It was a good chance to share ideas about how we can raise awareness of the #OptForLife campaign amongst the wider public ahead of Tuesday’s final Health and Sport Committee evidence session on the Bill before it goes to stage one debate.
With similar legislation in Wales coming into force yesterday, I believe Scotland should not be left behind when it comes to implementing ‘soft opt-out’. This is a chance to change the culture surrounding organ donation and save lives.
Remember, if you agree with my proposals to introduce a soft opt-out system of organ donation in Scotland, please write to your local MSP urging them to back the Bill and encourage family and friends to do so as well. You can find your local MSP here:
And you can register to become an organ donor here:
I was delighted to sponsor a reception to mark Action for Children‘s work in Scotland in their 60th anniversary year last week.
Action for Children works with the most vulnerable children, families and young people in Scotland, and it was great to hear about the quality services and support they provide.
There was also a fantastic performance from young service users who have been working with the National Youth Theatre throughout the year to create a piece of work to highlight the charity’s impact across scotland.
I’d like to wish them all the best with their work in the future.
You can find out more about Action for Children herehttps://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/
I welcome the opportunity to conclude the debate on behalf of the Scottish Labour Party. As we have heard, Scotland and Malawi have always shared close links and relationships, ever since 1859, when Scotland’s David Livingstone received a warm and inviting welcome from the area that is now Malawi. Ever since, our citizens have enjoyed continued personal links in the region, with 46 per cent of Scots knowing someone who is actively involved in a link with Malawi. I thank our latest MSP group—Liam McArthur, Elaine Smith and James Dornan—for their outstanding speeches about the stark reality that they know from their recent visits.
Glasgow has been a constant supporter and grateful beneficiary of our relationship with Malawi. Other members mentioned the importance of the help that the Scotland Malawi Partnership gave to the Governments of both our nations in the signing of an official co-operation agreement on 3 November 2005. That agreement set the goal of collaboration on four main issues: civic governance and society, sustainable economic development, health and education. Only 10 years after that historic agreement, the spectacular results and positive impact of our collaboration are exciting and encouraging. They have been strongly highlighted by many members.
The impressive fulfilment of the intentions that the Scottish Government set out would not have been possible without community groups throughout Scotland. In 2014, membership of the Scotland Malawi Partnership consisted of 70 large organisations, 23 medium organisations, 49 small organisations, 156 individual members, 16 Scottish local authorities, 116 primary schools, 86 secondary schools and 176 youth members—I am waiting on somebody shouting “House!” for bingo.
In Glasgow alone, members of the Scotland Malawi Partnership have had an immeasurable impact. Glasgow City Council has made Malawi a priority since 2005. Each lord provost has visited Malawi to maintain relationships, raise funds and encourage Glaswegians to engage further with the country. The council’s Malawi leaders of learning programme improves the teaching and leadership of Malawian staff and young people and, thus, improves the educational outcomes for Malawian youth. I place on record the great work of my local secondary school—Knightswood secondary school—and, in particular, all the hard work that my latest school work experience pupil, Rae McGreevy, is doing to help to support Malawi and to visit the country next year.
Other members have mentioned further groups, such as Tearfund, that work with organisations in Malawi to support children, reduce exposure to natural disasters and improve access to food, water and sanitation. The Glasgow-based organisation Sense Scotland has been working with small organisations in Malawi to establish projects to assist deafblind and disabled children and adults. Those initiatives, along with many others throughout Scotland, have directly benefited 2 million Malawians and indirectly benefited 4 million.
Although Scotland’s organisations and institutions have used their connections to Malawi to improve Malawian lives over the past 10 years, the mutual relationship between us cannot be ignored. With 94,000 Scots and 198,000 Malawians involved, our links with Malawi are an integral part of Scottish society and must receive continuing support. The connection with Malawi is a unique national effort mobilised by all the people of Scotland. I hope that the Scottish Government agrees that, now more than ever, we should continue our 156-year-old relationship with Malawi, which is built on respect, mutual trust and understanding.
Scottish Labour have launched our Achieving Women’s Equality consultation.
You can read the document here: www.scottishlabour.org.uk/achievingwomensequality
Equalities Spokesperson Rhoda Grant MSP has written a piece on LabourHame about the consultation: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/blog/entry/achieving-womens-equality
Here is Kezia Dugdale’s foreword to the document:
“Scottish Politics is changing.
“The struggle for women to gain the right to vote is nearing its centenary. Since woman’s suffrage in the early 20th century much has been achieved.
“The introduction of the National Minimum Wage; creating tax credits; increasing maternity and paternity leave; pension credits; the expansion of childcare and the implementation of the Equality Act.
“Three out of four of the leaders of the Scottish Parliament’s largest parties are women. Cross party support exists for the Women 50:50 Campaign and the Scottish Government has committed to a gender-balanced cabinet.
“But equal representation will not deliver the changes we need to see to improve the lives of women in Scotland. Just as having a female Prime Minister did not signal the achievement of equality for women in the early 1980s, nor does a female First Minister in post in Scotland today.
“Every achievement for women has been a battle which has had to be fought and won. It isn’t enough to point at women in positions of power and claim we can assume all is now equal. Too many institutional barriers still stand in the way of talented women and to ignore this gives credence to the lie that “if you are good enough, and work hard enough, you can achieve anything”.
“Nicola Sturgeon is the first female First Minister. The Scottish Government now publishes an annual Equality Budget Statement to accompany the Scottish Budget. But this is not enough.
“In Scotland, 1 in 4 women will still face gender-based violence.
“Too many women remain in low-skilled, low paid and part time work.
“Not enough women are going into key jobs or sectors like science and engineering.
“And we still don’t equally recognise female dominated professions such as a nursing and carer workers.
“85% of Scottish Councils do not report having enough childcare provision for parents working full time.
“Scottish Labour is committed to challenging discrimination, tackling the imbalance of power and continuing to lift women out of poverty.
“We have set out just some of our vision at our conference in Perth. Now we want to hear from you.”
Working families in Glasgow will be protected by Tory cuts to Tax Credits by Scottish Labour.
The party announced that they would protect working families in Scotland from tax credit cuts using the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament.
Party leader Kezia Dugdale announced the move in her keynote speech to Scottish Labour conference in Perth last week, outlining that the party would pay for the move by cancelling planned SNP tax cuts on air passenger duty and Tory cuts for higher rate tax payers.
Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart said the move could protect as many as 53,600 families in the city.
Ms McTaggart said:
“Tax credits work. They make work pay for families in Glasgow and across Scotland. They lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, and they allow families to aspire to more than just making it to the end of the month.
“That’s why the Labour Government introduced them in the first place and why Scottish Labour would use the powers coming to the Scottish Parliament to reverse the Tories plans to cut them.
“This is about different choices between Labour and the SNP when it comes to priorities. It’s about standing up for working families.
“The SNP want to make a plane ticket cheaper, I don’t think that’s the right priority when there are families in Glasgow who can’t afford the weekly shop.
“This is about what we stand for and who we stand with. Labour will put the incomes of working class families in Glasgow before the price of a business class flight.”
I was delighted to attend the Holyrood Rocks final at the Scottish Parliament on Saturday night and would like to offer my congratulations to Gus Harrower who won the competition.
His prize is a recording session at Clyde 1 studios in Glasgow, along with tickets to attend the Young Scot Awards.
The event showcased young musical talent from across the country whilst encouraging young people’s engagement in the political process.
I would also like to congratulate Forgotten Drive, Kate Kyle, The Vistas, Silver Coast, Hayley Millar, Single By Sunday, Amy Louise Rogers, and Withered Hand on getting to the final and on their fantastic performances!
Don’t forget that you can register to vote here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote