A tale of planes, trains and automobiles.
After three flights being cancelled during Sunday evening and early Monday morning I find myself unexpectedly defrosting my car and heading to the train station to catch the 7:07 to Glasgow en route to London Euston. Unfortunately, that plan then ran into trouble as the train terminated at Port Glasgow. My travel plans were rescued by three very kind people who allowed me to share their taxi to Glasgow Central. A slight delay and I was on my way to London. It’s a good reminder for me that a transport system needs diversity and choice to be able to adapt and accommodate the various needs of commuters. My day at Westminster consisted of an SNP MP group executive meeting followed by a long shift in the chamber. I spoke in two debates. I led on voter Id legislation which despite any good evidence the U.K. government is determined to introduce. I then spoke last and very briefly on the standards code of conduct. Votes concluded at 22:36. It was a very cold walk to book in to my hotel before falling into bed at 23:00. A seventeen hour day filled with challenges but also a good reminder of the privileged position I have that means I can adapt to setbacks and most importantly at the end of a tough day I always have a warm safe bed waiting for me, not everyone is that lucky.
My select committee took evidence pertaining to the future of the U.K. government estate. The central government estate is valued at £157 billion and costs £21.7 billion in annual running costs. The debate will be around when it is appropriate to move departments and staff out of London and around the U.K. especially with hybrid working being so in vogue. I bobbed for questions on the Prime Minister’s statement on ‘illegal immigrants’. Of course, it also covers legal immigrants and I pressed the Prime Minister to use his energy and money to improve the existing home office system rather than hiding the backlog away in revamped holiday camps, military bases and student halls.
Prime Minister’s Question was a shouting match void of any festive joy as the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition argued over which health service was worse, England run by the Tories or Wales run by Labour. Both studiously ignored the fact that the nurses pay dispute in Scotland has been resolved. SNP leader, Stephen Flynn didn’t. He eviscerated the Prime Minister on his unwillingness to engage with trade unions and then went on to expose the preposterous situation where Scotland produces six times more gas than we consume and yet average bills are £800 higher in Scotland. In Scotland we have the energy we just need the power. A vile ten minute rule bill was brought forward by a Conservative and Unionist MP which symbolises their increasingly right wing agenda. Fortunately, it was voted down. Unbelievably amidst the weirdness of Westminster we then suspended the house until four pm so the king can come and unveil a plague on the floor of Westminster Hall where is mother lay in state!
I took part in the SNPs opposition debate where we debated Scotland’s right to a referendum. Critics will say we should be debating other topics but the truth is unless we bring it to the table, it’s not on the menu. The sparsely populated government benches were not reflected in the vote as the lobby to oppose our motion filled up at the end of the debate. World records were then broken in getting on the tube , the DLR and through security to catch the 20:30 flight home.
I spent the day working through cases with my ever diligent and patient office team. Every day they go the extra mile for my constituents and not surprisingly, currently they are spending a lot of time on cases related to energy and heating.
I had a meeting with the Human Rights and Advocacy team from Maryhill Integration. They had concerns regarding the asylum seekers housed locally. I thought they were overly critical of the handling of the situation, and we had an honest and open discussion. Ultimately, we all want a better outcome, but an understanding of the constraints put upon us by the U.K. government is required. I won’t be in Westminster next week therefore I won’t publish a diary. So. I shall take this opportunity to wish you all peace, love and understanding throughout the coming year.