Tele column – 13th April 2018

As I’ve previously highlighted, the mailbag of an MP can be both interesting and varied. From cases on housing to social security to immigration and visas there’s rarely a dull day. However, a lot of the correspondence my office receives is on three subjects – broadband, flooding and parking. If only we could solve these three issues then the caseload would be significantly lighter.

However, this is why the Scottish Government have invested significant sums of money in improving the infrastructure throughout the country. Currently, Inverclyde has 95.2% of households/premises connected to superfast broadband and the next stage is to see every home and business accessing superfast broadband by 2021. This is occurring through a £600 million investment confirmed by the Scottish Government. The Reaching 100% (R100) programme which will deliver fast and reliable internet.

Therefore, I met with representatives of Digital Scotland to discuss broadband access and speeds in Inverclyde. One area of particular attention is in Inverkip where a number of blackspots highlight poor broadband speeds. This has led to the creation of a new broadband cabinet for an area which is hopefully coming ‘online’ in late May. Many see broadband as the fourth utility and something which is essential to communicate with family overseas, work from home and download/watch digital content. For more information on superfast broadband please visit www.scotlandsuperfast.com.

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Last week, Glasgow City Council approved a motion to commend the work of the Health and Social Care Partnership, the third sector and others in supporting people impacted by drug use, including their families and communities. Glasgow is looking to pilot the UKs first safe injection facility, otherwise known as a drug consumption room. I have campaigned on drug policy reform for some time and believe we must firstly treat the issue as a health problem rather than a criminal justice one. However, the powers currently lie at Westminster and the UK Government have no immediate plans to either introduce a drug consumption room or transfer the powers to the Scottish Parliament.

A Modern Day Witch Hunt

We were once content to direct our bile at innocent individuals and label them witches’ so that we could inflict all manner of horrors on them. Individuals would be identified for a range of trivial reasons and persecuted. After all if someone else is the target then you are safe. Don’t speak up or you will be next. A modest estimate is that tens of thousands of innocent people were killed in this way. Turns out there is no such thing as witches but we never learned any lessons, did we? To think that whole communities would stand back and allow atrocities to be committed in their name because a few powerful and influential individuals were so absorbed with their own self importance, so twisted by power that it suited their purpose. We wouldn’t do that now. Would we?

And yet we continue to marginalise, stigmatise and breed resentment. We fuel distrust and fan the flames of hate. We do it to immigrants in this country just as we have done it to foreign countries in the past. We build fear in the community so we can justify our outrageous bigoted behaviour. We have waged war on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. In fact, we have destroyed communities throughout the Middle East  and the continent of Africa. The U.K. empire has been constructing and manipulating wars for centuries. And when the armoury is full we unleash death and destruction on the demonised targets of our own construct. Sometimes the barbaric action conceals the reason. Just like burning witches.