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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
24th June 2010


Don't stop believing!

Last Friday I had the privilege of visiting the Citizens Advice Bureau in Hamilton, the breadth of work they undertake is astonishing. I met with the whole team and was briefed on this issues they are involved with. By and far the biggest issue is debt and the bulk of the work is undertaken with individuals and families who find themselves in difficult circumstances with finance. Another project they have is Families Outside this fantastic project supports the families of men who are currently in Addiewell prison. It is easy to judge someone on the crime they have committed but it is with support and compassion that we can break the cycle of criminality. Families outside supports the families of these men with advice on financial support and in some cases emotional support to cope with the impact on the family with having someone in prison. It is as very difficult job to do but the commitment and hard work of the staff there can be a real difference made to the difficulties these families experience. One of the great things about our legal system and our civic system is that compassion and support play a very important role in changing attitudes of those who have committed a crime and supporting the families affected by it, it is only in this civilised way that we will support real rehabilitation. CAB explained to me that they had some challenges with funding and I have pledged to support them as much is possible but as they know budgets are tight and not only are people feeling the detrimental effects of personal debt the last governments approach to 'buy now pay later' has meant that we will all pay the price for this financial mis-management in ways that will cause great pain to us all.

This is some of the fantastic staff at CAB Hamilton with me outside their office last Friday and here is the link to their website; http://www.hamiltoncitizensadvicebureau.org.uk/

I had a lovely evening at Chatelherault with Linda Fabiani MSP and the Earnock and Hillhouse art group they had a wonderful exhibition of their work and this photo is Linda and myself with the art teacher and one of her wonderful paintings which is of course Chatelherault.

On Saturday following a trip to Perth for SNP National council I joined some of my friends for a wee fundraiser in South of Scotland. We had a brilliant BBQ with talented young fiddle players and pipers. It was all in a good cause, to raise some much needed campaigning money for the election next year. A big thank you goes to Gloria and Tom Mitchell for a most excellent night and a timely reminder that we need to get organised for next year as I believe it will be the fight of our lives. But it will be a fight where we will stand on our record for being a responsible, responsive and competent government who has taken decisions based on what's best for Scotland.

Sometimes it is hard to see the good news for all the nonsense spouted by our opponents and it was with interest that I read the GERS report for this year which yet again showed that Scotland was in surplus and that this was siphoned off into the treasury in Westminster never to be seen in Scotland again. I was also amused at the reaction of the unionist's in the Parliament when my friend and colleague Linda Fabiani suggested that Independence would see Scotland flourishing instead of floundering under the drag from Westminster. Here is the text of Linda's question;

 Linda Fabiani (Central Scotland) (SNP): Labour cut Scotland's funding and the Lib Dems and Conservatives are cutting it even further. Scottish growth is seriously threatened by all the UK parties. Meanwhile, as the cabinet secretary said, the latest "Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland" report shows that Scotland's public finances generate far more income than we spend—a Scottish surplus, as opposed to a UK deficit. Does the cabinet secretary agree that now, more than ever, the case is made for Scottish independence?

John Swinney: I agree with Linda Fabiani. The inherent issue, which I raised in response to Mr Purvis, is that if we have control of the financial levers, we can take responsibility for delivering the type of economic growth that can deliver the prosperity for which people in Scotland are crying out. That is the very straightforward prospect that the Government offers the people of Scotland.

The publication of the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report for 2008/09 not only fatally undermine the scaremongering by the London parties about Scottish independence but also makes the case that Scotland should have financial responsibility – particularly with Tory cuts threatening Scottish growth – Today’s report shows that Scotland’s public finances are in a very healthy position, and generate far more income than we spend - even in a period of recession and including a share of the UK Government’s Financial Sector Interventions to support the banking sector.

They show that Scotland’s financial position in 2008/09 was a current budget surplus of £1.3 billion, or 0.9% of GDP, including a geographical share of North Sea revenues. At the same time, the UK was in current budget deficit of £48.9 billion, or 3.4% of GDP, including 100% of North Sea revenues.

The cumulative value of Scotland’s current budget surplus over the four year period from 2005/06 to 2008/09 now stands at some £3.5 billion. Over this same period, the UK built up a deficit of £72.3 billion.

“These are the strongest GERS figures ever published – it is game, set and match for the case for Scotland to be responsible for our own resources.

“Today’s statistics make the case for Scotland to achieve financial responsibility. With the Tory/LibDem budget threatening Scottish growth and the Labour party unable to protect Scotland – having created the mess in the first place – only financial responsibility for Scotland can help Scotland’s economy grow more strongly and build recovery.

Coming the day after a budget in which Scotland has been dealt a share of the pain for the UK's debts these figures show Scotland's potential if we were in charge of our own resources.

“Today’s statistics also fatally undermine all the scaremongering from the London parties. Whilst they have been talking down Scotland – and running the economy down – the statistics demonstrate beyond doubt that Scotland has built up a surplus of 3.5 billion over a four year period, while the UK as a whole racked up a deficit of £72.3 billion.

“The GERS report conclusively proves that the flow of resources in the UK is from north to south – not south to north.

"The Calman proposals have been overtaken politically and economically and it is time to move on to real financial responsibility for the Scottish Parliament and a referendum on independence."

I believe we can do it I hope you do too.

And talking about believing I was back at Motherwell College yesterday and met the  winner of this years VQ award Marie Hanley. It was a smashing day with a number of young folk and not so young folk being recognised for using vocational study to enhance skills and develop employment opportunities. Marie is representing Scotland at the UKSkills competition and I think we all should wish her the best of luck. Marie does all sorts of complimentary therapy and has opened her own small business in Coatbridge. I think with campaigning season upon us again I will be using her services to help me with my sore feet

This is Marie and I just after she received her award. Marie puts her success down to having a dream, something to believe in and the encouragement of her tutors to realise that dream. I think Marie hits the nail on the head and demonstrates quite clearly that if you have a goal, a dream and something to believe in you can be a success so don't stop believing and hold on to that feeling.

Take care you all…..

Christina McKelvie MSP
Central Scotland


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