UK Parliament Week 2019

UK Parliament Week is a UK-wide festival taking place from 2-8 November, which aims to engage people, especially young people, from different backgrounds and communities, with the UK Parliament and empower them to get involved.

This is a great opportunity to be part of a thriving democracy, ask questions, think critically and engage with the UK Parliament. Schools, museums, libraries, faith communities and youth organisations representing every constituency across the United Kingdom have already signed up to be part of the conversation.

As Member of Parliament for Inverclyde, I welcome the involvement of schools and people during UK Parliament Week 2019. I am determined to ensure that our voters and citizens of tomorrow understand how vital their participation is in our democracy, and I’m excited to see so many schools, uniform organisations and local groups taking part.

In 2018, UK Parliament Week reached almost 1 million people, with more than 8,100 activities. This year’s UK Parliament Week festival is expected to be the largest ever with even more activities and people taking part.

I look forward to visiting local schools, including St Stephen’s and Port Glasgow High during the week.

 

European Union vote

The deal being offered by the UK Government is one the people of Inverclyde did not vote for back in 2016.  It would take Scotland out of the European Union, out of the single market and out of the customs union against the overwhelming democratic will of the people of Scotland.

Scotland did not vote for Brexit in any form, and my SNP colleagues and I will not vote for Brexit – especially when it is clear that Scotland, alone of the nations of the UK, is being treated unfairly.

It cannot be right that Scotland alone is facing an outcome it did not vote for – that is democratically unacceptable and makes a mockery of claims the UK is in any way a partnership of equals.  That is not the future that I or the majority of Scots, who voted, envisage for this country.

This deal would leave Scotland as the only part of United Kingdom that is being taken out of the European Union without the electorate’s consent and with no say on any future relationship.

West College Scotland visit

It’s always good to meet up with the students and tutors at West College Scotland.   The highlight is invariably the question and answer session and yesterday was no exception.

We covered a range of local, national and international issues with great interest and involvement.

Citizens participation and knowledge of politics is crucially important to our society and politicians should always be open to being held accountable. These sessions are rightly challenging but always rewarding.

Supreme Court – prorogation of parliament

Dear Inverclyde resident,

You will be aware, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of Scotland’s supreme court – and said Parliament must get back to work so the UK government can be held to account over its Brexit plans.

I am pleased the UK Supreme Court has followed Scotland’s supreme court and ruled that Boris Johnson’s undemocratic decision to shut down Parliament, ahead of Brexit, was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Parliament must resume without delay, so we can hold the UK Government to account on its Brexit plans, which threaten to plunge the UK into recession, destroy 100,000 Scottish jobs, including many in Inverclyde.

I will be back at the Houses of Commons on Wednesday 25th September, alongside my SNP colleagues, to hold this government to account.

Finally, Boris Johnson should resign as his behaviour has been disgraceful and his position is now untenable.

Yours sincerely,

 

Ronnie Cowan MP

Member of Parliament for Inverclyde

Epilepsy Scotland – PIP petition

The introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has significantly disadvantaged people with epilepsy. DWP data shows that, of people with epilepsy who previously received DLA and have been reassessed for PIP, 54% were denied an award as a result of the transition. This is the second highest refusal rate and is over double the national average for all health conditions.

2018 DWP figures also show that of the third of people who appealed after the DWP denied them PIP, a huge 78% of people ended up being given the benefit. The fact that the appeal success rate is so high suggests poor and arbitrary decision-making on the part of assessors. It also indicates the inadequacy of the system in capturing the impacts of epilepsy, and the difficulty for claimants in navigating the initial claim – e.g. describing their condition and securing evidence.

These figures only cover those who have moved from DLA to PIP. DWP data suggests that 65% of people with epilepsy applying for PIP as new claimants have been denied the benefit.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/264357

Scottish referendum – 18th Sept 2014

Self-belief, not arrogance

Five years ago, at the count in Inverclyde, as I watched the referendum result unfold, I was full of hopes and aspirations for a new emerging nation. Early in the evening when the Clackmannanshire count was announced we knew we had lost the referendum. Mathematically victory was still possible, but the writing was clearly on the wall.  

Later the same evening we lost Inverclyde by 86 votes. We had moved from 26% YES to 49.9% YES, but a loss is a loss. Like me, many people were consumed with disappointment. The dream was shattered and as the adrenaline left our bodies so did the energy that had fuelled our activism. And yet we kept our dignity and supported each other through difficult days.  

The General Election of May 2015 gave us an opportunity to start to set things right. And the resulting 56 SNP MPs made it clear that the dream had not died. In the next General Election in 2017 it was apparent that the momentum had stalled and that many voters who had turned out in 2015 had become less motivated and maybe felt less engaged. Politics is a long game and it can do that to people. Especially when so many face the day to day struggle of finding work, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads. It’s understandable that many of those who do not live in a political bubble are less inclined to vote if the end game is not immediately obvious.  

The last five years has seen many changes in the political landscape. We have experienced two General Elections, a council election, a Scottish Parliament election the European Union referendum and the European Union election. But the biggest change is that despite Scotland voting 62% to remain in the E.U. we find ourselves in the unforeseen position of being taken out of the European Union. Unforeseen that is except to the genius that wrote in page 23 of the SNP manifesto in 2016, “We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will”. That person deserves a pat on the back because that statement encompasses perfectly why we need another independence referendum. And its not just because the outcome of Brexit will damage Scotland, it’s because the process of Brexit has shone a light on Westminster. It has asked difficult questions of the UK Parliament functionality and the machinery of the UK government. It has illustrated perfectly the disfunction that exists between Westminster and the devolved parliaments. It has highlighted the disdain for the Scottish Parliament that emanates from Westminster and it has magnified the incompetence of UK government ministers in their dealings with both the devolved administrations and the European Union.

A Westminster establishment that ruled by right has been asked to demonstrate professionalism and competence in the modern era and it has been asked to to do that in the public eye. And it has failed. While the UK Government continues to flounder, the next Scottish independence referendum will hinge on our self belief. Do you believe that Scotland should be governed by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland? And the answer must be a resounding YES.

 

Brexit – letter to Inverclyde residents

Dear Inverclyde residents,

As you will know, the last week at Westminster has been challenging and a battle over which direction the United Kingdom will take. The UK Government have indicated they are comfortable crashing out of the European Union without a deal. This would be devastating for both Inverclyde and Scotland as a whole. Ultimately, any form of Brexit would be damaging for Inverclyde. Crashing out of the EU with no deal would not only breach Scotland’s vote to remain, including the two thirds of Inverclyde voters who voted so, but would also push the UK into a recession, threatening 100,000 Scottish jobs, and inflicting lasting harm on living standards, public services and the economy.

That is why I was one of the MPs who’s started a legal action aimed at preventing Boris Johnson shutting down parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-49251511.

SNP MPs have voted consistently against no deal and Parliament has rejected a no deal three times this year. Alongside this, my SNP colleagues and I supported the Letwin-Cooper process in March to avoid a no deal, and we did the same again with Benn’s Bill which has become law.

If Boris Johnson wants an election, he must obey the law and take a no-deal Brexit off the table. It is beyond belief that the Prime Minister is disrespecting democracy by shutting down parliament and railroading through an extreme Brexit against the will of parliament and the people.

The SNP is ready for a General Election. We stand ready to bring down the UK government and give Scotland the chance to stop Brexit and to decide its own future.

Yours sincerely,

 

Ronnie Cowan MP

Member of Parliament for Inverclyde