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The Working Life of Linda Fabiani MSP
30th November 2006

Week Beginning Monday 20th November 2006

Well, here I sit at midnight on St. Andrew's Day, 30th November thinking back ten days and how quickly it has passed. I got home at 11.00 pm tonight, earliest since Sunday 19th, so please forgive my lateness with my MSP diary. It's been good though.

A favourite part of the job last Monday, calling in at Sandford Primary School to be grilled by primaries 6 and 7: they're doing a project on the Parliament and boy-oh-boy do they know their stuff. In two hours I only managed to catch them out on one thing - why is there only 129 msps but 131 seats in the Chamber? Hardly anyone knows the answer to that one, and I'm not saying until next week!

From Sandford to East Kilbride and meeting with constituents who want to talk about the future of local government in South Lanarkshire and how it is likely to change when the new voting system allows proportional representation. You know, folk in East Kilbride feel very put upon by SLC and see their town being run down, their green space being sold off to the highest bidder, with no benefit to locals and their families because the houses being built are way out of the reach of the first-time-buyer and most working people. Real frustration - how about independence from South Lanarkshire Council for East Kilbride?

Drove through to Edinburgh on Monday night, hoping to attend a special film screening of La Dolce Vita, to open the Italian Film Festival. But, it was not to be - fate was conspiring against Morag and I having a leisurely evening; traffic jams, road works and sadly, an accident, meant that it took over 2 hours to get there. So, no buffet and film-show, just a banana and email!

Busy day on Tuesday, starting with the Standards Committee in the morning (I really don't enjoy that committee you know, but someone has to do it - the company's fine, it's just the content), a presentation from Executive staff at lunchtime on "Scotland's International Image" (interesting) and the Europe and External Relations Committee (interesting as ever, but then I'm biased) in the afternoon. Back to Lanarkshire at night for the Annual General Meeting of the West Lanarkshire Girl Guides. As always, a real fun occasion, but very special this time because one of the members was awarded the 'Silver Fish' - the highest accolade that can be given to a Guider. I understand that there are only six recipients in Scotland, so well done to Morna Ferguson - what dedication she has shown over the years, not just to the guides in her own pack but to guiding worldwide, and Africa in particular. The pride that all of the girls and women had in Morna's achievement was palpable - I was shedding a wee tear myself! The food's always good at the West Lanarkshire Guides AGM too - great cakes.

Morna in the Middle (the man with the Chain's the Provost - awfy nice chap)

Big treat on Wednesday morning when Michael Docherty from St. Brides/St. Andrews School in East Kilbride came to join Calum and I for two days work-experience. Calum and I thoroughly enjoyed having him around - in fact, Calum better watch out, this lad was really good at answering the phone and doing spreadsheets. I think Michael enjoyed his experience too, but better he tells you than I - see his own diary below the picture of Michael sitting at the First Minister's Desk in the Chamber:

and Michael's Blog

The Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 22nd November 2006

Thursday 23rd November 2006

Report for Linda Fabiani

I would proudly like to take the opportunity to thank Linda and Calum for letting me do my 4th year Work Experience in the Scottish Parliament.

When I had arrived at the Scottish Parliament, I was a bit nervous when going through the security, but after it I was relived when I did not beep. So after going through security I had to go to the reception desks, and I told them that I was doing my Work Experience with Linda Fabiani, they called up and they told me to wait over at the seats.

When I was waiting for Calum to come and collected me from the public entrance, I was starting to fell very nervous, but still full of anticipation. It was soon time when Calum came and collected me from the Public Entrance, we then had to head back to the desk, for Calum to send me in.

After being signed in we headed up to Linda’s desk, and we were talking about the Parliament, and I was telling him that I had been here before to meet Margaret Mitchell (Conservative).

When I walked in her office, I was greeted very warmly, so after five minutes, she asked me if I would help Calum to write brief notes for her conference on “Aids in Africa”, this was interesting but a bit sad with the accounts of deaths of babies. Afterwards we then went on to writing her questions to ask the Scottish Executive. I had also helped her with highlighting her constituency contacts for her Christmas Card List.

Linda and myself went to a meeting with the Euro Clerks in her office, that to me was quite interesting and I learned all about what Linda and the Euro Clerks was saying thanks to Linda’s notes.

The next day I phoned Jack McConnell’s Parliamentary assistant to arrange a meeting with Jack McConnell. Back at the office I helped sort out documents into certain categories. So I did that then I told her about the meeting with Jack McConnell. So she asked Calum and I to go and meet he Reps from the Slovak Academy of Science, so we gave them a tour around the parliament and I also talked to them about the MSPs in the Parliament and the Constituency after this Linda asked Calum to make sure that I was at the Debating Chamber on time. I was starting to fell nervous but every thing was alright, and I was pleased to meet the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament. So I got my photo taking with Jack McConnell, but only after Linda quickly sorted the tail of Jack’s Jacket. But after I got my photo taken with the First Minister I was proud of myself.

We headed for Lunch I had met some members of various parties including Labour, Conservatives etc… after lunch we had decided to go back to work in the office where I taking the role of Assistant because Calum had to go and help another MSP. This included helping her with her mail and answering the phone which I enjoyed, because I got used to saying “Hello Michael Docherty, Linda Fabiani MSPs office”. I also kept getting my photographs with Linda and other MSPs of the SNP.

Finally it was time to go and meet my dad at the Public Entrance, for a tour of the Parliament building. My dad and I like the art and the architecture of the Parliament building but the room that I was more fascinated with was the Debating Chamber, so I got my photo taken in the First minister’s chair and in the committee room.

I was very pleased and grateful with the whole experience, I would say that I learned a lot about the daily work of an MSP in the Scottish Parliament and also how hectic a politicians work is from answering the phone to sorting the mail. I was also pleased when she said that I could come back to the Scottish Parliament to work their a bit longer some time in the future.

I have enjoyed my 2 day Work Experience and would happily recommend it to many other people that I know, because it was truly a spectacular 2 days and I loved it, so thanks Linda and Calum for making it happen.

The only thing that Michael wasn't able to come with me to was the working dinner on Wednesday evening, run by Psoriasis Scotland - a gathering of politicians, sufferers and doctors. I learned so much more that I knew about this condition which can be so debilitating in its serious forms. Sufferers and doctors wish the condition to be classified as 'chronic' so that benefits relating to prescription charges etc. can be accessed. There is of course a whole debate going on at the moment about the re-classification of 'chronic illness', and I'm following it with interest.

Busy Thursday for Michael and I - meeting with representatives from the Slovak Academy of Sciences (Slovakia - another small European independent country which is doing rather well - amazing isn't it how so many people are intent on telling Scotland we can't do it?). Michael and Calum showed the professors around the Parliament building while I ran in to see Kilmaurs Primary School for a question-time event. Wee souls were exhausted - they'd left their school at 7 am - still, didn't stop them talking! After Michael and Michael Senior left on Thursday I spent a couple of hours catching up on constituency cases - writing letters to Ministers, phoning for more information, sending mad emails to Davie and piling the work onto him (delegating it's called). Poor Davie and Calum - they must have felt their hearts sink when they opened their email boxes on Friday morning.

Friday morning and I was in Glasgow speaking at the Royal Environmental Health in Scotland Society. They were interested in the workings of the European Committee. A smashing audience and we had a really good discussion afterwards. I was fascinated by the work they're doing in Malawi in conjunction with Strathclyde University, to establish a Centre for Water, Sanitation and Health. Also on Friday I visited Concern Worldwide to hear about the work they're doing in Malawi (Friday was a bit of a Malawi day). That work is particularly in relation to combating malnutrition - of the 2,319,000 children in Malawi under the age of 5, 48% have stunted growth and 22% are underweight. The months between November and April are the "hunger season" in Malawi and, for example, in the Machinga District last December cases of moderate acute malnutrition among the under-fives reached over 10%. Concern establishes small centres, staffed by local people, within communities and whilst they ensure a nutritional food compound for babies and young children they also recognise that it is not just about food, it's about increasing the capacity of these communities to recognise and manage malnutrition and to take steps to avoid it. I was really impressed by their work.

Before I headed off the Blantyre - St. Joseph's Church's St. Andrew's Night Fling - I called in at Caledonian University to help some journalism students with their media project, and was filmed being interviewed about Scotland's role in Europe. It was interesting that Paul, one of the students, had done a placement at the EK News, my local paper - East Kilbride seems to have a lot of journalism students; I often get calls and emails from them.

Well back to Blantyre - Lanarkshire that is, but a bit of Malawi again too because St. Joseph's fundraiser was for Malawi, home of their namesake town. Mary's Meals was the recipient of St. Joseph's generosity - as Father O'Farrell said the amount raised will feed over 200 children for a year. The Mary's Meals charity provides lunch for children at school - so encourages education. It's not just about handouts though - again the projects are run by local volunteers and promote community common-good.

Well done St. Joseph's - and it was great fun raising it too

Campaigning on Saturday - won't be long now until our election. We got a great feedback from folk we spoke with in East Kilbride, although maybe they just had sympathy for our little band braving the wind and rain in St. Leonards!

EK SNP's own St. Andrew's Ceilidh on Saturday night - hooching and chooching into the wee small hours - great. And Sunday night just rounded off the week for me; Paul Buchanan, ex-Blue Nile in Concert. First tour for ten years! I couldn't believe it had been so long since I sat entranced the last time. Wonderful stuff  - the talent this wee country produces is amazing, we should all recognise it more often. I've been singing ever since.


Linda Fabiani

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