Westminster diary w/b 5th December


I enjoyed the luxury of a day working in Inverclyde and attended “Moving On” in the early evening. We have a number of organisations that help addicts put their lives back together in Inverclyde and I was pleased to join “Moving On” and take part in a workshop exercise with them. It was good to see a few faces I know continue their recovery and enlightening to engage with them and staff to envisage the way forward. They also had the good sense to feed me my tea, which always goes down well.


Should have started with an early flight but fog enveloped London and so I was delayed. I missed my Select Committee as a result but used the time to catch up on some reading. I met with Vodafone representatives to discuss connectivity and the lack of it in some areas of Inverclyde. I took in some of the transport debate and attended a very interesting debate in Westminster Hall on the tidal bay lagoon project in Swansea. There is cross party support for this project but if it goes ahead it has to be the first and not the last such scheme. A lot of jobs can be created throughout the supply chain and sustainable clean renewable energy produced in large quantities.


I started the day by meeting two representatives from the Royal Society for Public Health. Their recent report ‘Taking a new line on drugs’ has been widely endorsed from both law enforcement and health service professionals. We need to stop treating addiction as a legal issue and start treating it as a health issue if we are ever to improve the situation. I attended Amnesty International’s Human Rights day event in the Speaker’s Rooms. Amnesty are continuing to raise awareness of human rights issues and keep political prisoners in the public eye. I heard the husband of Nazanin Zachariah-Ratcliffe talk about his wife who has been arrested and held in jail in Iran for eight months. By lobbying Iran we can at least keep her safe. This tactic has worked in the past and hopefully will see Nazanin safely return to her family in the U.K. The all-party parliamentary group on Scottish sport focused on the lack of a tennis legacy from the word wide success of the Jamie and Andy Murray. Blane Dodds (Chair of Tennis Scotland) and Judy Murray attended.


My main event of the day was speaking in a debate around the Scottish Affairs Committees report on immigration that centred on post study work visas. These worked particularly well in Scotland and were welcomed across party divides but the UK government has stopped the programme and instead favours only four universities, all in England. As you would expect it was mainly Scottish MPs that attended and spoke. The minister commented in his usual manner that “facing all these Scots was like a scene from Braveheart”. I hate that historically incorrect, Hollywood romp with its kilted and face painted Wallace and really object to Scotlands democratically elected representing being compared to him. It’s lazy at least and derogatory too. It was a decent debate and the minister ignored everything thing we said.


The day started at a rush with an interview with Libby Brooks of the Guardian. The chosen topic was universal basic income. This has been a particular area of interest for me and it is gaining traction across political and geographic divides. I then had a site visit to Kilmacolm with Virgin Media to see how their fibre to the premises (FTTP) project is progressing.

I enjoyed a working lunch with River Clyde Homes followed by a meeting in the council building. My last meeting of the week was with the Alan Robertson, Chairman of the Beacon Arts Centre which was fortunate as I was already planning to attend ‘Walking in Your Shadow’ Alec Galloways brand new exhibition in the Beacon.