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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
3rd March 2011

A few weeks ago we had a wonderful boost to our campaign a poll commissioned for ipsos mori put us ahead for the first time in this campaign. It was recess week in the parliament and I was sitting watching my nightly diet of newnicht at the end Gordon Brewer gives us a wee snapshot of the next day’s  newspapers on the front page of the Times it said Salmond surges ahead. Now I hear you say that’s no surprise Christina…. We all know that the hard work and the correct decisions for Scotland would surely put you ahead for the Holyrood election and of course you would be correct. The surprise was that a national newspaper had actually published it and published it on its front page. It certainly gave my team a wee boost the next day and a record amount of leaflets and surveys were delivered in Stonehouse. But it got me thinking about how news can influence and in some cases determine what’s what.

And I also thought that what we would get would be a rash of polls discrediting the last one and therefore maybe determining the height of the bounce in the step of my team. And again I was not surprised when yougov published its poll a few days ago completely reversing the last poll. I thought it was a bit fishy and that was confirmed when my friend and colleague Calum Cashley explained very eloquently how this poll was translated because unwieghted this poll had us way ahead but once yougov had applied their weighting system we ended up 9 points behind. I hear you say how can that happen Christina this defies logic Christina well I will let Calum explain to you as he can do it much better than me.

You'll have seen the recent Yougov poll and you might even have thought about how the weighting affected it.  Like me, you may have been wondering how the raw data converted to the weighted data, how this population of party identifiers:
Labour 291
Conservative 222
Liberal Democrat 67
Scottish National Party 289
Others 67
None / Don't know 322

was adjusted to become this population in the weighted data:
Labour 478

Conservative 163
Liberal Democrat 126
Scottish National Party 201
Others 25
None / Don't know 266

Very crudely, that means that each person who identifies as SNP who was polled counted as 0.7 of a person and every person who identifies with Labour was counted as 1.6 (Con - 0.7, LD - 1.9).  Just as interesting is the newspaper weighting, though, this:
Express / Mail 196
Sun / Star 100
Mirror / Record 94
Guardian / Independent / Herald 219
FT / Times / Telegraph / Scotsman 188
Other Paper 146
No Paper 315
became this:
Express / Mail 151

Sun / Star 201
Mirror / Record 251
Guardian / Independent / Herald 76
FT / Times / Telegraph / Scotsman 75
Other Paper 252
No Paper 252

A Daily Record reader counts as two and three quarter people in this poll and a Sun reader as double while a Herald reader is trimmed to just one third of a person and a Scotsman reader to two-fifths of a person.  It becomes, perhaps, even more interesting when you
read this piece by Mike Smithson where he points out that Yougov is using old circulation figures for its newspaper weighting (the Record's readership is now under 307,000) and the dangers inherent in that were already laid out by Nick Sparrow

It's fascinating, of course, to speculate on how wrong the poll is, but that's not what most intrigues me.  What most intrigues me is that this poll was commissioned by the Greens and it had another question in it which hasn't been published.  The other question was how the people polled felt about the Greens' idea of increasing tax in Scotland to offset the effects of the Westminster cuts.  It's up to the client what questions are published and when - I can't help but wonder what on earth could have been in the answer to that question that persuaded the Greens that it should be kept secret.

Well done Calum 

Fair Fuel….

Yesterday we had a debate in the parliament on an issue of great importance to the people of Scotland the debate was about the price of fuel and the impact this has on everything we do from getting to work to buying a loaf of bread. We had an almost united chamber when it came to the vote. You would be forgiven if you thought almost what do you mean almost???

The people’s party (boak) decided that because the debate and the call to the Westminster government was from the SNP they abstained on the vote. Now the peoples party in my humble opinion should be supporting the needs of ….yes you guessed it the people. Well I would have thought that calling on Westminster with a united voice from all the parties in Scotland would be the only and best way to ensure that the people get the support they richly deserve. I know you will be saying so Christina where are you going with this and I would need to say that the peoples party did indeed abstain yes abstain, not only do we have a feeble group of MPs at Westminster abstaining against a similar vote but that rank feebleness and hypocrisy has enveloped the peoples party in Scotland. The peoples party? Don’t make me laugh.

So you all know by now that I would have something to say about it and here it is;  Welcoming yesterday’s vote in the Scottish Parliament which saw a majority of MSPs back a call for the UK government to cancel the rise in fuel duty planned for April and implement a fuel duty regulator, Christina McKelvie MSP said it showed that pressure for action was reaching a critical mass.

Lanarkshire-based MSP Christina also said that Labour MSPs, including Lanarkshire MSPs such as Tom McCabe and James Kelly, who failed to vote for a fuel duty regulator to introduce fair fuel prices, would regret placing themselves on the wrong side of ordinary families, businesses and hauliers.

Christina said:

"This debate was an opportunity for the parties in the Scottish Parliament to unite and put pressure on the UK government to take the action that people want.  The fuel duty increase must be scrapped and a fuel duty regulator introduced as promised.

“The Tory government must now listen to the views of people across Scotland who can no longer afford extortionate fuel prices. 

"This is a huge issue across Scotland. The rising price of fuel is harming Scottish industry, hitting household budgets and pushing up inflation. Fuel costs don't just affect what we pay at the pumps, but also the prices we pay at the supermarket tills as suppliers have to cover their ever increasing costs.

 “What Ministers in London are clearly forgetting is that for many people in Scotland, a car is a necessity and not a luxury. That's certainly true in Lanarkshire, where we have a large rural hinterland, scattered small villages and a significant farming sector.

“That’s why I’m astonished that Labour MSPs failed to back the call for fair fuel prices. Surely they must know how much this affects people across Scotland, yet once again they have chosen to play political games rather than do the right thing. People will rightly be asking exactly whose side Labour is on here.”

A spoonful of manifesto helps the medicine go down…..

It was with great pleasure to make my voice heard when this SNP Scottish government delivered another one of our manifesto commitments. We promised in 2007 that we would have a nation that valued its people so much that we would end the tax on the sick. Scotland has an unenviable reputatuion for being the sick man of Europe and we want to reverse that trend. Along with a whole host of other excellent policies it looks like we may be on our way to do that and free prescriptions for eveyone in Scotland is a very welcome development and another promise kept.

I had something to say about that too;

Christina McKelvie MSP has warmly welcomed today’s Health Committee vote which means that prescriptions will shortly be free for all patients in Scotland, fulfilling a key SNP manifesto commitment.

When the SNP came to power in 2007, prescription charges stood at £6.85. Since then, charges have been reduced, to £5 in 2008-09, £4 in 2009-10 and £3 in 2010-11. Now, from 1 April 2011 they will be completely free.

As charges have reduced, the numbers of people purchasing pre-payment certificates has soared, demonstrating the need for cheaper prescriptions for people with long term medication needs. In the NHS Lanarkshire area, 21,768 people purchased pre-payment certificates in 2005/6, before the SNP government came to power. By 2009/10 – when the cost of annual pre-payment certificates had dropped by £180 – that figure had risen to 52,266.

Lanarkshire-based MSP Christina said:

“I am delighted that, thanks to the Scottish Government, prescriptions will be free for everyone from 1 April.

“Prescription charges were a tax on ill-health which put additional pressure on household budgets, particularly for people who suffered from long term conditions and required regular medications.

“The fact that so many people took advantage of big reductions in the cost of pre-payment certificates over the past three years is an indication that, previously, cost was a potential barrier to people with long term conditions getting all the medicines they needed. Now that financial worry will be removed entirely and those people will be able to concentrate on improving their health and getting better.

“The NHS was founded on the principle of free health care for everyone and the SNP has returned it to that state. It has never been right that the sick had to pay to get better and this historical injustice has now been redressed.”

Prescription Pre-Payment Certificate Sales to Patients by NHS Board            
NHS Board       Type of Certificate     2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10        
Lanarkshire     4 Months        16,380  17,361  17,043  37,240  45,301         
        12 Months       5,388   5,191   3,600   6,921   6,965          
        Monthly Total   21,768  22,551  20,643  44,161  52,266         

Just what the doctor ordered don’t you think?

I’ve always wanted to be a weather girl now I have got my chance.

See you all next week.

Christina McKelvie MSP
Central Scotland

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