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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
17th December 2009


Yule be fine

The photos here are from my recent surgery at Hamilton in Asda. Meeting constituents is my favourite part of the job and it was a very valuable couple of hours spent talking to people and hearing about the issues that concern them. A wide range of concerns came up, from dog fouling to hospital hygiene inspections, all of which I’ll respond to, working with my local councillor colleagues where that’s appropriate. My thanks go to Asda for allowing me to use their premises and especially to shop greeter Peter, who put a call out on the tannoy to let shoppers know I was there and kept everyone cheerful despite the chilly day. On Friday evening I was in Falkirk speaking at a fund raiser for the local Westminster candidate John McNally - John was the victor in a tremendous council by-election battle in 2005 and seems well-set for the contest against Labour's Eric Joyce. I was intending to write my speech around all the SNP achievements over the past two and a half years but I printed off a list of them before I went and I would have still been there if I had talked about them all. Here are some of them for you to ponder what we can do when we put our hearts and minds to it, though; the lowest ever class sizes in Scotland; 1,000 more police officers; hospital waiting times reduced; the National Portrait Gallery refurbished; the Saltire Prize to encourage production of renewable energy; bridge tolls abolished; hospitals saved; council tax frozen; business rates cut; prescription charges cut; Baccalaureate introduced; Scottish history and culture back on the curriculum; Graduate Endowment abolished; organised crime being tackled; money from criminals being ploughed back into our communities; concordat with local authorities; Independence referendum coming; cutting quangoes; and the Climate Change Act.

Asda

Asda

Asda

Saturday saw me eventually getting to grips with some Christmas shopping in Edinburgh, the excitement in the air on Princess St gardens was fantastic and kids singing Christmas songs always reminds me of growing up in Glasgow and spending time in George square and standing for hours in front of Lewis' shop windows with all the Christmas scenes……... ach well its good to reminisce.

I had a fantastic time on Monday I was at St Peters school in Hamilton to meet the Pupil Council and see the wonderful Christmas tree the forestry commission donated on my behalf (they do it for every MSP - I don't know whether they do it for others.

St Peter's Christmas Tree 

It was really nice to see the tree up and so beautifully decorated by the pupils. The whole school looked extremely festive and cheerful. I was also very impressed by the members of the Pupil Council, who welcomed me to the school. They represent the views of their fellow pupils and make sure their voices are heard on school issues. It’s a great example of democracy in action and just goes to show that it’s never too early to start involving children in the decisions that affect their lives.

From there it was off to a meeting with the SNP council group in South Lanarkshire to discuss issues around the budget and how they have influenced some of the better decisions coming from this council. Our council group have worked tirelessly to lessen the impact of the Westminster cuts on council services and projects its not an easy thing to do when we all have to share the burden of Labour's cuts to the Scottish budget but with a team like this we can certainly make it less likely to affect frontline services.

Monday was a busy day because it was off to the office to get through the huge pile of mail and to smile a bit at the numerous Christmas cards I received from organisations and constituents. One card from the Humanist Society of Scotland said inside 'we wish peace and good will to all men…and women and children without exception and hope that we may find a way to live together in friendship and mutual respect'. A lovely Christmas message I think.

Another great part of this job is being invited to Christmas concerts and I was at a truly smashing one on Monday night with the North Lanarkshire junior group orchestra, brass band, wind band, traditional music band and the junior choir. They where all fantastic and one particularly good piece was 'The Nightmare before Christmas' which was played beautifully. My favourite of the night was a group of primary kids who performed the poem 'Night before Christmas'

Twas the night
Before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse

The stockings all hung
By the chimney with care
In hopes
That St. Nicholas
Soon would be there

Just to get you in the mood.

In parliament this week I had Equal Opportunities committee where we questioned John Swinney on the 'Diversity Delivers' report and we heard that some progress has been made in ensuring that women, people with disabilities and people from minority ethnic backgrounds are represented appropriately on public bodies in Scotland.

Wednesday saw me in the chamber to ask a question following the education statement:

        Christina McKelvie (Central Scotland) (SNP): When suffering a bout of insomnia, the cabinet secretary might have read Labour's 2007 manifesto, which referred to the commitment to build or refurbish 250 schools over the four years to 2011 as an acceleration. Will he confirm that we have now exceeded that total in two and a half years? Will he say whether that acceleration is above and beyond anything that Labour could ever think of?

        Michael Russell: That is the best question that I have had so far. It is also the only question so far that is based on fact, not prejudice.

        The reality is that yes, of course, we are doing even better. We are doing far better and we will continue to do so. The important thing here is not shouting from Andy Kerr—that is never important—but that better schools are being provided for young people, and that the people responsible for providing the worst schools were those in the previous Administrations. That is the truth.

Wednesday evening I was singing carols in the garden lobby with colleagues from the parliament, people from the local area and the stars of the show the children from Royal Mile School who sang 'Walking in the air' with such passion… they were perfect.

On Thursday we had the bizarre sight of Iain Gray at First Minister's Questions asking the First Minister about a blogging website that was a bit unsavoury - ignoring issues like the collapse of Flyglobespan, Scotland's biggest airline, the Copenhagen summit, and the high number of people in Scotland who are unemployed just now.  It seems that the priorities of the Labour party begin and end with political opportunism and don't touch on the misery facing too many people in Scotland.

Well as I write this the snow is falling outside and Arthur's seat looks like its been sprinkled with icing sugar so I'm thinking its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  This evening we have the Christmas party for the SNP Scottish Parliament Group (of course, we invite our colleagues from other Parliaments and from SNP HQ) - it's a chance for all of us to say thank you to our staff for all the work they put in day after day all year round; the job would be impossible without them.

Can I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year.


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