HAMILTON ADVERTISER COLUMN
29 DECEMBER 2016
CHRISTINA MCKELVIE MSP, HAMILTON, LARKHALL & STONEHOUSE
It’s been a year of horrific tragedy, populated by the images of terrified and injured children struggling to survive amid the ruins of Aleppo. We’ve seen Islamic extremist attacks kill 30 people in Brussels and a disturbed man kill 50 young people in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Just last week, we saw the Berlin attacker, Anis Amri, ram his hijacked lorry into the Berlin Festive Market, killing 12 and injuring many more.
There’s no getting away from those facts, or from the terrifying reality of a Yes vote to leave the European Union. The outcome may be democracy at work but it wasn’t Scottish democracy. Two out of three voters here recognised just how significant our membership of the world’s largest trading bloc actually is and how important free movement of people is for Scotland’s economy and its people.
But in Hamilton, we’ve had some great moments all the same. I’ve seen births, marriages and the achievements of students here. I’ve had the privilege of helping hundreds of constituents sort out problems over housing and benefits against the ever tightening and painful grip of the Tory austerity agenda.
I’ve watched the young women of the University of the West of Scotland stand up for their safety on campus – and we’ve seen that campus secured to stay here in our town.
Myself and Angela Crawley MP managed to pull together the Hamilton Town Plan consultation. At the end of October, we told local people about the 1,800 responses we received. Those insights will allow us to formulate progressive steps for change that will revitalise our town, always with the active involvement of local people
We had the Scottish elections in May and once again, the SNP topped the polls comfortably. I’ve thanked you all before but let me say it again now, thank you to all the folk who voted to bring me back with an increased majority and to the many of you that tramped the streets with me during the campaign. And if you didn’t vote for me, I am still just as much there for you too.
The American elections were as much of a shock to most of us as the Brexit vote. Never in my life have I seen such stark venom nor so much bluster and nonsense. Misogyny has become trendy. Donald Trump has made it so. It’s fashionable to talk about women in sexist and disparaging language.
In so many ways, this has been a backward year where we have seen the mounting frustration of people across the globe who feel disconnected from democracy.
I don’t think this is so in Scotland. Since our own referendum in 2014, Scots have become engaged in making their own future and demanding that their own Scottish Government is accountable to them. That’s real democracy at work.
We have some additional powers coming through in 2017, particularly some control over what our social security policy should look like. It’s not as much control as I would like to have – about 15 per cent of the overall budget – but it’s a start.
And let’s think about some of our local successes, like Kirsty Gilmour’s badminton success in Rio, and young Brandon Murray, our work kick boxer champion, then there’s Chloe Rees who’s been selected to play for the UK in ice hockey. Well done to all of you!