Westminster diary w/b 24th February


On the back of a week’s recess when I managed to meet with NHS Greater Glasgow And Clyde, Network Rail, SAMH, West College Scotland, Mind Mosaic, Our Place Our Future, a number of local businesses and attend the excellent ‘Watt Talk’ at the Watt Institute, I also managed an hour of physiotherapy to ease my aching body. I don’t pretend to begin to understand acupuncture, but it has worked for me on a number of occasions. Today was mostly spent writing and researching and in the evening, I attended the Port Glasgow West community council meeting to get the low down on the plans for health and social care in Inverclyde.


An early flight and back to Westminster. It would appear it’s not just Inverclyde that has traffic management issues as my flight lands on time and then spends 30 minutes looking for a parking space. As I disembark, I am tempted to put a cardboard clock in the cockpit window just in case a warden is lurking. My good mood is cut short when I am informed that NHSGGC are suspending the GP out of hours service in Inverclyde. I have met with NHSGGC twice in the last week and despite the issue being raised they never intimated they would be taking this action. I met with Virgin media to track work being done in Inverclyde and they have a good news story to tell. Along with Carolyn Harris (Labour MP Swansea East) I met the goalkeeping legend Peter Shilton and his wife Steph. Unfortunately, we were not there to discuss his goalkeeping exploits (remember the hand of God or that save from Kenny Dalglish in 1973 at Wembley) we were talking about his gambling addiction. Peter will be working to raise awareness of the issue.


Prime Minister’s Questions was less about holding the PM to account and more about prepared party lines being trotted out by Tory back benchers which were greeted with much fervour by an increasingly disengaged and seemingly untouchable mob hired to jeer at the opposition. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform met and took evidence from experts on County Lines (the practice of distributing drugs around the UK primarily using young adults as couriers). One of the witnesses was an ex-gang member who now runs courses and diversion programmes. The testimony of those with lived experience is always engaging and it is encouraging to see that they have overcome personal difficulties to create positive lives for themselves and are now working to help others. Lastly, I met with Gambling With Lives to hear about the progress they are making in changing the gambling act. Their organisation was born out of torment and anger at the loss of loved ones to gambling addiction. But the work they are doing is constructive and there is a sense that the industry is coming under pressure to change. I caught the 19:45 flight home.


Today was an entire day of research, casework and replying to a pile of correspondence. Also, I’m in the process of arranging a roundtable on reforestation and tree planting which I hope will lead to more action locally. Also, I tried to find out more details of the UK Government drugs summit taking place in Glasgow, today, but it was a closed shop!


I met with the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland to discuss gambling harm. The Alliance role is to engage with people with lived experience and to ensure their voice is at the heart of the decision-making process. I visited the local prison to discuss a range of issues including providing boxing sessions in the prison. This is a project brought to me my local campaigner Rhys McCole. My last appointment of the day was with a builder contractor to discuss local house building developments.