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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
19th November 2009

A hectic time

Tempus fugit as they said in ancient Rome, and I know the feeling well.  Last week I dashed off straight after chamber to get to the Glasgow North East by-election, this week I rushed away to get to the politician of the year awards, so I missed doing the diary both weeks!  Time for a wee catching-upÖ


We worked hard in Glasgow North East, activists from all over the country put their shoulders to that wheel and tried to nudge another Westminster seat into play.  We faced a negative and disingenuous campaign from Labour.  I thought that they played dirty and dishonestly in Glenrothes but it was as nothing compared to the gutter tactics used this time around.  Iím glad the SNP doesnít use campaigning tactics like that and I worry about the state of Scottish politics when a political party considers that kind of thing to be acceptable.  The campaign is over now, though, and we lost by quite a distance so we have to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and get on with delivering for the people of Scotland.  Thereís an election in the next few months and weíll be there campaigning for victory - more seats than Labour in Scotland - we can do it if we put in the effort, and I think the SNP is up for the fight.


In the meantime, we have a job to do in Parliament.  We passed the Schools Consultation Bill on Thursday (itís not an Act until it gets Royal Assent), and thatís a piece of legislation which isnít major but does take important steps in education to help ensure that the best practices of our local authorities when they are faced with the uncomfortable task of rationalising the school estate, closing schools which are underused and making sure that council assets are used at their optimum.  An important part of the change is that councils will have to examine the case for closure on educational grounds rather than on financial grounds, and HMIE (the inspectorate) will be involved in any proposal as well.  Thereís a bit more information available in my speech in the debate which can be found at  - ignore the Sideshow Bob comment from the Conservative deputy leader, heís just jealous of SNP aspiration, Iím sure.


The day before that Jim Matherís Arbitration Bill was passed as well.  Weíre in the third year of SNP Government (I still donít get tired of saying that) and the legislation is coming regularly now, weíve got through the sorting out of Labourís mistakes from their time in office now (well, nearly) and weíre well on the way on our journey to make Scotland a better place, improve the lives of Scots, make our nation healthier, sort out our justice system, set our education system on course to be the best in the world, restore the principle of free education, give Scots back our ambition, and so on.  Itís a long, hard journey, but weíre on our way now.


Just how far the SNP has travelled from our years in opposition was made abundantly clear at the Politician of the Year awards.  The three nominees for the top award were all nationalists - John Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon and Kenny MacAskill, any one of whom you can stand next to their opposition in Parliament and mark just how far ahead they are.  The decisions they have had to make over the last wee while have been enormous and have carried enormous implications and they have each taken those decisions with courage, aplomb and a desire to make a difference for Scotland.  John Swinney is guiding Scotland through recession, seeking to bring us out the other side stronger and more prosperous, changing Scotlandís public finance landscape along the way, bringing best value and showing what we can do even without the full economic powers that Parliament should have.


Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged by Swine Flu and has dealt with that challenge so well that people from around the world were watching her briefings to pick up information that they werenít getting elsewhere - some of the US channels were carrying Nicolaís reports.  In the meantime sheís been reducing prescription charges, reducing hospital infections, getting waiting lists and waiting times on target and generally improving our health service.


Kenny MacAskill has, as everyone will know, had to take the decision on releasing al Megrahi - a decision I think he took with dignity and decency - while he was setting about changing the sentencing structure of Scotlandís justice system and challenging Scotlandís unhealthy relationship with alcohol.


Three politicians who stand head and shoulders above every one of their opponents, itís a privilege to serve in the same Parliamentary group as them, and it was well worth seeing them each be nominated for the award.  John Swinney won, by the way, but Iím sure the other two will be delighted for him that he won.


Weíve got much more work to do, but with leaders like these Scotland is heading in the right direction.

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