Westminster diary w/b 9th September

Monday

Up at the crack of dawn to catch a red eye to London. A British Airways pilots’ strike was causing a deal of disruption but thankfully my flight was unaffected as I needed to be on the estate early. It’s another day of making history at Westminster. In truth every day at Westminster seems to be a day when uncharted waters are being negotiated but this one turned out be a cracker. Prior to the chamber sitting at 14:30 I have an internal SNP MP briefing meeting. An event that used to take place once a week is becoming more like a daily affair. Things are changing so quickly, and the opportunities change shape by the hour that regular discussion is required. I then have the select committee for public affairs and the constitution. We have Mark Sedwill and John Manzoni in front of us. They are the two most senior members of the civil service, the impartial civil service that support the cabinet office and prime minister’s office regardless of their own political views. I can’t help but think that must be incredibly hard at the best of times. Performing that task in today’s political climate takes great skill especially when there are people like Dominic Cummings sacking special advisers to the Exchequer. We asked about the legality of prorogation and the behaviour allowed during purdah. They are as you would expect consummate professionals extremely skilled in answering all questions. The same can’t be said of the current bunch running the UK government. And so to the chamber. At 7:15pm we had a Standing Order No. 24 motion: Prorogation and disclosure of communication. The motion proposed by Dominic Grieve including a ‘Humble Address’ requiring publication of documents related to the Government’s decision to prorogue parliament, and on no-deal planning under Operation Yellowhammer. The SNP voted AYE and the motion was carried 311 – 302. At 00:18 (on Tuesday morning): There was a motion that there shall be an early parliamentary general election. Proposed by the Prime Minister under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. The SNP abstained and although the motion was carried 293 – 46, this did not meet the threshold of two-thirds of all MPs to take effect under the Act. I abstained because this is a trap being set for a General Election under terms that suit the no deal Brexiteers. For the record I would welcome a General Election and when the time is right, I shall vote for it. I didn’t hang around for the ceremony to prorogue Parliament, instead I left the building and walked through the crowds of protesters that were still there at 1am and continued to my flat. Sleep came easy.

Tuesday

Everything has changed so it’s a scramble for transport home. The BA strike continues so it’s 18:30 before I can catch a flight. I spend my days writing, reading and catching up on correspondence.

Wednesday

I spent the morning talking to traders in Kempock Street and was impressed by their approach to the High Street of the year awards. Many units are now displaying posters and I am looking forward to the judges visiting on the 17th. Fortunately, I am not in charge of the car parking arrangements. In the afternoon I caught up with constituents and was delighted to be informed by one that we had won his case on Universal Credit and his payment has been reinstated and he had received over £2,500 in back payments. These victories for constituents are a huge part of an MPs job and each one is received with great joy. I took the opportunity to attend the SNP councillors group meeting which enhances my understanding of local issues and the machinery of the council. In the evening I attended the Inverclyde Historical Society for at talk on the British Constitution by Jim Carmichael. It was extremely interesting, and I hope to attend some future talks.

Thursday

A day consumed in the office with constituent’s cases and catching up with local organisations. Unexpected recess is easily reallocated to local people and events.

Friday

I had one of my regular meetings with the local jobcentre. In a professional capacity I am not seeking employment elsewhere. In the afternoon I went up to Captain Street to the Inverclyde men’s Shed where they use their experience and skills to the benefit of the local community. I had surgeries later in the afternoon.

On Sunday, I shall be doing the Alzheimer’s memory walk along with Stuart McMillan MSP.

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