Letter from Edinburgh 25.09.09

I’ve been at the seaside over the last few days. Indeed I shared a pleasant stroll down the Bournemouth prom­enade with Alistair Carmichael. The Liberal Democrats’ annual confer­ence has been in Bournemouth. Next week Labour are in Brighton and then the Tories are in Manchester.

So Alistair and I discussed vitally important party conference matters such as the quality of the ice cream and whether better was available in Kirkwall or Lerwick. This, I should say, was accompanied by a BBC TV camera and staff taking pictures! Alistair is not eating ice cream. The poor chap is hardly eating anything as he’s on a diet. The effect is remarkable. No alcohol and lots of soup! I feel sorry for him. Would a good swim off the Bournemouth beach or back in Kirkwall not be easier and more enjoyable? But he’s certainly lost weight so whatever gruesome gruel has to be consumed, as an alternative to fry ups and the odd pint, is having the desired result. Conferences are of course the gath­ering of the party faithful, or in some cases the unfaithful, who come along to cheer the leader, endorse all the leadership’s wonderful ideas and give lots of their own money to party coffers. Presumably that’s how it works in the Tories but not the Lib Dems!

Again, for the purposes of giving hard pressed camera men from the broadcasters something to film, Nick Clegg, Kirsty Williams, who leads the party in Wales, and I walked up and down the afore­mentioned promenade. Kirsty was wearing a glamorous black dress and wraparound shades and looked like a Hollywood actress much to the delight of the camera crews. Unsur­prisingly they were more interested in her than the two men in suits. I can’t blame them. Apart from the usual delights of Scottish politics, I managed to get to two excellent fringe meetings. The first was run by the London 2012 team and featured Jonathon Edwards, the gold medal triple jumper and now BBC Sport commentator and Seb Coe who chairs 2012. They ran a video about the Olympic village and site. It’s a once in a lifetime occasion and just watching the excitement build will be something to see. I hope it can encourage many thousands more to get into sport; that Scotland works to have some of the international teams base themselves for training north of the border; and that it provides a springboard to the Com­mon­wealth Games in 2014. The second was a moving presentation about the current situation in Iran as the regime cracks down on dissi­dents.

I see that a new group has been formed to support the Viking wind turbine plan. Good. Because when Sustainable Shetland made a parlia­mentary presentation the other day they raised serious questions on the carbon payback. I hope that this new grouping will mean that many people across Shet­land who are unsure about the project will now benefit from a good, positive and thoughtful debate.

Tavish Scott MSP


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