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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
25th February 2010

Sanctuary, sanctuary

The last time you heard from me I was off to use recess for a few days off (managed to sneak some holiday this recess).  As we left Parliament the storm clouds were gathering over Nicola Sturgeon’s head in connection with a letter she’d written in support of her constituents.  Yesterday we saw Nicola come storming back herself with that personal statement, demonstrating why we rate her so highly – she’s definitely in the very top rank of Scottish politicians.  She came to the chamber cloaked in humility after taking time to reflect on the issues raised and she proved, quite categorically, that saying sorry with dignity and integrity for the few mistakes she made shows the strength and depth of her character.  We are in good hands with Nicola as Health Secretary, she’s an excellent Minister and a good constituency MSP.  You can read her statement in the Official Report here -

Nicola’s recess was obviously far more fraught than mine.  I gave the Toast to Scotland at a Burns Supper in Lochwinnoch and managed to get away for a few days travelling round Sutherland (gorgeous part of the country) and on the homeward journey I spent the afternoon at the new Culloden visitor centre which is absolutely fantastic.  I hope that NTS will do a similar job with another famous battleground at Bannockburn.  We’ll move more confidently towards our future when we have our past in context.

Back to Parliament on Tuesday for the Equal Opportunities Committee and on Wednesday for a long-standing engagement with the Women’s Asylum Strategy Group where I listened to excellent presentations of personal accounts from women and the issues that are still causing great concern. They all presented different issues around healthcare, education and family life.  The impact of asylum issues on learning English, raising self-esteem and developing self-image was all too apparent.  I now have a list of issues that need to be taken forward to ensure that we develop a proper welfare-based approach to asylum seekers.

Something I don’t often write about in my column (mainly because of confidentiality issues) are the surgeries I undertake with constituents.  Last Friday I held a surgery in the Asda store in Blantyre and it got so busy I actually had a queue for a while.  There are some photographs of it (a wee bit blurry because they were taken on a phone, but you can still see me hard at work).  Saturday was the launch of fairtrade fortnight with Hamilton fairtrade and I wish Carol Clarke the very best of luck with raising the profile of fairtrade products and convincing people to change their buying habits.

From there to Cadzow and the parish church where we went to Stop the Traffik.  It was, of course, the concert in the church to raise awareness and funds.  Shona Brown, the award-winning flautist played some amazing pieces along with Rev John Carswell, Colin Towers was outstanding on the clarsach and David Stewart and Stuart Park did a power of work in keeping things going.  Absolutely stunning, as well, were the SoundRoutes Singers – excellent entertainment, and then there was me.  I was speaking, not singing, and laying out the realities of trafficking.  There are some horrible truths behind trafficking.

Back to Parliament for a mo, though, I was at a very inspiring event on Tuesday night where I heard the tales of a group of looked after children who went climbing in the area around Kathmandu in Nepal. Their accounts of the experiences they had were wonderful and the funds they raised will provide a clean water system in a Nepali school.  Scotland’s children demonstrating that, when faced with challenging circumstances, can really rise to the challenge.

One last thing, though; there are a lot of you out there who would pay good money to see a politician barbequed – now’s your chance……

My Father had Motor Neurone Disease and I am hoping you will help me raise as much as possible for the charity MND Scotland.  I’m going to do a fire walk!

If you want to help, just go to the page below and donate as much or as little as you wish.

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