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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
27th February 2009

That whooshing sound as deadlines go flying past

Having managed to miss two deadlines for submitting my diary (sorry Alastair), I’m playing a bit of catch-up here.

I’ve been out and about quite a lot dealing with constituents’ concerns, the kind of stuff I can’t really tell you about because of confidentiality, but I’ve also been up to a few other things that are worth sharing:

I filled in for Linda Fabiani at an event she couldn’t go to at Technotots Nursery when they launched a book that the children had made, I had a great time, they’re a fantastic bunch, and I’ll be back again for the next event they have and more excellent chat from the children – there are superstar authors in the making there.

I sneaked a couple of days away during recess as well, just a wee bit to recharge my batteries and prepare for the long haul ahead.  There’s some serious legislation coming down the tracks and we’ll be working hard.  There’s still an awful lot to get done in this first term of SNP Government – we’ve done well so far but there’s a lot more to do.

I was up at the Moray Burns Supper – they certainly know how to put on a celebration.  I was replying to the toast to the lassies and was armed with some wicked jokes, which was just as well because there were a few stellar turns that night, with Nicola Sturgeon, Alasdair Allan, and Angus Robertson to name a few, but the prize has to go to Councillor Pearl Paul who displayed a refreshing disregard for egos and reputations and turned us all on the point of her wit.

Speakers at the Moray Burns Supper

Back to Parliament this week and into consideration of applicants for the post of Children’s Commissioner.  I’m on the selection panel and we spent the week winnowing down the applicants to a final few for interview.  I still don’t know the name of any of the applicants – that’s being kept from us and we’re just going on what is written in the application form – but I can tell you that Scotland has a depth of talent that is truly remarkable, it’s actually been quite a task narrowing the field with excellent candidates having to be rejected in spite of their qualifications.  One thing’s for certain – whoever gets the job will be more than adequately qualified.

This week has seen a series of meetings with unions as well.  Discussions with the teaching unions about the general direction of things and the Fire Brigade Union was in on Thursday campaigning for improvements in their training and working conditions to improve fire-fighter safety.  I have a great deal of respect for fire-fighters – people who put their lives and their own safety on the line every day for our sakes – to improve our safety.

Later on Thursday there was a reception for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.  I was half expecting the ambulance service to appear as well – and the Coastguard.  Like the fire-fighters, though, there are serious issues to be addressed by our police chiefs and for our police officers – a never-ending virtuous spiral of improvement is what it appears that we’re aiming for now with the SNP Government and the various public organisations that relate to the Government.  A good thing, I think.

The Cross-Party Group on Asylum Seekers and Refugees got back into the swing of things this week too – although I’m wondering whether it would be better to rename it the CPG on Displaced People to help the focus on exactly what it is that asylum seekers and refugees face in their lives.  It seems to me to be the case far too often that it’s difficult for a lot of people to get an idea of what the issues are.  Perhaps I’m being a bit less than generous, though, and perhaps I am misjudging people.  I’ll think more about it.

There were disappointing figures out this week on class sizes.  Yes, there was some movement towards smaller class sizes, but it wasn’t as much as I’d been expecting and hoping for.  I was pleased to see that South Lanarkshire made some quite significant progress, and I’m going to claim the credit for that for my good friend, Westminster candidate Councillor Graeme Horne.  Graeme was the councillor who made sure that there was a fair chunk of money set aside for reducing class sizes in South Lanarkshire during the budget negotiations – fulfilling the conditions of the concordat between the SNP Government and South Lanarkshire Council.  Excellent work Graeme!

There’s a lot more work to come our way yet and a long road to travel, but if we have councillors like Graeme Horne working beside our MSPs, Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries, we’ll get places.  Add in MPs and MEPs and we’ve got some team in the SNP.

Hannah Bardell and me

Talking about MEPs, I’ve got my ballot paper for the ranking of our candidates for the European election in June – another fantastic slate of candidates, and I’m voting for … the best team, obviously!

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