“That’ll be you lot on your holidays then?”, remarked one cheery constituent last weekend. “Recess”, I replied. Although, frankly even my family like to make out that being an MSP is one long holiday.
Well, that’s as may be (and it isn’t). However, this summer recess comes after a momentous twelve months during which East Renfrewshire and Scotland voted to stay within the UK and a general election which saw both the decisive re-election of a Conservative government at Westminster and an astonishing result here in Scotland for the SNP.
And even more impressive still was the turnout in East Renfrewshire — the second highest anywhere in the UK, again.
The last fortnight at Holyrood saw the completion of key legislation.
I voted in support of some Bills, the key mental health improvements for example and against Bills such as the one licensing air weapons — not because Conservatives are opposed to this per se but because, as passed, some 500,000 items will require to be licensed by an unquantifiable number of owners — a huge and expensive administrative headache without any guarantee that it will make any difference at all.
And this on top of the hugely “statist” and misguided “named person” legislation which will also be an administrative nightmare and one that interferes with parental rights and families like no other legislation in any democratic nation.
The greatest pleasure though was passing the Bill that will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in next year’s Scottish elections.
Nothing was more inspiring during the referendum than the informed and enthusiastic participation of young people and I enjoyed no event during those weeks more than a debate held at Mearns Castle high school with students voting for the first time.
All the best to those who left school for university or into new careers last week across East Renfrewshire.
I’m not denying I’ll enjoy a holiday during the recess but the rest of it will allow me to get around talking on doorsteps, visiting key local facilities and projects — this week, for example, Bonnyton House residential home, where some 34 residents and a hugely dedicated team of carers face an uncertain future thanks to the serially incompetent and increasingly dictatorial behaviour of East Renfrewshire Council.
This week the council voted to abolish all community councils in a vindictive strike against the inconvenience of local people disagreeing with it.
It’s not good enough and I’m beginning to doubt East Renfrewshire Council can survive in its current form or with its current personnel. A great shame when I fought so hard to keep it back in 1995.
So if you see me around and about more over the next two months, stop me for a chat if you have the time or the inclination, tease me if you like about my long “holiday” and share with me what’s on your mind.
Together we can hope for some weather worthy of the name, a good Wimbledon for Andy and, despite all the shocking news with which we are confronted, best wishes for a safe and happy summer.