I was discussing with a friend about SNP conferences of the past, when
you turned up spoke to the resolutions you needed to, spoke to a lot of
folks and socialised way too much. Well SNP conference these days is a
very serious business with some of the aforementioned but lots of
serious stuff that is in one way very exciting and exhausting too.
I had the great honour of moving one of the motions on Thursday
afternoon it was;
3 CONVENTION ON THE
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Conference asserts that the SNP supports the principles of the
United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, and calls on
our SNP Government and parliamentarians to examine ways in which the
UNCRC can be incorporated into Scots Law.
As I have said before in
this diary I abhor the idea of children being detained at Dungavel
removal centre in my region. One of the reasons I support the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child is the condition that children
should not be detained. I was delighted and concerned when the British
Government announced that it was to pilot an alternative to detention.
Delighted because I believe that the pressure put on them by church
groups, children's rights groups, the justice and peace movement and
many, many others ahs finally came to pass. Concerned because I did not
hear what the criteria for selection was or whether this will herald an
end to all detention of children. To answer my concerns I have written
to the British Government asking them directly the questions I and
others need answered.
One thing about conference is that things have a habit of just turning
up and one such example is that on Thursday evening I got very little
notice that I had to stand in as guest speaker. I thought well ok what's
the topic and whose shoes do I need to fill for the duration of the
event. I was both excited and worried I would not be able to live up to
the guest who could not make it. The event was a fringe meeting hosted
by the SNP Trade Union Group, sponsored by the Fire Brigade Union and
opened by none other that the First Minister Alex Salmond. The other
guest speakers who where fantastic where Jeremy Dear NUJ and Matt Wrack
FBU. I was the 3rd guest speaker and the reason for my trepidation was
that I had to step in for one of my hero's Jimmy Reid. Well I did the
best I could considering the great big boots I had to fill and I really
enjoyed myself too.
It really was a conference for rights and responsibilities as I found
myself stepping into the breach once again to a fringe in place of Linda
Fabiani Europe, External Affairs and Culture Minister who was unwell.
The topic this time was a New Migration system for Scotland, hosted by
the Commissioner for Equality and Human Rights. One of the things that
impressed me about all the fringe meetings was how engaged the
audiences, speakers and hosts where. The quality of the contributions
all round where just fantastic.
On the Saturday night I was pleased to chair a fringe for the Scottish
Refugee Council it was a very well attended meeting with more considered
and interesting contributions. The guest speakers where John Wilkes
Chief Executive of the SRC and Fiona Hyslop Cabinet Secretary for
Education and Life Long Learning. This was the first time I have had the
pleasure in introducing Fiona at any event and used it to point out that
it was Fiona's kind prodding to be a candidate that brought me to
Parliament in the 2007 election.
In between all these events I did get some time for socialising and I do
have to pay tribute to all involved in the Independence Review on
Saturday night. The talent within the SNP was on display that night from
the piping MSP Stuart McMillan to the Scottish singing Cowboy Rob Gibson
MSP, the wonderful young folk and their excellent comedy piece about the
wild wild Western Isles and not forgetting Pete Wishart MP, 2 Labour and
1 Tory MP's and their group MP4 who had everyone dancing and singing a
very tongue in cheek version of 'Things Can Only Get Better'.
One of the highlights for me was getting a chat with Ian Hamilton on
Sunday and hearing all about the high jinx that led to him and his
friends repatriating the Stone of Destiny. If you do nothing else over
the next few weeks I recommend the film of the same name, its fantastic
and well worth a visit to the cinema. The scene when the BBC World
Service announces that the stone is missing and people gather in George
Square Glasgow to celebrate has brought grown men and some women (me) to
Right I think thatís enough excitement for me this week I'm off to
Glenrothes to help Peter Grant continue making the kind of history that
Ian Hamilton and many others including John MacCormick has before us.