in the New Year
It has been a
very busy year for us in the Scottish Parliament, legislation
passed, reports published and many many questions asked. It is
indeed the job of this Parliament to legislate and monitor that
any legislation is fit for purpose and actually delivers for
people in Scotland.
We have had a
bit of a reshuffle with Keith Brown MSP moving into the role of
transport minister in very challenging circumstances indeed.
One of those many challenges is the extreme weather we are
experiencing not just in Scotland but across the UK and Europe
and that has meant for some that getting home for Christmas is a
big challenge too, I do hope that the work being done by
airports, rail companies, bus companies, local authorities and
government means that they can all be at home for Christmas.
Some commentators seem to imply that the nature of good
Government is the good Government of nature but mother nature
has clearly demonstrated………she is definitely in charge!!! So
wrap up, keep warm and make sure if you travel you are prepared
for any eventuality.
2010 has been
tough for many folk in the Hamilton area, I am the candidate in
Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse in May 2011, but a look back
over the year reminds me that this area also has much to
celebrate. We have so many local organisations, community groups
and individuals who work hard day and daily to make a
difference. Whether it’s the Citizens Advice Bureau, Carers
Network, Salvation Army, church groups, sports clubs, tenants
associations, youth groups or countless others, Hamilton,
Larkhall and Stonehouse is full of people who are volunteering
their own time to help others. That’s something that we can be
And as we sit shivering in this freezing weather,
it’s also important that we don’t forget the members of the
emergency services, posties, businesses and everyone else who
are doing everything they can to serve our communities in
particularly difficult conditions. We also remember our troops
serving abroad and their loved ones.
For me, there
isn’t room to list all of my highlights of 2010: opening the
Hillhouse Fun Day in the summer, speaking to church groups in
Quarter and Cadzow about the campaign against human trafficking,
and joining volunteers in a community clean-up of Neilsland
Nature Trail are just some of them. I’ve been privileged to
visit many fantastic local organisations such as Lanarkshire
Rape Crisis Centre, the Liber8 project in Blantyre or Hamilton
Citizens Advice Bureau, to name but a few. I’m always impressed
by the energy, dedication and commitment to their communities
that I find in the people and local groups that I meet.
I’ve also met
many people who have been determined to stand up and fight for
what they think is right – such as the parents who successfully
campaigned against closures of local nurseries, the people in
Eddlewood who have been making their voice heard against the
removal of the community’s school bus, or the local forces
families who spoke to me at the Remembrance Day Service about
the UK government’s proposed cuts to war pensions. It’s good to
know that people are willing to stand up and be counted on
behalf of their communities.
when something you support parents to campaign for actually
becomes a reality. Children at Woodlands Nursery in Hamilton
received a festive surprise this week with the donation of a
free Christmas tree from Christina McKelvie MSP. The nursery was
one of those recently reprieved from being axed by South
The Scottish Forestry Commission offers Christmas
trees to MSPs to donate to local organisations each year.
I chose Woodlands Nursery as the destination for my tree this
year, after the staff, parents and pupils fought a brave
campaign to save it and other nurseries in South Lanarkshire.
The Christmas tree is a wee celebration of their successful
efforts. It was lovely to see the pleasure that the children got
from decorating their tree. Here is a wee picture of me with
some of the children, parents and staff. Can I also congratulate
Padmolka Smith the head teacher at Woodlands and wish her well
in her retirement, she will be greatly missed and leaves a
nursery which is still open and a testament to the great work
she and her staff have done over the year for the children in
I am sure you will agree that the children did a
great job decorating the tree and what a cute little group they
On Tuesday morning I was up at 6.30 am to see the
lunar eclipse it was the first one on a winter solstice for
nearly 500 years.
a lunar eclipse, the Moon, the Earth, and the Sun align so that
the Sun's rays are shielded from the Moon. An eclipse of the
Moon can only take place if it is full, and only if the Moon
passes through some portion of Earth's shadow, which is composed
of two cone-shaped parts, one nested inside the other. This
alignment does not happen every month because the Moon's orbit
is also tilted from the Earth's orbit at about 5 degrees and it
also rotates. We had a wonderful view from my house but the best
picture I saw that day was this one…..
The last time Scotland saw this was when she was
a free independent nation and maybe the new moon will bring with
it a new beginning and hopefully a turning point for our great
nation. On that point I was thrilled to see the Angus Reid poll
has us up 9 points in Westminster voting intentions, that is a
fantastic result and a clear validation of the good government
of Scotland by the SNP.
talking about our future as a nation here is a wee press release
I put out in support of re-instating Fresh talent.
MSP has called for the reinstatement of the Fresh Talent
Initiative as the UK Government moves to abolish post-study
The previous Fresh Talent Working in Scotland
scheme allowed international graduates of Scottish universities
to apply to remain in Scotland and contribute to our economy for
two years after graduation. The scheme was abolished by Gordon
Brown’s government in 2008 and merged with the “Tier 1 Post
Study Work Visa” scheme covering the whole of the UK.
SNP Central Scotland MSP Ms McKelvie has written
to External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop asking her to explore
with the UK Government re-instating Fresh Talent alongside
devolving controls over migration to Scotland.
Commenting, Ms McKelvie said:
“The Fresh Talent Initiative was welcomed by the
CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Scottish
Chambers of Commerce when it was launched in 2004, and should be
“People who study at our universities should be
able to apply to work in Scotland for a couple of years after
graduation to prove themselves as highly skilled workers, giving
benefits back to Scotland. We spend a lot of money on our
universities and they contribute massively to our country but we
should be looking for every opportunity to get something back
for Scotland out of that investment.
“We heard from business leaders, the External
Affairs Minister, COSLA and the STUC earlier that the cap on
immigration being introduced by the Tory Government in London
would be “likely to impede Scotland’s economic recovery and
distort the labour market” and reinstating Fresh Talent would
help address that.
“Fresh Talent was a Scottish solution to a
Scottish problem; it was abolished by Gordon Brown’s Government
and now the Tory Government is abolishing its replacement.
Without the return of Fresh Talent Scotland will be left without
the means to retain talented graduates from outside Europe even
though they got their degree from a Scottish university. Our
universities train thousands of talented people and we would be
sending them away instead of putting their talents to work
boosting our economy and creating more jobs.
“Reinstating the Fresh Talent Initiative for
Scotland is a sensible and practical solution and that’s what
the Home Office should be doing. Without full powers for the
Scottish Parliament we unfortunately have to rely on the UK
Government to do this but it’s a move that Scotland needs.”
Fresh Talent was launched
25th Feb 2004
Fresh Talent abolished by
Labour in 2008
Home Office consulting on
removing all provision
Scotland needs to be able to grow and to do that
we need to create the right condition to keep our graduates in
Scotland and economically active but we also need to ensure that
we can attract the most talented people from across the world
and encourage them to make Scotland their home. I remember my
old Granny telling me that there is 3 types of people in the
world. 1. Those who are blessed to be born in Scotland, 2. Those
who have the foresight to make Scotland their home and 3.
Everyone else who wish they were born or had settled in
Me I think we are all Jock Tamsons bairns.
So to finish up here is wee bit of Robert Burns
for the festive season.
OLD Winter, with
his frosty beard,
Thus once to Jove his prayer preferred:
“What have I done of all the year,
To bear this hated doom severe?
My cheerless suns no pleasure know;
Night’s horrid car drags, dreary slow;
My dismal months no joys are crowning,
But spleeny English hanging, drowning.
“Now Jove, for once be mighty civil.
To counterbalance all this evil;
Give me, and I’ve no more to say,
Give me Maria’s natal day!
That brilliant gift shall so enrich me,
Spring, Summer, Autumn, cannot match me.”
“’Tis done!” says Jove; so ends my story,
And Winter once rejoiced in glory.
I would like to
wish my constituents and all of my Electric Scotland readers all
the very best for a peaceful and happy festive period.
Merry Christmas and best wishes to everyone for a
Guid New Year in 2011.
Christina McKelvie MSP