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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
3rd July

I’m going to apologise – I haven’t got much to tell you this week.


Parliament rose for the summer recess last week, but I still have a committee meeting to attend on Friday of this week and it’s going to be a long one.  I had thought that I would have a week or so without having to go through to Edinburgh to allow me to get on with the work out and about in Central Scotland.  I thought I’d be able to take my time between meetings and write up my notes during the day instead of having to write them at night.


I even thought I might have a chance to have lunch with a couple of friends instead of eating on the move; I had visions of having a more relaxed working life for a couple of weeks.  No such luck – there’s been a rush of constituency case work and a whole range of local meetings come in – I wonder whether people waited for recess before getting in touch?


This is, of course, my first proper summer recess (I was only a couple of months into the job last year), so it may be that this is normal.  Well, I won’t be bored, that’s for sure, but since (as you’d expect) I’m protecting the confidentiality of my constituents and the people I’m meeting, I can’t tell you much – very frustrating.


I can tell you that I’ve been made aware of something which is quite concerning.  There are changes to the benefits system being proposed in London where the back-payments will be limited to three months even if the claimant is not at fault for the delay in the decision being made.  Given that many housing benefit claims take about nine months to get through the system, this change could leave people in a really horrible situation.  Someone who has lost their job already has all the stress and the indignity of looking for another job, trying to find their way through the crazy benefits system to support their family, and all the worry of trying to survive on a lower income than the one they had before.


These changes would mean that six months’ rent arrears could be added to that worry and stress.  That’s a terrible thing to add to the burden that people have to carry.  I’ll be campaigning on this issue over the next wee while, trying to change the minds of the Ministers in London and looking for ways to alleviate the burden for anyone who will be affected.


Talking about campaigning – David Marshall MP has resigned and there’s a bye-election been called for his seat (Glasgow East) for the 24th of July – a short, sharp shock of a campaign – that, of course, means that any spare time activists have is taken up with campaigning, just in case I’d planned an evening off!


We’ve been out on the doorsteps already and it’s looking good.  I have absolutely no intention of trying to predict the result at this stage, but it feels good this time round; we could be about to head into another absolutely fabulous and famous election result.


Get ready for a fine SNP performance setting us up nicely for the European election next year, a great result in the forthcoming UK election, and the referendum in 2010.


Yes, we live in interesting times.


I’ll see about taking some photographs of campaigning for next week’s diary.

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