Westminster diary w/b 8th October


Day two of SNP conference and my last day before heading back to Westminster. Conference is a many headed beast but utilised properly it allows me to meet a host of different people and organisations in a short period of time. Conference attracts businesses, charities, national bodies and media. The task was to get the balance right and talk to them all but still leave time to listen to some magnificent speeches in the main auditorium. I achieved most of what I set out to but didn’t get to speak in a heavily subscribed debate on the introduction of safe drug consumption rooms (DCR). However the motion passed with flying colours and it is the SNP’s intention to pursue all avenues available to open a DCR in Glasgow. I shall also be pushing for a facility in Inverclyde.


Back to reality and the red eye to London. My first engagement is the laughable process when the select committee for public administration and the constitution interview the one and only candidate for a job that virtually nobody knows exists and he was asked to apply by 10 Downing Street. So in case you are the slightest bit interested the committee has rubber stamped Jonathan Evans, Baron Evans of Weardale, for the job of Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The committee is made up of four appointees named by the Prime Minister and one appointment each from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat ranks. You should be interested, you are paying for it. I then met with Mike Trace to discuss drugs policy reform. Mike is an old hand at this and has worked for the United Nations and Tony Blair’s Government on policy reform. His experience helps the all party parliamentary group immensely. I was in the chamber for the EU summit announcement but it wasn’t anything I had not already heard from the media.


At the request of a local constituent I met with representatives of Humanity and Inclusion UK. They do tremendous work with the International Network on Explosive Weapons. Their aim is to limit the variety of explosives that are dropped on civilians during conflicts. It’s almost unbelievable that I have to type that sentence. We are actually negotiating with governments as to what they can use to kill civilians and what they can’t. It’s an obscenity that we have companies that actually design and manufacture explosive devices to destroy urban habitats and all those within. They then sell their goods around the world. For some light relief I attended Prime Ministers Questions. Once the Punch and Judy show was over Ian Blackford embarrassed the Prime Minister by pointing out that current government policies are responsible for increased suicides. Her response is to appoint a minister of suicides. We now have a Minister for Suicide Prevention and one for food supplies. Welcome to Brexit Britain. On the up side the All Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Cannabis under Prescription has a very productive meeting and I look forward to the Home Office announcement in two weeks time. If the reclassify cannabis as ‘schedule 4’ then it effectively becomes a health issue and progress can made but there is a good deal to be hammered out in the details. The SNP finance and economy team had one of our regular strategy meetings. The focus was on the impending budget. The day continued to improve with the cross party drugs, alcohol and justice group chaired by Lord Ramsbotham. The guest speakers were Sarah Caul (Office of National Statistics) and Rudi Fortson QC (Professor of Law at Queen Mary University of London and practicing barrister). Rudi spoke very strongly in support of drug consumption rooms, sighting one in Hamburg as an excellent working example. I topped of the day by hosting the WASPI movement. Twenty woman that had travelled to London from Scotland to protest against the U.K. government’s theft of their state pension. It was great to catch up with them all.


A short week at Westminster so I busy myself in Inverclyde by attending the Your Voice and Inverclyde HSCP health event. Another very well attended event designed to gather ideas to reduce health inequality, nurture young people, protect our population, support independent living, reduce addiction harm and build on our strengths. In the afternoon I visited local traders in Gourock that had contacted me with concerns over the planned road works on Cardwell Road.


I met with McGills buses to raise matters that were brought to me via community council meetings in which I recently attended. In the afternoon I met with Liz Connolly , Principal of West College Scotland. Over the course of the weekend I intend to visit the boat show at the Inverkip Marina.