Streets of Edinburgh is an interesting website replete with photos of 987 streets in Edinburgh. No more, no less, no comments, no meaning, just an A-Z and photos of the streets. It’s quite good, when browsed randomly at remembering just how much of Edinburgh is quite plain, ordinary, dour even. Though I’m sure some of that may be the black and white aesthetic.
Whilst I’m on the topic, Dave Henniker’s website features lots of great photos of Edinburgh and has been a site I’ve been looking over for maybe ten years now, certainly it was somewhat of an inspiration in my early photography.
Many’s the day I sat and chuckled with my Scottish mates back hame and laughed heartily at the deprivation we were forcing on poor Londoners by daring to be Scottish and hoping that investment from elsewhere in the union might raise the standard of living. Alas, I’ve now given in, headed south and I’m delighted that at least unlike the Eastern European migrants I don’t have to bother working hard to send money home cos the government does it for me. Perhaps that’s the benefit of being in the same union, if not nation.
Of course, the actual figures are somewhat interesting, but I don’t think London suffers for investment much, certainly not just now. And, the way things are going (with voters favouring independence) we’re probably well on the way to a federal UK. Which may actually be just what Salmond and SNP want:
The SNP is now urging Scots to move to the next level – full political independence. They seem to be nibbling, but there is a studied vagueness about exactly what full-scale independence would actually mean. The SNP propose to remain within the EU, retain the Queen as head of state, and keep sterling as Scotland’s currency, at least for the time being. This looks more like federalism, or perhaps confederalism than old-style 19th century nation-state nationalism. It could even be a form of “devolution max” that is being proposed by the Liberal Democrats.
Iain Macwhirter, The Guardian.
I’m not sure what exactly English Nationalists stand for, and I’ve never seen the SNP campaign in such a racist fashion, nor would I ever expect them to. I’ll voting Green first and Ken (Labour, natch) second come the election anyway.
Ironically, also years of the union hasn’t helped raise living standards much (as Macwhirter points out something like 500,000 poorly paid working class folk are going to lose out from the 10p tax rate), Scotland really needs quite substantial change much as London did, which Ken has delivered, but which can only happen with a government which, to an extent antagonises, and much more importantly challenges those in Westminster and takes advantage of what power it does have.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to Google the Commission For Racial Equality’s phone number.
OK, so there’s the continuing rumbling rows about politicians expenses. Let’s have some fun seeing what we can find by looking online.
First things first – what data can we get, well there’s a bit on MPs at Westminster, but it’s not very detailed.
Instead, let’s look at MSPs and see what we can find there. We should look at the current financial year (2007-2008), then an expense that might be interesting, so how about Website Costs, which obviously I know something about. We get a total of £15,906.88 accross all MSPs, Charlie Gordon MSP has claimed £10,014.39 of that, now £35.40 of that was for Queen’s Park FC (?) and the remaining £9,978.99 was paid to GMG Solutions.
Hmm. What could make his website so much more expensive than everyone elses? Though admittedly only 20 MSPs claim for this expense anyway. For extra credit you might do a whois search, because then you find it lists a Gavin Gordon as the Administrative Contact. I wonder if he has an M for a middle initial and that GMG Solutions is his company. I’m not seeing anything illegal here, but it does seem odd, does it not, that one MSP claims about 62.9% of all expenses for all MSPs for this year for this type of expense. Maybe he should talk to his colleague George Foulkes who is a marvellous example of restraint in comparison with a single cost of £800 funding a website which includes a blog which even encourages Federalism (but without an rss feed, alas).
Should there not be something similar to the John Lewis list of reasonable prices as used in but not disclosed by Westminster to be used in assessing the costs all representatives charge the taxpayer for all expenses? Maybe Westminster does have something to teach Holyrood? Is it possible that other MSPs are listing their expenses for websites as a different type of expense, and if so are these figures not helpful when examined at this level?
But here’s the question I really want to know the answer to: if all this is public knowledge and freely searchable, why has no-one else picked up on it? After all Charlie Gordon was the subject of some considerable press coverage recently in the Wendy Alexander donations saga. Is it because it’s actually all hidden in so poor an interface as to make only random interrogation a useful method for finding things out? I’d dare say yes – time to try and write a site scraper, or see if anyone at the Scottish Parliament would be willing to provide a data feed.