Clyde Life Article – The Role of an MP

It may come as a surprise to learn that there is no job description for a Member of Parliament. The remit is wide and varied. It is entirely up to each one of the 650 MPs as to how they approach their job. It is important to get the balance right between problems that require an immediate fix and also the long term strategy to improve your constituency.

Casework is self-generating. Constituents contact my office with their issues and we take it from there. We record all cases and can report them in such a fashion that I can see if we have clusters of similar cases and can monitor the volume per category. Sometimes that develops into a contribution at Westminster on a specific issue. That can be a written or oral question, it may be a speech or an intervention on a speech. I do whatever is required to highlight the issue and bring the solution closer.

Beyond the day to day issues we also have short and long term projects that my team and I are working on. Fixed odds betting terminals with a stake of £100 a spin has been an issue we have pursued from day one. The U.K. government, under Tracey Crouch, is now going to investigate this matter. I have had dealings with Tracey and found her to be grounded and rational in her approach. I believe we can address this issue but the gambling companies have a huge lobbying presence and will use it. Fortunately we also have a very strong and well organised all party parliamentary group on FOBTs. We also have projects regarding drug reform, unexploded ordnance in the Clyde and improving broadband connectivity.

We may not resolve all these issues during my time as your MP but we are moving them all along and ensuring that we are going in the right direction.

We have two long term projects that are solely Inverclyde focused. I want Inverclyde to become a centre of excellence for sustainable renewable energy. I have written a paper on this and approached a number of local stakeholders. The aim is to meet stakeholders, facilitate the exchange of ideas and develop solutions. This is an ongoing process and I am glad to say that we have a dialogue with Scottish Renewables, Riverside Inverclyde and the larger renewables sector. We have planted the seeds and hope to see them grow. The entire paper is on my website . On a similar theme of collaborative working I am keen to see the Glebe building put to good use. I have engaged with locals that wish to see a creative arts centre in Inverclyde. Shamefully we do not have one building that is deemed suitable to display works of art that currently languish in the store rooms of the large galleries and museums. I would like to see a facility that could host Stanley Spencer’s Atlantic convoy paintings and those inspired by the Port Glasgow cemetery. And we need a facility that can house a permanent George Wylie display. The Glebe building has space for this and more. It could contain studio space for artists and a retail outlet to sell their wares, while the rooftop lends itself to a restaurant and coffee shop (with a glass ceiling as it can get windy up there). The Glebe has 69 arched windows and is a beautiful stone built work of art in its own right. We should be taking care of it. Again discussions are on-going.

On the whiteboard in the meeting room in my constituency office in Greenock and in my office at Westminster is written the phrase “the only thing that matters, is everything we do”.  Sometimes the variety is challenging but mostly it’s inspiring and motivational. Knowing that we are making progress and helping the lives of the people of Inverclyde is the most important thing for me and my team.

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