19 Dec 2012

Paisley Daily Express - 17 December 2012

Why did Salmond chase Maradona?
What do Donald Trump and Nelson Mandela have in common? Well both were contacted by Alex Salmond’s staff to ask for their support of the Scottish Government’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Despite Alex Salmond saying there was no political motive behind the decision, he was determined to line up a list of prominent people to back him. He even asked his staff to write out the words he wanted the “celebrities” to say on his behalf. Unfortunately for him, Nelson Mandela declined to become involved and we now know that Donald Trump sent Alex Salmond homewards to think again.

Alex Salmond is a First Minister who has taken publicity seeking to new levels. He spent almost £500,000 of our money to go to the Ryder Cup golf tournament in America. He spent another £400,000 of our money to hire a private members club in London to entertain during the Olympics. He chased Diego Maradona round Hampden to have a picture taken with him and pestered Hilary Clinton for a photograph to use in the Scottish press. And incidentally you might remember that Alex Salmond had previously written to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe to ask for support. Truly a First Minister who doesn’t embarrass easily.

No cards means cash for a good cause
I won’t be sending Constituency Christmas cards this year. Instead, as in recent years, I will be making a donation to a worthy cause close to home. The money I would have spent on cards and postage will go to help the pupils at Corseford School in Johnstone which is run by Capability Scotland. The school supports disabled people to achieve full equality and to have choice and control of their lives. As well as helping pupils at crucial times in their life they offer help to their families and carers too.

Have your say
Thanks to the hard work of Johnstone campaigner Ian McConaghy we have discovered death rates at the Royal Alexandra Hospital double at weekends and now many of my constituents, like me, are asking why. It’s the tireless work of people like Ian who refuse to stop digging for answers that benefits all of us. I know he will keep on asking questions until he is satisfied patients are getting the best service possible from their local hospital. With the help of the Paisley Daily Express Ian is determined to gather as much information as possible about the RAH experience and has launched a patient liaison group to encourage feedback, whether it is positive or negative. Readers can get in touch by sending an email to hospitalliaison@yahoo.co.uk

Teen hero
I want to give a special mention to a young constituent whose quick-thinking saved his uncle’s life. James Henry, 42, was burning rubbish in his garden when his clothes caught fire. He was engulfed in flames and suffered agonising burns to his face neck, arm and shoulder. Doctors told James he was lucky to be alive and the outcome could have been much worse if Sean, who was standing nearby, hadn’t come to the rescue throwing him to the ground killing the flames. The teenager says he learned his lifesaving skills at school and during class visits to the fire station which shows the value of these initiatives. Sean definitely deserves a special Christmas present this year.