Westminster diary w/b 9th October


The second day of SNP conference in Glasgow. Conference is always a good opportunity to catch up with members across the country and meet a wide range of interest groups in one day. I spoke to the motion on moving Scotland’s drug policy towards a health based approach and was pleased that the motion and the amendment to ask for the powers to manage drug policy should belong to the Scottish Government both passed. I met representatives from Scotrail. We discussed local issues, flooding, rolling stock and the policing of the Wemyss Bay line as well as the bigger picture. I then met representatives from Heathrow in my wider capacity as a member of the Select Committee on Transport. I caught the 5pm flight to London. On arrival I drop into my office and read briefing papers for the next day.  


The day starts at 9am with the Select Committee for Public Administration and Constitution Affairs. With a number of new members we take a while to get to know each other and then discuss the agenda for the next session. It’s always a contentious conversation and after the politic posturing is put to bed we agree in a couple of items related to the capability of the civil service and Brexit. Amidst a day of reading, writing and emails I managed to catch the First Ministers speech at conference. In the evening I met up with a few colleagues for a meal and we discussed a range of political issues. That’s what happens when politicians socialise!  


First meeting is the devolved and constitution policy team meeting and then on to a parliamentary CND meeting. Prime Ministers Question time is loud and ill-mannered. Nothing new there. Immediately after that I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Eagle. He is a cancer survivor after a stem cell transplant and his story of prejudice by employers and insurance companies after his operation is a disturbing one. These issues are being highlighted by the Anthony Nolan organisation. My third Select Committee of the week is the Procedures Committee and we discuss the recommendations from the Hansard Society to introduce a sifting committee to handle the Brexit process. The meeting is continually interrupted by voting in the chamber and we agree to reconvene next week. My second last meeting if the day is the Drugs, Alcohol & Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group. Finally I attend a briefing from Mike Russell MSP on Brexit.  


As a follow up to the Anthony Nolan event, I attended the Cancer Campaigning group event hosted by Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire. The group is made up of 56 charities as well as elected members and medical professionals. It’s a good example of politicians being given the opportunity to learn from the experts. And the perfect example of that was my next meeting when I met the extraordinary Ron Hogg, Durham police crime and victims’ commissioner. We discuss the UK government’s drug policy. Ron has spoken out in an extremely courageous but informed manner on the need for a health based approach and I look forward to working with him in the future. I caught the 5pm flight home.  


Starts with a review of outstanding casework. During the day I had meetings with Circles Network Advocacy, a post graduate student researching basic income and a local charity fund raiser. Just another varied day in the best job in the world.