Did an election really take place yesterday????

I have been involved in elections for the last few years as a member of a local party campaign team and an election agent. This year I have not been and it feels strange, it feels as though an election did not take place.

Holyrood

The very small campaign team was set up late and not at the end of last year or early weeks of this. It appears to have had limited ambitions and has done what normally happens fail to engage with members properly and encourage them to help out. It has delivered leaflets that appear to have been put together at the last minute and “are rubbish” according to some neighbours of mine. They failed to engage.

Again as usual there was no canvassing done. I know the pandemic made it difficult but there was telephone canvassing the could be done. It was only done by one person in the local party on one afternoon. Yes other people were canvassed by phone but not by members of the local party – those outside did some for the Regional Campaign. When doorstep canvassing was allowed, none was done. I know this as I’m the admin person for our data sets and I checked every day to see if I needed to process stuff. There was nothing. A missed opportunity to gather data to help win a Council seat next year. It just makes it harder to do so.

The local party have a website and bulk email system. Neither were used prior to the campaign. As the admin for this area i was not asked to help update the site or send anything out though I did offer back in February, an offer that was not taken up until end of April. I was then sent two articles for East Lothian and 2 for Midlothian North & Musselburgh (MN&M). This despite the fact the local paper was posting weekly articles, written by the candidates, for about 4/5 weeks prior to polling day. I published all 4 articles and noticed our website had a four-fold increase in hits as a result. I also sent out all articles by email to the respective groups and only 4 people – people who had nothing from us for over 6 months – unsubscribed.

I also posted all 4 articles onto our local party Facebook page. It is noticeable that the two of them had better reactions than the others. Those were the two for MN&M especially the one with the candidate planting a tree. This suggest the power of a decent photograph drawing people’s attention.

There was nothing done in the final week that I’m aware of. Hence my question at the start of this.

It feels strange not being involved. I could have been more involved in Regional stuff but I don’t have private transport anymore and that made things difficult to pick up leaflets that I could have used and canvassed locally myself separately from the main stuff. It might have helped me feel more engaged. Accordingly it is highly unlikely I will be involved in any more campaigns going forward. It would depend very much on the candidate and whether I felt I could work with them. I’m the admin for several systems we use, I can give people access and advice on how to use them but, I need to be asked. I am not going to offer otherwise.

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A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1)A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am a Naomi Novik fan but I was dubious about A Deadly Education for the first several chapters. There’s a lot of initial info-dumping to absorb here, and El, who narrates this story, is a hard main character to warm up to. She’s defined chiefly by her snark, her anger, and her unwanted affinity for mass destruction spells. She also is frequently her own worst enemy, driving others away when it would clearly benefit her. Main characters who are prickly and rude to others and who shoot themselves in the foot with their own decisions are a hard type to enjoy.

But, the character has a natural talent for mass murder and destruction and this is offset by the way her sweet, open-hearted white witch mother raised her. These two opposing factors, nature vs. nurture, create a major tension within El’s character, making her a more interesting person as I got more into the book, and by the end I was fully on board with her character. Orion isn’t just a hero; he has his own issues, and the friendship (and perhaps more) between him and El has a tough road to travel.

While the Scholomance has a worldwide, highly diverse student body, the handling of this diversity is on the shallower end of the pool. I didn’t really get much of a feel for their different cultures, including El’s half-Indian heritage. Other than that, though, there are an abundance of marvellous details in the world building. El’s focus on language and linguistics plays a major role in the way her magical talents develop, and there are magical drawbacks to learning new languages as well as benefits. The benefits of wealth and social status are shown very clearly in who thrives in the Scholomance, or even just survives.

View all my reviews

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Flowers at the roadside

I’ve noticed recently that there are some different flowers growing in the roadside verge near Marine Parade compared to those that grew last year. It is likely a combination of the dry, sunny weather, lack of rain, chill breeze from the east and no road sweeping that has enabled these to grow.

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Health services to be in local communities

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has set out plans to increase the range of healthcare, diagnosis and treatment in local communities with more services delivered through pharmacies and GP surgeries.

The party says that super-specialisation and centralisation of health services has left people in remote and rural areas, such as Caithness, with long journeys to hospital for treatment and want to create new measures to encourage staff to take up posts in rural and remote areas.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain proposals to:

  • embed more nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists with GPs so that people can get a wider range of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care within their community.
  • empower pharmacists to do more prescribing, making use of secure health records.
  • Create strong clinical networks to give peer support to professionals working in remote and rural communities.
  • Change professional education to include more training placements in rural communities to give students a taste for the benefits of the work.
  • Adapt national guidelines so that they support rural healthcare.

The pandemic has had a massive impact on our NHS and the heroic staff who work within it. I want to ensure that the NHS recovery is taken seriously in every corner of Scotland.

There will always be centres of excellence, but we must get far more healthcare in local communities so care is as close as possible to home.

We have seen people in Caithness angry that specialist maternity services have been taken out of their local hospital so that many mothers now have to travel to Inverness to have their baby. We’ve even seen reports of mothers going as far as Livingston.

We want a new deal to increase the range of treatments and diagnosis that are undertaken in communities and hospitals across the country.

In Australia and Canada there are posts called Rural Generalists. There is even an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. This makes careers in rural areas much more attractive.

Our plans will increase the number of professionals living and working in rural areas which will help build stronger, diverse communities.

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Raise the starting age for formal education

Scottish Liberal Democrats will include in their manifesto a commitment to raise the starting age for formal schooling to 7, transforming how children learn in what is currently P1 and P2.

The longer early years phase will still be mandatory but it will focus on child development, social skills, outdoor learning, and physical and mental health.

In advance of this, the party would also immediately abolish the SNP’s controversial national testing of five-year-olds which runs contrary to a play-based education and has been heavily criticised by teachers and independent education experts.

At the forthcoming election, Scottish Liberal Democrats will ask voters to back us to put the education system first.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will introduce a truly-play based education until age 7 to give every child a flying start. By learning together through play children develop the skills needed for trickier tasks and are better prepared to shine in areas like literacy and numeracy.

The UK is almost unique in Europe in expecting children as young as 4 or 5 to begin formal schooling. By the age of 9, pupils in Finland have much higher reading levels than pupils in the UK, having started at the age of 7.

In advance of this we would also immediately abolish the national testing of four- and five-year-olds introduced by the SNP and heavily criticised by teachers. Parliament voted to halt them years ago but was ignored. The SNP claimed the support of world-leading experts for the controversial policy, only for those same experts to call it a ‘perverse misrepresentation’ of their work and conclude the tests were ‘completely useless’.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will always be the party of education. It’s time for a historical, radical, and positive change to improve our children’s future. Raising the starting age for formal schooling to 7 is an important part of our plans to make Scottish education the best again.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have been working since 2018 with Upstart Scotland to develop plans to transform how children learn in what is currently P1 and P2.

On 20 September 2018, the Scottish Parliament voted to abolish standardised assessment of P1 pupils. The vote came after the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that the government’s P1 testing policy had received hundreds of pages of criticism from teachers describing the tests as “cruel nonsense”, “completely useless” and “a waste of staff resources”.

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