This is what politics is about


Sarah Boyack MSP and Francis Kahembwe photographed between meetings on another busy day at Holyrood.

“How interesting  to see kids of 9-11yrs with so much interest in politics. I was exposed to something new which I could communicate to my parliamentary friends in Uganda.”

During his last few days as a ‘shadow’ in the Scottish Parliament, Francis Kahembwe somehow found time to keep a diary. Here is his fascinating observation of Scottish politics at work – and his hope for the future.

Tue 13th Jan
The day was very busy, beginning around 9.30 am. I went with Sarah to meet three officials of the RSPB (both from the policy department). Amazingly one of them was a forester working on UK Forestry Policy in RSPB. He was happy to meet another forester and I was delighted to meet him. We plan to meet again sometime. [see earlier posts about Francis work as a forester]

Anyway the discussion was about the Climate Change Bill and the role of forestry in contributing to climate change and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; and how it is catered for in the Bill. It was a useful discussion.

At 11.00am, Sarah met schoolkids from Edinburgh Central, her constituency, and West Lothian. Two other MSPs were present, one from the Conservative party and another from the Green party.

“How do you feel when all cameras are focusing on you? What do you think about trams in Edinburgh?”

It was very interesting to see young school kids asking their members of parliament questions such as: What problems or issues are commonly brought to your attention? What did you do before you joined the Scottish Parliament? What do you think about trams in Edinburgh? Will you expand trams in future if people like them? Can trams cause accidents  and how fast do they travel? How do you feel in parliament when all cameras are focussing on you? How many times are you allowed to talk during the parliamentary debates?

The MSPs answered  questions one by one.

How interesting  to see kids of 9-11yrs with so much interest in politics and in what their MSPs are doing. I think this is encouraging, for some of the young generation  may look into prospects of being future politicians. I was exposed to something new which I could communicate to some Parliamentary members in Uganda, some who are my personal friends. I had a feeling that when these kids go  home they would tell their parents about their trip to the Scottish parliament and would talk about these MSPs from their areas and I think that is partly what politics is about.


Open access: Francis with a group of visitors to the Scottish Parliament

12.15 accompanied Sarah to a photo shoot at The TUN building where she was invited to participate in a promotional activity for the Scottish Government Central Heating programe.

13.00 lunch in the parliament cateen where I had conversation with one of Sarah’s office staff about global warming.

14.00 went to Committee Room 4 for the meeting of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee. It was the second sitting reviewing and discussing the National Planning Framework 2 for Transport and its related Infrastructure. The Committee took evidence from the Director for Scotland Sustainable Transport; the Chair Transform Scotland; Scottish Environment Link, Network Developer Plane Speaking; and others.

16.00 evidence from the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change. Final conclusions were heard in private so I had to leave the room at about 5.15pm.

Wed 14th Jan
I was pleased to receive from Sarah’s office most documents about the Scottish Climate Change Bill and spent the whole morning reading. In the afternoon I attended the Parliamentary debate about the Budget 2009-10 proposals. It was interesting to see how each party was pushing for their interests to be included in the budget. In the end voting was in favour of the proposal. I left the chamber at 5.00 pm

In summary these two days have been very informative about the workings of the Scottish Parliament and physically experiencing the typical working day of an MSP. Tomorrow I will spend most  of the day in First Minister’s question time.

Then I come to the end of the programme and begin preparing the Shadowing report.

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