I enjoy campaigning. I always have, but spending the past decade full-time campaigning for Scottish Independence has been particularly enjoyable for me, dedicating more time than ever before to the SNP campaign trail.
Door-knocking in Livingston and Cathcart in recent weeks has provided another opportunity to keep up to date with the issues which are of most concern to constituents. Health services, housing, pensions, policing, council tax, education and employment prospects. These are among the main concerns raised in both constituencies, and my regular surgeries and community visits around Scotland.
Sometimes debates in the European Parliament seem far removed from these real life issues. For example, at our September plenary session, the most publicised agenda item was the so called 'tan ban' directive.
Brussels bureaucracy gone mad, according to some reports, stood accused of trying to ban sunlight. Actually under discussion was a European Commission proposed directive, aimed at protecting workers from optical radiation given off by machinery such as x-ray and laser equipment in the workplace.
At Committee stage in the European Parliament, some over enthusiastic MEPs succeeded in amending the directive to include optical radiation from ʻnatural sourcesʼ, meaning sunlight. This would have made employers legally responsible for protecting workers from sunburn or skin cancer. Of course, skin cancer is a serious and preventable illness, and we must have a sensible prevention policy, but SNP MEPs did not believe that an EU directive was appropriate.
Thankfully, the majority of MEPs agreed with us and voted to exclude sunlight from the scope of the directive, leaving it up to Member States to decide how to tackle the ill-effects of over exposure to the sun.
The tan ban issue, unfortunately, obscured from view in the media any reporting of the other issues which MEPs debated and voted on in the September plenary. These included major debates on climate change, and the effects of the summer floods and fires in central and southern Europe.
Combating diseases in developing countries, researching medicines specifically for children, eliminating gender discrimination in health service provision were also debated at length.
Not one Scottish newspaper has a dedicated correspondent, based in Brussels, to cover the massive amount of legislation being decided upon at EU level. As a result, Scots are subjected to anti-European ravings regularly appearing in papers like The Sun.
The Brussels machine is not perfect, but it deserves a better press than it gets.