The last time you heard from
me I was off to use recess for a few days off
(managed to sneak some holiday this recess).
As we left Parliament the storm clouds were
Nicola Sturgeon’s head in
connection with a letter she’d written in support of
her constituents. Yesterday we saw Nicola come
storming back herself with that personal statement,
demonstrating why we rate her so highly – she’s
definitely in the very top rank of Scottish
politicians. She came to the chamber cloaked
in humility after taking time to reflect on the
issues raised and she proved, quite categorically,
that saying sorry with dignity and integrity for the
few mistakes she made shows the strength and depth
of her character. We are in good hands with
Nicola as Health Secretary, she’s an excellent
Minister and a good constituency MSP. You can
read her statement in the Official Report here -
recess was obviously far more fraught than mine.
I gave the Toast to Scotland at a Burns Supper in
Lochwinnoch and managed to get away for a few days
travelling round Sutherland (gorgeous part of the
country) and on the homeward journey I spent the
afternoon at the new Culloden visitor centre which
is absolutely fantastic. I hope that NTS will
do a similar job with another famous battleground at
Bannockburn. We’ll move more confidently
towards our future when we have our past in context.
Back to Parliament on Tuesday
for the Equal Opportunities Committee and on
Wednesday for a long-standing engagement with the
Women’s Asylum Strategy Group where I listened to
excellent presentations of personal accounts from
women and the issues that are still causing great
concern. They all presented different issues around
healthcare, education and family life. The
impact of asylum issues on learning English, raising
self-esteem and developing self-image was all too
apparent. I now have a list of issues that
need to be taken forward to ensure that we develop a
proper welfare-based approach to asylum seekers.
Something I don’t often write
about in my column (mainly because of
confidentiality issues) are the surgeries I
undertake with constituents. Last Friday I
held a surgery in the Asda store in
Blantyre and it got so busy I
actually had a queue for a while. There are
some photographs of it (a wee bit blurry because
they were taken on a phone, but you can still see me
hard at work). Saturday was the launch of
fairtrade fortnight with Hamilton fairtrade and I
wish Carol Clarke the very best of luck with raising
the profile of fairtrade products and convincing
people to change their buying habits.
From there to Cadzow and the
parish church where we went to Stop the Traffik.
It was, of course, the concert in the church to
raise awareness and funds.
Shona Brown, the award-winning
flautist played some amazing pieces along with Rev
John Carswell, Colin Towers was outstanding on the
clarsach and David Stewart and Stuart Park did a
power of work in keeping things going.
Absolutely stunning, as well, were the SoundRoutes
Singers – excellent entertainment, and then there
was me. I was speaking, not singing, and
laying out the realities of trafficking. There
are some horrible truths behind trafficking.
Back to Parliament for a mo,
though, I was at a very inspiring event on Tuesday
night where I heard the tales of a group of looked
after children who went climbing in the area around
Nepal. Their accounts of the experiences they had
were wonderful and the funds they raised will
provide a clean water system in a Nepali school.
Scotland’s children demonstrating that, when faced
with challenging circumstances, can really rise to
One last thing, though; there
are a lot of you out there who would pay good money
to see a politician barbequed – now’s your chance……
My Father had Motor Neurone
Disease and I am hoping you will help me raise as
much as possible for the charity
MND Scotland. I’m going
to do a fire walk!
If you want to help, just go
to the page below and donate as much or as little as