I have never been prouder of our SNP Scottish Government than I was last Tuesday when the Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, made a statement to parliament on fracking. He was responding to a huge public consultation on the issue and he made it crystal clear that fracking would not be part of the energy mix in Scotland.
Not only was this the right decision but the manner in which the government arrived at its position was an exemplar in public policy making. Campaigners, including myself, have been trying to get a ban on fracking for years. But rather than rush into a decision the government has taken the best part of two years to research the evidence, and most importantly, ask the people what they wanted.
Long before I stood for election I opposed fracking and I’ve been very pleased to be able to coordinate opposition over the past couple of years.
So you’ll not be surprised to hear that I am delighted by the announcement that has just been made by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, in the Scottish Parliament.
Yesterday I got back from a holiday – the only time of the year where I switch off from the world. I turned on my phone to see with horror what was happening in #Catalonia.
The actions of the Spanish authorities were shocking. Images beamed around the world of police violence against young and old alike who simply wanted to cast a democratic vote. I’m in awe of the voters who remained peaceful and dignified throughout. The image of a Catalan policeman in tears as he protected their rights will stay with me for a long time.
I campaigned with local people against the closure of TSB’s Craigmillar branch. Nearly a year on from TSB closing the bank, the building is still lying empty. This will be costing them money and is no good for the community who have since had the bus to the closest bank rerouted and also seen the post office close.
Wouldn’t it make sense for them to reopen the branch part-time so that the building would be used and local people and small traders could benefit from banking services?
I was delighted to attend the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Westminster launch of a new report on the illegal ivory trade across Europe, (Ivory seizures in Europe, 2006-2015), which found that the European Union is still a destination for illegal ivory, a major transit route between countries and a key exporter of antique ivory to South East Asian markets.
I fully support the campaign for greater protection for elephants which are being decimated for the ivory trade. Populations are at an all-time low with the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year.
I presented a petition on the system of obtaining permanent residence certification. As you can see here, members of parliament from other parties are clearly not as concerned about the difficulties facing many people trying to guarantee their right to live in the UK.
The Westminster Hall Debate on the International Day of Democracy was an opportunity to examine our modern, imperfect democracy and what we could be doing better. It won't shock you that the House of Lords, proportional representation and voter participation all get a mention. You can watch my contribution here.
I used my Evening News column this month to talk about fireworks following the extreme antisocial behaviour on bonfire night. I've also written to the Minister asking for the UK Government to toughen up licensing laws. And if they aren't willing to do that, devolve power over fireworks to the Scottish Parliament so they can act. Read the full article here.