Thursday 8 November 2018

Nae Pasaran!

11.18 Nae PasaranSpecial thanks to my colleague Linda Fabiani MSP on securing a special screening in the Scottish Parliament of Producer and Director Felipe Bustos Sierra’s film Nae Pasaran!

I’m pictured with Felipe and my colleague Clare Adamson MSP.

The film tells the story of Bob Fulton, Robert Somerville, Stuart Barrie, John Keenan and their fellow workers at the Rolls Royce factory in East Kilbride who defied the regime of dictator General Pinochet in Chile by refusing to repair engines from Chilean Airforce planes.

It is no surprise that this film has won Best Film at the 2018 Scottish BAFTAs. I’d definitely recommend it and I believe there are screenings at the GFT.


The UK Government must come clean on the mounting costs of Brexit to the heath sector. With Brexit less than six months away, the Scottish Government is doing all it can to plan for, and mitigate, the expected damage Brexit will cause the Scottish NHS.

Far from the £350 million extra a week promised to the NHS from Brexit, there is growing evidence of mounting costs.

There is no good Brexit for our health service. Even with a deal we face a loss of millions of pounds in research funding which could hit clinical trials.

The best way to avoid this damage to the health service is to remain in the EU. But short of that, the UK must stay in the Customs Union and Single Market – which is around eight times the size of the UK market alone – to minimise the damage of Brexit and ensure we continue to have access to the high quality frontline and research staff we need.


11.18 Puppy CampaignThe Scottish Government, in consultation with a variety of animal welfare charities including the Scottish SPCA, is launching a new Animal Welfare campaign to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of illegal puppy farming.

The Scottish Government Buy a Puppy Safely campaign focuses on, educating the target audience on the consequences of buying an illegally bred puppy, teaching them how to spot the signs of an illegally bred puppy, prompting them to do their research and visit buyapuppysafely.org.

The campaign is being launched now to raise awareness ahead of the large spike in online advertising of puppies in the run up to Christmas. Many people begin their search for a new puppy online, and the campaign hopes to raise awareness that buyers are more likely to buy an illegally bred puppy than they think.

Please visit the website if you are thinking or anyone you know is thinking of getting a puppy – you can get more information here: https://www.buyapuppysafely.org/

Financial Health Check

At least 15,000 households each year are expected to benefit from the new Financial Health Check service – backed by £3.3 million in funding over the next two years.

Low income families and older people will be able to access personalised advice on money matters, from reducing household energy costs to accessing grants such as the Best Start Grant and the School Clothing Grant. This will help people avoid the “poverty premium” of paying more for essential goods and services.

This new service, which is one of the commitments outlined in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, will be available through a freephone telephone number 0800 085 7145 or in person at Citizens Advice Bureaux. 

St Vincent Street Church

11.18 St Vincent St ChurchWhat a wonderful visit on Monday to meet with representatives of the St Vincent Street Church designed by Glasgow Architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson and built in 1859.

The church was acquired by Glasgow Corporation by Compulsory Purchase Order and has been owned by the council ever since.

Glasgow City Free Church have been leasing the building from the Council since 1971. They have taken exceptional care of this “A” listed building.

However, a building of this size requires sufficient investment in its preservation and conservation.

Glasgow City Free Church are hoping they can safeguard the future of the building by setting up a Trust to oversee the maintenance and running of the building. I think this would be a hugely positive step forward for the future of the building particularly when we have witnessed the decay of architecturally significant buildings across the city.

Read, Write, Count

Three quarters of teachers surveyed across Scotland say their pupils’ enthusiasm for reading increased after receiving Read, Write, Count bags. Funded by the Scottish Government and containing books for children plus hints and tips for parents they are gifted every year to families of P2 and P3 children.

In a Scottish Book Trust survey parents, carers and teachers welcomed the bags as a highly valuable resource which had a positive impact at home and in the classroom.

Wellbeing Project

11.18 UHI Health in CommunityRepresentatives from the Representing Communities: New Approaches to Wellbeing were exhibiting in Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to speak to them about their work both in Cromarty and in Dennistoun.

The project both rural and urban has been exploring new ways of finding out what local people do to achieve or maintain a sense of personal and collective wellbeing.

The project has found this has provided effective new insights into how to conduct research aimed at informing health and wellbeing policies in a fresh way which delivers a new means of understanding some of Scotland’s old and seemingly intractable wellbeing challenges.

Nursing and Midwifery

Student nursing and midwifery places will increase for the seventh consecutive year, reaching record levels, with the intake rising by 7.6% to more than 4,000.

All eligible nursing and midwifery students across Scotland will benefit from an increased bursary in 2019/20, rising to £10,000 a year in 2020/21.

Upping intake for the 2019/20 academic year is one of a number of measures to support the sustained recruitment and retention of NHS staff. In addition to the increase in student places, almost 460 former nurses and midwives have signed up to retrain through the Return to Practice programme, since 2015. The Scottish Government is also funding the Open University to deliver a pre-registration programme, currently supporting around 116 nursing students.

Hep C

11.18 Hep CWaverley Care were in Parliament this week highlighting their Hepatitis C Prison Link Project, which operates within HMP Barlinnie and Low Moss in Glasgow.

Building on research within the prison sector, and the personal experiences of their service users, the Prison Link Project works with prisoners who are living with hepatitis C as they approach liberation.

An estimated one in five prisoners in Scotland is thought to be living with hepatitis C and, while testing and treatment within prison settings is becoming increasingly established, the chaotic nature of many individuals’ lives mean that they often fall away from formal care and support on release.

The Prison Link provides holistic support before, during, and after release to remove the uncertainty people face when returning to the community. Through this approach, the project empowers individuals to take greater control of their own health and wellbeing, clear hepatitis C and move forward with their lives.



Thursday 1 November 2018

Further Education Visitors

Universities Scotland held a reception at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday evening showcasing further education establishments across the country.

Glasgow was well represented with all of our further education institutions exhibiting and I managed to get the opportunity to chat with them all.

10.18 Strathclyde Uni10.18 GC Uni10.18 UoG10.18 GSoA10.18 Conservatoire 2

Asylum Seekers

As well as taking part in the Scottish Government debate on asylum seekers on Thursday I also took the opportunity to raise the issue of asylum seekers and the support they receive during portfolio questions on Wednesday.

You can access the asylum seekers debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ReportSelectPage.aspx?type=plenary&year=2018&page=0&meeting=-1

And the portfolio question here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11745&i=106289


The UK Budget will see Scotland’s resource block grant almost £2 billion lower in real terms next year than it was less than a decade ago.

The Budget does not deliver on the promises of a rise in public spending – Scotland’s NHS has been short-changed, the roll-out of Universal Credit has not been halted, and the richest 10% of the UK population will be the ones who benefit most from tax cuts.


10.18 Tearfund Scotland

It was a pleasure to attend an event in Parliament to celebrate Tearfund Scotland’s 50th anniversary.

The evening included presentations, music and art. I’m pictured with Iain Campbell a Glasgow based portrait painter. Iain has been working on a series of paintings for Tearfund’s 50th anniversary after visiting Tearfund projects in Nepal. The artwork was very impressive and Iain took the time to chat with me about his work and his collaboration with Tearfund Scotland.

The event also highlighted Tearfund’s 50th anniversary impact report, which outlines the transforming impact of Tearfund’s work over the last five decades. It also included a review of the impact of a decade of Scottish Government funding, telling the inspiring stories of communities that have benefited from this support.


11.18 Caring Christmas TreesThat time of year already I hear you cry! It is and I wanted to make you all aware of the Bethany Christian Trust’s Caring Christmas Trees project.

You can purchase a tree and the money raised will not only stay in the local area but will be used to support people in crisis this Christmas.

Bethany work with homeless people, families and children and those that are isolated and marginalised so your purchase will be going some way in offering support to our most vulnerable.

Caring Christmas Trees are freshly-cut, grade 1 standard Nordman Firs, grown in Scotland in managed, sustainable tree farms. These trees are grown especially to be future Christmas trees.

You can get more information about the project and how to get your tree here: https://www.caringchristmastrees.com/glasgow/#simple1

Saint’s Celebrations

Scots are being urged to spread a little kindness this St Andrew’s Day in celebration of the nation’s shared values and inclusive view of the world.

The #MakeSomeonesDay campaign marks the start of Scotland’s Winter Festivals – backed by £550,000 from the Scottish Government – opening with St Andrew’s Day on 30 November. This will be followed by events over the Christmas period, Hogmanay and, in January, Burns Night.

EventScotland is supporting events across Scotland and BEMIS, the national ethnic minorities-led umbrella body, is hosting multi-cultural celebrations as part of the Winter Festivals.

For the first time, the Scottish Government is teaming up with the global Fair Saturday Foundation on 1 December with a programme of more than 70 nationwide events to help fundraise for good causes and promote fairness and sharing.

You can find out what’s happening in Glasgow here: https://app.fairsaturday.org/listaeventos2018/Glasgow

Love Rally

10.18 Love RallyWhat a wonderful experience to march through the city centre with so many people demonstrating a commitment to a lifetime of equality, respect and love for all care experienced people.

I was joined by my colleagues Mhairi Black MP and Patrick Grady MP.

The march started at St Enoch Square at 12 winding through the city streets ending outside the Royal Concert Hall steps on Buchanan Street.

This rally was part of Care Experienced Week which runs in tandem with National Care Leavers’ Week, taking place at the end of October.

This additional event was born because people don’t leave their care experience behind them, just because they leave formal care. Rather, their care experience represents a fundamental part of who they are – and we want to celebrate that.


10.18 CoGC Campus VisitHad a very good visit to the new City of Glasgow campus this week.

Having met up with staff and students from the woodtrades during a showcase event on Traditional Build at the Parliament in September I was invited along to the college campus to see the workshops which were very impressive.

Not content with a tour of the woodtrades department I was also taken round some of the other departments across the campus including the travel and tourism department, painting and decorating, art and creative industries department.

It’s great to meet up with students and staff and see learning in action.





The Channel 4 Board have today announced that Glasgow will be home to one of its two new Creative Hubs. The other will be in Bristol while a new UK HQ will be created in Leeds.


Stuart Cosgrove originally lead a hugely impressive pitch to secure the new Channel 4 HQ for Glasgow and while disappointed to miss out on that opportunity, today’s announcement was warmly welcomed by Sandra White MSP:

“I am delighted to see Channel 4 recognising the hugely talented and industry leading base of professionals based in Glasgow. From our students, through to our independents, and also our mainstream media broadcasters, Glasgow has all the ingredients to be hugely successful for Channel 4.


“With other Scottish cities such as Dundee and Edinburgh with their own vibrant creative sectors there is a real wealth of talent to harness and Glasgow is the perfect melting pot in which to do that.


Chairman of Channel 4, Alex Masson, informed elected officials and the leaders of the bids for applicant cities on Wednesday afternoon. Mr Masson commented on Glasgow’s success:

“Glasgow has an incredibly well-established and vibrant independent production sector with strengths across a number of different programme genres. Establishing a new Creative Hub in the city will bring Channel 4 commissioners even closer to key production partners in the Glasgow and help develop the production and creative sector across Scotland. There is also the opportunity to exploit the strong connection with Belfast and develop deeper links with the production sector in Northern Ireland.


“Locating a Creative Hub in Glasgow also enables Channel 4 to harness the city’s rich cultural diversity, to further improve on-screen representation, and to work with the sector and the region’s educational establishments to grow the pipeline of new talent into the production and broadcast industries.”



SNP MSP Sandra White, has criticised the UK Government for failing the people of Glasgow Kelvin, following this year’s Budget announcement.


After promising to end austerity, the UK Government’s budget has in fact failed Scottish people, with Scotland’s resource block grant almost £2 billion lower in real terms next year than it was less than a decade ago.


The Budget does not deliver on the promises of a rise in public spending – Scotland’s NHS has been short-changed, the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit has not been halted, and the richest 10% of the UK population will be the ones who benefit most from Tory tax cuts.


Sandra White said:

“This Tory Budget falls a long way short of delivering for the people of Scotland.


“Working people will be £1,600 worse off thanks to their mishandling of Brexit, and the changes in this year’s Budget do nothing to alleviate the untold damage this will do.


“The reality of this Budget is that the Tories have dug themselves a deeper hole, with no clue how to get out of it. People in Kelvin, and across Scotland, are getting a bad deal with the Tories.


“The SNP will not support Tory tax cuts for the richest at the expense of the poor.


“Instead of ploughing on with more harmful austerity, the UK Government should commit to a realistic plan for investment in public services, to grow the economy and to boost jobs, incomes and living standards.


“This budget has exposed in stark terms the democratic deficit of the UK, and why we need full powers over Scotland’s finances to grow our economy and build a fairer country.”

White Questions GSoA Architects and Contractor

Sandra White MSP attended this week’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee to question Brian McQuade, Managing Director of contractors Keir Scotland and David Page, Director of Page/Park Architects and their Head of Design Review David Paton. 

Ms White raised the issue of the insulation in the roof cavity and the checks on safety and security of the project. 

Commenting Ms White said: 

“Having questioned both Mr McQuade and the Architects David Page and David Paton their responses have thrown up further questions. I pushed them on the materials used in the roof space, and whether or not this was in fact suitable for the build given the recent tragedy at Grenfell and the problems faced by my constituents at the Harbour site. The architects did say the manufacturer states the material is “not deemed a fire risk” but I would like to see the Committee seek further clarification on the suitability of these materials and whether or not this could have been a factor in the fire. 

“I also took the opportunity to ask them about the security across the project and the checks on the system and their method of reporting. We still haven’t had sight of the minutes of their progress reports and many people living in the area have reported the fire alarm system did not go off on the night of the fire. We have to know what checks on the site were carried out on the night of the fire and whether or not there was 24 hour CCTV which could provide vital insight into the destruction of this iconic building.

“The Board will be giving evidence on 19 November to the Culture Committee it remains to be seen whether or not they can provide the answers. I will attend the Committee meeting and hope I will be given the opportunity to question the board on their role and their failings.” 

You can view the full meeting of the Committee here: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/culture-tourism-europe-and-external-affairs-committee-october-25-2018


Sandra White MSP took part in an interview on Good Morning Scotland on 26 October 2018 on the GSoA which you can listen to here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0000vf1