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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
4th December
2008


Happy St Andrew's Day

Did you have a good St Andrew’s Day?  There was another fantastic series of events organised by the Scottish Government this year, including Linda Fabiani hosting the St Andrew’s Do in Princes Street Gardens.  Anything to get dancing, that woman!

I was at the Blantyre St Andrew’s night on Friday, the march in Glasgow on the Saturday, and Dungavel on the Sunday.  A night of celebration followed by an affirmation of our nationhood and then a welcoming hand to people from other nations who have found themselves in a difficult situation in our nation.  My assistant tells me that it’s fantastically Scottish – a hoolie, a “wha’s like us”, and a dose of hospitality.

The St Andrew’s Night do in St Joseph’s Church raised £1,100 for St Andrew’s hospice, so there was a benefit from our partying as well – enjoying ourselves and raising money for a good cause, that’s what I call a good night.  Here’s a photograph of myself with John Fallon (the Lisbon Lion), Father O’Farrell, and Anne-Marie Lappin of the St Andrew’s Committee.

It was good to see so many old friends outside Dungavel as well and to hear the Eurydice choir singing “All Jock Tamson’s Bairns”.  I look forward to the day when we no longer have to gather outside Dungavel to protest at the way that people are being treated.  I have great sympathy for the staff there who do an excellent job in very trying conditions and who seek to treat the people in their care with the respect that’s been denied them by the UK Government, and I respect the tremendous humanity of the staff.  My disgust at Dungavel is a disgust at the way the UK treats asylum seekers, the staff have my respect.

Monday saw me off to East Kilbride to Kirlandpark Primary school to speak to the pupils – and to get the usual tough grilling that primary school pupils seem to have handy for politicians!  Where do they learn how to get right to the heart of the matter?

Parliament this week was interesting; we began the process of the Additional Support for Learning Bill in committee – the SNP Government putting right the mistakes of the last bunch (not that I’m biased in any way, you understand); and the financial crisis dominated the proceedings in the chamber.  John Swinney’s continued excellent performance as Cabinet Secretary for Finance is very reassuring.  His command of the portfolio and his depth of knowledge is apparent whenever he rises to speak and he was in fine form on Wednesday as he changed the spending plans of the Government to improve Scotland’s prospects.  If he had command of all of the economic levers he could do even more and Scotland would be in better shape to face the troubles ahead.

The First Minister was also on form on Thursday as he addressed the banking crisis, revealing that the Government had written to the Competition Appeals Tribunal about the way the takeover is being handled by Darling and Brown.  I hope that the Merger Action Group is successful – we may still be able to save the Bank of Scotland.  You can read more about the Merger Action Group on the website - http://www.mergeractiongroup.org.uk/

That’s about all from me this week – I have to dash off because I’m being treated to dinner by Howard McKenzie, Principal of Jewel and Esk Valley College to celebrate the opening of the new campus.  Howard is a very entertaining guy and I believe I’ll be having an excellent evening.  I will, of course, spill all the beans next week.


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