I’m delighted to be
taking over this diary of a working MSP from Linda Fabiani. Linda
is quite an inspirational character – she worked hard through all
the years of opposition, as detailed in the dairy she wrote for you,
and that effort has been continued in the way that she and the other
Ministers have put Scotland first and striven to deliver a better
country for all who live here.
I was elected in May
as an MSP for Central Scotland, and I’ve been settling into my new
role, learning quickly and trying not to put my feet in the wrong
place. The pace is hectic – I’m told it’s actually a lot faster
with us in government than it ever was under the previous coalition,
there’s a sense of excitement around Parliament, a feeling that
things are improving, that we’re heading in the right direction as a
We’re going through
the budget process just now – line by line examination of the work
that John Swinney has done to make the money we’ve got stretch
across the whole of Scotland. It was the tightest ever settlement
for Scotland, and John’s achievement in bringing the budget to
something which can deliver for Scotland is quite impressive.
I’m also on the
Education Committee. You’ll have seen the news about the Committee
rejecting the Abolition of the Graduate Endowment on the casting
vote of the Labour convener, and that was an act which left me quite
angry. Last week the Labour party organised students to come to
Parliament and demand extra money – this week Labour MSPs voted to
drive students further into debt.
Every time you think
you’ve seen the depths of cynicism to which Labour will stoop, they
astound you by going lower. At least on this particular issue the
decision about whether to remove that burden of debt from students’
shoulders will be coming back to Parliament for the whole Parliament
to vote on it.
We carry on trying to
make Scotland a better place, though, and we’ll continue to bring
forward the measures that are needed to do that. Our opposition
have a choice – they can get on board and help or they can continue
to be the stumbling block that we have to get over to make Scotland
a better place.