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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
7th January 2010

Well 2010 arrived just as we left 2009 - in a blizzard - and we are still in a blizzard. Its times like these that we realise just how vulnerable we are to the ravages of mother nature. But I must pay particular tribute to our emergency services, voluntary services, local authorities and of course our neighbours. I had the misfortune to get stuck in the snow a few days before Christmas. I was taking my mum home after some shopping and decided the road was too dangerous for her to walk down to her house so I took my car down and yes you guessed it I couldn’t get my car back out. This is where I realised that I may just have to give up the car until the thaw….. then my mums neighbour came to the rescue and helped me out the snow and got me on the road again that was a young man who got an extra present from Santa this year for his kindness.

Since we're ending the festive season, it seems just the time to talk about Scotland's unhealthy relationship with alcohol and the efforts that we're making to address it.  Having a drink and enjoying yourself is fine, but far too many of our people are drinking far too much, shortening their own lives, causing misery for others, and costing us all a fortune in health service bills, policing costs and the social misery that too much drink brings.  The SNP Scottish Government is introducing a range of measures, including minimum pricing for alcohol.  Labour, of course, turn it into a big scare story and challenge us to speak to workers who would be 'affected' by SNP proposals.  They think that distillery workers would be threatened, we know they won't be, so I'm quite happy to go and speak to distillery workers so long as the Labour MSPs will turn up at an A&E to see the impact of cheap drink.  Michael McMahon MSP has accepted my challenge - I think he'll get a proper reception from Dr Crofton at Wishaw General -

Funnily enough, the Health Committee in the London Parliament agrees with the SNP stance and the Labour MP who chairs it has said “The facts about alcohol misuse are shocking. Successive governments have failed to tackle the problem and it is now time for bold government.”  I couldn't agree more!

The bells had hardly chimed their last when the Conservatives fired the starting gun on the general election campaign and the Labour party answered in fine form and, on cue, started ripping themselves apart with Labour MPs calling for a leadership challenge in the middle of the election campaign and Gordon Brown apparently unable to quell the rebellion.  There's chaos in the Labour party just now, absolute bedlam, and the election campaign is just getting started.

I was out over the festive break campaigning on behalf of one of our Westminster candidates, Clare Adamson, for Lanark and Hamilton East and I will be out supporting Graeme Horne who is the candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West over the next few months until election day whenever Gordon Brown calls it.  I predict the 6th of May - the same day as the English local elections.

It was back to parliament this week, though, with a debate on Thursday on the Public Services Reform Bill. The Education committee (of which I'm a member) scrutinised the sections of this bill that relates to our remit, for example Creative Scotland and Social services inspection reform and order making powers - the Bill would actually constrain the powers of the Scottish Government to act in respect of certain bodies, bringing them into line with other public bodies in Scotland, forcing Ministers to use Statutory Instruments to change public bodies instead of the whim upon which these bodies are changed just now.  Bizarrely, the Lib Dems and Labour oppose this - it seems that they would rather leave all that power in the hands of Ministers

Back to the general election - when I came to Edinburgh yesterday (Tuesday) I was confronted by a big bill poster of David Cameron saying "I'll cut the deficit not NHS budgets".  Funny then, that they are supporting a motion which the Lib Dems lodged to annul the Statutory Instrument that will reduce prescription charges from the 1st April 2010 to £3. They really do have to come clean about what they would do as I believe that to cut the deficit run up by this incompetent Prime minister and his hapless government he would have to take the money from somewhere and I believe that would be the public sector. Now don’t get me wrong I think that we all have to share the burden of Brown's recession but I don’t think the sick should be taxed to fund incompetent financial management. I commend Nicola sturgeon and our SNP Scottish Government on this policy as I know it will have a very positive effect on the health of our nation and on the slim pickings of their pockets too.

My Mum as did my Granddad before her recited a poem that has been passed down through the generations on Ne'er Day. We don’t know where it came from but its been in the family for years, it goes-

"The auld year has gone and the new year has come.
It brings pleasure to plenty and sorrow to some.
This world is a world that runs upon wheels and death is a thing that every man feels.
If death was a thing that money could buy the rich man would live and the poor man would die.
But God in his mercy he wouldn't do so.
So the rich and the poor in their turn they must go".

So if health was a thing that money could buy I commend our SNP Scottish Government on ensuring that all Scotland's people have equality when it comes to prescription charges. Happy New Year


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