Thursday 21 December
With Christmas almost upon us I wanted to take the time to wish you all a happy festive season.
It’s been another eventful year politically and internationally. I do not doubt there will be more of the same next year but with the new year brings fresh hope for the year ahead.
I hope you all enjoy some time with family and friends and I will be back with the first of the new year’s ebrief on Thursday 11 January 2018!
Catalan Regional Elections
Catalans will go to the polls today after the Spanish Government called the election following the Catalan Referendum in October.
The Referendum saw over 90% of people vote for independence for Catalonia despite the extreme and excessive force used to obstruct votes being cast. I am gravely concerned that the Spanish Government have blocked all international observers from this election given the scenes we witnessed on polling day for the Referendum and sincerely hope that this will not be replicated.
I stand in solidarity with the people of Catalonia and their right to self determination and call on the international community to do the same and let democracy prevail.
You can view the full text of a motion I lodged in Parliament this week here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/motions-questions-and-answers.aspx
The Social Security Bill reached its stage 1 debate this week in Parliament and I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate not least because I had convened the committee from the beginning of the Bill to almost Stage 1 Report publication.
This is a significant milestone and I and the majority of my colleagues are pleased with the report at this stage but recognise there is still much more to do as it enters its stage 2 debate in Committee.
You can read the full text of my contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11275&i=102651
Family Fund are a fantastic charity doing some incredible work both in Glasgow and across Scotland helping disabled children and their families.
I took some time to chat with representatives from the organisation about their work when they had their exhibition in the Scottish Parliament this week.
In 2016/17 they helped with the assistance of Scottish Government funding 6,176 families with grants across Scotland. This meant that a wide range of thousands of essential items were awarded to families, including computers, tablets, kitchen appliances and much-needed family breaks.
You can find out more about them here: https://www.familyfund.org.uk/scotland
Voters in Scotland are being asked to have their say on how they choose their political representatives at Holyrood and in local government elections.
Among other things, the Electoral Reform Consultation will seek views on the duration of a parliamentary term, who is in charge of the voting process and opinions on electronic voting.
The consultation, launched this week by the Scottish Government, also asks for the public’s opinions on accessibility of anonymous registration, votes for non-EU citizens resident in Scotland and moves to make elected office more accessible.
You can access the consultation here: https://consult.gov.scot/elections/electoral-reform/
Representatives from Street Pastors Scotland were in the Parliament this week to hold a reception following a members debate on their work. I have had several opportunities to accompany the street pastors to see first-hand the work they do.
Contributing to the debate I highlighted what I had observed and the invaluable support they offer to all people in need on the streets.
From people who have over indulged on a night out needing a hand to get home safely to people who are homeless and sleeping on the streets, the street pastors are there offering assistance. The work they do can literally be a lifeline and I thank them.
You can access my full contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11275&i=102655
My colleague Ivan McKee MSP was hosting an event to mark Bangladesh Independence Day in the Parliament this week and I was pleased to meet up with representatives from the Bangladesh Association of Glasgow.
We enjoyed an interactive evening of talks, presentation, song, dance, short-films and reflection on the story of Bangladesh’s independence.
I had a great evening on Sunday at the Broadcasting Scotland studios based in the Dundas Centre. This enterprise is run entirely on the generosity of donations and the drive and determination of it’s creators.
Broadcasting Scotland provide a full range of programming, including news, current affairs and documentaries, entertainment and variety, drama, music and comedy, suitable for all ages, which is aimed at audiences both inside Scotland, as well as a global audience interested in Scotland and Scottish culture.
You can view my interview at https://www.broadcastingscotland.scot/category/programmes/
Museum of the Revolution of Dignity
The Parliament was host to an exhibition by the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity. The museum’s mission is to preserve and spotlight the memory of the key events that have shaped modern Ukraine and illuminate the values and the motivation of individuals seeking democratic change.
The National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred and Revolution of Dignity Museum (also known as, the Maidan Museum) is the only national museum devoted to collecting, exhibiting, interpreting and disseminating the stories of the struggles by Ukrainians for national independence, human rights, individual freedoms and dignity.
The Museum draws upon the events of the recent past, is firmly rooted in the reality of the present, and directed towards the immediate future. Its mission is to galvanize and consolidate Ukrainian civil society and support democratic transformations in Ukraine.
Derek Young from Age Scotland popped into the Parliament with Christmas Cards from constituents raising the issue of loneliness.
Over 40,000 older Scots are likely to spend Christmas Day alone. As the Convener of the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing I am more than happy to give my support to this campaign.
The Scottish Government will establish a groundbreaking National Strategy on Loneliness in 2018 and I hope that we can all work together to ensure it delivers real action to reduce loneliness in our country.
One final plea to you all – could you donate your old tablets to the Digital Classroom initiative which brings education opportunities to children in refugee camps. Tablets can be sent in a padded envelope or dropped off in person at my constituency office at 1274 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AA.
This is a great concept and an innovative way to ensure that some of the most vulnerable children, in the most desperate circumstances get the opportunity to learn.
Find out more about the project here: https://www.eqtr.com/digitalclassroom/