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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
29th April 2010

The Sweet smell of success.

You know, all this campaigning can be hard on the old feet and getting around trying to talk to as many people as possible makes the case for some energy in the form of lovely sweet sustenance. So it was with glee that I could combine the two last week on a visit to Tunnocks in Uddingston with Lanark and Hamilton East candidate Clare Adamson. We got to see the journey from ingredients to the finished product of our world famous tea cakes and caramel wafers. This has to be the most delicious day's campaigning I have ever experienced, but it was also a real privilege to talk to the staff who very evidently loved doing the work at Tunnocks. This is a company which values its staff and it has a real sense of community. I have enclosed a photo of Clare cutting the caramel for the famous wafers and just look at the concentration on her face.

The big issues for the staff were the price of petrol and the resultant cost on groceries, also they were worried about gas and electricity prices. Yet another reason why Scotland needs champions and control of its finances, to ensure that in an oil and gas rich country, our people are not paying through the nose for these essential things.

Tuesday morning saw Clare, Graeme Horne, Michael Russell and myself at the University of the West of Scotland to sign the NUS pledge to vote against any plans to introduce or increase student fees. The NUS are also running a smashing campaign to encourage people to use their vote. I urge you all to do so because….yes you know….More Nats means less Cuts and More Nats means less Nukes. Afterwards, I took the Education Secretary to Equis in Hamilton to sample some of their fantastic Saltire ice-cream!

On 28 April, I kep an annual appointment to mark International Workers' Memorial Day, when we remember those men and women who have lost their health and their lives in the line of work and those lives which will be tragically lost in the future as a result of unsafe or unhealthy workplaces, as well as reaffirming our commitment to making every workplace a safe and healthy one. I spoke at an event at Summerlee Heritage Park, the excellent museum of of social and industrial history in Coatbridge, while my SNP colleague Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Government's Justice Secretary attended another event  in Hamilton, where he pledged the support of the Scottish Government for the day and the cause.  I know that the First Minister has also taken a strong personal interest in the recognition of International Workers’ Memorial Day. It is a sombre day, and one that marks great personal sadness for too many families in Scotland and across the world, but it is also be day that reminds us of our shared endeavour and of the huge gains that have been made by trade unionists internationally across the decades who have fought for the principle that a good job is a safe job and who have won huge advances in workplace safety and protection for workers. It would be nice to be able to say that the day is a purely historical one, to remember lives lost in dangerous and unhealthy jobs in the past, but 160 million people across the world still fall ill or die as a result of unhealthy and unsafe workplaces every year and even in a country like Scotland, there are still too many people every year who go to their work in the morning and don’t come home again at night simply because of safety failings by their employer. We owe it to those people and to their families to keep up the fight for safe jobs. I ended my speech with some lines from the late Norman Buchan’s great song about the Auchengeich colliery disaster of 1959.

The seams are rich in Auchengeich
The coal below is black an glistenin
But, och, the cost is faur ower dear
For human lives there is nae recknin.

I think those words encapsulate the principles behind International Workers' Memorial Day.

The final televised leaders' debate of the election campaign took place tonight, with Alex Salmond excluded from taking part  - a democratic disgrace cooked up by the three main London parties and a BBC that apparently simply doesn't understand or care about the rights of Scots (and the Welsh and Northern Irish) to have their electoral choices properly explained and explored. It meant that the discussion about economic policy consisted of a one dimensional consensus between three party leaders competing to deceive the electorate about exactly how much they would cut public spending and public services. The SNP's strong and distinctive approach of protecting public services, growing our economy out of recession, and only cutting the things we don’t want and don’t need – like Trident, ID cards and the House of Lords - has been shut out of the most important debate in this election. The amazing £50,000 that was donated in less than 48 hours by ordinary voters who wanted to help the SNP make the case for democratic representation hasn't been wasted though. It has allowed the party to fight this hugely important case to the very end, and the unionist parties and broadcasters won't be able to stitch Scotland up like this again.

All that just means that the SNP will have to work even harder on the ground in this campaign, to make sure that voters in seats across Scotland know that they do have a real alternative and a real choice in this election. That's exactly what I'm off to do now. Say it again and again – More Nats, Less Cuts!

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