ABERDEEN DONSIDE CONSTITUENCY (Scottish Parliament)
MARK McDONALD MSP
Born in Inverurie and raised in Dyce, Mark McDonald was elected as MSP for ABERDEEN DONSIDE in a by-election held on 20 June 2013. He succeeded the late BRIAN ADAM.
Educated at Dyce Academy, the Univ. of Dundee (MA in Politics) and Univ. of Aberdeen (MLitt in Strategic Studies), and worked as a personal assistant to three SNP MSPs in 2003-11.
Mark served as an Aberdeen City Councillor for Dyce, Bucksburn & Danestone in 2007-12, and was a Regional List MSP for the North-East from 5 May 2011 to 14 May 2013.
He is a member of the Parliament's Economic, Energy & Tourism and Health & Sport Committees. Lives at Dyce in the constituency with his wife and two children.
Contact MARK McDONALD at his CONSTITUENCY OFFICE:
825-827 Great Northern Road Aberdeen AB24 2BR
Tel.: 01224 789457.
Office hours: Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or via his website.
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CHRISTMAS CARD competition
SNP MSP Mark McDonald launched his Christmas card design competition on November 5.
All Primary 6 pupils in his Aberdeen Donside constituency have been invited to take part in the competition. The closing date for entries is Monday, November 25. The winning design will be chosen by an independent panel, with schools being notified of the winners by December 2.
Mr. McDonald commented: “I am very excited to launch my first Christmas card competition and look forward to seeing all the entries. Having contacted all 22 primary schools in my constituency, I hope that we get a good response to the competition. The winning design will be printed and sent out to local organisations, and will feature on my website over the Christmas period. There will be prizes for the lucky winner and three runners up. I wish all entrants the best of luck!”
AIRPORT terminal to be upgraded
Aberdeen International Airport is to receive a £13million overhaul, which will transform its passenger experience and grow its capacity. This is the largest investment that the airport terminal has received since it was built in 1977.
The three-year programme will result in a new security area, with more lines, new baggage reclaim areas, and more shops and restaurants added to the terminal. The airport is in the Aberdeen Donside constituency of Mark McDonald. Speaking on December 5, the SNP MSP said: "This is great news, not only for the business community in Aberdeen and the North-East, but also for the tourism industry in Scotland as a whole. When the improvements are completed in 2017, it will be a huge boost for the city. There will be an increase in passenger numbers, and the enhanced airport experience will be of immense benefit to travellers. The airport has already successfully launched several new routes over the past few months, with services added to Oslo and Kristiansund in Norway and Riga in Latvia."
In August, the Dyce airport received a Customer First accreditation, in recognition of its dedication to maintaining an excellent level of customer service. Earlier in the year, Spanish owners Ferrovial had announced that Aberdeen and Glasgow Airports would switch to operating under their own stand-alone brands, and both were upgraded to "international" status. Statistics provided by the Aviation Trust show that aviation accounts for 20% of Scottish exports and 88% of our international visitor arrivals. In order to highlight the importance of air transport to the economy, Kevin Stewart MSP (Aberdeen Central) submitted a motion in the Scottish Parliament on 10 December 2012. He said: "The Aviation Trust’s research shows how important air links are to the Scottish economy, and highlight the potential boost that could be gained by making Scotland’s airports more internationally competitive."
"Air Passenger Duty is a major disincentive to airlines developing routes to and from Scotland, and is regularly cited as a reason why airports such as Aberdeen lose out to foreign competitors. If APD was devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we could develop an aviation strategy fit for purpose, help boost the number and choice of direct air routes and provide a real boost to the economy. The Calman Commission (whose report formed the basis for the current Scotland Act) recommended that APD should be devolved to Scotland, yet the overwhelming case for this to happen was rejected by the UK Government. It is time for that decision to be reconsidered, and an unnecessary shackle on the Scottish economy removed."
DISABLED VETERANS win lottery vote
The People’s Millions Public Vote is a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and ITV, in which the public help decide which local community projects get up to £50,000 of lottery funding.
A worthy winner, on November 25, was the North East Scotland Disabled Veterans Association (NESDVA). Their £39,993 grant will go towards the purchase of a 17-seat minibus, fitted with a tail-lift. Mark McDonald, the Aberdeen Donside MSP, had met with the group (pictured) at Mastrick Community Centre three days earlier. He commented: " I am delighted that the association won the public vote. The purchase of this bus will be of great benefit to the group -- enabling members to get out and about in the community, and also to doctor and hospital appointments. I am very encouraged by the local support shown towards the association and wish them all the best for the future.”
Lower number of JSA claimants
Scotland continues to outperform the UK as a whole in the critical area of youth employment.
Latest figures show there has been a 27.5% drop in Scottish 16 to 19 year-olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the year to September. Aberdeen has done even better, with a decrease of 38.6%. The news was warmly welcomed by Mark McDonald, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, who is currently in the process of organising a Job Fair in his constituency. Speaking on November 11, Mr. McDonald commented: "I am aware of the importance of supporting young people into work, and ensuring that all the options are presented in order for them to make informed decisions on their future careers."
"These positive figures highlight the significant progress being made in Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland in getting young people into work. Not one of the country's 32 local authority areas experience a negative change, and this affirms the commitment of the SNP Government to addressing the scourge of youth unemployment. It is also a testament to the determination of Scotland's young people. When they are given the opportunity for career advancement, they will grasp it."
Five veteran SNP activists were granted honorary life memberships in August 2013, "in recognition of their tireless work and oustanding contributions over each of their lifetimes".
All in their 70s, they are pictured outside Aberdeen Donside's constituency HQ, just before the by-election on June 20.
l-r: Stuart West (Ab. Central), Davie Scott (Ab. Central), Allan Angus (Ab. Donside), John Mackay (Ab. South & N. Kincardine) and Hugh Harkins (Glasgow Shettleston).
### ALLAN ANGUS was 80 on October 21, and there was a celebration party in the Cloverleaf Hotel, Bucksburn on the following Saturday. Many happy returns, Allan!
Launch of new COLLEGE
A new further educational establishment was inaugurated on November 1, when the North East Scotland College was formed from the merger of Aberdeen and Banff & Buchan Colleges.
Aberdeen College was founded in 1991, when the Aberdeen Technical and Commercial Colleges were amalgamated, along with the agricultural college at Clinterty. The main campus is in Gallowgate in central Aberdeen. In 2011-12, it had 16,485 students -- 6,050 full-time and 10,435 part-time.
Banff & Buchan College dates from 1982. Its main campus is in Fraserburgh, 40 miles NE of Aberdeen. In 2011-2012, it had 7,228 students -- 1,395 full-time and 5,833 part-time.
The Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald joined the new NES College principal Rob Wallen and deputy principal Paul Sherrington at the official launch in Aberdeen. He commented: “I welcome the college merger as an important step forward in delivering further education for the North-East as a whole, and I am sure many of my constituents will benefit.” Several other Scottish colleges also merged on November 1.
Visit to MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS centre
The Aberdeen Branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society is a social, therapeutic and information resource for people in Aberdeen and the North-East who are affected by MS.
### Contact details: Stuart Resource Centre, Long Walk Road, Mastrick, Aberdeen, AB16 5QQ. Tel.: 01224 692777. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Following three inspections, the standard of cleanliness at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital has been found to be unsatisfactory by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate.
The HEI's Unannounced Inspection Report on the Foresterhill facility was released on October 29. Chief inspector Susan Brimelow said that their representatives had visited the hospital in August, and made two follow-up inspections. On each occasion, they found that the cleanliness of patient equipment and the environment were unsatisfactory, and their concerns have been conveyed to the Scottish Government.
Mark McDonald, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, said: “It is disappointing to discover that significant improvements are required at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, in particular relating to environmental cleanliness. The report on inspections carried out in August and subsequently, has shown that urgent action needs to be taken by NHS Grampian.
“The SNP Government established the HEI in April 2009, in order to drive up standards and monitor performance in a robust manner. It undertakes at least one announced and one unannounced inspection of all NHS Scotland hospitals every 3 years. The findings of this report show that standards of hygiene are not good enough at the maternity hospital. By implementing the Improvement Action Plan, urgent progress must be made by NHS Grampian, to ensure that the Inspectorate's recommendations and requirements are being addressed for the safety and wellbeing of my constituents.”
HAUDAGAIN: Middlefield residents will now benefit
For some months, the Labour-led Aberdeen City Council attempted to justify its efforts to speed up improvements at the Haudagain roundabout, despite the opinion of various experts that the AWPR bypass would have to be completed first. The new link road at the junction will require the demolition of up to 120 houses in Middlefield. Picture: Logie Avenue, Middlefield.
At a full Council meeting, the administration voted to push for a two-year timescale for delivery, despite their officers telling them that it would take a minimum of three and a half years to rehouse Middlefield residents adequately. Senior Labour councillors refused to rule out evictions, and claimed that residents could be rehoused in newbuilds, despite there being no firm plans to build the necessary houses. On October 4, Mark McDonald, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, called on the Labour-led administration to apologise to the residents of Middlefield for the uncertainty and anxiety caused by their politically motivated attempts to rush into changing the road layout at the the Haudagain junction. Despite having written to the residents in September advising them of the Council's wishes to press ahead with the works, Council leader Barney Crockett had now accepted the Scottish Government’s timescale for carrying out the changes after the AWPR had been completed.
From the meeting of the Scottish Parliament on 10 October 2013:--
Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside, SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with Aberdeen City Council regarding the timescale for improvements to the Haudagain roundabout.
Keith Brown, Minister for Transport & Veterans: I met Barney Crockett, leader of Aberdeen City Council, last Thursday to discuss the timescales for the Haudagain improvement.
Mark McDonald: I note from the coverage that the city council has agreed to follow the Scottish Government’s timescale, which will be welcomed by my constituents in Middlefield, who were concerned about the impact on them of the council’s proposed two-year timescale. Is the minister aware of comments by Councillor Willie Young, convener of finance at Aberdeen City Council, who has threatened to withdraw the council from the project and remove it from the regeneration of Middlefield unless he receives what he describes as a written contract on the Haudagain roundabout? Does that reflect the minister’s discussions with Barney Crockett?
Keith Brown: I made clear to Barney Crockett the same position on Haudagain that I have made clear to Richard Baker (Lab.), Lewis Macdonald (Lab.), and Mark McDonald’s predecessor Brian Adam, and in numerous public statements. The Scottish Government will pay proper compensation for any affected households. We have already started the design work on the Haudagain at a cost of around £3million. I had what I thought was a very constructive meeting with Barney Crockett, that covered a range of issues on which the Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council can work together.
Unfortunately, as seems to be the pattern with such meetings: as soon as Councillor Willie Young heard that some constructive dialogue was going on between the council and the Government, he got very agitated and responded by trying to create a drama out of a non-existent crisis. Perhaps the best thing that could happen in the circumstances is for Councillor Willie Young to let the leader of the council, Councillor Crockett, undertake the dialogue with the Scottish Government and to enter into a period of silence for everyone else’s benefit.
### See below for Experts say bypass must come first.
YES can lead to OIL FUND
Scotland could establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund from its oil and gas revenues within a year of independence, according to a group of world-renowned academics, economists and businessmen.
The prediction came in a report published by the Fiscal Commission Working Group (FCWG), which is part of the Scottish Government's Council of Economic Advisers. It envisages that after a Yes vote in next year's referendum, a short-term "stabilisation fund" could be set up by an incoming Scottish Government, prior to the eventual creation of a fund similar to that of Norway.
The report was welcomed by Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament's Economic, Energy & Tourism Committee. On October 2, he said: "This expert report sets out a framework that will help to maximise the economic opportunity that Scotland's oil and gas wealth presents, and ensure that it provides a lasting benefit for future generations. The Fiscal Commission makes clear that investments could be made shortly after independence, potentially as early as 2017-18. The report points out that if past oil revenues had been invested into a savings fund, there would now be accumulated financial assets of between £82billion and £116billion, as opposed to us having a share of the UK's huge present debt."
"Anti-independence politicians now acknowledge that some of the North Sea's vast revenues could and should have been saved in an oil fund. But successive Westminster Governments have used this resource as a short-term cash cow to be squeezed at every opportunity to prop up the Treasury's crumbling books. Apart from the UK, only Iraq among the major oil-producing countries doesn't have an oil fund, and even it has a form of development fund."
"The truth is, we are still less than half way through the wholesale value of oil assets to be extracted from the North Sea and Atlantic. Norway established its oil fund in the 1990s, when the fiscal circumstances allowed, and this has grown to become the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. With the right handling, Scotland's oil and gas industry can continue to thrive for many decades to come – and will best do so in an independent Scotland."
A Carers Parliament, held at Holyrood on 1 October 2012, was so successful that it was decided to make it an annual event. Two delegates attend from each of the Scottish Parliament's 73 constituencies.
"Your Rights" was the theme for this year's gathering, held at the Hub in Castlehill, Edinburgh on October 1. It heard that the Scottish Government will be launching a widespread consultation on new legislation for carers, which will begin before the end of the year. This marks a significant step forward in recognising and addressing the needs of the 657,000 unpaid adult carers and up to 100,000 young people who care for their families, friends and neighbours.
Mark McDonald MSP, as a member of the Cross-Party Group on Carers, is strongly committed to issues affecting carers within his constituency. On October 1, he commented: “I am only too aware of many carers in Aberdeen Donside who face daily struggles to look after, and advocate on behalf of, their loved ones. Scotland’s incredible army of unpaid carers are the support structure without which the Health Service could not function effectively. It is only right that we all recognise and pay tribute to the work that they do. I wholeheartedly welcome the Scottish Government’s plans to legislate to give carers more of a voice in bringing their concerns to the forefront and to furthering their rights. I would encourage anyone with an interest, or who is affected, to feed into the consultation process when it begins later this year.”
Bringing football back to BUCKSBURN
Since Bankhead Academy closed in 2009, its playing fields have been unused. Now Bankhead AFC and Beacon Rangers AFC have joined forces to bring football back to Bucksburn.
The two clubs plan to convert the playing fields into a multi-pitch complex, complete with changing and parking facilities. On completion of the works, the pitches will be transferred back to Sport Aberdeen, on the understanding that the clubs would be given first option on using them as their home ground. After meeting with members of the Bucksburn Community Sports Partnership, Grant Robertson and Steven Hill, along with members of both football clubs, Mark McDonald said he was thoroughly impressed with their proposals. The MSP has written to the Chief Executive of Sport Aberdeen, Alistair Robertson, to find out their plans for the ground, and whether they will be working with the clubs to realise their vision.
Mr. McDonald commented: "The proposals for the old Bankhead Academy playing fields are an excellent way of using the currently redundant space, and I am happy to lend my support to the local sports partnership as they try to advance their plans. I am aware that there are concerns in the Bucksburn community regarding a lack of playing facilities generally, and these proposals appear to be an excellent way to address that issue."
Concerns grow regarding proposed SCHOOL closures
Aberdeen City Council is proposing to close Middleton Park Primary School in Bridge of Don and amalgamate it with the existing Glashieburn campus. Similarly, Bramble Brae (pictured) in Cummings Park would be shut down and merged into the current Quarryhill building.
SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, Mark McDonald, called for the Labour-led administration to answer serious concerns over the Council's flawed consultation process being expressed by those campaigning against the closures. Parent groups, such as Education or Burst, were not consulted in respect of public meeting dates; only finding out about them from advertisements they saw in the local press. It also emerged that the conclusions of the educational benefit statement for each proposal are almost word-for-word/cut-and-pasted from a previous Council consultation document on the proposal to build a new school to replace Torry and Kincorth Academies.
The statutory consultation process for the closure plans began on August 26, and closed on October 11. Mr. McDonald has already been contacted by many constituents, expressing their grave concerns regarding the apparent lack of any educational benefit on offer for their children through the proposed changes. Public meetings are ongoing throughout the communities. On September 13, Mr. McDonald urged as many people as possible to attend these, in order to raise their concerns directly with the Council officials. They are also requested to make their views known to the Aberdeen Donside MSP, so that he can make his own submission to the Council regarding the opinions of his constituents and the communities involved.
Mark McDonald had previously criticised the cosmetic nature of the consultation. He said: “The worst fears of the parents have been realised. Instead of a report making careful and considered conclusions based on the particular circumstances of each school, what we see is a cut-and-paste consultation, which contains only basic generic statements. This can't be considered as a thorough examination of the educational impact of these proposals. It is also deeply worrying that, despite assurances that they would be involved in the process, parent groups have had no input on the selection of public meeting dates, and appear to have been met with a wall of silence when asking for information."
Labour man attacks GOLF CLUB
A senior Aberdeen Labour councillor has accused one of the city's golf clubs of "sexual apartheid", because it has separate clubhouses for its male and female members!
The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is very much looking forward to hosting the 2014 Scottish Open, which is being sponsored by the Scottish Government and Aberdeen Asset Management. In addition to criticising Alex Salmond for his personal support for the event, Cllr. Willie Young described the club's treatment of women golfers as similar to racial segregation. This ludicrous charge was completely refuted by the President of Aberdeen Ladies Golf Club, who pointed out that her members had full access to the course, including the main clubhouse.
The Balgownie club -- which claims to be the sixth oldest in the world -- is in the Aberdeen Donside constituency of Mark McDonald MSP. On July 22, he said: "I am deeply concerned that Mr. Young has insensitively compared the harmonious practice of the two golf clubs to 'sexual apartheid', as well as criticising the Scottish Government’s backing of the Royal Aberdeen for hosting the Scottish Open in 2014. Cllr. Young’s remarks have rightly been rejected by the President of Aberdeen Ladies Golf Club. He should now withdraw this ridiculous attack on the course, and his inexplicable attempts to undermine a prestigious international tournament coming to our city."
"Has he failed to appreciate the importance this event will be for the City of Aberdeen? Instead of spending his time criticising the Scottish Government, Cllr. Young should be supporting the opportunities events like this will create for the city. As per usual, attacks such as these just show how little interest he has in the city and its success. I have asked the Council’s Chief Executive for reassurance that the Council is fully behind Royal Aberdeen's hosting of the Scottish Open in 2014. We cannot afford this major event for Aberdeen to be jeopardised by small-minded local politicians intent on scoring a cheap political point.”
A Youth Manifesto for Aberdeen Donside has been launched by Mark McDonald.
The SNP MSP had earlier visited Young Scotland's Got Talent, an employment event for young people with learning difficulties and autism, where he was joined by Angela Constance, the Minister for Youth Employment.
Mark promised the young people of Aberdeen Donside that he would:
- Maintain the core values of education, which should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
- Encourage local companies to take on more apprentices.
- Work with Aberdeen employers to improve access to workplaces for young people with disabilities.
- Press for more transitional support for young people leaving care, and entering the housing and employment markets.
- Campaign for the right of 16 year-olds to vote in all elections.
Mark McDonald said that his pledges were based on his experience working with young people in Aberdeen, both as a Councillor and as a Regional List MSP.
Pledges for OLDER PEOPLE
Mark McDonald also launched his manifesto for Older People.
As the new MSP for Aberdeen Donside, Mr. McDonald will protect the many gains made by the SNP Government, particularly those which have brought real benefit to the lives of older people, in Aberdeen and Scotland. Mr. McDonald was the convener of the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Dementia, and was made a patron of Gordon Dementia in Aberdeenshire.
These are some of the pledges Mark is committed to:
• Supporting the continuation of free personal care, the Council Tax freeze, free prescriptions & eye tests, and bus passes for the over-60s and disabled.
• Working for the roll-out of the National Dementia Strategy in Aberdeen Donside.
• Opposing Labour-controlled Aberdeen City Council moves to hive-off social care to an external organisation.
The "cuts commission" set up by the Labour Party in Scotland advocates the abolition of most or all of the older people's benefits introduced by the SNP Government. It has also been suggested that free TV licences for over-75s and winter fuel payments to pensioners would be drastically cut by UK Labour, should they ever be returned to power at Westminster.
Mark McDonald commented: "Scotland is a resource-rich country -- one where we should be able to lead healthy, active and independent lives as we grow older. The SNP is absolutely committed to protecting the social gains we have made since 2007. I am hugely concerned that our opponents -- the Labour Party in particular -- are now advocating the abolition or cutting of these popular and important policies."
New WOODSIDE FOUNTAIN Health Centre
Work has commenced on the building of the purpose-built Woodside Fountain Health Centre. The turf-cutting ceremony took place on May 29.
The new facility will be in Marquis Road, and adjacent to the community centre. Consisting of several consulting and treatment rooms and a dental practice, it will become home to the Woodside Medical Group, who will move from their current site in Western Road. The £4.7million funding for the development has come from the SNP Government.
Mark McDonald commented: "This is a significant milestone and a clear sign of what the SNP is delivering for residents of Aberdeen Donside. When completed, people in Woodside will have access to brand new, custom-built health facilities that will significantly improve patient care in the area. Making sure that patients and health staff have the best facilities possible is absolutely essential, and I am proud of what the SNP is delivering for this community. The new health centre is part of the £1billion of investment that has been spent or committed to Aberdeen since the SNP took office. It is an impressive record of delivery for the city, and one that I am determined to see built on".
### An inaugural ceremony also took place on May 28, at the Aberdeen Community Health & Care Village. The extensive £24million complex and multi-storey car park are currently under construction between Frederick Street and East North Street in the city centre.
Experts say BYPASS must come FIRST
Ground investigation work began on the northern leg of the long-awaited Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) on 26 November 2012. Transport Minister KEITH BROWN cut the first sod at Parkhill, north of Dyce. The excavation took place just east of the proposed Goval junction with the A947.
The news was welcomed by Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central. He commented: " Capping the cost of contributions from councils will provide the certainty our local authorities need to budget their money wisely. As a former finance convener of the City Council, I appreciate the importance of clarity in managing large projects, and the protection being given by the Scottish Government. Announcing the bidders is another important step in the by-pass becoming a reality. Regardless of which bidder wins the contract, the SNP is delivering jobs and infrastructure for our city.”
Various road experts have consistently advised Keith Brown that work on improving the notorious A90/A96 Haudagain junction could only be undertaken after the AWPR was up and running. Alas -- obviously for political rather than pragmatic reasons -- two of Labour's North-East regional MSPs decided to attempt to put the Haudagain "cart" before the AWPR "horse", in a Scottish Parliament debate on May 22. Their bluster and posturing was ridiculed by Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, when she stated: "I cannot understand the thought process that went through the heads of the Labour Party members who thought that this would be a good subject for debate for them. It begs the question that if making improvements to the Haudagain roundabout before completion of the AWPR was such a good idea, why was it not taken forward by the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration in Scotland any time between 1999 and 2007?"
"Why does the Labour Party think that it knows better than Transport Scotland, NESTRANS (NE Scotland Transport Partnership), and the local authorities’ infrastructure departments? Labour members must understand that the AWPR needs to be in place before work on the Haudagain roundabout can begin, otherwise the congestion and disruption to commuters will be very much worse than at present. Perhaps Lewis Macdonald can tell us on what basis he claimed this morning on the radio that the building work at the Haudagain can happen without any traffic disruption. He said in his speech that there would be 'no traffic disruption because of lane closures'. I don't know how often he goes to the Haudagain roundabout, but if even one car breaks down anywhere near the junction, there is massive traffic disruption! Where else in Scotland can he demonstrate that roadworks have not disrupted existing traffic flow?"
### See also SNP Pressure Ensures Third Don Crossing by 2015 on the ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL page.
MARK WINS IT FOR SCOTLAND!
MARK McDONALD clinched victory for the SNP and Scotland in the Aberdeen Donside by-election held on June 20. Mark returned to the Scottish Parliament by securing 9,814 votes (42.0%) and a 2,025 majority over Labour. Although the low turnout led to a reduced winning margin, the party was satisfied with both its election campaign and the eventual result.
Interviewed after the declaration at the Beacon Centre in Bucksburn, Mark said: "This is an excellent by-election victory for the SNP and a strong vote of confidence in the Scottish Government, our billon pound investment programme for Aberdeen and the legacy of Brian Adam. When Brian first won the seat, his majority was 457, and I am delighted to have a majority of 2,025. And when people in Donside last went to the polls, in last year's local elections, the SNP won 39.5% to Labour's 34.3% -- which means that we have done even better in the by-election and Labour have done worse. This was the by-election that no-one wanted, and I pledge to do all I can to be as effective a representative for the people of Donside as Brian was -- starting with action to get the Labour-Tory council to reverse their deeply misguided school closure plans in the constituency."
First Minister Alex Salmond commented: "This is a fantastic SNP win, and Mark McDonald will be a first-class representative for the people of Donside. Midway into our second term of Government and we have comfortably retained a seat which Labour once held. Their failure to make significant progress is a major setback, and a rejection of the Cuts Commission agenda of Johann Lamont. When the SNP secured a 9% swing in the Inverclyde by-election in 2011, Labour said that 'the SNP bandwagon has ground to a halt'! This is a very bad result for Labour. After six years of opposition, they show no sign of being anything more than an opposition party. I am also delighted that UKIP failed to retain their deposit. They have never saved a single deposit in Scotland, which once again demonstrates a clear divergence between Scottish and Westminster politics." Mark McDonald was sworn-in at Holyrood on June 25 and took the oath in Doric.
MARK McDONALD has paid tribute to the late BRIAN ADAM, and said his priority as MSP for Aberdeen Donside would be to follow in Brian's footsteps -- as a strong local voice that the community could trust to fight their corner locally and speak up for them nationally.
He said: “Brian Adam was my friend, my colleague and my mentor. I owe a huge amount to him, and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to continue his legacy of achievement for the people of Aberdeen Donside. One of the things Brian always said was 'never promise to do anything other than your best'. I wholeheartedly make that pledge to the people of Aberdeen Donside, and I will do my very best to live up to the outstanding representation they received from him. Brian Adam played a central role in the successful campaign to retain neuro-surgery and children’s specialist services at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and helped deliver millions more funding for the city. He was an outstanding politician, with a lifelong commitment to independence, and a true servant of the people. I ask the residents of Aberdeen Donside to place their trust in me to stand up for them, and be a strong local voice at Holyrood."
View Mark's victory speech at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSQck3CecSs
The voting figures for the by-election and the May 2011 General Election are listed below.
CHRISTIAN ALLARD is a seafood exporter, and has been the part-time constituency assistant to Dennis Robertson MSP (Aberdeenshire West). He became an SNP Regional List MSP for the North-East after Mark McDonald resigned his seat to successfully contest the Aberdeen Donside by-election.
Christian was born in Dijon, France in 1964, and worked in the fishing industry before coming to Glasgow, over 25 years ago, to open an office for a European seafood transport network. He married a Scot (now deceased) and later moved to the North-East to work for a seafood exporting company. He has raised three daughters here and now also has two grandchildren.
In a reaffirmation of the Franco-Scottish Auld Alliance, Christian was sworn-in at Holyrood on May 15 -- taking the oath dans le français as well as in English -- and made his maiden speech a week later. Describing himself as "New Scot, Old French", Christian said that his experience in the fishing industry, and his belief that Scotland could and should be an independent country, convinced him to join the SNP about ten years ago. He now lives in Aberdeen's "commuter town" of Westhill, and is proud to call Scotland his home. "It's a wonderful welcoming country, with such huge potential."
BRIAN ADAM MSP (1948-2013)
Brian Adam died on April 25, following a long illness. He was 64.
Born in 1948 and educated at Keith Grammar School and Aberdeen University. Formerly the principal biochemist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Brian was an Aberdeen District Councillor for Middlefield (and Heathryfold) 1988-95 and an Aberdeen City Councillor in 1995-99. First elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a Regional List MSP for the North-East, he gained ABERDEEN NORTH from Labour in 2003. He won the seat again in 2007, with a majority of 3,749, and was re-elected (for ABERDEEN DONSIDE) on 5 May 2011, when his winning margin was over 7,000.
Brian served as Minister for Parliamentary Business & Chief Whip from 20 May 2011 to 5 Sep. 2012. His responsibilities included the maintenance of focus and discipline in the party's Parliamentary group, Parliamentary reform, freedom of information, group matters, and liaison between the group and Ministers. He was married, with four sons and one daughter.
MAUREEN WATT, MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine; KEVIN STEWART, MSP for Aberdeen Central and MARK McDONALD, MSP for North-East Scotland, spoke of their sadness at the passing of BRIAN ADAM, MSP for Aberdeen Donside, and paid tribute to their friend and colleague. Each had a close relationship with Mr. Adam, having worked together as councillors in Aberdeen and as members of the Scottish Parliament. The three MSPs expressed their sincere condolences to Brian's wife and children, and spoke of their fond memories of him.
Maureen Watt said: "Brian was a wonderful friend and colleague, going right back to our school days. He was a significant influence on myself and many others who had the pleasure of knowing him. It is clear that Brian’s hard work on their behalf meant a great deal to the people of Aberdeen Donside, who he served for a quarter of a century. Brian was always selflessly willing to help his constituents, friends and colleagues and will be sorely missed.”
Kevin Stewart said: “Brian was the most honourable, trustworthy, gentle man and a true friend to all. He cared passionately about doing what was right for his constituents and for Aberdeen, and he bent over backwards to help people. He always said 'never promise to do something that you know that you can’t, but promise to do your best'. He always did!”
Mark McDonald added: "Brian Adam was a friend, a colleague and a mentor to me. He taught me so much during my time as a councillor and helped me become a better representative. Brian made friends across the political divide because he was a gentleman. I am saddened by his passing but thankful that I was able to count him as a friend."
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Brian was an exceptional MSP, and was one of the crucial people who as Chief Whip sustained the minority government between 2007-11. I was delighted to see him serve as a minister in this Parliament. Of course, his greatest service was to the people of Aberdeen for a quarter of a century -- first as a councillor and then as an MSP. I’m proud to say I’ve known and admired him over that entire period as an outstanding politician, a fine human being and a dear friend. My condolences go to Brian’s wife Dorothy and his five children -- Neil, Jamie, Sarah, David and Alan -- and the wider family at this very difficult time.”
### About 400 people attended the funeral service, on Friday, May 3, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Mastrick, Aberdeen. Among the mourners was the First Minister, who said: "Brian Adam was a loving family man, a loyal friend, an outstanding politician, an exceptional human being, and someone of steadfast faith. He was also a plain-speaking man, who did not need to use flowery language -- because the passion of his commitment, loyalty and love spoke for itself." The service was followed by interment in Dyce Cemetery.
WINNING FOR SCOTLAND!
By-election Result: ABERDEEN DONSIDE. 20 June 2013
Mark McDonald SNP 9,814
Willie Young Lab. 7,789
Christine Jardine Lib. Dem. 1,940
Ross Thomson Con. 1,791
Otto Inglis UKIP 1,128
Rhonda Reekie Green 410
Dave MacDonald Nat. Front 249
Tom Morrow Scot. Christian 222
James Trolland Scot. Democ. All. 35
SNP Hold Maj. 2,025 Turnout 38.8%
General Election Result: ABERDEEN DONSIDE. 5 May 2011
Brian Adam SNP 14,790
Barney Crockett Lab. 7,615
Ross Thomson Con. 2,166
Millie McLeod Lib. Dem. 1,606
David Henderson Ind. 371
Chris Willett Nat. Front 213
SNP Hold Maj. 7,175 Turnout 47.6%