Speech on Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill Scottish Parliament 27 February 2008

I declare an interest. My husband is Councillor Archie Graham, who is executive member for culture and sport in Glasgow City Council.

The Government trumpets that it has achieved an historic concordat with local government; at my fireside, we have not quite got that far, and there is still evidence of conflict.

However, in the Parliament and in Glasgow, the importance and significance of the Commonwealth games are recognised.

Bob Doris raised a crucial point about territorialism and disorder.

Solving such problems is not just a Commonwealth games issue; it is core business for Government.

The Commonwealth games are important for Scotland, and particularly for Glasgow, given the stark health inequalities in the city—not to mention inequalities between Glasgow and other parts of Scotland.

Too many Scots who declare a love of sport are spectators who do not engage in it.

One of the big legacies of the Commonwealth games will have to be that people realise that sport can be an active part of their lives, rather than just another expression of their tribalism.

We support the bill. It is largely technical, and there was an obligation to produce it.

We thank all those who gave evidence to the Local Government and Communities Committee, and we thank the Minister for Communities and Sport for introducing a bill that we are able to support.

There was a great sense of achievement when we realised that the bid had been secured.

It is impossible to overstate the professionalism and passion with which Glasgow's case was pursued towards success.

I acknowledge the role of this Government and of past ministers in ensuring that the bid was successful.

We have to remember how much of a challenge winning the bid was; it was not a short-term process.

The success originated from the foresight of people in Glasgow—in particular, people in Labour administrations over a period of time.

There was a long-term commitment to understanding the creative ways by which it is possible to transform the lives of Glasgow's citizens—a commitment to understanding the power of sport and the arts in people's lives.

Rightly, the minister spoke of political consensus, but it required courage to argue for such consensus before it could be built.

It required courage to invest in more than £100 million-worth of facilities over the past 10 years.

Labour in Glasgow has historically sought to win the argument on the importance of sport and culture to the life of the city.

That has been controversial in the past, and it could continue to be controversial.

Some of us who were born a long time ago and have long memories will remember the controversy over building the Burrell collection building in the middle of Pollok park.

People asked whether money should be spent on that when there was so much need in the city.

We now have consensus, but it was political will and choice at an earlier stage that allowed the political consensus to build.

Bill Aitken (Glasgow) (Con): Does Johann Lamont recollect that the decision on the Burrell collection building was taken under a Conservative administration?

Johann Lamont: Absolutely—and my point is that, in building consensus, we have to acknowledge that the first step is a hard one.

We should commend the first step, whoever took it.

All of us in the chamber should acknowledge the role that we have played, but we ought not to colonise for the Parliament the credit for success in securing the games.

There will be a Scotland-wide benefit, but it is reasonable to insist that there is a focus on Glasgow's citizens, because of Glasgow's drive and Glasgow's need.

I will make some brief points about access to and the legacy of the games.

I urge the minister to reflect on equality issues.

We have received a thought-provoking briefing from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association that gives a significant commentary on issues that it wants us to consider.

That should prompt us to ensure that we have close dialogue with the people who best understand the games' implications for the equality agenda.

I want to make a point—and not just to keep in with the Deputy Presiding Officer—about the concerns of women's organisations that women could be trafficked into Glasgow during the Commonwealth games.

It would be useful to address the issues surrounding that.

We have to broaden the debate and understand the games' implications for broader social and economic policy.

I know that that is already happening in Glasgow.

I am not talking only about business opportunities; we also have to consider the opportunities for social enterprises.

I am not talking only about employment opportunities; we also have to consider the employability strategy and the challenge of benefiting the people who are the furthest away from getting work.

We also have to understand the importance of talking to and working with the local community, to ensure that its needs are addressed.

As a mother who spends far too long at the side of a swimming pool—my daughter swims six times a week—I want to stress the importance of supporting people who have the talent but not the support.

I urge the minister to consider—along with Glasgow City Council—creative ways of ensuring that there is support for people who are talented but do not have access to the support structure that will harness their talent.

We should acknowledge in particular the role of local clubs.

Anyone who is involved with young people in sport will know that volunteers—people who do not receive one coin—are the lifeblood of sports, especially sports that do not have great recognition.

For example, I commend the people who ran the recent netball international in Glasgow, which was supported almost entirely by voluntary effort and was hugely significant for the young women who want to participate in that sport.

We need to harness such energy, not crush it.

We need to support volunteers in our communities and embrace volunteering activity.

We well know the critical role that the minister and the Government play, but we also have to recognise that part of our job is to support the volunteers and others who have got us thus far—those who have the ideas and energy to take us right to the winning line.