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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
16th October

Childs Play,

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;

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 tears.

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.

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