Tag Archives: jim hume

“Press print”: Reflections on the heartbreak of losing a unique job

I’m rubbish at predicting elections. Always have been. Too many variables for my simple brain. What I do know is that working in politics puts you at the mercy of electoral ups and downs that can be weighted heavily against you at the drop of a box count. Beyond that, I leave the number crunching to those with better minds than this tragic idealist. For me, my 17 years in politics has been about believing in liberal values, sharing in those values with oddballs just like me and making firm friendships.

Stunt sheep; overnight bulk buy balloons; a giant toothbrush; and driving many weary miles to meet in the market square to start good mornings at 5am sharp “so don’t be late, Fee!” are just a few of the daft memories that will forever warm my heart. “Your job’s weird”, my friends outside  politics would say as I tried to explain GOTV and the need for the stunt sheep.

But this year’s Scottish Parliament elections handed me my saddest, and currently all too raw, memory with the loss of the brilliant Jim Hume.

When I first started working for Jim I had no idea that the nine years to follow would be jam packed with so many fantastic grassroots campaigns. It was the start of a teamwork of three bonded through a common work ethic and love for the cause, first with Charlotte, then Craig and now the talented Eleana. There was no room for half heartedness. From the chief’s messy office would come the clarion call, “press print”, which still now is a source of much comic value as we would set about bulk buying a volume of envelopes that would make even the parliament posties wince at the franking prospect. When facilities management tell you the volume is a safety hazard, you know you’re doing something right. Mailmerge was on. Jim has been an insightful and tenacious local campaigner, and an outspoken champion for mental health. He’s also a really good bloke and the South of Scotland is easily much the poorer for his absence. If politics isn’t a meritocracy, as a wise fellow staffer and friend once sagely observed, then it’s certainly reflected in losing Jim and the  fearless Alison McInnes. Even after umpteen years I still can’t fathom elections or the psychology at the ballot box. Sometimes it’s just painfully bloody unfair. But that’s life, I guess. It’s just politics.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

The Lib Dem week in Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWelcome to our weekly roundup of what the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie, have been getting up to. This week, our MSPs have had a lot to say about flooding, policing, A & E waiting times “Thatcherite” testing, housing and fostering. Oh, and Alex Cole-Hamilton and Edinburgh West are back, bigger than ever.

The week started with Willie Rennie’s Bright, green, liberal vision:

I will set out why four key liberal values should be at the heart of the next parliamentary session. They are that every individual should be free to achieve their potential, that we should stand with the weak against the strong, that power is safer when it is shared and that we are trustees of the world and must pass on a sustainable legacy.

Flooding: when will the SNP Government help?

Alison McInnes criticised the Scottish government’s lack of response to the flooding in the North East:

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Lib Dem Jim Hume’s Bill to stop smoking in cars with children present passes first Holyrood hurdle

Jim HumeThis week it’s become illegal to smoke in a car where there are children present in England. The responsibility for this area of law for Scotland lies with the Scottish Governemnt. For some time, Jim Hume, Liberal Democrat MSP for the South of Scotland has been preparing to introduce legislation as a private member to do the same thing in Scotland. Today his bill passed its first Holyrood hurdle.

This is one of these controversial issues where you can come to agree with the proposal or disagree with it from liberal principles. We don’t like banning things unless there is a very good reason to do so and we also want to look at the enforceability of such a law. I take a very dim view of anyone who breathes poisonous fumes over children in a metal box, but I am worried about the slippery slope of such a measure. I’d have been happy with a massive public awareness campaign. However, JS Mill would, I feel, back the Bill. While people have the right to cause harm to themselves, do they have the right to inflict toxic by-products on to their children in a manner that it is proven causes much more damage than smoking at home or outside would do.

Jim’s speeches from the debate are reproduced in full below:

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Jim Hume questions Scottish Government on gender identity clinic waiting times

If you are a young transgender person still at school, struggling to come to terms with your gender identity, you need specialised help pretty quickly. You should not have to wait a minimum of 7 months to see a specialist. If you are older, you should not be told that the waiting list is a year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume has highlighted this as another area in which the Scottish Government is failing to meet its 18 week target for referrals. This one will take a lot of thinking about as there are so few specialists in the gender identity field. They will have to come up with some long term plans to recruit and train more.

Kaleidoscot reports on Jim’s call for the Scottish Health Secretary to review provision for transgender people:

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Jim Hume MSP: SNP risks making GPs an exclusive service that many can’t access

I was interested to see this report in today’s Scotsman which featured Labour and the SNP slugging it out over cuts to GP training posts. People are finding it more and more difficult to get an early appointment with their GPs. You would think that the service that is the most common way for us to access the NHS would be better funded, but primary care now accounts for just 7.8% of healthcare funding, down from 9.8% in 2011.

It is causing a fairly massive amount of concern. You’d think that they’d want to discuss it in Parliament.

Oh wait – they did, but the Scotsman didn’t feel the need to talk about the debate initiated by Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume just yesterday afternoon.

Jim warned that the failure to recruit and train sufficient GPs risked the service becoming inaccessible to many people. He cited a survey carried out by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which showed that 4 in 10 respondents found their workload unmanageable and a third would choose a different career path.  An SNP MSP typically intervened to blame Westminster for increasing contributions to public sector pensions. In fact, it was day to day work concerns that upset GPs most:

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LibLink: Jim Hume MSP: Out of sight, out of mind? Why the SNP need to get serious on mental health

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has been writing on the Scottish Liberal Democrat website about the crisis in mental health care in Scotland, where they haven’t had a Norman Lamb in power transforming mental health provision.

In Scotland during the last 5 years, over 4000 people were treated outside their own health board. Jim says that’s not good enough:

Despite the number of patients being discharged from psychiatric hospitals in Scotland falling dramatically in the past decade, hundreds of patients are still facing being treated away from their families and communities.

There will always be some patients who need to be sent to specialist clinics outside of their health board for treatment. But it is clear that mental health units across the country are struggling to cope with demand on their services.

We know that sending patients out of area can isolate them from their support networks, including friends, families and their community care team.

The life-changing nature of such a move means it could also have implications for the civil liberties of an indidividual – which must be considered under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (ScotlandAct 2003.

It can be detrimental to a persons recovery.

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Willie Rennie to Bill Walker: Do the right thing and resign

Hume_BettsworthWillie Rennie has written to Bill Walker, the MSP for Dunfermline who was convicted of 23 instances of assault against 3 ex wives and a stepdaughter over a 28 year period to ask him to resign his seat in the Scottish Parliament. Here’s his letter in full:

Dear Bill,

I am sure that you will be aware of the demands for your resignation from the Scottish Parliament from both members of the public and Members of the Scottish Parliament.

I was disappointed to read news reports that you are not planning to leave Parliament.

You

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Jim Hume MSP launches consultation on bill banning smoking in vehicles with children present

Jim Hume launching consultation on smokingLiberal Democrat MSP for the South of Scotland Jim Hume this week launched a consultation on his Members’ Bill which would see smoking banned in vehicles where children are present. When I initially flagged this up a few weeks ago, there was a mixed reaction to the proposals.

Jim says in the foreword to his consultation document:

Recent research has shown that 17% of 11-16 year olds in the UK are exposed to second-hand smoke more than once a week while in a car with a further

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Banning smoking in cars when children are present: what do you think?

Jim HumeNorth of the Border, the war on smoking continues. Today, larger shops are no longer allowed to display cigarettes. Now, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP and health spokesperson Jim Hume is introducing a Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament which will ban smoking in cars where children are present. His proposal will be put out to public consultation from 28th May. Talking about his plan over the weekend, he said:

The tobacco display ban is another welcome step in changing Scotland’s relationship with smoking which began with the ban in smoking in

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 30 Comments

News from Scotland: Save Our Forests

We have recently launched a major campaign in Scotland to “Save Our Forests” led by Jim Hume MSP, who served recently as a member of the Forestry Commission’s South of Scotland Regional Forestry Forum and for six years  a Trustee of the Borders Forest Trust.

The SNP are proposing to lease out 25% of the Forest Estate, but it is the most productive part – so according to the Forestry Union this would equate to 40% of the £41.4million income the Forestry Commission receives from timber sales. It would leave behind a very weak Forestry Commission (FC).

The FC was set up …

Posted in Scotland | 3 Comments
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