffic-coned Grace, The Irn Juq has written an extended reflection on “the World’s Real Oldest Profession”.

I’m sure many of us have enjoyed Open Doors Days as a chance to poke about in normally forbidden climes in familiar cities. SeanMcP has an exceedingly enjoyable account of his recent jaunt across Edinburgh, that took him from the Sheriff Court to the Observatory House and beyond. Meanwhile, Scots scribbler Sophia Pangloss summons our hag-ridden imaginations to other scenes and settings in Auld Reekie, starting us off in the hoppy confines Guildford Arms, a pub which I used to frequent now and then when I was a student in Embra. Maintaining the literary strand, Pining for the West has an interesting piece on the work of Thomas Carlyle, while poetic.ally, I must also mention this Scotland-based poet’s blog Beyond the Dragon’s Breath. Scotland in the Gloaming has an astonishingly evocative image of the ruined Dunure Castle at sunset. I’m sure MacBeth‘s Weird Sisters keep a summer bothy, just around the corner.  To leap from one coast to the other, in the east Tris of Munuin’s Republic has been to see the six finalists in the competition to design the building to house the outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, planned in Dundee.

A new university term will be beginning across the country. In matters musical, Aye Tunes reviews the University of the West of Scotland’s Freshers’ Music Festival.  Over at BellaCaledonia, Kevin Williamson asks Scottish football: when does the revolution begin? and suggests that

“The Old Firm financially dominate Scottish football but their heads-down-no-nonsense-mindless-running philosophy is holding back the development of the game here.”

Alas, I’ve no sage advice of my own to dispense, my last brush with football being a long age ago now, sentinelled lumpenly in goal during a school match.  I managed to block a scant percentage of my schoolmates’ enthusiastic strikings, successes mostly attributable to the dulling intervention of puppy bloat, rather than any dexterity on my part. In other concerns sporting and civic, the Burd offers a few warm thoughts on national identity and Ross Edgar, the Scotland team’s flag carrier at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. However, the world of flags is fraught with peril, not least for regular pub-quizzers. This week, Scots blawger Absolvitor has this discombobulating post on the legality of running your lion rampant underpants up the flagpole. I shan’t be making that mistake again.

And that, as they say, is that for this week. Many thanks for all your nominations and I hope you’ve enjoyed my selections! Cheerio for now!

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