The last day of parliament was an eventful one, beginning with a strike by public sector workers which included some of the parliament’s employees.
I also met demonstrating workers from the secure unit at St Phillips, some of whom live in Motherwell & Wishaw, who are calling for the unit to be retained. Closure will affect not only the unit, but also all the other facilities on the site. I have written in support to the Scottish Government.
The big debate on the last day was the proposal for legislation on sectarianism. Along with my Labour colleagues, I was prepared to sit during the summer recess rather than rush through potentially bad legislation. Fortunately the First Minister pulled up at the final fence, and we will now return to the issue in September.
As regards legislation, one of the things that I would like to achieve in the next five years is to put a private members bill through the Scottish Parliament. This is not easy – many are proposed but few are chosen. The hurdles to jump include getting support inside and outside parliament for the idea, turning the idea into a workable piece of legislation, and then persuading the powers that be to allocate enough time in the parliamentary schedule for the Bill to be agreed in principle, considered by a committee, then by the whole parliament, and finally to emerge at the other end to get royal assent.
The best private members bills are those that address a clear and specific need for legislation, around which a cross party consensus can be built. As a rule, they should be well-focussed – the broader the scope, the greater the potential pitfalls!
I have ideas that I am considering, but I would like to know what you think would be a good thing to tackle. If you could change one aspect of legislation, what would it be? Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post me your thoughts in a letter to 265 Main Street, Wishaw.
The biggest political issue since the parliament recess began has been the phone hacking scandal. Public confidence in our national newspapers, even beyond Murdoch’s media, must be at an all-time low.
There will be a tendency to tar all journalists with the same brush, even though journalists from other national papers such as the Guardian were responsible for exposing News International’s misdoings, and despite the many regional and local journalists who diligently serve their local communities.
I was interested, therefore to read the result of a recent survey. By far the most trusted sources of information were local newspapers and websites. Even Scottish Government information was more trusted when delivered by local media!
Another interesting result was that the recession has made four out of five people value their local communities more highly. People say they feel more part of the community, take more pride in it, try to buy local and buy from companies who give something back to the community.
When we get rid of the cloud, please can we keep the silver lining?