August tours

As promised, here’s a wee programme of tours to coincide with all those other fun things you can do in Leith/Edinburgh in August. It’s not part of any Festival. Click on The Walks link above, and you’ll see there’s a tour going every Friday afternoon at 2.00pm. It will be nice to see you if you can manage along.

I’m afraid I need £24 minimum for any bookings outside the programme. If there are three or four of you it might be worth asking me through the Contact Me link above to see if we can arrange something. I do have a day-job, so it needs to be negotiated.

All hope, no plan.

Taking full advantage of the month of the blue moon in July, I didn’t write a blog. Plenty of stuff happening, as ever, but not blogworthy stuff. Had a cracking tour with a stag party. I normally say the tour doesn’t got well on stag do’s. You know, there’s not exactly a laugh every step of the way. But these boys were good fun, and I left them in The Central Bar, warming up for the evening ahead.

Plenty stuff on the political front as well, of course, even though it’s traditionally the silly season. The Jeremy Corbyn tale, for example. When Alex Salmond says he’s someone to do business with, it tells you all you need to know about who Salmond reckons will do most to de-stabilise Great Britain and further the SNP cause. What Salmond and Corbyn have in common is the triumph of hope over experience. Don’t get me wrong – at first I was attracted to the Corbyn left-footedness. Who can find fault with the big ideas?: nationalise the railways, banish Trident, you know the others. It all ignores the requirement to be in office before you can put any of it into practice. Of course, the SNP is in office. Did they nationalise the railways when they could have? No. Their commitment to banishing Trident remains untested, but they sure can talk some good rhetoric. But, whether Corbyn wins the leadership or not, the Labour Party is changed, and that’s good. What the Conservatives and the SNP both need is a coherent, authoritative opposition to hold them to account for their broken promises and regressive policies. I’m voting for Yvette Cooper.

This ‘hope’: it’s a good saleable commodity, bottle it if you can. But you don’t win, either politically or in sporting encounters, through hope, fervour, and commitment. You win by knowing how to win and being in a position to put your ideas into practice; we’re looking for the best combination of idealism and pragmatism and that’s always a compromise. A friend in the party said she will vote for Corbyn because she would rather go down with her principles intact than ‘sell out’ as she put it. Oh dear. Down she goes. The British parliamentary voting system rewards broad-church parties, but really there are at least two parties within Labour – centre-left and further left – and two or possibly three in the Conservative party, which will not survive the upcoming in/out referendum on Europe intact. We need much better voting systems, certainly for Westminster (which produces well over 90% of Scottish representation and 56 MPs for the SNP on 50% of the vote – UKIP had more votes, GB-wide, and have only one MP) and also for Holyrood. Then we can have smaller parties with much clearer messages, and of course they will have to compromise in office. That’s representative politics for you.

And it won’t be long before the SNP ‘hope’ wears out. They can’t hold together the disparate bunch of MPs much more. Some are Tories at heart, some are economists who won’t let the party get away with their la-la land failure to address serious policies, some are professionals in various fields (ditto the above), some are genuinely progressive (but where are their progressive policies on voting methods?), and some are dafties. Hope – they know it’s leaking out of the bottle. I prefer pragmatic idealism, myself.