Benson, FabianiEast Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani last week had the pleasure of hosting Harry Benson’s Shoot First documentary at the Edinburgh Film House and then hosting a presentation and question and answer session with Harry himself in the Parliament Chamber. This was all part of the Festival of Politics 2016, and complimented by a Parliamentary exhibition of Harry’s photographs which runs until December 3rd.


Born in 1929, Glasgow born Harry Benson CBE had his first break aged 24, when he worked for the Hamilton Advertiser, the largest weekly newspaper in Scotland at the time. Harry’s connection to East Kilbride helped catapult his career, as he was the only photographer to get a close up on the location of a murder on East Kilbride golf course by infamous mass murderer Peter Manuel. After the photographs were published, Harry was hired by London’s Daily Sketch to cover Scotland, and went to the USA to cover the first tour by the Beatles. He stayed in the US where he married and raised his family.


Perhaps best known for his famous coverage of the Beatles initial US tour in 1964, Benson has since photographed every US President from Eisenhower to Obama, and took photographs of Senator Robert Kennedy just moments after he was tragically shot. Working for Life Magazine from 1968-2000, Harry covered the IRA hunger strikes, as well as the conflict in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Israel and the West Bank.


Commenting after the events, Linda said:


“It was an real privilege to host the first screening of the documentary and then the conversation with Harry Benson himself in our Parliament Chamber – it was a fascinating insight into someone who has photographed some of the most captivating and iconic images of the 20th Century.


“I was fascinated to learn of Harry’s time working with the Hamilton Advertiser and covering East Kilbride. The murder on East Kilbride Golf course by the infamous Peter Manuel was his first big story and led to his moving to London, and then the USA. He went on to produce some of the most interesting portraits of the past sixty years – from US presidents, the Beatles, Cassius Clay, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland through to Amy Winehouse. The list is endless and I am sure that everyone has at some time viewed a Harry Benson photograph without realising that he is a Glasgow boy who began his career in Lanarkshire.


“Harry Benson – Seeing America is on display in the Scottish Parliament until the 3rd December at the Scottish Parliament, and I would encourage everyone to get along to see it if they can.”13926034_1016208425144250_3995979249740869880_o

Sainsbury'sEast Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani recently paid another visit to Sainsbury’s Olympia store to meet staff and local customers. She was welcomed by store manager, Nick Wood and taken on a tour of the store in East Kilbride’s town centre.


Linda learned about the store’s new Local Charity Partner – Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, the history of the store, the store’s food donations to their partners, Loaves and Fishes, and just how much work Sainsbury’s and their staff team do in the community.
Linda Fabiani MSP said:


“It was great to visit the Olympia store again and discuss the charitable work – the management and staff do so much in our community. The Olympia store with its town centre location is so much appreciated by its regular customers.


“It is great that this coming year’s efforts will go towards raising money and awareness for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Last year’s fundraising for Lifesavers was a real success, and I am sure the store will continue to impress going forward.


Nick Wood, Store Manager at Sainsbury’s Olympia added:
“It has been great having Linda in to our store to introduce her to our customers and colleagues. She was very interested in discussing our work within the community and hearing about the money we raised for last year’s Local Charity partner. She couldn’t believe the figure! It was a pleasure to meet Linda and to host the visit.”




Linda Fabiani MSP.jpgEast Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani has welcomed the Scottish Government’s newly launched consultation on ending child poverty. The consultation comes ahead of the Child Poverty Bill which will be introduced next year and will form part of the overall approach to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland.


The Scottish Government aims to eradicate child poverty – and this consultation asks for comments on the proposals to introduce four statutory income targets seeking to drastically reduce child poverty by 2030, as well as how existing work can be strengthened.


These next steps will build on the range of work the Scottish Government already has underway to tackle poverty and inequality, such as the commitment to the Living Wage, free school meals, expansion of funded early learning and childcare, and the Scottish Attainment Challenge.


Commenting on the consultation launch, Linda said:


“The launch of this consultation shows that the Scottish Government is taking seriously the action needed to tackle poverty and inequality across Scotland.


“I am delighted to see the Scottish Government taking this active approach to end the blight of child poverty. We need everyone across local authorities, business, the third sector and those who experience poverty to work together to help tackle deep-seated inequalities.


“The Child Poverty Bill consultation will allow further evidence and ideas to emerge, helping to build on efforts already underway, such as free school meals, a commitment to the Living Wage of £8.25/hour,  the Scottish Attainment Challenge and duties to tackle inequalities of educational outcome due to socio-economic disadvantage.


“The Scottish Government quite rightly sees child poverty as a priority, and this Bill consultation shows that the SNP in Government will work hard to end the cycle of poverty in Scotland once and for all.”





Scottish Government release available here:

Linda-Fabiani-MSP-2Linda Fabiani, MSP for East Kilbride has this week welcomed the launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of social security in Scotland.


The latest stage follows the publication in March of A New Future for Social Security in Scotland.


Despite only £2.7 billion, or 15% of the total £17.5 billion spent here on social security being devolved, the Scottish Government intends to take a different path to that of the UK Government, so as to support those that need assistance, to tackle inequalities, and to take a step towards building a fairer Scotland.


Commenting, Linda said:


“I urge constituents to get involved in the process and respond to the consultation.


“It is possibly the biggest change coming to the Scottish Parliament since devolution, and the Scottish Government has been clear about the challenge it faces. The transferring of devolved benefits will take time for the transition, implementation, and reform too. It is right that as many people as possible help influence how our social security can work better.


“The consultation will enable the views of stakeholders to be reflected in legislation which will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in June 2017. Constituents who wish to take part should go here: where they will also have the opportunity to keep updated with stakeholder engagements over the coming months, and to sign up to a weekly newsletter.”




Following today’s supreme court ruling on the ‘named person’, East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to press ahead and work with key public services and children’s charities to ensure the successful roll-out of the scheme.


Linda Fabiani said:


“I welcome the fact the attempt to scrap the named person service has failed. The principal aim of the legislation, in promoting and safeguarding the wellbeing of children and our young people was described as ‘unquestionably legitimate and benign’ in the ruling, and does not breach human rights.


“What today’s judgement required the Scottish Government to provide however was greater clarity about what information health visitors, teachers and other professionals supporting families will share and receive in their capacity as named person. I am pleased that as a matter of urgency, the Scottish Government will now amend the information on sharing provisions to ensure they comply with the judgement of the Supreme Court.


“I welcome that the Scottish Government will work with local authorities, health boards and other public service partners to ensure they have the right level of guidance and support required, ahead of its implementation.


“If constituents wish for further information on the scheme, then I invite them to get in touch with my office.”






The judgement


  • Ruled that the principle of providing a named person for every child does not breach human rights and is compatible with EU law
    • Rejected the petitioners’ argument that the legislation relates to reserved matters
    • Ruled that changes are required to the information-sharing provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act to make those provisions compatible with Article 8 of the ECHR.


LindaThe SNP has today welcomed comments from Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Alex Rowley saying that he would not oppose a referendum on independence.


As reported today, Alex Rowley MSP made clear that he would “not oppose” a second referendum – and that “the SNP were clear in their manifesto that the Scottish Parliament would have the right to hold another one if there was a ‘significant and material change’ in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014 – such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been clear that as the Scottish Government seeks to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, all options are on the table – including the possibility of holding another independence referendum.


Commenting, East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani said:


“These are welcome comments from Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader – making clear that the Scottish Parliament has the right to hold an independence referendum if it becomes clear this is the best or only way to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, and that he would not oppose such a referendum.


“Alex Rowley is also absolutely right to point out that any such referendum would be a completely different prospect from the 2014 referendum – the fact is that the UK which Scotland voted to stay part of two years ago simply doesn’t exist anymore in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.


“The First Minister has rightly said that as we seek to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, all options are on the table, including a second independence referendum, and it is encouraging to see the emerging cross-party support for that, should it be the chosen route to maintain our EU status.”




Alex Rowley’s comments are reported on Page 2 of Wednesday’s edition of the Scottish Sun.

He said:

“I have lost count of the number of people that have asked whether I support a second referendum on independence.  My response is that I would not oppose such a referendum.

“I accept the SNP were clear in their manifesto that the Scottish Parliament would have the right to hold another one if there was a ‘significant and material change’ in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014 – such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”

He said that another referendum would be “a very different proposition” from the 2014 referendum and that “we do not know at this point what a UK out of Europe will look like.  It is difficult to assess what will be in the best interests of the people of Scotland but we can set some guiding principles.  These should include what is best in terms of our economy and jobs, pensions and dignity in retirement, free high quality education, health and public services and the security of our nation.”

Linda Fabiani MSP“It’s been quite a weekend for sport! Football’s European Championship, the Golf Scottish Open at Inverness and the tennis finals at Wimbledon.


Probably though, the tennis was the most nail-biting thing, and wasn’t it fabulous to see Dunblane’s Andy Murray retake his Wimbledon title in such sparkling form. Another worthy champion too in Alexandria-born Gordon Reid who wrote his name into the Wimbledon history books with his win in both the Men’s Wheelchair Singles Final and the Men’s Double Final! Great stuff lads, doing Scotland proud.


East Kilbride has a smashing record on sport too. The EK Sports’ Council is the longest-standing Sports’ Council in the country, supporting sporting disciplines right across the board. I am always amazed at their annual awards’ ceremony to see the range of sports covered, and the number of participants – the athletes themselves, but also the coaches, administrators and volunteers, who all clearly love what they do.


Just this weekend the EK Trampoline Club walked off with a slew of medals from the British Finals, and it seems that the EK Swim Team smash records and win titles at every ‘Meet’ they attend. EK Athletic Club have some real stars too, winning scholarships at US Universities.


A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the sporting excellence of the EK Gymnastics Club at their annual Trophy Ball, with young people of all ages aspiring to be acrobats and gymnasts. The East Kilbride Rugby Academy goes from strength to strength with more and more young people of all ages gaining a love of the sport and training hard up at Calderglen.


Last time I was up at the Rugby Academy it was good to see the girls from Duncanrig training. The Scottish Government has committed to a Sporting Equality Fund aimed at increasing the participation, engagement and promotion of women in sport. Work to establish the fund is underway, and I will be keeping a close eye on progress, along with the EK Sports’ Council, to make sure that girls and women in East Kilbride can take advantage.


One sport which isn’t particularly thought of as a major sport in Scotland is cricket, but East Kilbride does have a vibrant cricket club. I was delighted recently to be able to invite members Brian Kampman and David Healy through to Parliament where I was co-hosting, along with our Government, a Reception for the International Cricket Conference. The ICC were holding their event in Scotland, bringing together all cricket playing nations of the world – a symbolic event since it is the first time it has taken place away from Test playing countries. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Football is a major sport in Scotland of course, even though we weren’t represented at the European Championship! East Kilbride’s football teams, from the Claremont Colts through to Kilbie are all excellent and embedded in our communities. I wonder how many of our EK players have managed through to Glasgow this week to watch some of the Homeless World Cup – a week long tournament with teams from every part of the world; 416 games, with 100,000 spectators expected in George Square. My friend Angela is working there, and I hear that the atmosphere is wonderful.


The Homeless World Cup Foundation brings together teams from every continent to compete in a street football tournament. Every one of the 500+ players in the tournament is homeless, and they have each engaged with programmes run by the foundation to deal with some incredible personal challenges. The competition is a celebration of all that they have achieved so far, using football as a means to get back into a more stable life. Good luck and best wishes to each and every one of them. Well done to Mel Young and the Foundation, to the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council for bringing this together. It is said that sport changes lives and in this initiative it’s certainly true.


My sporting prowess is non-existent – always was! I do like to watch though – armchair participant! That was very true earlier this week when I visited the Meeting Place in EK Shopping Centre and took part in Seated Tai Chi – it might have been seated, and it might seem gentle, but some of the very senior citizens were certainly more able than I was, and after an hour I felt like I’d had a real workout! Time for me to stop watching and get doing I think … …”

linda 4At the Referendum Count in the John Wright Centre last week Remain activists from the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and Labour worked together to get an impression of the votes cast in East Kilbride and across South Lanarkshire. I didn’t come across anyone from the Leave campaign. South Lanarkshire along with the other 31 local authority areas in Scotland voted decisively that the UK should remain in the European Union.


The UK result was a shock. A shock for Scotland and a shock for individuals here in East Kilbride. I’ve recognised this over the days following as almost every conversation I have had, whether in a work or social capacity references last week’s events: Organisers of sporting events for young people who benefit from EU grants; local businesses who trade on mainland Europe, parents of students who hope to do part of their studies in the EU; EU nationals who live here and now feel unwelcome.


I don’t have the answers for people, and it is becoming increasingly clear that those who forced this referendum don’t have the answers either. They all but disappeared in the days following the result – the Prime Minister resigned, Boris Johnston played cricket, Nigel Farage admitted that they had been economical with the truth about the ‘facts’ they paraded, and from local ‘Leave’ representatives we heard nothing at all.


One response I do have though is that amidst the meltdown of the UK political parties, Scotland’s First Minister led from the front. She reassured Scots, and made it clear to the UK and the European Union that Scotland has declared itself an outward-looking European country that wishes to remain part of the family of European nations. The SNP will always act in the best interests of Scotland and protect the interests of those who live here.


In these times of turmoil, Nicola Sturgeon was the only leader over the weekend to offer a plan on the way ahead. She rightly demands that our Scottish Government is kept fully involved in all decisions about the next steps the UK Government takes. She will hold discussions with the EU institutions and other member states.


The issues are complex, no-one denies that. All possible options must be considered. To be taken out of the EU when an entire nation has voted the opposite in a referendum is democratically unacceptable. If the Scottish Parliament decides that a second referendum is the best or only way to protect our place in Europe, it must have the option to hold one. That’s the democratic way forward.


I believe that the Leave campaign was based largely on non-acceptance of others, and a jingoism which makes me shudder. To those citizens of other European Union nations who live and work here in East Kilbride, may I echo our First Minister’s words that Scotland welcomes you and that this is your home. Thursday’s result in East Kilbride and Scotland showed that.

image1 (2)On Global MND Awareness Day on 21st June, East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani is asking constituents to help Cure MND.


Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing terminal neurological condition which affects the signals from your brain reaching muscles, causing muscle weakness and wasting. It can affect the ability to eat, sleep, walk, talk and breathe unaided. Average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 14 months and it is not yet known what causes it.  There is no effective treatment or cure.


Funding MND research is a key priority for MND Scotland and during Awareness Week they will be highlighting what could be achieved with more funding.


Linda Fabiani said:


“MND has affected people across East Kilbride, and MND Scotland provides care and support to people affected by the illness alongside cutting edge research to try and find a cure.


“Scotland is fast becoming one of the go to places to conduct MND research and MND Scotland’s Awareness Week campaign aims to raise £15,000 to invest in to further research projects.


“I am delighted to support MND Scotland and their Awareness Week goal of raising more money to invest in this critical research.”


MND Scotland Chief Executive Craig Stockton said:


“MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness with no effective treatment and no cure. During MND Awareness Week 2016 we want to increase public awareness and understanding of MND. Funding for MND Research continues to be a priority for MND Scotland but with additional support we can do more! Text CUREMND to 70660 to donate £5 to MND Scotland.


“Join the MND fight today and help us create a world without MND tomorrow.”

Linda Fabiani MSP 1“Why are we having a referendum about remaining as a member of the European Union? Because of internal strife in the Tory Party and the Prime Minister trying to be too clever by half in trying to appease his critics. That’s why.


“Let’s not pretend it’s about ‘democracy’ – only around 15% of UK laws are agreed in the European Union or have an EU influence. The European Commission is directly appointed by national governments and there are fewer elected Members of the European Parliament serving 28 member states than there are members of the UK’s unelected House of Lords!


“The positive reason for staying in the European Union is one of long-standing voluntary co-operation between formerly warring states.


“Co-operation means we gain healthcare rights across the European Union. It means we gain from health research across the EU – Scotland is currently the lead on dementia research involving eleven member countries. Other member states of course are contributing to our health and wellbeing through their research.


“Co-operation enables us to share research in other scientific fields – Scotland is set to gain £1.2 billion by 2020 from the European Union Science Fund. Fantastic work carried out through our universities, often collaboratively with mainland European universities and their students and professors who come here to study and work.


“Co-operation makes us wealthier, through access to the markets of 27 other nation states -the European Union is Scotland’s top export destination taking 42% of our exports. That’s not just about big business, it involves many small and medium companies in all sorts of fields – biotech, digital/gaming, engineering, renewables, food and drink. Did you know that more whisky is drunk in France in a month than cognac in a year and that some of the seafood eaten by Scots holidaying in Spain comes from Scotland’s Islands?


“European Union co-operation means that social rights and protections have been advanced – consider holiday pay, maternity leave, trade union rights. The current UK Tory Government is already bashing the disabled and others least able to cope. The UK Trade Union legislation that’s coming down the line is a step back in time. Do we really want to endorse a proposal put forward by the Tory right that wants the UK to operate as a low-wage, low-regulatory economy? Do we really believe that the rest of the EU would be prepared to give unrestricted access to its markets?


“The European Union is about people. People from varying backgrounds and cultures coming together in economic and social union. I don’t want to lose those Estonian, German, Dutch or French nationals from our Health Service. I don’t want to see the ambitions of our young people hampered by being unable to study or work, by right, anywhere in the European Union. The EU has created opportunities for 2 million UK citizens who have chosen to live and work in other EU countries – what will happen to them?


“Working with our partners has given us the longest period of peace, stability and prosperity in European history. We should never forget that. Vote Remain on Thursday.”