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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
30th April 2009


Budget implications

I’ve just left a debate on the implications of the UK budget for Scotland.  Labour members continue to try to sell the line that it’s a good deal for Scotland – no-one else believes it though.  Speaker after speaker put the opposite case, pointing out that the UK is an economic liability and that the position has worsened markedly since 1997.  It gives you pause for thought that we are back to the same position as 1976 when the UK had to go begging to the IMF to prop up the economy.  Peter Mandelson has signalled that the UK Government is preparing to go there again.  It seems that the news is not going to improve in the near future either.

Last week I left you hanging as I dashed off to the Press Awards as the guest of Campbell Gunn of the Sunday Post.  It was a good night, slightly held in check by the knowledge that some of the people there and some of their colleagues are facing an uncertain future as the newspaper industry remodels itself.  Job cuts are in the offing for too many journalists, and I worry about how our media will develop with cuts so deep in the collective knowledge and experience of the professionals in the industry.  That was why I accepted the invitation to be a speaker at the rally for the Daily Record and Sunday Mail workers on Friday.  You can see some coverage of that on the NUJ’s website at http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1211 – including video footage of the rally and interviews.

I also attended the NUJ’s charity Press Lunch on Friday as the guest of the NUJ’s Scottish organiser Paul Holleran – so much contact with so many journalists in such a short space of time really can’t be good for you, can it?

Come Monday I was off to East Kilbride to visit ECEBS – a small company that’s developing new technologies and is taking on staff at the moment – a shining Scottish success story in the midst of the economic gloom – I’ll update you on some of their work at some point in the future.  There will be more news out of this company soon – keep your eyes peeled!

Then it was off to see a young constituent who’s interested in one of the cross-party groups in Parliament and then it was off to Hamilton in the evening for a branch meeting and some campaigning for the European election.  I’ve got a good feeling about Europe this time, we could come away with a great result on June 4th, getting three elected.  Dr Aileen McLeod, our candidate sitting third on our party list was out campaigning with the Hamilton team last night, it’s looking good for her election if we all put in a bit of extra work over the next few weeks.

I was the guest speaker at the North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council Workers Memorial Day of remembrance on Tuesday, speaking at the gathering in Summerlee Heritage Park.  That was a huge honour for me, given that my father was an iron moulder in Maitlands ironworks just up the road from Summerlee.  An emotional time then, remembering him as well as all the other people whose memory we had gathered to respect.

Leaving there and the journey was through to Edinburgh to prepare for the Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, but the evening had a reception and dinner in Parliament to mark the Open University’s 40th anniversary.  The OU is a cracking institution, it has helped lots of people to get qualifications who might have missed out otherwise.  Dr Alan Macartney, one of our former Euro MPs, was a lecturer with the OU before his election, and he was a fine man with a grand intellect and a real care about people – much in the mould of the OU.

Wednesday saw us meeting for a final research briefing at 8.45 in the morning before going into committee for Stage 2 consideration of the ASL Bill from 10 o’clock which didn’t finish until after lunchtime rather than just running the two and a half hours scheduled.  Then I had chamber on Wednesday afternoon to hear the statement on swine flu – it sounds like things are under control and that the Government is taking all the steps it needs to in order to protect the public.

In the evening we had an extra group meeting and I went off for dinner with my colleagues – the entire group!  Vittorios on Leith Walk is quite a nice place to eat, by the way.

That takes us all the way up to today – apart from a meeting with one of the stakeholders of the Ravenscraig Development, all of my time was in the chamber.  I asked a supplementary question to Alex Salmond during First Ministers’ Questions about the demands by Labour for massive increases in student support – which they, obviously, never delivered during their time in office and which stands in marked contrast to their position on pensioners – they aren’t demanding any increases in the state pension which is currently lower than the student support we pay out – perhaps because that might cause Labour politicians some problems?

I also got a speech in on the budget debate which was quite a robust debate and worth watching on Holyrood TV.

Before I go, I want to tell you about Linda Fabiani MSP mooving with the times – a dairy farmers’ rally outside Parliament brought one of Linda‘s near neighbours through with his cows Daisy and Buttercup..


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