First call of the day was Maxwellton Primary School to talk with Primary 6 about their Parliament project. A smashing question and answer session. I’m always fascinated by the variety of questions I get at sessions with primary school children – they don’t miss much and always get a few in there that throw you completely! Today we covered free prescriptions, what the name ‘Linda’ meant in Spanish and German (‘beautiful’ and ‘serpent’ respectively – you choose!) and whether Mr Trump should be barred from Scotland. In all of our schools I’ve visited for such sessions I leave impressed by the pupils and with renewed respect for their teachers.
A different school experience at Mount Cameron Primary School over lunchtime. Senior pupils were taking part in Scottish Opera’s annual Primary Schools Tour. A long-standing Scottish Opera education programme with around 10,000 children accessing the performances each year. The children learned ‘Fever’, a 30 minute opera, all morning with the Scottish Opera tutors and by half-past one I was watching the dress rehearsal. It was absolutely brilliant, and it was clear that the pupils really enjoyed themselves. Such talent on show, and I’m sure that the parents who came to see the final show at half past two were as fascinated and delighted as I was. Our national companies – Opera, Ballet, Theatre and the Orchestras do great educational work that’s not always recognised.
One of East Kilbride’s excellent employers was an afternoon stop. Always a pleasure to visit The Furnishing Service and learn more about their apprenticeship and work experience programme. Good to hear about their ongoing partnership with a local school, and to meet again some of the apprentices and recognise their progress in the company. More and more employers across Scotland are recognising the value of our Government’s fair work and living wage commitments. Companies like The Furnishing Service are very much part of the communities in which they work and know that this approach benefits all concerned.
Visited one of my favourite clubs in the evening – the EK Hangout, run by Maw’s Mafia who you’ll remember made us all proud when they won an STV Heroes Award in 2014. We welcomed Annabelle Ewing, Scottish Government Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment. Yes, she had a great time meeting the lads and lasses, celebrating a member’s birthday and learning magic tricks, but there was a serious side to the visit. Ms Ewing heard first-hand of some of the challenges faced by young adults with special needs – employment, education and social lives. There are challenges too for parents and siblings with caring responsibilities. I know that careful note was taken, and that there will be some follow-up to what we heard. It’s too easy sometimes to get lost in the official jargon and reports, and forget that those who live it day to day are the ones we should listen to more often.
The day finished with a dash up to the BBC in Glasgow to do television about the UK Government’s appalling Trade Union Bill. They really do intend to hammer workers’ rights to a terrible degree, and of course have taken no notice of the Scottish Government and Parliament view. This despite the fact that our fully devolved public services would be badly affected. I am glad that there now appears to be cross-party support that Scotland should be exempted, and the SNP will keep campaigning for that, here and at Westminster.
In between all of today’s events of course I met with individual constituents about various matters of concern. The constituency office is open Monday to Friday in Strathmore House – as always we will do our best to help if we can.