CELEBRATING SCOTTISH-SCANDINAVIAN TIES

Storytelling Centre to become Nordic House for Edinburgh Festival

MSP hails Nordic House arts initiative at this year's Edinburgh Festival

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has championed a parliamentary motion fostering cultural links between Scotland and its Scandinavian neighbours. The motion, tabled by Christina McKelvie MSP, calls for Holyrood to welcome the arts showcase 'Nordic 'House' that is to be hosted by the Scottish Storytelling Centre at next month's Edinburgh Festival. 

The motion by the MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse also highlights Scotland's "long history with the Nordic nations, which...can be seen today in the Northern Isles in the strength of feeling toward the history shared and the identity that many people feel part of".

An impressive, state-of-the-art multimedia exhibition of landscape art from all five of the Nordic nations - namely  Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark - is to form the backdrop of this creative outreach programme at the Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh's Royal Mile (pictured above). 

Earlier this year, Angus MacDonald, who has cherished a lifelong interest in Scandinavia and the region's association with Scotland - culturally, historically, economically and linguistically -  called for the Scottish Government to strengthen these ties by improving ferry services across the North Sea. The Falkirk East MSP stressed that "Norway and the Scandinavian nations are some of the wealthiest on the planet, so the economic benefit to increasing travel between the two islands is obvious".

Mr. MacDonald added that "the cultural and social benefits of closer ties between the Nordic progressive social democracies and this country can likewise only be a good thing. The Nordic House initiative uses the positive and popular medium of the creative arts both to embody and to encourage this spirit of mutual friendship and pan-national cooperation. I therefore commend that the thrust of Ms. McKelvie's motion be embraced by my fellow parliamentarians and by the nation as a whole."

"As a native of the Outer Hebrides, the wealth of Nordic place names around me growing up provided me with a tangible reminder of Scotland's Scandinavian legacy. Our key trajectory should now  be to build on this historic relationship and look forward to enhancing Nordic-Scottish collaboration in all spheres of culture and commerce. And where better to encapsulate and showcase this theme than at the world renowned celebration of culture and cross-cultural appreciation that is the Edinburgh International Festival."   

SCOTTISH WELFARE FUND HELPS NEARLY 5000 FALKIRK HOUSEHOLDS

Scottish Welfare Fund Helps Falkirk article - local community landscape illustration CROPPED

MSP praises Scottish Government for protecting vulnerable constituents from Tory cuts

The MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed new statistics showing that a total of 4902 households in Falkirk have benefited from the Scottish Government’s landmark welfare grant over the past year.

Latest figures demonstrate that between 2014 and 2015 more than £1 million from the Scottish Welfare Fund was spent in the area, which comprises Mr. MacDonald's Holyrood constituency of Falkirk East and Justice Sectretary Michael Matheson's constituency of Falkirk West. The statistics also highlight that almost 10,000 Falkirk residents were assisted by the government scheme during this period.

Grants from the fund - which are divided into the remits of Crisis and Community Care - are used to help those in need pay for essentials such as food and energy bills. More than a third of the grants issued supported lone-parent households and people suffering with disabilities or mental health problems.

Mr. MacDonald commented, “Vulnerable people in communities across our area are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a relentless assault on the poor-waged by this Tory government. These grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund provide a real and present lifeline for many individuals and families in my constituency and that of my parliamentary colleague, Michael Matheson, in Falkirk West. The fund helps those struggling to make ends meet obtain basic necessities like food and clothing. It also helps them be able to afford energy bills such as electricity and gas: imperative for maintaining health and wellbeing in a cool climate".

The Falkirk East MSP continued, “While it is worrying that so many people in Falkirk are struggling with the cost of living, it is absolutely right that the Scottish Government does everything it can to bridge the socio-economic gap. It is encouraging to see some 9,955 Falkirk residents benefitting from this national funding initiative and I applaud its positive impact upon other communities across the country." 

"Of course, Scotland should not be in the position of having to mitigate the social security cuts of a Tory government in London which people here completely reject. But until full fiscal and social jurisdiction are in Scotland’s hands, we in the SNP will do everything in our power to protect and support vulnerable people suffering from Westminster austerity”.

 

FORWARD WITH SCOTLAND, FORWARD WITH FARMING

Scottish Farming 1 cropped

MSP champions national conversation on the future of Scottish agriculture

Falkirk East MSP and member of the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Angus MacDonald, has welcomed the announcement by Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, that a National Discussion on the future of Scottish farming is to be launched next week. The Scotland-wide conversation commencing at the Turriff Show on the 3rd of August will enable members of the public to have their say and quiz the Cabinet Secretary about his long-term vision for agricultural development.

Some senior industry representatives are set to join Mr. Lochhead's panel on the tour. They include National Farming Union of Scotland Vice-President, Andrew McCornick, Quality Meat Scotland Chair, Jim McLaren, and Sarah Allison, Chair of the Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Mr. Lochhead commented, “I have a vision for a more productive, innovative, profitable and green future for Scottish farming and now is the ideal time to consider how we might best achieve that. That is why I recently launched a discussion document on the Future of Scottish Agriculture with the aim of prompting conversations across Scotland about what we want farming to look like in this country and what we need to do to deliver this vision. It is crucial that everyone with an interest in agriculture - including people who live in rural communities as well as those who work in the sector - are able to have their say".

NFU Scotland Vice-President Andrew McCornick stressed that the day-to-day job of farmers in itself is very "challenging and it can be difficult to look further ahead than next week, next month or next year, but...that is exactly what we want our members to do. If our successful food and drink sector is to continue to thrive, then it will require farmers to produce more from the land in Scotland. That needs a vision built on production and ensuring that we get the best price possible for what we produce...We encourage NFU Scotland members to take time to engage with Cabinet Secretary and look forward to positive discussions on the future of Scottish agriculture".

Hailing from a farming and livestock vocational background himself, Angus MacDonald is in pole position to support the Scottish Government-led tour.  The Falkirk East MSP concurred with the Vice-President of NFU Scotland on the need for those involved in agriculture to be innovative and encourage the next generation to continue farming and build on what has already been achieved.

Mr. MacDonald exhorted, "It is key that we aim high and put Scottish farming firmly at the forefront of government planning. Strong leadership and fresh ideas in this sector are essential. It is for this reason that I applaud the launch of a national conversation which will engage farming practitioners with politicians and industry experts with other interested parties. Proactive dialogue will help generate the informed synergy necessary to drive this important part of our national life and economy forward and make the most of Scotland's rural landscape".

He added, "I look forward to becoming actively involved with this process and seeing the positive energy generated at Monday's Turriff Show launch produce a ripple effect throughout the country and in my own constituency in the Falkirk district - a historic hub of livestock auctioneering and agricultural development. In order to get farming for future generations right is it of pivotal importance, as the Cabinet Secretary pointed out, that we see the momentum of this discursive tour continue around kitchen tables and over the farm gate as well as at industry meetings and government conferences".

 

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2015

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