Thursday 27 September


09.18 SrebrenicaThe name Srebrenica has become synonymous with those dark days in July 1995 when, in the first ever United Nations declared safe area, thousands of men and boys were systematically murdered and buried in mass graves. The victims, predominantly Muslim, were selected for death on the basis of their identity. This was the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

The Scottish Parliament was this week host to an exhibition which aims to promote the Remembering Srebrenica charity which seeks to increase public awareness of the genocide that took place in Bosnia in 1995.

The exhibition is both powerful and moving.

Social Security

Assessments for disability support will be carried out by Social Security Scotland, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals – and people will be given greater choice and flexibility over their assessments.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “We will not farm out assessments to private companies.

“Furthermore under the Scottish government system, people will be given greater choice and control over their assessment through four actions I have committed to today.  People will be invited at a time that suits them and to a location that suits them. For those with difficulty travelling, the assessor will come to them.     

“In addition we will introduce audio recordings of assessments as standard to ensure accuracy and transparency. And we will also allow the social security appeals tribunal to access the audio recording to help inform their decision.

“From application to award, we will provide a service that manages performance, quality and outcomes.  And it is this approach that will see dignity and respect embedded throughout, and ensure people can have trust in the system.”

UN International Day for Older Persons

IMG_1437As the Convener of the CPG on Older People, Age and Ageing I was more than happy to promote the 2018 UN International Day of Older Person’s by submitting the following motion in Parliament and this was presented to representatives from the Scottish Pensioners Forum at their demonstration outside the Parliament this week:

UN International Day of Older Persons

That the Parliament recognises 1 October 2018 as UN International Day of Older Persons; understands that this resolution, 45/106, was passed by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 1990, which declared 1 October the International Day of Older Persons; notes the contribution and dedication that older people have made and continue to make to help safeguard welfare rights during the last 70 years in policymaking, campaigning and in wider society, and supports the theme for this year’s celebration, Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions. 


IMG_1430Representatives from the Kashmir community recently visited the Parliament and met with myself and my colleague James Dornan MSP and Anas Sarwar MSP.

They were outlining the current situation as well as a discussion on progressing the case for Kashmir independence.

Car Free Kelvin

09-18-car-free-2.jpgIn an unprecedented move, Glasgow City Council repeated the offer of free road closures to residents, local groups and community-based organisations who wanted to turn their local streets into temporary playgrounds for local children.

It follows the huge success of the Street Play event in June this year, which saw the council facilitate 25 road closures across the city to allow communities to enjoy the benefits of a traffic-free day close to home.

In marking this year’s International Car Free Day, Street Play was again available in the city for the second time this year, last weekend. Kelvin Way joined cities from all around the world celebrating a reclamation of the street for people.

Women’s Football

Scotland’s Women’s National Team squad will be able to train full-time for the FIFA 2019 World Cup with additional Scottish Government funding.

The financial support will allow those players in the national squad who are currently not professionals to train full-time from January ahead of the tournament in France.

The draw for the FIFA 2019 World Cup group takes place on 8 December 2018, and the final 23 woman squad will be announced in the lead up to the tournament which begins on 7 June 2019 in Paris.

Rebel Apprenticeship

09.18 Rebel Rebel Barbering CourseOut and about in the constituency at the beginning of the week and I popped in to Rebel Rebel to discuss a few problems they are having but also to find out about their training opportunities.

They have linked up with Glasgow Kelvin College to offer a Modern Barbering City and Guilds qualification.

The collaboration includes the establishment of a customised training centre at the Grainstore. Within this newly refurbished 150-year-old building they have constructed a bespoke barbershop workspace less than 10 minutes’ walk from Glasgow Central Station.

They have designed a setting which will offer both theoretical knowledge and practical tuition, including both traditional and on-trend barbering skills.

You can find out more here: http://madebarbering.com/











Thursday 20 September 2018

09.18 MAP II was more than happy to host a reception in parliament for Medical Aid for Palestine to give representatives from the organisation the opportunity to provide MSPs and guests with information on their work and an update on the current situation.

Invited guests and MSPs heard from MAP Trustee Professor Graham Watt, MAP Director of Programmes Dr Andy Ferguson and Gerry O’Hare Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist with NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde (all pictured above).

MAP IISince March, popular protests in Gaza have been attacked by Israeli military forces, causing mass casualties. At least 134 Palestinians have been killed – including two medics, 21 children and thousands injured. In response, MAP is providing essential medicines, surgical equipment and surgeons to support the struggling healthcare system – and speaking out.

Young Carers

Young people are being asked for their views on plans to deliver a new grant worth £300 a year to young carers.

The Young Carer Grant will be available to carers aged 16-17, not in receipt of Carers Allowance, who spend 16 hours or more a week caring for people entitled to qualifying disability benefits. 18 year old carers who are at still at school will also be eligible.

You can access more information at https://consult.gov.scot/social-security/consultation-on-young-carer-grant-regulations/


09.18 RNIB See Differently CampaignThe Royal National Institute for the Blind Scotland (RNIB) were exhibiting in the Parliament this week and I took time to stop and have a chat with their representatives.

They have launched their campaign See Differently (#seedifferently) with the aim to promote Sim Specs, an economical and effective training aid for
anyone working with visually impaired people.

The Sim Specs gave members an opportunity to attempt various tasks, to give us a better understanding of the impact sight loss has
on a person’s life.

I’m pictured looking through the Sorenzo Studios designed window letting viewers see what the world can look like with diabetic retinopathy.


With the negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal entering a critical phase, the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee has today launched a call for evidence, as part of the Committee’s on-going scrutiny of the Article 50 Negotiations, looking at what impact these negotiations are having on Scotland’s individuals, businesses and organisations.

The Chequers Plan, Canada plus, a ‘Blind Brexit’ and no deal are just some of the terms that have become part of the everyday language of Brexit. As the UK Government continues to negotiate the terms of the Article 50 withdrawal from the EU, the Committee wants to know what impact these negotiations, and the uncertainty created, has had on Scotland.

In the call for evidence on Article 50 preparedness, the Committee is asking what these negotiations have meant in practice and what further support or guidance is needed from the UK or Scottish Governments.

Kelvin Visitors

09.18 Kelvin BranchIt was great to welcome a delegation from the constituency to the Parliament this week for a tour of the building and then into the public gallery to watch First Minister’s Question Time. I think everyone had an enjoyable time.

I’m always happy to make the necessary arrangements for constituents to visit the Parliament. If you would like to come along please contact Amanda on Amanda.gordon@parliament.scot or 0131 348 5688 you can also make a request through the constituency office on 0141 339 7693.


Young people will have the opportunity to become Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths mentors as part of a new programme to help inspire their younger counterparts to study STEM.

A new Young STEM Leaders Programme, which will be run by the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) in partnership with science centres, the science festivals and youth organisations, will help young role models develop their mentoring skills and STEM knowledge.

Young mentors will receive training, as well as access to STEM experts for learning and support during their time as a mentor. The programme will also create accreditation routes for the young people involved, to recognise their development.

The development of the programme will begin next month, with an initial consultation and piloting phase before opportunities become available for young people to get involved later this academic year.

Anthony Nolan

09.18 Antony NolanEvery year in the UK, around 2,000 blood cancer patients need a stem cell transplant to save their life – but too often a donor isn’t available or can’t be found quickly enough so I was honoured to be invited to the Anthony Nolan Trust ‘Communities vs Blood Cancer’ event in Parliament this week to pick up not one certificate but three!

Glasgow Kelvin is being recognised for its amazing efforts in helping to save the lives of people with blood cancer which includes being the constituency in Scotland with the most registered stem cell donors as well as having added the most stem cell donors to the register in the last year, and also has the lowest average age (this is important as Anthony Nolan’s research shows that younger donors give patients the best chance of survival)

Their campaign ‘Communities vs Blood Cancer’ campaign, launching this week, aims to raise awareness of the need for more stem cell donors, particularly young men aged 16-30 and people from BAME backgrounds.

If you would like to find out more about the organisation and how you can help go to https://www.anthonynolan.org/

Wear It Pink

09.18 Wear It PinkBreast Cancer Now’s Wear It Pink day is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year. Taking place on 19 October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of people will wear it pink in their communities, schools or work places for Breast Cancer Now.

Since their first event in 2002, over £31.5 million has been raised for life-saving research that’s working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives.

If you would like to take part you can find out more information from https://www.wearitpink.org/signup














SNP MSP Sandra White has praised new figures showing that Scotland’s economy has outperformed the UK’s in the second quarter of this year.


According to official figures, announced by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, the economy in Scotland grew by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2018 while growth in the UK was at 0.4%.


In the first half of this year, Scottish GDP grew by 0.8% – ahead of the UK at 0.6% over the same period, and already higher than the 0.7% growth forecast by the Scottish Fiscal Committee for 2018 as a whole.


The last year has seen the Scottish economy grow by a total of 1.7%, whilst the UK lags behind on 1.3%.


This growth in Scotland comes as concerns increase over the handling of Brexit negotiations, with Brexit potentially costing the Scottish economy £12.7billion a year – the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in the country.


Sandra White MSP said:

“It is extremely encouraging to see that economic growth in Scotland is exceeding expectations – benefitting people in Kelvin and across the country.


“These latest figures show the success of the Scottish Government’s approach, focused on building a strong economy, investing in business and enterprise and supporting the industries of the future.


“This success is welcome, but Brexit poses a real threat to Scottish jobs and household incomes – since the European single market is over eight times bigger than the UK market alone.


“Single market membership is absolutely crucial to protecting the jobs, incomes, and hard-won rights of millions of people across Scotland and the UK. The Tories must urgently commit to staying in the single market.”




Thursday 13 September 2018


09.18 MacMillan Coffee Morning

It was a pleasure to join Janice Preston Head of Macmillan Services in Scotland at the Parliament this week for the charity’s flagship fundraising campaign which aims to raise millions to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can.

Last year thousands of people across the UK took part in a Coffee Morning event, raising around £27m for Macmillan. This year the total raised by Coffee Morning since it began in 1991 will pass the £200m mark. The official day for World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Friday 28th September but you can hold your own event at a time to suit you.

It couldn’t be more simple to get involved – all you need to do is get together with family, friends or colleagues over coffee and cake. You can register now for your free fundraising pack via the website – http://www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee – or find a Coffee Morning near you to get involved in.

Help people with cancer live life as fully as they can and find a Macmillan Coffee Morning in your community to attend this September. www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee


Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell set out the actions the Scottish Government is taking to protect Scotland, as much as possible, from the ‘threats’ of Brexit.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Russell said existing financial and staff resources, backed by £27 million of additional preparation funding, are being aligned towards areas with specific EU exit-related demands to ensure an effective response.

Mr Russell warned that an unprecedented number of pieces of legislation known as statutory instruments, required to prepare Scottish laws for Brexit, will place a heavy burden on the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government.

He reiterated that the best option for Scotland’s economy, society and people is to have continued membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union.

Homeless World Cup

09.18 Homeless World Cup

It was great to see The Open Museum , Glasgow Museum’s outreach service exhibiting in Parliament this week.

They create pop up displays, community projects, events, art installations and exhibitions for Glasgow and the wider Scottish community.

The display they brought to Parliament contained objects, photos and stories to inspire and educate people about the positive impact of the Homeless World Cup on those who participated and what they have moved onto now.

Mental Health

The chair of a taskforce reviewing mental healthcare for young people has called for a stronger focus on prevention and more community-based care which would free specialist services for the children and adolescents who most need them.

The taskforce will conduct a whole system review of CAMHS in Scotland and is supported with an initial £5m.

Other recommendations include identifying where immediate changes can be made to address the issues raised in the rejected referrals review, building a diverse workforce, and strengthening information systems to get better data.

You can read the recommendations here: https://news.gov.scot/resources/dr-dame-denise-coia-preliminary-view-and-recommendations-final


09.18 Shelter ScotlandShelter Scotland were in Parliament this week to mark their 50th anniversary.

Shelter have seen a huge amount of progress over the past 50 years, but there’s still plenty to do until there’s a home for everyone.

Housing is now the key factor determining a person’s health, well-being, and prospects in life.  In the past 4 decades, Shelter Scotland has been working to help as many people as possible who are living in bad housing or with no home at all, and there is still a lot to be done.

Members had the opportunity to join Shelter Scotland to mark this important anniversary and hear from a range of speakers as they look towards what’s required in the future.

Glow Gold

Glow Gold was established to raise awareness of childhood cancer during September through gold illumination of iconic buildings and landmarks throughout the world and I am more than happy to add my support to their campaign.

Representatives of the campaign were in Parliament this week to highlight Glow Gold for September. The campaign wants to ensure the colour gold becomes synonymous with childhood cancer and September as awareness month.

They are hoping that with increased awareness of childhood cancer, comes greater awareness of the early signs and symptoms, earlier diagnosis, increased funding, increased research, kinder more targeted therapy and ultimately a change in the prognosis for kids diagnosed with childhood cancer.

Find out more here: http://glowgoldseptember.com/

Nae Pasaran

My colleague Linda Fabiani MSP led a members debate in the chamber this week on the 1974 group of workers at the Rolls Royce factory in East Kilbride who showed their support for the people of Chile by refusing to carry out the vital repairs of engines for Hawker Hunter planes, which had been used during the brutal military coup in September 1973.

The boycott endured for four years but the Scottish workers never knew what impact they had; it was a matter of conscience and an act of solidarity

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

Species Champion

09.18 Species ChampionHow many of you have spotted the Kelvin Kingfisher? As the Species Champion of the Kingfisher I’ve been keeping an eye out for our local Kingfisher which I’m happy to say I’ve spotted numerous times whilst out and about.

Representatives were in Parliament this week to mark the end of the Species Champion 100 day Challenge and I had the opportunity to meet up with them to chat about the future of Species Champions and Scottish biodiversity post 2020.

Glow Gold

Glow Gold was established to raise awareness of childhood cancer during September through gold illumination of iconic buildings and landmarks throughout the world and I am more than happy to add my support to their campaign.

Representatives of the campaign were in Parliament this week to highlight Glow Gold for September. The campaign wants to ensure the colour gold becomes synonymous with childhood cancer and September as awareness month.

They are hoping that with increased awareness of childhood cancer, comes greater awareness of the early signs and symptoms, earlier diagnosis, increased funding, increased research, kinder more targeted therapy and ultimately a change in the prognosis for kids diagnosed with childhood cancer.

Find out more here: http://glowgoldseptember.com/

Traditional Building Skills

IMG_1407 (2)Members of the Traditional Building Skills visited the Parliament this week along with pupils from Hillhead High to experience a hands on mini-masterclass in roof slating, stonemasonry, painting and decorating and joinery.

The mini-masterclasses were delivered by apprentices from Edinburgh College, City of Glasgow College, Dundee & Angus College and West Scotland College.

It not only gave me a chance but pupils as well to have a chat about the apprentices’ routes into employment and training while receiving hands on mini-masterclasses in the trades being demonstrated.


Thursday 6 September 2018

Welcome back! I hope you all managed to get out and about soaking up not only the great weather but the fantastic line up of events across the city.

09.18 Festival 2018The European Championships and Festival 2018 had an incredibly positive impact particularly in the city centre which has had to deal with successive extremely serious situations in the past year – the Championships gave Glaswegians and the rest of Scotland the chance to celebrate and showcase our amazing talent, culture and of course our largest city in Scotland with Glasgow Kelvin playing a central starring role!

I paid tribute to all of those involved during a debate in Parliament on Tuesday. You can access the full debate here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11639&i=105485

Programme for Government

The First Minister unveiled the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government this week in the Parliament.

A major reform of mental health services, investment in infrastructure and legislation to underpin a Scottish National Investment Bank are at the forefront of the Scottish Government’s priorities for the year ahead.

The Programme for Government includes details of a £250 million health investment package that will deliver dedicated mental health counsellors in schools, extra training for teachers, and an additional 250 school nurses to offer emotional and mental health support and provide more advice for young people and their families dealing with mental health issues.

It also sets out a national mission to reach the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spend ever in Scotland, with a commitment to invest an additional £7 billion – over and above existing plans – on schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity and clean energy by 2026.

An Export Growth Plan will see £20 million invested in a range of measures, including support for 150 businesses to increase overseas activity, whilst a new Fair Work plan will see living wage, gender pay transparency and the exclusion of zero hours contracts become conditions for business support.

The First Minister also confirmed that Scotland’s Social Security Agency will make the first payments of the Best Start Grant before Christmas, six months ahead of schedule, helping parents on low incomes with £600 on the birth of their first baby and £300 for subsequent children, to buy family essentials.

Headteachers will be given new powers to become key decision makers in their schools and, in partnership with local government, 750 new, extended or refurbished nurseries will be developed to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment to double free childcare hours.

New measures will be put in place to provide better support to victims of serious crimes and, in the Year of Young People, the First Minister committed to enshrine children’s rights by incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law – going further than the UK government in making children’s rights real.

Scotch Whisky Industry

09.18 Drink DriveRepresentatives from the Scotch Whisky industry were in Parliament this week. I’m pictured committing to the Join the Pact campaign.

This campaign was launched by Johnny Walker continuing their 9-year commitment to responsible drinking, Join the Pact is a global initiative for people to commit to never drink & drive.

Johnny Walker joined forces with transport providers around the world to get people home safely and for every commitment made, Johnny Walker have pledged to give back 1 kilometer of safe rides home.

The reception provided an opportunity to discuss with Scotch Whisky employees and industry leaders’ various aspects of the Scotch Whisky industry and mark the highest number of distilleries since pre-war including our own Clydeside Distillery!

Festival of Politics

09.18 Festival of PoliticsTaking place in the Scottish Parliament from Wednesday 10 October to Saturday 13 October, the Festival of Politics programme explores the history that made us and the issues that will shape our future. From Brexit to the increasing use of technology. Social and cultural issues also feature strongly in this year’s programme, featuring events that will explore the politics around foodbanks, disability and housing. Political anniversaries and movements is also part of the programme including the end of the first world war, suffragettes and the #me too campaign.

The Festival is a unique opportunity to debate these important issues with politicians, journalists, academics, commentators, poets and artists and all set within the iconic Holyrood complex.

This year’s Festival will also feature two thought provoking exhibitions. The original artwork from the pioneering We Shall fight Until We Win graphic novel which celebrates women gaining the vote in the UK will be on display. This will be displayed beside Never Such Innocence a powerful collection of artwork and poetry created by school children in response to the First World War.

You can find the full details of the programme here: https://festivalofpolitics.scot/

Scottish National Investment Bank

Work to ensure Scotland is a nation inventing, designing and manufacturing the innovations that will shape the future is underway, following the First Minister’s announcement that legislation to underpin a Scottish National Investment Bank will be introduced in early 2019.

Finance and Economy Secretary Derek Mackay has launched a consultation to ask the people of Scotland to help shape the objectives, purpose, priorities and governance of the Bank, as well as the its relationship with Ministers and stakeholders.

The Scottish National Investment Bank will focus on providing long-term patient capital for key economic investments, guided by a mission-orientated approach set by Government.

Take part here: https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/09/9275