East Kilbride News Column – 16.09.2015

LindaI’ve followed the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to Leader of the Labour Party with a particular interest. You see, back in 1999, Jeremy and I shared lodgings in East Timor when we were both UN observers at the referendum for that wee country’s independence. I was a new politician and Jeremy was an old hand. I appreciated his experience and his sage advice in how to cope with some of what we saw and experienced. I also recognised a man of honesty and compassion and I wish him well.

Of course, honesty and compassion is sadly lacking in Westminster’s power base just now. No-one who experiences or even just sees day-to-day the effects of the Westminster Government’s austerity programme can deny the lack of compassion inherent in Tory Policies. No-one who follows the back-tracking from the Westminster’s pre-referendum promises on additional powers for Scotland can believe that integrity is at the heart of the matter.

Just this week, Westminster has barred the Scottish Government’s Minister for International Development, Humza Yousaf, from joining the official delegation to a United Nations meeting to adopt the sustainable development goals. Scotland of course contributes our fair share to the UK development and climate justice budget. We add additional value from our own budget, particularly to our Malawi partnership: Malawi, a nation with which Lanarkshire has a strong historical link, and is extremely poor. The UK Government’s reason for barring Humza is that because of the number of Ministers and officials going from Westminster ‘there’s no space’. Ridiculous, and showing none of the respect that was promised to Scotland.

Lots of respect on show in Parliament last week when the Scottish Older People’s Assembly held a reception in our Garden Lobby. What a well-organised and interesting event. SOPA, supported by the Scottish Government, represents many of Scotland’s older peoples’ organisations and aims to give a ‘voice’ to older Scots who may otherwise not be heard. The voices were certainly heard last week, not least the voices of the East Kilbride representatives of Seniors Together in South Lanarkshire. However, the loudest voice of all was the town’s own Tom Berney, because as Chair of the Scottish Older People’s Assembly Tom had the microphone! Excellent speech!

Some people not so young any more find themselves in the unexpected situation of looking after the children of the family again – not just after school, weekends and holidays to help out, but on a long-term, permanent basis. This can happen for many different reasons. The Scottish Government announced last week that it will provide funding to raise kinship care allowances to the same level that foster care families receive. I’m sure that announcement will be very welcome indeed to the 200,000 kinship carers and their families across Scotland, and help to give the children the very best start in life.

Care for children was very much at the forefront of two events I attended at the weekend – both ladies’ events, so great fun all round too. The first was Friday evening’s World Vision Girls’ Night Out. “Every Child Free from Fear” is the aim of World Vision, a charity which specialises in supporting children in the poorest countries of the world. Well organised as always by Westwood Evangelical Church!

Sunday afternoon brought the long-anticipated Tea Jenny ladies’ lunch, at which EK’s Miss Jenny Cook yet again raised thousands of pounds for Yorkhill Children’s Charity. Every time Jenny reaches her target, she just raises it again, so I hope there are more Tea Jenny parties to come!

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