Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
14th January 2010

Have you ever had one of those weeks when you feel like you go at 100 miles an hour? Well I've had one of those weeks- well, if I'm honest, most weeks are like that. There was a full day visiting constituents last Friday followed by something I was delighted to take part in - an event at Asda in Hamilton. It was Asda's start to celebrating Burns season - expert advice on how to prepare and cook your haggis from Jim Fitzsimons, master butcher at Asda, followed by a fantastic rendition of 'to a moose' by Jamie (one of the young staff members at Asda) who was braw and proved that the future of the bard's words are in good hands with our younger generations. That’s a photo of me with the Haggis (I'm the one with the book) and Jim and young Jamie in the background practicing his lines.


I even said a few lines myself but maybe not as eloquently as young Jamie. I decided on a poem that was very topical given the weather over the past few weeks 'A Winter night' here is one verse that surely sums up how we have been feeling caught up in the cold.

Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust!
And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost!
Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows!
Not all your rage, as now united, shows 
More hard unkindness unrelenting,
Vengeful malice unrepenting.
Than heaven-illumin’d Man on brother Man bestows!

I sneaked off at the weekend for a rare wee treat.  I got to take part in one of my favourite pastimes; hill-walking; I got up around Glencoe and Aonach Mor on Saturday and it was great climbing weather - this is me, dressed up warmly for the walk of course, near the top.


There's something almost spiritual about hill walking that’s very peaceful and its an excellent hobby that allows you to challenge yourself but also gives you time to reflect on your week and make plans for the coming weeks. It’s a healthy thing to take yourself out of your comfort zone and enjoy this beautiful country by just getting out and about is a great way to calm the body and soul and prepare yourself for another busy week.

This week in parliament started for me at the equal opportunities committee on Tuesday where we took evidence from Alex Neil Minister for Housing and Communities on a legislative consent motion (LCM) on the Equality Bill which is passing through the UK Parliament right now. It has to come to us this way because some of the provisions impact on devolved areas and there's a convention we go through that Westminster asks us for permission to legislate on an area under our control.  Under the terms of devolution, of course, Westminster doesn't need our permission to legislate on anything it wants but it asks permission as a courtesy - a system sometimes known as a Sewel motion after Lord Sewel who came up with the idea.  Terribly complicated system which would be simplified easily - with independence.

Wednesday education committee was dominated by an inquiry we are having on local newspapers and their place in maintaining local news output and the identity of an area. One interesting fact, told to us by Michael Johnstone (not the US sprinter, the chap from Johnstone Press), is that the Falkirk Herald has been in publication for a couple of centuries that's amazing considering it has been a very tough year for the newspaper industry and there must have been many, many more tough years for newspapers along the way. A friend of mine, Paul Holleran, who happens to be a very effective official for the National Union of Journalists and has been in the newspaper industry for a number of years (I won't say exactly how many to protect his modesty) described the last year as the worst he has ever experienced. With titles being taken over and ongoing structural change going on its easy to think that quality journalism is being pushed aside for the quick profit of some of the big company executives. As a politician sometimes I love journalists and more often I don’t, but I do believe that any nation needs a robust, motivated and challenging media industry to inform, chronicle our history and yes…hold our politicians to account…oh! did I actually write that!

So moving onto Thursday and another Thursday morning education debate this time a Labour sponsored debate on the findings of Labour's Literacy Commission.  As is always the case with these debates, it was a mostly consensual debate with all sides of the chamber agreeing that literacy is a big issue for this country - I haven't met a single politician who thinks that we shouldn't make sure that our population is literate. In my speech, though, I did point out a few of the inaccuracies in the report that I felt needed clarification to inform the debate - no-one on the Labour benches managed to clear any of it up, though.  Ach its probably best you read it for yourself, it'll appear on the Scottish Parliament website at 8am on Friday at

In the afternoon there was a smashing debate on the UK Government's plans to end Attendance Allowance and the detrimental impact this will have on the disabled, vulnerable and elderly in our nation. The debate was another insight into a Labour government that’s lost its way and is supporting plans that would take money out of the pockets of the very people they say they represent.  Its quite sad really to see this rabble loose all the principles that once belonged to a fine party of the working class; it may prove to be their undoing and put them in opposition in the UK and Scotland for a very long time maybe they should think about what Burns said in this poem- 'Inscription for an Alter of Independence'.

THOU of an independent mind,
With soul resolv’d, with soul resign’d;
Prepar’d Power’s proudest frown to brave,
Who wilt not be, nor have a slave; Virtue alone who dost revere,
Thy own reproach alone dost fear— Approach this shrine, and worship here.

Christina McKelvie MSP
Central Scotland

Return to Christina McKelvie's Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus