There is no pressure to be at Westminster so in keeping with my new year’s resolution I take the opportunity to stay in the constituency. The day easily and fruitfully consumed by constituency matters.
It’s a 5am start but luckily storm Brendan hasn’t affected travel arrangements so I am in my Westminster office by 9:30. Its straight to a meeting of the SNP finance and economy team and then I meet up with representatives of UK Finance to discuss the growing trend to charge for ATMs . We discuss the situation in Inverclyde and are seeking to see if we can benefit from the Community Access to Cash Initiative. As part of my continuing work relating to gambling related harm, I meet with the father of a boy who managed to rack up massive debts and was potentially suicidal. It is those lived experiences that fuel the passion in the All-Party Parliamentary Group to reduce the harm and make the gambling industry accountable. I had a catch up with End Our Pain and we swapped experiences regarding the provision of medical cannabis. Neither of us had good stories. The battle goes on. I finish the day by meeting up with Txell Bonnet, partner of Jordi Cuixart, President of Omnium Cultural who is serving nine years in jail for his connection with the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. The APPG for Catalonia has party support from the SNP, Labour and Conservatives.
I head in the opposite direction from Westminster and walk through the very upmarket Belgravia to the Caledonian Club. It’s an open forum to discuss the next steps for online gambling regulation in the UK. Amongst a wide range of topics, we discuss, advertising and protecting vulnerable groups. A quick walk back to Parliament means I am back in time for Prime Minister’s Questions. The new Speaker, Lindsey Hoyle, is being very strict on the time allocation for this weekly event. Hopefully, it will lead to it being less of a pantomime. Immediately after PMQs I am hosting an event on drugs policy reform. Three experts from the field brief a number of SNP MPs on all the latest outcomes and that allows us to plan future strategy while becoming better informed.
Business is slow but the threat of votes keeps me tied to the estate. I take the opportunity to catch up on the mountain of correspondence that continually threatens to overwhelm me. The chairs for the select committee process is ongoing which makes me very popular amongst fellow MPs as they seek my vote. I hide away in my office. People bothering you to vote for them! Imagine that. I catch the 19:45 flight and I am home at 22:00.
I have a meeting with residents of Ogilvie Homes followed by a discussion with Inverclyde Leisure regarding the plans for Whinhill Golf Course. Members have previously made representations to me. In the afternoon, I have a meeting with Crown Care. I take my turn to staff the office while member’s of my team attend training courses. I finish the week with constituency meetings.