Westminster diary w/b 19th June


Parliament has not yet got back up to speed following the aberration of a General Election and so I took the opportunity to meet with constituents in my office during the morning and catch a later flight to London. Offices are still being allocated and so to make a potential move easier I did a quick spring clean and threw out all unnecessary paperwork that I had acquired over the last two years. In the evening I attended a law enforcement against prohibition event which featured the comedian Marcus Brigstocke. He spoke about his addictions and his approach to dealing with them. I particularly struck by his food action. Any preconceived notions I had of a man binging on cream cakes were quickly dispelled as he recounted stories of eating food from bins while crying inconsolably. Eating disorders can often be conveyed as a physical thing when they are serious mental health issues.


There was no business in the chamber today as we are waiting for the Queen’s speech tomorrow. I managed to catch up with Paul Flynn and Kelvin Hopkins. They are both Labour MPs who both enjoyed comfortable victories. Despite our different parties we have always worked well in committee together and it was good to see those two old war horses back. In the afternoon we had the internal SNP group meeting and elected our new group leader.


My walk into Parliament is usually a relaxing stroll lost in whatever music I have chosen that day but when there are armed and unarmed police officers at every corner, roads are closed and passes are being checked well before entering the building it’s clearly not just another day. The extra high-visibility security in place for the Queen attending parliament just seems to add to the excitement for many of the guests who, given the extremely hot weather, have chosen bright colourful summer clothing. Many are, just like the Queen, en-route to Royal Ascot. Prince Phillip is indisposed and so the Queen allows Prince Charles to sit on the throne beside her. He does look distinctly uncomfortable and as one observer put it “it’s like bring your child to work day”.

We debated the speech (as we shall do next week too) and at ten pm there was an adjournment debate on the cost of phone calls to the DWP. The social welfare system is as we all know in a terrible state and the UK government would do well to consider the social security bill brought forward by Jeanne Freeman MSP in the Scottish Parliament as a better way forward. Only this week the high court in England described the UK government policy as ‘causing real harm’ for ‘no good purpose’.


The morning gives me the opportunity to work on articles for politics home and house magazine before getting a midday flight home. Unfortunately it is delayed and I use the time at the airport to catch up on some reading. In the evening I attend an SNP planning meeting.


The morning is consumed by paperwork and administration and in the afternoon I have meetings with River Clyde Homes regarding constituents housing issues. My last meeting of the day is with senior council officers. Over the weekend I shall be attending the P1 powerboat events.