As you may know, the expansion of renewable energy generation in Scotland in particular has been extremely successful. Non-carbon based energy must be the mainstay of the future as we look to reverse man-made climate change.
I have long been a supporter of the Palestinian people, whose suffering at the hands of disproportionate Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacks has been harrowing. The occupation of Gaza and the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank is both illegal and deeply unhelpful.
The current escalation in violence is particularly concerning with the IDF effectively implementing a shoot to kill policy on Palestinian citizens.
What better way to spend a Saturday morning than down the allotments? Craigentinny and Telforton allotments is run by committee and enables local individual, families, groups and charities to work plots of land in the community. I spent some time with them recently, discussing their work and the latest threat from a bid to build on the site.
There have been allotments at Telferton for over 90 years, throughout that time they have been worked and managed by generations of people from the surrounding area. The committee have turned Craigentinny and Telferton allotments into a limited company and registered charity. However, they do not own the land.
Just made the 6pm train to Edinburgh after a mad dash from the House of Commons. The debate of the day was EVEL (English votes for English laws). This was the third – or was it the fourth – attempt by the government to force through this shoddy procedure. And they won – predictably.
History was made today - and not in a good way. For the first time ever the rights of Scottish MPs have been curtailed in the Westminster Parliament. There will now be two classes of MP – those that can vote on everything and those that can’t.
I'm writing this on the train back to Edinburgh from the SNP conference in Aberdeen. We have just had our biggest conference ever - indeed probably the biggest political conference in Scottish history.
And by any measure it was a huge success. The SNP is a big organisation now - over 114,000 members - and many people have speculated that size would bring division. Indeed, there are some sections of the press so desperate for an "SNP split" story that they will make one up. Yet the party seems more united and focussed than ever.
I was delighted to be able to open my new office hub in Craigmillar recently. The old post office, turned campaign hub, is now a sub office for the team fulfilling the promise I made to voters during the election campaign. Areas like Craigmillar and Bingham are now the bedrock of our party and people have put their trust in me. The problems that people in this community face are only going to get worse with the Tory cuts. This office will form part of the resistance to their plans.
The office was opened by my new colleague Alex Salmond MP/MSP. In his speech he stressed the importance of the community having a strong voice representing those in need.
In the last few weeks I have been continuing my visits to local schools taking in Castlebrae High, Leith Academy and St Francis R.C. Primary School.
Local people will be well aware with the challenges that have faced Castlebrae and the school remains below capacity with regard to pupil numbers. However, this is a school on the up. During my visit I was impressed by the incredible passion and commitment of the Senior Leadership Team and wider staff team. Their care for, and belief in, the pupils is outstanding and pupils respond positively to this. I also took the opportunity to express my support for a swift move forward in the building of a new secondary at the heart of the community.
Prior to the election, a number of people asked me to clarify my position on fracking, something I was happy to do. I first got involved in politics in the late seventies through campaigning against nuclear power and ever since I’ve been an advocate of renewable energy. So, I guess that even when I first discovered what the term “fracking” meant (and realising that it wasn’t the ubiquitous expletive from the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica – of which I am a fan) I felt in my water it was a bad thing.
But I spent a bit of time reading up on the subject as I didn’t want to be accused of making a kneejerk response to the debate. And the more I read the more I concluded my initial instincts were correct.
After a weekend’s rest and refection I’d like to record some thoughts about the debate on the assisted dying bill which has been a concern for many, many people. I received a lot of letters from people in Edinburgh East asking me to either oppose or support the bill. There were passionate views held on both sides with the majority favouring a change in the law.
Given the numerous, and pretty serious, incidents in Edinburgh East on Bonfire Night I was very happy to take part in the Westminster Hall debate on an e-petition relating to fireworks. Here's a few clips from the speech.Fireworks Debate - 29th Jan 18
Here's my speech at the Council of Europe urgent debate on Palestine. Trump's recent actions have made America's role as a mediator untenable. It now falls to Europe to step up to find a solution for Israel and Palestine.