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The Working Life of Linda Fabiani MSP
15th December 2006

Weeks Beginning Monday 4th and Monday 11th December 2006

Well, before I even start I must first of all apologise for the lateness of this posting. You see, I was settling down to it yesterday late afternoon, when I was ordered home by Calum and Morag because Duncan was taking me out for a meal for my birthday (Fabulous 50!). So, off I toddled, out we went and ended up having a great time in a wee Italian restaurant in Leith in the company of some very dear friends, including Calum himself, Morag and Davie (how they managed to keep this quiet I’ll never know). So, if I tell you that I am now sitting here late Friday afternoon feeling a wee big fragile, I’m sure you’ll understand. And, as it’s Friday afternoon and I don’t intend working over the weekend at all (apart from writing loads of Christmas cards), I’ll do a catch up from the 4th December until yesterday.

Maritime Monday on the 4th – our Committee was hosting a conference to discuss the potential implications of the European Union’s proposed Maritime Strategy, and to formulate a particularly Scottish response to the consultation. A good event, with lots of workshops and discussion from contributors – ferry and ship freight operators /fishermen/environmentalists/ scientists– all those with an interest in things maritime. The Clerks are now busily putting together our full report for circulation. The Plenary events took place in the Chamber:

Honest, that’s me at the podium in the middle

Back to East Kilbride on the Monday night to speak at the Osteoporosis Society Christmas meeting, and a wee party afterwards. I won two raffle prizes!

Local stuff in Strathaven on Tuesday morning and then that boring drive through to Edinburgh again for the Europe Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The Committee wasn’t boring though – our last evidence taking session on our Inquiry  into the European Commission's Strategy for Growth and Jobs and our first consideration as to how Scotland implements EU Directives – do we do so too strictly compared to other places? We’ll be taking evidence on that in the New Year.

Wednesday 6th was a really busy day – this week was Trade Union week so loads of events going on in the Parliament culminating in a debate on the roll of Trade Unions on Wednesday afternoon. It was all a bit self-congratulatory on behalf of the Labour Party Members’ contributions I thought. All talking away as if the Labour movement is what it once was – as if! Time they all wakened up and smelt the coffee, and as I said during my contribution to the debate, time for Unions to stop paying a political levy to New Labour – I’m sure their members would much prefer their contributions to be used for fighting particular causes rather than lining the coffers of a political party. Maybe I’ll ask my Trade Union to contribute to my election campaign next year – see what they say.

Livingstone SNP on Wednesday night to be their after-dinner speaker at their fundraising Christmas ‘do’. Great fun and venue – Chenzo’s Italian Restaurant in Uphall. I spoke about Scots-Italians and how Italian culture has contributed to the development of Scots culture over the many years since Italian immigrants came here in numbers. (mind you, the way I feel right now as I write this, I wish I didn’t enjoy the wine quite so much!).

Busy Chamber Day on Thursday – Stage 3 of the Adoption Bill, and me contributing again – this time on the question of whether couples who are not married (heterosexual or single sex couples) should be able to adopt children. Seemed to me it was illogical not to allow this – for decades now single people have been able to adopt, regardless of their sexual orientation, so it seems eminently sensible to me that where two people are in a stable relationship, the child should have the legal security of two parents rather than just one. This particular piece of legislation – the Adoption Bill which was passed and will become an Act – was extremely worthwhile and long overdue in its modernisation and simplification of our adoption system. There was loads of issues in there, but sadly the one I’ve outlined above was the one which received all the media attention and engendered letters to MSPs (from both sides of the argument).

Kenny MacAskill’s Book Launch on Friday evening – he’s a prolific writer our Kenny (this book’s a joint effort with Henry McLeish, ex-First Minister). It’s called “Wherever the Saltire Flies” and is based on interviews with members of Scottish societies throughout Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. Singapore and Japan too, and even London!  I’m looking forward to reading it, so I’ve bought it to put in with Duncan’s Christmas presents – how cheapskate is that!

On Friday I visited the 'Look at Me' Exhibition at the Museum of Country Life in Kittochside, just outside East Kilbride. This Exhibition is the result of a joint project between Save the Children and National Museums of Scotland, which worked with gypsy-traveller adolescents to highlight their culture and foster understanding with the wider community. The teenagers made short films on site at Kittochside and developed photographic self-portraits as to how they see themselves. I was delighted to be hosted round the exhibition by George and Andria, young Fife based gypsy-travellers – their explanations of the portraits of themselves and their friends made it all the more interesting and their obvious pride in their background and traditions was a joy.

Straight from there to one of my local Spar Shops to do a Friday night stint behind the counter – Botterills at Whitehills. It was a promotion for Christmas by the Small Grocers Federation to encourage people to shop local where possible. Local stores are under such increasing pressure form supermarkets and of course the internet.

I enjoyed my stint at Botterills, but I'm afraid I was more of a hindrance than a help to the staff! Last time I worked in a shop we jotted the prices down with a pencil and added them up; now it's all very technical and complicated.

Gillian was very patient

Saturday was one of these days where I’d much rather be at work – cleaning up for Christmas and our New Year visitors. Enough said about that. Sunday was good though, and the real start to the Christmas Season with mince-pies and wine at Morag’s. That started this week off well and seems like since then all I’ve been doing is stuffing my face! Tuesday, being after-lunch speaker at the Linlithgow and Bo’ness Rotary Club, then Tuesday night in Hamilton at the South Lanarkshire Council SNP Group Christmas bash, Wednesday lunchtime eating again, carrying out a restaurant review for Holyrood Magazine, and then last night my surprise birthday dinner – one of the big surprises was as well as my fellow MSP pals Roseanna, Rob and Eleanor, George Reid, our very own Presiding Officer. That really was a shock when he met me at the restaurant door, but a very welcome one – it was great to have him there. If he’d kept better order though, I might have got to bed earlier!

I honestly did do some work this week though, in between all that eating. Chamber still sat, parliamentary questions were submitted and of course constituency work and folks’ problems don’t stop for Christmas. Wouldn’t it be great if every new year people really did get the chance to start over, and everything came right, problems solved.

Well, I’m off now, heading back to Strathaven and to the Academy’s Christmas Concert – that’ll chase away the blues. Until next Friday … … … …

Linda Fabiani

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