Friday, 27 November 2009

Celebration of musical talent

AS St Andrew's Day approaches, the SNP's National Conversation has kept its pledge to produce exciting proposals for an independent Scotland in all policy areas.

There's a gulf between the SNP's trust in the Scottish people through a referendum and the hypocrisy of Unionists who refuse to allow the people a vote. Talk of future referendums is a fudge with LibDems the deepest puzzle, pledging, as they do, a UK-wide poll on EU membership but none on full powers for Scots.

Of course we need to feel confident to grasp the opportunities. Two sides of that coin inspire us here.

First the young musical spirit of our nation is on display in the Ceol nam Fèis concert in Eden Court today (Friday). Our young talented traditional musicians exemplify that national spirit in its best cultural light. Well done Rita Hunter for producing this magic showcase for Fèisean nan Gaidheal.

Many of these youngsters, having found out more of their roots through our Fèisean, want to get trained and educated then come and live in their native area in future. That's a key reason for me to champion the Scottish Green Energy Revolution that can create many lifelong jobs and income for communities across the north.

St Andrew's Day could herald an early liberation of Nigg for renewable equipment production if Highland Council sticks to its policy of compulsory purchase for the yard.

Additionally the Crown Estate Commission CEC is poised to announce which leases will be granted for Pentland Firth marine energy projects. Ross-shire businesses like Isleburn can be in the hunt for the fabrication work and counter redundancies in the area. Also the CEC should do us the courtesy of making their announcement of the winners here in the north, not in London.


MSP'S Gut Feelings is a collection of recipes from members of the Scottish Parliament in aid of Marie Curie.

It was launched earlier this month at £9.99 with support from the Bank of Scotland - for copies contact me. Many of us contributed to support this key cancer charity. My original idea is called Penne and Puddings. It features slices of haggis and black pudding - naturally I recommend Cockburn's of Dingwall - on a bed of penne pasta and sautéed leeks. Very "Scot Nat", quipped one Labour colleague. Support excellent local produce I say. I'm glad to add that the Scottish Parliament Burns Supper has chosen Cockburn's haggis for the third successive year for next January's event by popular request.


DOOR to door calls and questionnaires by the Energy Saving Trust in Alness have asked all householders needing advice to contact 0800 512 012. The lines have been red hot. In the last few months Caithness has had similar treatment from this Scottish Government backed schemes. Houses are being treated and advice as to grants made available.

I caught up with Alan Grant the EST outreach engagement officer for Highlands and Islands at the Taste of Tain event which I had the pleasure of opening. He was delighted by the public response so far. It shows what every household can do to cut fuel bills, stop drafts and cease to "heat the sky". Let's make St Andrew's Day a modern celebration of our emerging national self-confidence. Although climate change knows no national boundaries each nation must take responsibility.

Let's take our place among the nations as responsible citizens.

The Copenhagen Conference needs to replicate the pioneering Scottish Climate Change Act.

Coming to terms with the consequences if our planet is allowed to overheat also can usefully cut our fuel bills.

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