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The Working Life of Linda Fabiani MSP
W/C 4th October 2004


It's a strange job being an MSP. Following last week's Conference in Inverness, and a much enjoyed overnighter with friends in Dingwall, the week ahead was certainly full of variety.

Straight through to the desk in Edinburgh on Monday to try and clear the decks for the week ahead. Always full of good intentions when I have a Monday without constituency events, but it never quite works out like that. By the time I've reacted to the hundreds of emails the hours have passed and it's dark outside.

Tuesday morning brought my first meeting of the Standards Committee with our own Brian Adam in the Chair, and very good he is at it too - obviously much respected by the other members and by the Standards Commissioner.  Had to leave early to race up the High Street to give a presentation on the new parliament complex to a couple of dozen Tour Guides who will be giving full tours to visitors - I hear that already since it opened the new buildings have had more visitors than in the last year on the Mound. Boy, did these Guides want details! By the end of their tours I'm sure visitors will know more about than those of us who work there every day. Had to leave just as lunch was being served unfortunately.

Arrived at my next venue - giving a talk to varied business people on how to lobby parliamentarians effectively - just as the buffet was being cleared away. Par for the course, but they did give me some chocolate brownies wrapped in napkins to take away - so it wasn't all bad. Back to the office to be interviewed by a MORI Poll representative on perceptions of some Scottish companies - it's always worthwhile to participate in the MORI surveys as they donate 75 to a charity/group of your choice. I was really delighted when East Kilbride CND reformed a couple of months ago, so that's where I sent the cheque this time.

I was really looking forward to my evening in Glasgow at the STUC where a Colombian Trade Union activist was visiting Scotland to tell of his and his fellow members' experiences at the hands of the Colombian Government. Unfortunately Hernando was unable to speak as openly as he would have wished because four heavies from the Colombian Embassy turned up to psyche him out: Well, they said they weren't from the Embassy, merely interested in the topic, but the Colombian Embassy insignia on their car kind of gave them away! I've met Latin and Central American union activists many times, both here in Scotland and when I visited Peru prior to that country's regime change, and I am always astounded by the bravery of those who work for their compatriots in the face of great personal danger. Hernando has been arrested many times at home - never charged, just held for months and then released. On other occasions Union and Community activists have been killed, or have disappeared.

Wednesday, and again a new committee - Communities Committee. The main subject this week was TETRA masts which are causing great worried in communities all over the country. The committee agreed to look into this further. From there, a quick dash to the Petitions Committee - although I'm not a member any more, I did want to take part in the grilling of the Minister as to why he won't hold a Public Inquiry on behalf of adult survivors of institutional child abuse. He refuses point blank - I simply cannot understand why. Anyway, all of the committee members are annoyed at the Executive's attitude and are forcing a full debate on the issue - good for them. Straight out from there to talk with Holyrood Live for the BBC.

Managed to miss the Finance Minister's Budget Statement in the Chamber in the afternoon - seems I didn't miss much, and drove to Cumbernauld to take part in a 7:84 Theatre Company production about PFI. Quite an innovative idea as they do the play and then ask politicos to join them on stage for an audience discussion about PFI/PPP and its effect on the Health Service and Education. It was well attended and the audience really got into the discussion. Lots of  our MSPs and other Nats have been taking part in this - I understand that only one Labour member has turned up at any of the showings. Must be feart, or ashamed, or both.

Straightforward Thursday - First Ministers Questions/Question Time/Tories using their time to debate a motion of no confidence in Malcolm Chisholm, the Health Minister. The Lib/Lab coalition won the day as usual of course. Though interesting that Malcolm has since been bumped.

Friday and Saturday as normal - try to clear the decks again, and do house visits and community events (probably the most enjoyable bit of the job). It was a quick week, but that's the kind of job it is.


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