Welcome to my Summer 2017 Newsletter.
I am incredibly proud and honoured to have been re-elected as the MP for Glasgow North West. Regardless of how you voted last month, my team and I will continue to work for everyone in this constituency. I am now back into the swing of things at Westminster where I will continue to be a voice for the people of Glasgow North West. Many thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last two years and especially those who gave their time so generously during my campaign.
My regular surgeries will be back up and running after the school holidays. In the meantime, should you wish to make an appointment with me or one of my team, please phone 0141 337 2211 or email me at email@example.com.
I am completely dismayed by the UK Government’s decision to continue with the programme of Jobcentre closures in Glasgow.
In Glasgow North West, the closure of Anniesland Jobcentre will result in hardship and difficulty for many of those who access these services.
My SNP colleagues and I have been campaigning against these closures since we first got wind of the proposals in December. We have had meetings with Damien Hinds, the Tory Minister responsible, we have met representatives from DWP, we have had a number of parliamentary debates, fronted local campaigns, lodged EDMs and parliamentary questions, met with constituents who will be affected, involved the press, completed impact assessment surveys, challenged the Tories on their plans repeatedly at Westminster and I could go on.
My colleagues and I will continue the fight to put an end to these needless and disproportionate cuts.
Yaw Dela Botri arrives in Glasgow!
It was lovely to receive this video in my inbox this month. Professor Alison Phipps of the University of Glasgow has been working on a project for the past three years, investigating how we work in a multilingual way at borders and under pain and pressure, mainly with refugees but also with internally displaced peoples (IDPS) and former child soldiers, as well as unaccompanied minors.
The work is reaching its climax and the story of the project and the experiences have been translated into dance and a new suite of compositions by indigenous young people & IDPS from the Noyam Institute for African Dance in the Dangbe Forest, in Dodowa, Ghana.
Following difficulties with the group obtaining visas in time to perform at the Solas Festival, I contacted the Immigration Minister to urge him to intervene to save the performance. The musicians and dancers started arriving and I was honoured to meet them during their rehearsals.
After a successful performance, everyone has now returned to Ghana. However, this case has raised multiple serious issues regarding the visa application process, and I will be working with Alison to call upon the UK Government to address them.
The Tories’ supply and confidence deal with the Democratic Unionist Party could have serious implications for the continued success of the Good Friday Agreement, and the DUP’s views on LGBT rights, women’s rights and climate change are nothing short of appalling. I wrote to the Prime Minister shortly after the election to demand full scrutiny and transparency over any such arrangement. You can read my letter here. I have yet to receive a response.
It has since been confirmed that Northern Ireland is to receive billions more in funding because the DUP are prepared to prop up the Tories.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said that he “certainly won’t support funding which is deliberately sought to subvert the Barnett rules,” however it is clear that he failed to lift a finger to secure any more cash for Scotland through Barnett consequentials. His position is now utterly untenable.
Additional funding must come to Scotland as Barnett consequentials – anything less would be a democratic outrage.
Thanks to the Tories’ grubby deal with the DUP and the utter confusion of an incoherent Labour party, the Queen’s Speech was voted through – an effective vote of confidence in the Tories’ destructive plans for an extreme Brexit and continued austerity for which they have no mandate.
An overwhelming majority of Scottish MPs voted to remain in the Single Market – while all of the Scottish Tories fell into line behind an extreme Brexit for which Theresa May has no mandate. It didn’t take long for the splits in Labour to appear, with many of their MPs defying the leadership’s increasingly confused position on Brexit.
Theresa May has suffered a total collapse of authority following her disastrous election decision, and this gives us the opportunity to work together with other progressive political parties to get the best deal for the people of Scotland.
Higher education post-Brexit
During the Queen’s Speech debate, I made clear that major steps are needed to protect the UK’s higher education and research sectors from the serious threat of Brexit and called on the Education Secretary to provide clarity and reassurance regarding the post-Brexit tuition fee status of EU students and that vital research funding is maintained and protected.
We sit on the Brexit cliff edge with the constitutional future of the UK under question. How we proceed will determine the future economic success of these nations. It seems that with this Queen’s Speech, immigration targets and xenophobia have overruled common economic sense. Net migration targets are more important than creating a climate for economic growth. Maybe it’s time for immigration powers to be devolved to Scotland.
Below is a short clip from my speech. You can watch my speech in full here.
I am absolutely horrified by the loss of life and the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. I have been contacted by many constituents who are rightly concerned about the safety of similar multi-storey properties in Glasgow North West and across the city.
I have written to every housing association in Glasgow North West as well as Glasgow City Council, seeking assurances as to the safety of materials used in these properties. Be sure to follow this website and my social media channels for any further updates.
I am delighted that the contract for the first three Type-26 frigates has finally been signed.
This is great news for local workforce at the Govan and Scotstoun shipyards, who have been subject to unnecessary delays and uncertainty for the last two years. I look forward to the signing of the contracts for the remaining frigates.
My local SNP colleagues and I have been pressing the UK Government to ensure that the commitments made to build the ships on the Clyde are kept and will continue to do so.
With disgruntled Tory MPs are lining up to turn on Theresa May and her weakened government, it is now open season on their most damaging policies – they are all up for grabs.
With Tory MPs objecting to the public sector pay restraint, Tory austerity and now student fees in the rest of the UK, the UK Government has to face up to the crisis in public sector pay and the growing clamour for a change in their tuition fees policy.
UK Government minister Damian Green is now admitting that student debt is a ‘huge issue’ – the penny dropping after the Tories saw young voters desert them in droves – because of the crippling debt many students in the rest of the UK face. The cynical and panicked response from the Tories to have a ‘national debate’ is just another sign that they are reeling from the election.
For the SNP Scottish Government, free university tuition is an absolute commitment and they have ensured Scottish students don’t leave university with crippling debts. A recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that students in England will graduate with average debts of £50,800. Higher Education in Scotland will always be based on the ability to learn – not the ability to pay.
I am delighted to have been appointed the SNP’s Westminster Spokesperson for Education, Armed Forces and Veterans.
A hard Brexit will have a devastating impact on our world class universities and research institutions. The UK Government must give solid guarantees that EU nationals studying and working in our universities will be allowed to remain, that student exchange programmes like Erasmus are protected and that a Post-Study Work Visa scheme in Scotland – which enables our international students to stay and contribute to our society and economy after they graduate – is reintroduced.
Coming from an HM Forces family, I am dismayed by the Tories’ cuts to our armed forces. I look forward to working with the many organisations which support our veterans, and I will continue to speak up for veterans across the UK and call for proper support for those who have defended our democratic freedoms.