23 Mar 2016
This is my last post as an MSP. It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been an elected member for 32 years, 15 as a councillor and 17 as an MSP. So thank you to everyone who made that possible and trusted me to represent them. During that time I have made many friends and I have worked with remarkable local people and local organisations. As a local councillor and MSP I’ve worked with communities right across Renfrewshire fighting to protect local services, and working to improve standards. My basic philosophy has always been to give our children the best possible start in life, and make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are supported and protected. I’ve been proud to see new schools across Renfrewshire and I was pleased when the current Renfrewshire Council administration reversed the cruel cuts inflicted on those with disabilities. As a Minister, I was involved in the decision to purchase the hospital in Clydebank for the NHS. I worked on changes to Family Law, and for stronger legislation to tackle knife crime and anti social behaviour. I’ve worked with asbestos sufferers and campaigned for a better deal for those who suffer from Huntington’s disease. I tried to change the law to give better protection to shopworkers, postal workers, bus and train staff and others who face violence and abuse when serving the public. Unfortunately this was rejected by the present Scottish Government. So as I sign off I have a feeling of satisfaction but also frustration that there is still so much wanting to be done. Finally can I put a plug in for our local press. We need vigorous and campaigning local newspapers prepared to hold those in power to account. This can be uncomfortable for politicians but without that scrutiny by our press our communities will be so much the poorer.