27 May 2013

Paisley Daily Express - 27 May 2013


I have no time for Nigel Farage. Neither do I agree with his political views. But equally I recognise that he is a democratically elected politician who unfortunately represents the views of a strand of voters, including here in Scotland. I therefore thought it was completely wrong for supporters of Scottish Independence to prevent Mr Farage from holding a press conference in Edinburgh. It does not bode well for the future of Scotland, if supporters of Independence think they have the right to determine who speaks and who doesn’t. What was equally unfortunate was the failure of Alex Salmond to condemn what happened. As First Minister of Scotland he has the responsibility to stand up for free speech, even from those with whom he disagrees. Instead he chose to act in a partisan way, speaking more for the SNP than for Scotland,. He also had the cheek to criticise the comments Mr Farage made about the BBC and a BBC staff member. This is the same Alex Salmond, who when it suited him described a BBC staff member as a “gauleiter” a word used to denote an official of the Nazi Party. The way to stop Nigel Farage and his ilk is through argument and by politicians actually standing up for the people they represent. Alex Salmond does Scotland no favours if he is prepared to turn a blind eye to unacceptable behaviour by supporters of Scottish Independence.

Epilepsy Awareness Week

There are 54,000 people living with epilepsy in Scotland. Epilepsy is still the most common, serious neurological condition in the world. It impacts on each person’s life in a unique and individual way. And epilepsy can affect men, women and children and it doesn’t matter what your age, or ethnic or social group is. For the half of sufferers whose seizures are well managed with medication, the outlook is comparatively positive, and they can look to leading a relatively normal life. For the other half the picture is less rosy, with many facing a difficult time coping with uncontrolled seizures. That’s why I’m backing the call for the Scottish Government to improve treatment and support for epilepsy sufferers. It would save the NHS money if care is provided at the right time, and it would make a real difference to those with epilepsy and their families. When you look at someone, you don’t know if that person has epilepsy. Life would be a lot better for those with epilepsy if we all had an improved awareness and understanding of epilepsy.

Neilston Wind Farm

It was a real pleasure to attend the opening of the Neilston Community Wind Farm. Pauline Gallagher and her team have worked hard to make this a reality. In years to come the wind farm should generate a steady income stream for Neilston. It wasn’t easy bringing the funding package together and a number of organisations have been generous in their support including the Scottish Government. Now I know that wind farms are not everyone’s cup of tea and frankly in some areas there are too many and sometimes they are in the wrong place. But if it is done properly we see a different story. Neilston has shown that a wind farm can work for everyone, particularly the local community. I know Renfrewshire Council is keen to explore how renewable energy can benefit the local community. It’s right that local people receive some benefit when profits are being made.

Stroke Month

Some people think that strokes only affect the elderly. This is not the case. I was contacted recently by a 41 year old constituent to ask for my support for a campaign to raise awareness of stroke and the impact on stroke survivors. As she told me, “No one expects a stroke at 41 and the emotional turmoil that it brings at such a young age can be debilitating.” We hear all the time about “scroungers” and this insult is used to justify cuts in benefits to the sick and the disabled. But as my constituent said, “I want to get back to work and contribute to society.”

Action on Stroke Month is focused on the emotional impact of stroke. If you want to find out more go to www.stroke.org.uk or call 020 7566 0300.

ASDA Apprenticeships

I know from visiting ASDA at the Phoenix that ASDA places a high importance on training and staff development. I was pleased to receive news that ASDA has launched a new apprenticeship initiative which gives a focus to Retail Apprenticeships. Already this year, ASDA has worked with the Prince’s Trust youth charity to provide training for 12 unemployed young people. This has led to those 12 young people being offered full time work at ASDA. In these troubled economic times, it is important to give young people a chance to train. I look forward to hearing more about training opportunities at the Phoenix and in future at Barrhead.