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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
24th January 2008

Blistering Pace?

I expected the news this week to be full of the progress of the SNPís first budget, but my colleague Aileen Campbell MSP has found a new way to steal the headlines Ė nip into the canteen, take a ladleful of hot soup and pour it over your hand, have a trip to hospital to get it bandaged and cut it fine for getting back to vote on one of the most important days in Parliament.

There she was on the BBC website, looking like a hero and being described as one by the BBCís Scottish Political Editor, Brian Taylor.  There she stood, hand and wrist heavily bandaged, and back speaking in the chamber.

Some people will do anything to get in the news!

[photo of Aileen]

More seriously, it was quite a bad burn and caused Aileen a fair bit of pain, and she is soldiering on.  If you want to drop her a line to sympathise, commiserate, or give her a ribbing, you can reach her on email at

Politics in all its guises this week as we saw the best of debates in Parliament and the darker side of politics coming through with the focus on the resignation of Peter Hain. 

This was a historic week in Parliament Ė the first Budget Bill ever brought by an SNP Government was debated, and there were some fantastic contributions.  Our Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, was in excellent form, with a fantastic grasp of the detail in his portfolio and his excellent debating style contributing to a sparkling performance.

To be fair, some of our opponents raised their game this week as well, and it was a fine debate (which you can watch on the Parliamentís website or read in the Official Report), showing that Scotlandís Parliament has high quality debaters throughout every party.

Only one day after that debate, though, Labour let us all down at First Ministerís Questions by blaming the rape of a 16 year old girl on a policy decision of the Government.  Labourís leader Wendy Alexander tried to suggest that she was raped because the SNP Government hasnít yet abolished automatic early release of prisoners.  As First Minister Salmond had already pointed out, though, the rapist wasnít on early release Ė heíd absconded from an open prison.  It was a shameful thing to see Ė as one person emailed into Parliament, using what was a traumatic event for a young girl in such a way is about as base as politics gets Ė especially when she got her facts wrong.

I suppose there may be other things on her mind at the moment, with the resignation of Peter Hain in London making things a little more difficult for her, but there really is no excuse for using a girlís distress in that way.

Peter Hain, of course, has resigned from the London Labour Government after failing to declare donations made to his campaign for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in London when that declaration was a legal requirement.  Wendy is facing similar claims, and it is understandable that she is feeling a fair amount of pressure just now.

I think the whole sorry mess is sullying politics for everyone.  Even those parties, like the SNP, who remain clear of all of it receive some degree of damage from it.  Itís the whole political system thatís taking flak.

Away from the rough and tumble, though, and out where politics should be making a difference to peopleís lives, itís also been a bit of a mixed week.  There was the senseless shooting of a man in Blantyre, apparently for asking a couple of youngsters to stop making so much noise.  Iím meeting the police to talk about this and other issues, but it does bring up again the issue of gun control that Kenny MacAskill keeps talking about.

Kenny is our Justice Secretary and has called for the power over gun control to be brought home to Scotland from London to help address the increasing number of injuries caused by guns.  I can see no reason why anyone who doesnít need a gun for their job should have or want one Ė Iím fully behind Kenny on this, we must be able to restrict the supply of guns in this country and we must give our courts the power to deal with people who offend.

Of course, children who are offenders are dealt with in a different manner in Scotland, courts arenít generally used to address offending behaviour by minors here Ė thatís usually the job of the Childrenís Panels, and I was privileged to be invited to the opening of the Scottish Childrenís Reportersí Administration office in Hamilton.

Our Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram MSP, was doing the honours Ė I suppose thatís one of the more pleasing jobs in Government.

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