I was delighted that the recent auction of the many thoughtful and rare gifts I received during my time as First Minister raised more than £42,100 for charity.
More than three hundred lots were auctioned by Anita Manning of Great Western Auctions in Glasgow in aid of St Jerome’s orphanage, Clic Sargent, and the Scottish Youth Theatre. And I was amazed that my favourite saltire tie went for £1,600!
I am delighted that three great causes will benefit from the auction of the gifts and memorabilia received during my time as First Minister. The last seven-and-a-half years have been an exciting time in the history of our country and many of these items mark key milestones over that period.
All of these gifts, received from everyone from heads of state and industry leaders to artists and school pupils, have been cherished and displayed variously at Bute House, St Andrews House, or in the Scottish Parliament. Instead of packing these items away, Moira and I were keen that other people be able to treasure them and raise money for charity in the process.
The auction was a unique opportunity to pick up a political memento, just in time for Christmas, and with more than 300 lots there really was something for everyone. My favourite saltire tie was on offer, as were many wonderful items such as books, artwork, cufflinks and Quaichs. There was even a Swarovski crystal horse from Qatar and tea sets from China. It was like the best episode of the Generation Game and a real Aladdin’s cave.
I want to thank Anita Manning and her team at Great Western Auctions in Glasgow for the fantastic job they did done, at no cost, in cataloguing and arranging the auction.
The current Scottish Government has increased the level of health spending and NHS Grampian’s budget in particular has received the highest increase of any health board in Scotland. NHS Grampian was underfunded under the Liberal Democrats thanks to the ridiculous Arbuthnott Formula and it is only now, under the SNP that NHS Grampian’s share of the Scottish budget has increased from 9.1 per cent to 9.6 per cent. Recent comments made by Sir Malcolm Bruce that point the finger at the Scottish Ministers for any problems at NSH Grampian are very misguided.
These comments come from a desperate MP who has awoken - like some sort of Rip Van Winkle of Scottish politics – as he sees the ground shifting beneath the Liberal Democrats. It has also been acknowledged that the difficulties at NHS Grampian are due to a breakdown between senior management and personnel and has not had an impact on patient care. For example, accident and emergency rates have vastly increased to 96 per cent from 91 per cent in 2006 before the SNP took office.
Malcolm Bruce’s comments are nothing to do with the health service and all about the meagre three per cent that the Liberal Democrats scored in the latest YouGov opinion poll – a consequence of them propping up the Tories at Westminster. That once proud party has been reduced to joke status in Scotland by a leadership which has been propping up the Tories at Westminster while imposing the bedroom tax on the Scottish people.
And 50 per cent of people who voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 would strongly back me in my candidacy for Gordon. Malcolm Bruce’s problem is that people in the North-east of Scotland see right through his desperate negativity and will vote instead for a positive vision for the future of Scotland.
The latest poll results are a great indication of voting intentions, which gives an early boost to the campaign in Gordon. However, I know that it is on the ground and on the doorstep that we have to build our campaign and I take absolutely nothing for granted.
I find it particularly heartening that many people who voted No in the referendum are prepared to back my candidacy as are people from across the political spectrum. The dramatic finding that most 2010 voting Liberal voters are right behind me in Gordon shows how dramatically out of touch the Lib Dem leadership now are with their former supporters. There is now a wide recognition that a strong group of SNP MPs will transform the way that Scotland is treated by the Westminster establishment.
And as everyone makes their final preparations for Christmas, and gets ready to be with their family and friends, I want to extend my best wishes to all of you.