Westminster diary w/b 18th March


I caught the red eye to London as I was scheduled to do one of my regular tours of Westminster. On a number of occasions I have welcomed constituents and walked them round the estate. Citizens’ engagement is extremely important in maintaining a true democracy and everyone should feel comfortable engaging with their elected members and the mechanisms of government. At midday it was my turn to be hosted as I visited the Imperial War Museum (IWM). Diane Lees (Director General) and I had a lengthy and illuminating discussion around the possibilities of the IWM lending some Stanley Spencer paintings to Inverclyde. My initial idea was for a mini exhibition around Spencer and the wars years in general. Unfortunately, at this time we don’t have a building suitable to host this. The delay to the completion of the McLean museum is a great disappointment. 


An early start to take part in a Delegated Legislation (DL) committee. Regular readers will by now be familiar with the purpose of DLs. Today’s was ‘Draft Railways, licensing of railway undertakings’. The select Committee for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs took evidence from economists on the governance of national statistics. The United Kingdom’s Statistics Authority came under heavy criticism. At SNP conference in April the local branch will be putting forward for a Scottish Statistics Agency. The gathering of accurate statistics, free from political influence can be an invaluable tool in making good policy. I attended an event for ‘End our Pain’. They are a lobby group for medical cannabis and many of the attendees were parents of children who desperately need access to Bedrocan. Alfie Dingley’s mum has fought tirelessly to get him the correct medication. Sadly many are still being denied. I met with Lisa Quarrell mother of Owen and Karen Gray mother of Murray. Both these kids would benefit greatly but the flaws in the current system makes it impossible for them to legally access it. I had a quick dash to Victoria Tower gardens for an interview with Radio Clyde as a precursor to my debate on gambling related harm. The debate took place in Westminster Hall and was very well attended. Along with the front bench spokesperson, seventeen MPs spoke and the message was loud and clear, the gambling companies need to fund organisations that can provide support for their customers that are experiencing gambling related harm and advertising has to curtailed.  


I spent the morning writing two articles. One on drugs policy reform for the Daily Record and one on gambling related harm for Politics Home. Prime Minister’s Question time saw the Prime Minster put up a very poor show. The undoubted pressure she is under and unending hours dedicated to compounding the problem are taking their toll. Jeremy Corbyn was ineffectual. He had some good questions this week but his delivery was off and he still can’t chase down the poor responses from the PM. An interesting addition to PMQs is the input from the ‘independent group’ or the TIGs as they are called. Hearing the tory members shouting abuse at their former colleagues is an eye opener. One by one they get ridiculed. Brexit is indeed a tangled web of deceit, ambition, greed and incompetence. What should have been a short day became longer than necessary when an application was made for an emergency debate under Standing Order 24. Granting such a thing is at the speaker’s discretion, as are it is apparent are a number of things. He granted it and a three hour debate took place covering all the same ground of Article 50 EU withdrawal. I grabbed a six pm flight home.  


The morning was consumed by case work and media and in the afternoon I dropped in to the RIG arts driven green arts activities project at the Broomy Bees Garden in Ann Street. Lots of bees being made by kids and tie dye for the adults.


My first appointment was with Kevin Scarlet at River Clyde Homes. We had lots to discuss. I then caught up with the senior management team at Ferguson Marine. Another event packed with information and the ups and downs of trying to run a business during these very complicated times. When I was first elected I found it very hard to get suitable office accommodation in the area and therefore with a change of landlord I was keen to have a quick sit down to go through the contract and ensure I am in a position to continue to serve the community form my current location on Crawfurd Street. I look forward to a constructive relationship with my landlord for as long as I am required.