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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
3rd June 2010

Lord above…….

Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord
Wha struts an' stares an' a' that
Tho' hundreds worship at his word
He's but a couf for a' that"...

When I heard the list of honours (interesting use of a word because some folk are not really that honourable) I actually laughed out loud. It is an interesting sight to see who actually gets these things. Now to be clear from the start I actually like Floella Benjamin she represents a part of my early childhood when everything was much more simple. But enough reminiscence get back to politics I hear you cry…. Take Jack McConnell for instance having been given a non-job by (Gordon] Brown instead of a real job in Malawi, he has finally been rewarded by Labour with a party political peerage.

Unfortunately, he now has no escape from Lord Foulkes or Labour's other dual-mandate politicians, Cathy Jamieson and Margaret Curran, who, it seems, will all be spending more time on the green and red benches than working for their Holyrood constituents.

What bothers me though is that these Labour Lords at one point in their political life actually claimed to be 'Socialists' now they are all lining up to wear the ermine and sit on the red benches and tell the rest of us how to life our lives. I also note that most political parties claimed to abolish or reform the House of Lords but then don’t actually do it because they see it as a way to reward the party faithful. You know I grew up in Easterhouse in the east end of Glasgow listening to these so called socialists, the champions of the working class tell me how they would make my life better and deal with poverty. The sum total of that commitment was to start initiatives, projects and schemes to alleviate poverty. These initiatives etc turned out to be job creation schemes for labour members and their pals. It did nothing to deal with the real issues the real working class had to put up with day in day out. If only they had made the same progress removing poverty in Drumchapel, Easterhouse and other parts of Glasgow or Scotland for that matter as they have made in elevating themselves to the Lords! then think about what they could have done for the working man/woman they claim to represent. Here are the numbers; Total number of Peerage dignities created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 from 1957–2010. Labour created 707 and Conservatives created 459. This includes Tony Blair. Labour 1997–2007: 357 Gordon Brown. Labour 2007–2010: 90. maybe it’s a plan to stuff the Lords with right thinking socialists? Somehow I don’t think so….

For instance take the debate today in the chamber where a very silly looking labour party tried to claim they had abolished student fees. They looked silly because everybody knows that they just replaced it with the graduate endowment student fee. Again another example of labour claiming to be for free education but only if you can afford it. It’s a case of do as I say not as I do, they sat there today the majority of them having benefited from a free university education and foisted on our young people thousands of pounds of debt. Much the same way they ruined our economy by making debt ok therefore encouraging everyone to live beyond their means.

And while I am at it as the education committee this week we have evidence from the Minister for Skills and Life Long Learning about school buildings recently I asked a parliamentary question, here it is;   To ask the Scottish Executive  whether it will provide the PFI revenue costs as a share of gross local authority education expenditure for 2008-09, comparable to the figures given up to that year in Education Revenue Costs of PFI School Estate Schemes.

The answer from Mike Russell was PFI revenue costs accounted for 5.0% of total gross local authority education expenditure in 2008-09. This is a rise of 1.2% on the previous year and compares with 0.4% in 2000-01. That’s a total of £244 million to be paid from education budgets to private companies for schools built under labour £244 million before a pencil, jotter or teacher is paid for. That is the legacy of financial mismanagement and incompetence left to us by labour, no wonder they are fast becoming an irrelevance in Scotland. Its time to cut ourselves free from the shackles of London parties who are not interested in the working man/woman in Scotland and time for our Nation to rise with some dignity and an eye to a bright future.

I also had Equal Opportunities Committee this week where we took evidence on our continuing inquiry on Migration and Trafficking. You can read all about it here;

It is shaping up to be a very interesting inquiry indeed with evidence from all sectors of Scotland. One of the key themes is the level of humanity we show with regard to people seeking sanctuary and people who have made Scotland their home. We are not brilliant at everything but I have a growing sense of pride at our Government, civic Scotland and our Nations communities when it comes to supporting people in times of need. The examples of good practice and professional interventions are very evident from all of the evidence we have heard so far. Keep an eye out for the rest of the evidence and let me know what you think?

Now tonight I hosted a lovely event on behalf of Skillset in the Scottish parliament. Skillset Scotland provides support to a wide range of creative industries from publishing to computer games – which my colleague Joe FitzPatrick MSP has been a particular champion of – and it has recently welcomed the textile and fashion industries to its family.

I don’t need to tell you how central textiles and fashion have been to Scottish society, not just today but for centuries past – from the world-famous tweed-makers of Harris and weaving and knitwear from in and around the Borders, to exciting designers like Christopher Kane from Motherwell, who’s the toast of the fashion world today – so it’s very good news that this important sector will also now benefit from the work of Skillset Scotland. David Breckenridge from Moorbrook Textiles of Peebles told us of the enormous challenges faced by the textiles sector and how by working with Skillset there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I wish them well and hope they continue to enhance the traditional textiles we are world famous for. On a lighter note I did point out that I was wearing my tartan shoes made from the wonderful textiles we have in Scotland and I also have the matching bag - so tonight I was an advert for Ness and the best of Scottish textiles.

Now next week I have a very important members debate on the 14 men of Lanarkshire who won the Victoria Cross, my friend Duncan Brown has written a book about them and we will debate it in the Parliament next week as I think we should take every opportunity to remember and celebrate bravery in all its forms. The motion here takes its name from the title of Duncan's book; S3M-06437 Christina McKelvie (Central Scotland) (Scottish National Party): My Hero, My Soldier Laddie, Commemorating Scotland's VC Recipients— That the Parliament welcomes the publication of My Hero, My Soldier Laddie by artist and writer Duncan Brown, the illustrated story of Scotland’s 172 recipients of the Victoria Cross (VC); notes that the book tells the individual stories of each of the 14 VC recipients who came from Lanarkshire, one in every hundred of all VC recipients ever awarded; further notes that, in 2001, Duncan Brown was instrumental in securing the raising of the monument that now stands in Hamilton Town Square to the memory of these 14 men, David Mackay of Auchenheath, Frederick Aikman and John O’Neill of Hamilton, William Gardner of Bothwell, Willie Angus, Thomas Caldwell and Donald Cameron of Carluke, David Lauder and John Carmichael of Airdrie, James Richardson of Bellshill, William Milne of Wishaw, John Hamilton of Cambuslang, William Clamp of Craigneuk and Bill Reid of Coatbridge; believes that the type of oral and social history found in My Hero, My Soldier Laddie plays a crucial role in uncovering, illuminating and preserving Scotland’s past and the lives of ordinary Scots who made extraordinary contributions, and congratulates Duncan Brown on his considerable achievement in this respect.

I have cross party support and I am looking forward to the debate next week. We all stand on the shoulders of giants and we should never forget it. I started so I will just  finish off in the words of Burns…..

A prince can make a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, and all that!
But an honest man is above his might -
Good faith, he must not fault that
For all that, and all that,
Their dignities, and all that,
The pith of sense and pride of worth
Are higher rank than all that.

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that)
That Sense and Worth over all the earth
Shall have the first place and all that!
For all that, and all that,
It is coming yet for all that,
That man to man the world over
Shall brothers be for all that.

Take care see you next week…..

Christina McKelvie MSP
Central Scotland

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