Weeks Beginning Monday 4th and Monday 11th December
Well, before I even start I must first of all
apologise for the lateness of this posting. You see, I was settling
down to it yesterday late afternoon, when I was ordered home by
Calum and Morag because Duncan was taking me out for a meal for my
birthday (Fabulous 50!). So, off I toddled, out we went and ended up
having a great time in a wee Italian restaurant in Leith in the
company of some very dear friends, including Calum himself, Morag
and Davie (how they managed to keep this quiet I’ll never know). So,
if I tell you that I am now sitting here late Friday afternoon
feeling a wee big fragile, I’m sure you’ll understand. And, as it’s
Friday afternoon and I don’t intend working over the weekend at all
(apart from writing loads of Christmas cards), I’ll do a catch up
from the 4th December until yesterday.
Maritime Monday on the 4th – our
Committee was hosting a conference to discuss the potential
implications of the European Union’s proposed Maritime Strategy, and
to formulate a particularly Scottish response to the consultation. A
good event, with lots of workshops and discussion from contributors
– ferry and ship freight operators /fishermen/environmentalists/
scientists– all those with an interest in things maritime. The
Clerks are now busily putting together our full report for
circulation. The Plenary events took place in the Chamber:
Honest, that’s me at the podium in the middle
Back to East Kilbride on the Monday night to
speak at the Osteoporosis Society Christmas meeting, and a wee party
afterwards. I won two raffle prizes!
Local stuff in
Strathaven on Tuesday morning and then that boring drive through to
Edinburgh again for the Europe Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The
Committee wasn’t boring though – our last evidence taking session on
our Inquiry into the European Commission's Strategy for Growth and
Jobs and our first consideration as to how Scotland implements EU
Directives – do we do so too strictly compared to other places?
We’ll be taking evidence on that in the New Year.
was a really busy day – this week was Trade Union week so loads of
events going on in the Parliament culminating in a debate on the
roll of Trade Unions on Wednesday afternoon. It was all a bit
self-congratulatory on behalf of the Labour Party Members’
contributions I thought. All talking away as if the Labour movement
is what it once was – as if! Time they all wakened up and smelt the
coffee, and as I said during my contribution to the debate, time for
Unions to stop paying a political levy to New Labour – I’m sure
their members would much prefer their contributions to be used for
fighting particular causes rather than lining the coffers of a
political party. Maybe I’ll ask my Trade Union to contribute to my
election campaign next year – see what they say.
Livingstone SNP on
Wednesday night to be their after-dinner speaker at their
fundraising Christmas ‘do’. Great fun and venue – Chenzo’s Italian
Restaurant in Uphall. I spoke about Scots-Italians and how Italian
culture has contributed to the development of Scots culture over the
many years since Italian immigrants came here in numbers. (mind you,
the way I feel right now as I write this, I wish I didn’t enjoy the
wine quite so much!).
Busy Chamber Day on
Thursday – Stage 3 of the Adoption Bill, and me contributing again –
this time on the question of whether couples who are not married
(heterosexual or single sex couples) should be able to adopt
children. Seemed to me it was illogical not to allow this – for
decades now single people have been able to adopt, regardless of
their sexual orientation, so it seems eminently sensible to me that
where two people are in a stable relationship, the child should have
the legal security of two parents rather than just one. This
particular piece of legislation – the Adoption Bill which was passed
and will become an Act – was extremely worthwhile and long overdue
in its modernisation and simplification of our adoption system.
There was loads of issues in there, but sadly the one I’ve outlined
above was the one which received all the media attention and
engendered letters to MSPs (from both sides of the argument).
Book Launch on Friday evening – he’s a prolific writer our Kenny
(this book’s a joint effort with Henry McLeish, ex-First Minister).
It’s called “Wherever the Saltire Flies” and is based on interviews
with members of Scottish societies throughout Australia, New
Zealand, USA and Canada. Singapore and Japan too, and even London!
I’m looking forward to reading it, so I’ve bought it to put in with
Duncan’s Christmas presents – how cheapskate is that!
On Friday I visited
the 'Look at Me' Exhibition at the Museum of Country Life in
Kittochside, just outside East Kilbride. This Exhibition is the
result of a joint project between Save the Children and National
Museums of Scotland, which worked with gypsy-traveller adolescents
to highlight their culture and foster understanding with the wider
community. The teenagers made short films on site at Kittochside and
developed photographic self-portraits as to how they see themselves.
I was delighted to be hosted round the exhibition by George and
Andria, young Fife based gypsy-travellers – their explanations of
the portraits of themselves and their friends made it all the more
interesting and their obvious pride in their background and
traditions was a joy.
Straight from there
to one of my local Spar Shops to do a Friday night stint behind the
counter – Botterills at Whitehills. It was a promotion for Christmas
by the Small Grocers Federation to encourage people to shop local
where possible. Local stores are under such increasing pressure form
supermarkets and of course the internet.
I enjoyed my stint at
Botterills, but I'm afraid I was more of a hindrance than a help to
the staff! Last time I worked in a shop we jotted the prices down
with a pencil and added them up; now it's all very technical and
Gillian was very patient
Saturday was one of
these days where I’d much rather be at work – cleaning up for
Christmas and our New Year visitors. Enough said about that. Sunday
was good though, and the real start to the Christmas Season with
mince-pies and wine at Morag’s. That started this week off well and
seems like since then all I’ve been doing is stuffing my face!
Tuesday, being after-lunch speaker at the Linlithgow and Bo’ness
Rotary Club, then Tuesday night in Hamilton at the South Lanarkshire
Council SNP Group Christmas bash, Wednesday lunchtime eating again,
carrying out a restaurant review for Holyrood Magazine, and then
last night my surprise birthday dinner – one of the big surprises
was as well as my fellow MSP pals Roseanna, Rob and Eleanor, George
Reid, our very own Presiding Officer. That really was a shock when
he met me at the restaurant door, but a very welcome one – it was
great to have him there. If he’d kept better order though, I might
have got to bed earlier!
I honestly did do
some work this week though, in between all that eating. Chamber
still sat, parliamentary questions were submitted and of course
constituency work and folks’ problems don’t stop for Christmas.
Wouldn’t it be great if every new year people really did get the
chance to start over, and everything came right, problems solved.
Well, I’m off now,
heading back to Strathaven and to the Academy’s Christmas Concert –
that’ll chase away the blues. Until next Friday … … … …