Westminster diary w/b 23rd January



Red eye to London is delayed by fog but it gives me the unexpected opportunity of a natter with the First Minister who is also heading to London. Eventually my flight takes off but it is diverted to Stansted. One train and two tube journeys later I arrive in Westminster. What is normally a three and a half hour journey door to door has turned into a seven hour journey. I am just in time for a TV interview in my office before heading to the chamber. There is an urgent question about a test of the Trident nuclear missile system that went wrong. I stand for questions but it’s obvious given the pecking order of front bench, spokesperson, select committee and so on that I am not going to get picked. So I leave it to my colleagues to question the Secretary of State for Defence. It’s clear from the offset that he is adopting the “I know nothing stance”. He refuses to shed any light on the incident.  


My select committee is taking evidence from Rupert Soames regarding the relationship between private company’s and the outsourcing process of government contracts. I don’t think he is suitable witness as his company gains to benefit so much from the existing process that he is hardly likely to criticise it. We then rubber stamp the appointment of the next United Kingdom Statistics Authority chair. The Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis, is making a statement about the triggering of article 50 on the back of the supreme court’s ruling that it must be voted on by parliament and also that the Sewell convention which was defined to encourage the UK parliament to respect the devolved administrations can be totally ignored. I stand for questions and after two hours and forty five minutes I get to ask the Secretary if he will seek meaningful discussions with the Scottish Government that reflect the desire of the Scottish electorate to remain in the EU. I then attend a drop in event to support the Machrihanish bid to become a space port. It’s not as tenuous as it may seem with an existence runway and clear air space heading out to the Atlantic. I am then given a briefing on the situation in Stormont and the pending election in Northern Ireland. I do an interview with Talk Radio about Brexit, article 50 and a second Scottish independence referendum.  


I have very interesting meeting with EE as they map out their plans to provide improved mobile coverage across Inverclyde. Work on upgrading their existing masts is on-going. Prime Minister’s Question time is very poor and Jeremy Corbyn takes a hammering yet again. He even sent his condolences to a family whose son had been shot in Northern Ireland when he is in fact alive and still fighting for his life. The rest of the day is consumed by drop-ins and meetings and I manage to attend a Burns supper in the evening. 


All day is given up to research and preparation. Working in my office is a strange experience as unlike most jobs there is a TV on the wall and it is on constantly. I work with one ear tuned to the news programmes and throughout the day there is speculation about the meeting between Theresa May and Donald Trump. Within Westminster the rumour is that Labour will impose a three line whip and force all their MPs to vote to trigger article 50. As I am leaving for the airport this is confirmed. Tulip Siddiq MP is the first to revolt and announce her resignation from the shadow cabinet. 


I have a meeting with the Inverclyde Drug and Alcohol Partnership. We have a number of remarkable organisations who provide much needed services for people with drug or alcohol addictions. My role is to be aware of the issues and possible opportunities that arise that can be utilised locally. These meetings are always informative and help me enormously.

I have a visit to Inverclyde Academy to talk about Westminster and the process of engagement. Followed by a meeting to discuss hydro schemes and flooding in Inverclyde.

The rest of the day is taken up with casework. In the evening I am writing a speech for an event on Saturday in Fife on universal basic income.