fugit as they said in ancient Rome, and I know the feeling
well. Last week
I dashed off straight after chamber to get to the Glasgow
North East by-election, this week I rushed away to get to
the politician of the year awards, so I missed doing the
diary both weeks!
Time for a wee catching-upÖ
hard in Glasgow North East, activists from all over the
country put their shoulders to that wheel and tried to nudge
another Westminster seat into play.
We faced a negative and disingenuous campaign from
thought that they played dirty and dishonestly in Glenrothes
but it was as nothing compared to the gutter tactics used
this time around.
Iím glad the SNP doesnít use campaigning tactics like
that and I worry about the state of Scottish politics when a
political party considers that kind of thing to be
campaign is over now, though, and we lost by quite a
distance so we have to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves
off and get on with delivering for the people of Scotland.
Thereís an election in the next few months and weíll
be there campaigning for victory - more seats than Labour in
Scotland - we can do it if we put in the effort, and I think
the SNP is up for the fight.
meantime, we have a job to do in Parliament.
We passed the Schools Consultation Bill on Thursday
(itís not an Act until it gets Royal Assent), and thatís a
piece of legislation which isnít major but does take
important steps in education to help ensure that the best
practices of our local authorities when they are faced with
the uncomfortable task of rationalising the school estate,
closing schools which are underused and making sure that
council assets are used at their optimum.
An important part of the change is that councils will
have to examine the case for closure on educational grounds
rather than on financial grounds, and HMIE (the
inspectorate) will be involved in any proposal as well.
Thereís a bit more information available in my speech
in the debate which can be found at
ignore the Sideshow Bob comment from the Conservative deputy
leader, heís just jealous of SNP aspiration, Iím sure.
before that Jim Matherís Arbitration Bill was passed as
well. Weíre in
the third year of SNP Government (I still donít get tired of
saying that) and the legislation is coming regularly now,
weíve got through the sorting out of Labourís mistakes from
their time in office now (well, nearly) and weíre well on
the way on our journey to make Scotland a better place,
improve the lives of Scots, make our nation healthier, sort
out our justice system, set our education system on course
to be the best in the world, restore the principle of free
education, give Scots back our ambition, and so on.
Itís a long, hard journey, but weíre on our way now.
far the SNP has travelled from our years in opposition was
made abundantly clear at the Politician of the Year awards.
The three nominees for the top award were all
nationalists - John Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon and Kenny
MacAskill, any one of whom you can stand next to their
opposition in Parliament and mark just how far ahead they
decisions they have had to make over the last wee while have
been enormous and have carried enormous implications and
they have each taken those decisions with courage, aplomb
and a desire to make a difference for Scotland.
John Swinney is guiding Scotland through recession,
seeking to bring us out the other side stronger and more
prosperous, changing Scotlandís public finance landscape
along the way, bringing best value and showing what we can
do even without the full economic powers that Parliament
Sturgeon has been challenged by Swine Flu and has dealt with
that challenge so well that people from around the world
were watching her briefings to pick up information that they
werenít getting elsewhere - some of the US channels were
carrying Nicolaís reports.
In the meantime sheís been reducing prescription
charges, reducing hospital infections, getting waiting lists
and waiting times on target and generally improving our
MacAskill has, as everyone will know, had to take the
decision on releasing al Megrahi - a decision I think he
took with dignity and decency - while he was setting about
changing the sentencing structure of Scotlandís justice
system and challenging Scotlandís unhealthy relationship
politicians who stand head and shoulders above every one of
their opponents, itís a privilege to serve in the same
Parliamentary group as them, and it was well worth seeing
them each be nominated for the award.
John Swinney won, by the way, but Iím sure the other
two will be delighted for him that he won.
Weíve got much more work
to do, but with leaders like these Scotland is heading in
the right direction.