Tele column – 17th August 2018

On Monday the 6th August it was 73 years since an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Out of a population of 350,000 as many as 180,000 people died. I had the privilege of meeting with a survivor of Hiroshima and her testimony is harrowing in the extreme. Suzuki Thurlow’s story should be enough to change the minds of those that support nuclear warfare but sadly it isn’t. But there is a growing body of thought that is saying nuclear weapons are now so outdated that they have no place in a modern defence strategy. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on digital technology, future wars will be digital. On the surface that seems more acceptable. We wouldn’t have the instant mass deaths and destruction. But the truth is that by taking out power grids, the internet, digital communications, the media and transport then entire countries can be brought to their knees. In a time when we live on a cycle of 24 hour news and depend on our mobile phones for business and personal communications, removing that connectivity would create panic at the same time as it would disable law enforcement. Our ability to grow and distribute food, our manufacturing capabilities and all the logistics around them would all be destroyed. Under those circumstances it wouldn’t take long for a country to disintegrate. While that makes a powerful argument for cyber war as an effective strategy it removes the need for nuclear war. The protagonists that continue to support nuclear warfare have to make a decision. Do they continue to support the nuclear arms race, including the new vanguard submarines, or do they now support cyber warfare and the starvation, civil uprising and lawlessness that would produce. I would like to think that common sense would prevail and they would give peace a chance but 73 years after Hiroshima I don’t see that happening.

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Community Tracks project

I am delighted to be back on two wheels again. It’s been a while since I cycled on a regular basis. It makes a lot of sense for me to jump on a bike to go back and forth to local meetings and it will also help me avoid getting more parking tickets.

I have purchased a helmet and high visibility jacket to make sure I am safe and I am looking forward to using the bike for recreation too.

Community Tracks is funded by The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF). CCF is a Scottish Government grant programme, managed and administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful. The CCF provides funding and support for community groups to help tackle climate change by running projects that reduce local carbon emissions. The CCF has awarded 1,097 grants totalling £101 million to 658 communities since its introduction in 2008, for projects involving energy efficiency, sustainable travel, local food and resource efficiency.

If you would like to get involved with the project, as a volunteer, to receive or donate a bike or to enquire about help or training call Scott on 01475 553 384, find us on Facebook at: @CommunityTracksInverclyde or our webpage: www.communitytracks.net

 

Funding Opportunity for Local Good Causes

The Postcode Lottery is now open for new applications and local organisations can apply for a share of a funding pot worth over £3 million.

Awards of between £500 and £20,000 are available to charities and community groups with the application process being open from the 1st of August until the 15th of August.

Previously funded initiatives include community choirs, sports clubs, wildlife conservation charities and other groups that benefit the local community.

There are three trusts in which groups can apply for funding. Each trust has a particular theme:

The Postcode Community Trust looks for applications on initiatives that will benefit communities through the delivery of grass roots health and well being programmes.

The People’s Postcode Trust supports projects aimed at promoting human rights, employability and combatting poverty.

The Postcode Local Trust focuses on proposals that aim to improve biodiversity and outdoor spaces.

A wide variety of local groups could benefit from this funding and I would strongly encourage organisations in Inverclyde to submit an application before the 15th of August.

For more information on how to apply for funding please visit the trusts’ websites.

www.postcodetrust.org.uk

www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk

www.postcodecommunitytrust.org.uk

Tele column – 3rd August 2018

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee of which I am a member published a report last Tuesday. Like all of our reports it is based on evidence given to the committee from experts. In this instance it was from politicians and academics. The committee consists of five Conservative MPs, two of which have been the Secretary of State for Wales, five Labour MPs and me. I am the only member of the committee that represents a Scottish seat. The latest report is titled ‘Devolution and Exiting the EU: reconciling differences and building strong relationships’.

What this report does is highlight the lack of trust, confidence and understanding within the UK government. When the Scottish Parliament was established the UK was already part of the European Union. Had it not been, then powers that now sit at Brussels would have been in the devolved settlement. However now that we are leaving the European Union, Westminster wants to hold those powers for up to seven years. Westminster is effectively intercepting them in transit and holding them back from reaching their intended destination, Holyrood.

The report highlights the fact that the discussions between the UK government and the devolved administrations regarding Brexit have not gone well because of a lack of consultation from the UK Government. It is my opinion that had they sat down with the devolved parliaments immediately after the vote to leave the European Union and had a grown up conversation that allowed for input and constructive criticism then we could be in a very different place. Instead the UK government internalised all the discussions and conflated their dual role as a government for the U.K. and for England. When they did finally involve the devolved powers they did not engage in a constructive dialogue, they attempted to lecture as if they were living back in the days of colonial rule. Westminster is used to ruling the roost. It moves slowly and takes comfort in its antiquated ways. Having to work alongside the devolved powers has shown up its inadequacies. When confronted with valid concerns the UK government retreated back to their silo and started fighting amongst themselves. The overriding of the Scottish Parliament and the supposition of Westminster’s sovereignty over Scotland is now being questioned in the Supreme Court. If this is the approach that has been adopted while engaging with the EU27 then it is no wonder that side of the Brexit negotiations are also in a shambolic state.