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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
7th February 2008

The USA has Super Tuesday, Scotland has Wonderful Wednesday

This has been an incredible week.  Weíve had historic day after historic day in Scotland, but this week marked the Scottish Government moving right into governing territory with the passing of the first SNP budget.

John Swinney, the SNP Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, delivered in style.  The whole debate was excellent, high quality contributions were made all around the chamber.  Itís well worth watching it again in the archive section of

There was a quite bizarre outcome after John accepted Labourís amendment and their response was to refuse to vote for the amended motion (they abstained instead).  I still canít work out what they thought they would get out of that tactic, but no-one else appears certain either.

Interestingly, this was the very first time that Parliament really had debates and negotiation on the Scottish budget Ė previous budgets had parliamentary majorities ramming them through.  I think weíve probably got a better process now, with better outcomes resulting.

With the local government settlement also going through today, thereís a lot to be happy about Ė a freeze in the Council Tax, business taxes being cut for small businesses, councils being freed up to make their own decisions, tolls being abolished on Scottish bridges, money for the Commonwealth games, abolition of prescription charges in the Scottish health service, extra money for improving public transport, 1,000 new police officers and so on.

I think itís a budget and an agenda which will help improve Scotland and move the country forward.  Itís an exciting time to be an MSP, and Iím looking forward to seeing the outcomes over the next few years.

Other than the debates Iím afraid Iíve not been doing anything very interesting to tell you about, Iíve been using the week to catch up on a lot of paperwork and dealing with constituency cases.  One rather strange case Iíve been involved with is a playpark in Hamilton which the council is protecting Ė by surrounding it with razor wire.

This just doesnít seem very sensible to me.  I can appreciate that the council would rather protect the facilities than have to keep repairing them, but there area children who play in that park, their safety should be paramount.  Thereís an obvious danger if any of the children climb the fence, and a danger if any of the razor wire falls into the playground, but thereís also the state of mind of the children to be thought about.  What does it do to a child to grow up playing in a park which is enclosed like a prison camp?  Iím in discussions with the council about this, so weíll see what comes of it.

Last week I sent my diary through just before I sashayed off to a swanky event at Glasgow City Chambers Ė the Scots Woman of the Year Awards sponsored by the Glasgow Evening Times.

Former Lord Provost of Glasgow Liz Cameron won the award (thereís a strange thing Ė the title is Lord Provost even when itís a woman holding the post), and Lesley Sawyer won the business award.

Julie Fleeting won the sports award Ė sheís the captain of Scotlandís football team (apparently thereís a menís team as well, but the womenís team is obviously better).

[Julie Fleeting]

I was delighted to be there with a few of my political colleagues, including Glasgow councillors Jennifer Dunn and Alison Thewliss who are pictured below coming in with me Ė Alison is on the left and Jennifer is in the middle.

Next week is recess here Ė Parliament isnít sitting Ė and Iím sneaking off for a couple of days break with my sons.  Weíre heading for the mountains, they want to go skiing, I think Iíll be in the spa, relaxing.

While Iím there I might spare a thought or two for Linda Fabiani who isnít getting a single dayís break this time, sheís off on Government business to Malawi.

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