I had a very moving and inspirational visit to P5/6 at Markinch Primary School to hear about their “Send My Friend to School” project. They’ve been learning about the millions of children around the world who are prevented from going to school because of war, climate disasters or poverty. Often they’re banned from going to school just because they’re girls. The young people from Markinch showed me a very hard-hitting video they’ve made explaining why it’s up to governments and people around the world to make sure every child has the right to go to school. It's well worth searching out on the school’s Facebook page or on Miss Chapman’s twitter account.
Another very moving experience was a meeting with representatives of Yachad UK. This is a group of British Jews who are working for peace in the Middle East based on full recognition of the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. Amongst the hate filled pronouncements we’re hearing every day from both the Israeli Government and Hamas it was truly uplifting to meet people who so firmly believe there can be a better future. Most people in the UK would be surprised to hear that the brutal and unlawful actions of Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank are strongly opposed by many Jews both in Britain and in Israel. It’s vital that their voices are heard.
While media coverage of Parliament has understandably been on the UK Government’s awful Rwanda plan there have been some significant developments elsewhere. There was a massive victory for campaigners when the House of Commons voted by a majority of just four votes to force the Government to act immediately to set up a compensation scheme for victims of the Infected Blood scandal. In the 1970s and 80s around 30,000 people were given blood transfusions or other treatments that were found to be infected with life threatening viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis C. Around 3,000 people have already died and more are dying every week. They and their families have been kept waiting far too long for compensation. It would be unthinkable for the Tories to try and delay this any longer. 22 Tory MPs voted against the Government to help deliver this victory. Shamefully there wasn’t a single Scots Tory MP among them.
With Christmas just a few days away my constituency team will be taking a well-earned rest and my office will be closed to the public from Friday 22 December to Wednesday 3 January. We’ll be operating a rota so that urgent emails and phone calls will still be dealt with.
2023 has been another year of constant turmoil in UK politics and we’ve seen too many tragedies both at home and abroad. In such dark times we all need something to give us hope for a better future. In the Christian tradition Christmas is a time of great hope. Whatever your own religious beliefs, have a happy and safe Christmas and a peaceful 2024.