expected the news this week to be full of the progress of the SNPís
first budget, but my colleague Aileen Campbell MSP has found a new
way to steal the headlines Ė nip into the canteen, take a ladleful
of hot soup and pour it over your hand, have a trip to hospital to
get it bandaged and cut it fine for getting back to vote on one of
the most important days in Parliament.
she was on the BBC website, looking like a hero and being described
as one by the BBCís Scottish Political Editor, Brian Taylor. There
she stood, hand and wrist heavily bandaged, and back speaking in the
people will do anything to get in the news!
[photo of Aileen]
seriously, it was quite a bad burn and caused Aileen a fair bit of
pain, and she is soldiering on. If you want to drop her a line to
sympathise, commiserate, or give her a ribbing, you can reach her on
Politics in all its guises this week as we saw the best of debates
in Parliament and the darker side of politics coming through with
the focus on the resignation of Peter Hain.
was a historic week in Parliament Ė the first Budget Bill ever
brought by an SNP Government was debated, and there were some
fantastic contributions. Our Cabinet Secretary for Finance and
Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, was in excellent form, with a
fantastic grasp of the detail in his portfolio and his excellent
debating style contributing to a sparkling performance.
fair, some of our opponents raised their game this week as well, and
it was a fine debate (which you can watch on the Parliamentís
website or read in the Official Report), showing that Scotlandís
Parliament has high quality debaters throughout every party.
one day after that debate, though, Labour let us all down at First
Ministerís Questions by blaming the rape of a 16 year old girl on a
policy decision of the Government. Labourís leader Wendy Alexander
tried to suggest that she was raped because the SNP Government
hasnít yet abolished automatic early release of prisoners. As First
Minister Salmond had already pointed out, though, the rapist wasnít
on early release Ė heíd absconded from an open prison. It was a
shameful thing to see Ė as one person emailed into Parliament, using
what was a traumatic event for a young girl in such a way is about
as base as politics gets Ė especially when she got her facts wrong.
suppose there may be other things on her mind at the moment, with
the resignation of Peter Hain in London making things a little more
difficult for her, but there really is no excuse for using a girlís
distress in that way.
Hain, of course, has resigned from the London Labour Government
after failing to declare donations made to his campaign for Deputy
Leader of the Labour Party in London when that declaration was a
legal requirement. Wendy is facing similar claims, and it is
understandable that she is feeling a fair amount of pressure just
the whole sorry mess is sullying politics for everyone. Even those
parties, like the SNP, who remain clear of all of it receive some
degree of damage from it. Itís the whole political system thatís
from the rough and tumble, though, and out where politics should be
making a difference to peopleís lives, itís also been a bit of a
mixed week. There was the senseless shooting of a man in Blantyre,
apparently for asking a couple of youngsters to stop making so much
noise. Iím meeting the police to talk about this and other issues,
but it does bring up again the issue of gun control that Kenny
MacAskill keeps talking about.
is our Justice Secretary and has called for the power over gun
control to be brought home to Scotland from London to help address
the increasing number of injuries caused by guns. I can see no
reason why anyone who doesnít need a gun for their job should have
or want one Ė Iím fully behind Kenny on this, we must be able to
restrict the supply of guns in this country and we must give our
courts the power to deal with people who offend.
course, children who are offenders are dealt with in a different
manner in Scotland, courts arenít generally used to address
offending behaviour by minors here Ė thatís usually the job of the
Childrenís Panels, and I was privileged to be invited to the opening
of the Scottish Childrenís Reportersí Administration office in
Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram MSP, was doing
the honours Ė I suppose thatís one of the more pleasing jobs in