I forgot to tell you about
a couple of things last week. Firstly there was what I did during
Alcohol Awareness Week – see these pictures of me helping out with the
Challenge 25 initiative in the Spar.
With all the work that
Kenny MacAskill and Shona Robison are doing at Government level to
address Scotland’s terrible relationship with alcohol, I thought that I
could at least help out a wee bit. With some concerted effort we can
make improvements that will see a healthier Scotland and reduce the cost
to our health service of alcohol-related illnesses.
There was also the
Cornflower Ball in aid of the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association
which raised in excess of £10,000 – that will help the Association
continue delivering its essential Care and Information services to
people in Scotland living with MND.
I’m looking forward to
welcoming Euan MacDonald to Parliament for lunch and a wee tour he
bought in the auction – I was a wee bit surprised that we got so much
interest for that wee prize in the auction – I was quite chuffed. I’m
also looking forward to the next Cornflower Ball which is being planned
for the 14th of November next year.
Now then, things from
Remember last week I was
off to the Motherwell College Awards? It was fantastic – the last
awards ceremony in that building, of course, as the college prepares to
move to its new campus on the Ravenscraig site (good to see the Scottish
Government’s support for that site paying dividends). There was an
awful lot of talent in that room last Thursday – bursting at the seams
with people who are excelling in their studies and have built themselves
a fantastic platform for their own futures. We’re going to be seeing
lots more of lots of the students who were there last week.
There was a wonderful
speech from John Boyle of Motherwell FC – he was quite inspirational,
telling the students that they already have all they need to be
successful in life, and that their learning at college was building on
their learning from their earliest days onwards.
Another awards ceremony
on Saturday as well (must be the season for it) in the Fruitmarket in
Glasgow. Nordoff Robbins is a charity which provides music therapy and
training for music therapists and they played host to the Tartan Clef
Music awards. Dougie MacLean received an award, as did Sharleen
Spiteri, Beefcake (with Billy Boyd), and Ricky Warwick. Edwyn Collins
got himself a lifetime achievement award – and then revealed that he’s
been using Nordoff Robbins music therapy to help him get through his
recent troubles after suffering a stroke. He’s walking now and he’s
back strumming his guitar – good news for fans like me.
I was off to Tapestry
earlier this week as well. Not the Bayeaux, the Tapestry Partnership
which supports educational excellence. Again with some fascinating
speakers who have a vision of a future Scotland developing and
progressing. They support the curriculum development that’s going on at
Government level and they’ll continue to put their collective shoulder
to the wheel to help Scottish education develop. I’ll be working with
Parliament this week was
excellent. The Free School Meals legislation was passing its final
stage this week. Amazingly, the opposition parties continued to oppose
the implementation of the SNP election pledge to give free school meals
to pupils in primaries 1, 2, and 3. In the end, though, the Statutory
Instrument passed with only 28 opposition Members voting against it.
I’m not sure how they justify their actions to themselves – they appear
to think that scoring petty party political points is more important
than doing what’s right.
It was also the launch of
the Scottish Baccalaureates. The SNP is driving this forward, enabling
a high quality qualification that will be recognised internationally and
giving Scottish pupils an extra competitive edge. Incredibly, some of
the opposition are against this too. Ach well, onwards, onwards.
We’ve also seen Linda
Fabiani launch the St Andrew’s Day events – Historic Scotland opening
the doors to allow free visits to many of their properties and all
leading up to the Year of Homecoming next year. It’s going to be fun.
I got up on my feet at oral questions to grill her (lightly, of course)
about that free admission and celebrating Scottish heritage and
culture. She, of course, answered well – I think she’s quite good at
I hope I’ll be seeing
everyone at the demonstration outside Dungavel on Sunday at 1pm. I hope
we can keep making the case that we should treat everyone humanely, no
matter how they come to our country. In the meantime, can I wish
everyone a very happy St Andrew’s Day!