Westminster diary w/b 6th January 2020


I spent today in my constituency office catching up on correspondence and along with my office team, planning the best practice to handle our work load for the next five years. We aim to use the experience we have gained since 2015 to provide even better care and support for all constituents of Inverclyde.


Extreme weather warnings are not what you want to waken up to at 6am when you are set to travel to London. But apart from it still being dark at 8:30am there was no signs of any storms and my journey is unaffected by the weather. The storm clouds are only metaphorical and are gathering over Westminster. Even when he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Boris Johnson’s grasp of foreign affairs was famously tenuous and now with President Trump at his fully belligerent ill thought out worst, we need leaders that have the gravitas and diplomatic skills of articulate considered adults to manage the situation that is brewing in the middle east. But we have Johnson and Trump! What could possibly go wrong? The morning is taken up with catch up meetings following recess. Treasury questions are a sickening display of self-congratulations from a Tory government whose self-belief is clearly not kept in check by any obvious self-awareness. There is a statement on the middle east. Too often when we speak of diplomacy it is bracketed with pressure. Diplomatic pressure is not diplomatic negotiations. What can I do to you is not the same as what can I do for you? It was good to hear the Secretary of State, Ben Wallace MP, say that the best people to run Iran are the people of Iran. The day ended at 9pm with three new clauses to the European Union Withdrawal Agreement all being defeated by the Government.


The deputy speaker elections are ongoing. It strikes me that MPs lobbying MPs from other parties to vote for them can be a particularly obsequious process. Out of nowhere they all have a burning desire to tell me about their Scottish ancestry and love for the old country. Jog on. Scottish questions was an exercise in sycophancy for Scottish Conservatives aided and abetted by the one Labour MP with a Scottish seat. Instead of representing Scotland they continually talk it down, undermining their own nation in order to prop up their own careers. Off campus, I had an interesting meeting with Baroness Blackwood (Parliamentary under Secretary of State for life science). The discussion was about the provision of medical cannabis under prescription on the NHS. We agreed on most of the requirements that were still to be met and within her role she is moving the discussion and provision of a solution forward. We got into this mess because of the Home Ooffice’s lack of understanding and reluctance to change. Hopefully, now that it is a health issue, progress will be quicker.


There was an Urgent Question on the new deal between the English FA and the gambling industry that requires people to register with a bookmaker before they can watch FA cup matches. I bobbed for a question and as I am the vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm I was taken quite early. The current deal with the FA will lead to vulnerable gamblers being hounded by the gambling industry. I implored the minister to create a new gambling act and to coordinate with people with lived experience of gambling related harm during its creation.


I visited Jericho House to talk to people taking part in the recovery programme. I had a site visit of Diodes Incorporated followed by a quick photo opportunity with the Tele for a story about broadband. I squeezed in the Watt Talk at the Watt Institution. And I visited the jobcentre to catch up with staff there. On Saturday I shall be attending the Scouts Awards Evening in the Town Hall.