At the weekend, I attended the local Remembrance Sunday service in Huntly. It was one of many held in the villages and towns of Aberdeenshire and throughout Scotland.
For more than a decade I have been at the National Service in Edinburgh and before that at the Cenotaph in London. These are moving services, particular the Cenotaph which has been virtually unaltered in its simplicity and dignity since 1919, the first year of the peace.
However, more than ever I am convinced that the best possible place for such ceremonies is at the very local level services which the British Legion Scotland arrange around the country.
During the service, I marched with my fellow constituents in remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War and in all conflicts since. Every year, we remember the communities of the North East of Scotland to whom the losses of a century ago came as a devastating blow.
In some of our villages up to one half of the young men of fighting age were either killed or seriously injured.
When I was First Minister, I was proud to lead a Scottish Government which planned a programme of commemorative events over the next few years, introducing a new generation of young Scots to the reality of the conflicts engaged in by their forbearers. The point and purpose is to avoid it happening ever again.
Hundreds of memorials across the country, like the one in Huntly, list the names of the fallen – lest we forget, lest we forget.
You can read my column in The Courier and The Press & Journal every Monday.
It was the third reading of the Scotland Bill in the House of Commons. There have been 253 amendments, 63 of which have been lodged by the SNP, but only 6 hours of debate. The SNP amendments would have significantly strengthened the bill, however, Labour either abstained or backed the Tories on a number of key areas. This included Labour voting with the Tories to block the devolution of child and working tax credits to the Scottish Parliament.
I met with members of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation at Number 10 to discuss the latest the ideas on planned commemorations.
Westminster is in recess until Monday 16 November, which gives me more time to spend at the Scottish Parliament this week.
The British Heart Foundation is an incredible asset and has been vital to the increase in health and well-being throughout the UK. Their research has translated into modern treatments that now allow seven out of ten people to survive a heart attack.
In order to maintain these great advances, the UK Government must accept the profoundly damaging effects of cuts, as they discourage investment in the sector. Government, industry and charitable funders each have their own role within the funding landscape, and if one steps away the others will be unable to compensate.
In 2010, The UK Government committed to protect the resource allocation for science and research in real cash terms, however this does not protect these funds from gradually being eroded by inflation. I want to reiterate that joint funding between the BHF and UK Government has made real progress in our understanding of why heart disease occurs and how to prevent and deal with it. The UK Government must continue to support the British Heart Foundation so they can continue to develop these great advances.
Continued long-term commitment from Government, maintained in line with inflation, is essential if the UK is to build on its position as a world-leader in scientific research. This continued support is essential because in doing so; funders across the public and private sectors can continue to transform millions of lives across the world.
The final item of business in Scottish Parliament today was on energy storage network, put forward by my colleague Mike MacKenzie MSP (Highlands and Islands). During the debate, Mike Russell MSP reminded the chamber that a portrait of Scottish politician, Tom Johnson, used to hang in Bute House while I was First Minister.
Tom Johnston also tried to exterminate the Scots midge, but that was less successful. The point that I was going to make was that he took emergency legislation through all its procedures in 10 days—I think—in the House of Commons to enable the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, as it became, to do its work. There might be a lesson for us all there.
Mike MacKenzie MSP replied:
"I am very grateful to Mr Salmond for that further information. Like midges, a lot of small Scotsmen are equally difficult to exterminate..."
I also lodged to motion to congratulate Inverurie Environmental Group on their recent award.
Motion S4M-14811: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2015
It's Your Neighbourhood Award
That the Parliament congratulates the Inverurie Environmental Group on being presented with an It’s Your Neighbourhood Award by Keep Scotland Beautiful; understands that these awards recognise and support local groups that demonstrate a commitment to ensuring that community spaces are clean and become more environmentally friendly, and commends Inverurie Environmental Group on what it sees as the positive change that it has made to the area.
Butterflies On The Move
I visited the Butterflies on the Move Campaign at the Scottish Parliament. This gorgeous piece of artwork was originally donated by an anonymous artist to Macmillan Cancer Support, which in turn was auctioned to its new sponsors the Mackenzie family.
The mysterious artist began by displaying their fascinating art pieces in libraries and public spaces to encourage recognition of their value. The butterflies have continued on this journey with their new-found sponsors, visiting and promoting the great libraries and public spaces we are so lucky to have.
The gift of the artist, the art and the sponsors all contribute to making us more aware of the great community spaces we have and the beautiful things we can create.
Back in my constituency for surgery meetings. However, before my first appointment I was paid a visit from Gordon Rae, Deputy Commander of the Cadets in Inverurie and one of his young cadets, Ross Moir. Gordon and I are both keen to connect local politicians, youth workers and young people to raise awareness of the benefit youth work has for young people's development. Ross told me about the campaign they are currently running - #YouthWorkChangesLives - which aims to bring attention to all the positive work they do and the National Youth Work Aims.
I recorded the following video for The Press and Journal commenting on the attacks in Paris.