Anne McTaggart Speech: ‘Scotland and Malawi Co-operation Agreement’ Debate

Anne McTaggart (Glasgow) (Lab):

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.

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