Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland in 1959, Tommy was educated at a local grammar school and, equipped with the requisite A levels, moved to Scotland to study medicine at Aberdeen University. He graduated with a degree in politics and sociology – the start of a lifelong interest in politics.

He returned to Scotland in 1993 and established the Stand Comedy Club in 1995, which he started as a hobby and built into a successful business. Tommy lives in Minto Street with his partner Kate and cocker spaniel Henry.

The SNP, Brexit and calls for a General Election

WM-Sept-19

I've had a few emails recently from people who are asking about the SNP position regarding a general election.


While I recorded some video updates last week, 
one of the limitations of social media is that it mitigates against context and nuance, so it is not always an adequate medium to communicate one's ideas. Also, while the instant nature of social media is useful it is limited in a situation like this where events are changing hourly and policy needs to be constantly refined and updated. So, I've taken time to set out my thinking here - and hope it will help in expressing my position.

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Guest — Willie Lawrie
All of your blog presumes that Scotland will still be in the UK after the next election. What if Scotland returns a massive majori... Read More
Monday, 09 September 2019 11:45
Guest — Dennis Nicholson
The SNP should ask for a mandate to negotiate immediately for independence not for another pointless demand for a S30 order which ... Read More
Monday, 09 September 2019 16:36
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Stop No Deal

tommy-speaking

Under the new Prime Minister, the UK’s headlong dash towards the No Deal Brexit cliff edge has accelerated. Johnson makes demands he knows the European Union cannot accept. He demands the removal of the Backstop. The Backstop was designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and thus peace in Northern Ireland and is, let’s not forget, an international treaty which is overwhelmingly supported by the people of both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The EU has repeatedly ruled out changes to the Backstop so it is clear that Johnson is deliberately asking for the impossible while gearing up to blame No Deal on Merkel and Macron. In doing so, he is gambling with all our futures. The warnings of the economic and social effects of No Deal are clear.

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In the coming election we must tackle Unionist myths

Conference-Spring-19

And so the parliamentary summer recess draws to a close. This week Westminster opposition parties meet to plan their autumn attack. The week after, battle commences in the palace by the Thames. The parliament and the premier, each with a death wish on each other. The question: who will get the killer blow in first?

What is clear is that a General Election is coming. Either the government will collapse parliament and head for the polls, or parliament will collapse the government and do the same. Will it be October or will the Tories drag a deal from somewhere and crawl through the winter in the hope of leaving the Brexit Party behind?

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It's better to be led by the left while we're in UK

Conference-Spring-19

Dearie me, what’s going on in the People’s Party? First, shadow chancellor John McDonnell states that a Westminster Labour government wouldn’t block a request from the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum. He says it twice just in case anyone thinks the first time was a mistake. And this week Jeremy Corbyn says it again to be sure.

Now, in one sense, it’s an unremarkable statement. But strangely it seems to have caused apoplectic rage in Labour’s Scottish ranks. This summer’s red-on-red action marks a further step in the journey to irrelevance by this once great party.

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Why criticism of Edinburgh festival must be taken seriously this time

fringe-copyright-free

As I write we pass the halfway point on the most sodden Edinburgh festival in many years. And the usual controversies rage. For many locals there’s an increasing feeling that the festival is something done to Edinburgh rather than for it.

There are many parts of this city where the balance sheet of festival pros and cons is negative. Now there have always been curmudgeons annoyed by the impossible enthusiasm and exuberance of the bright young things staging their annual artistic invasion. But this is a different criticism. This is a claim that the organisation of the festivals contribute to a structural inequality taking wealth from the city’s masses and depositing it into the hands of rich producers from elsewhere.

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July News - Constituency

July-19---Bookshop

August is an incredibly busy time in Edinburgh.  The Fringe is starting alongside the International Festival and soon to be joined by the Book Festival. I'm proud to be the MP for the majority of Fringe venues, and for the Fringe Society.  Last month I joined up with Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Fringe for a meeting with the then Secretary of State at DCMS to discuss continued funding. 

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Visit to Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

ECCI

It was absolutely fascinating to be shown round the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation earlier by the director, Ed Craig. Part of Edinburgh University but working very closely with the Scottish Government and other public sector organisations, like councils, there is nothing else quite like it. ECCI also hosts students to ensure they are close to the research and the opportunities to feed into and influence policy and business.

I was there for nearly two hours and we barely scratched the surface of the work that's going on there on sustainability, climate change preparation, greening the public sector and much more. It was something akin to low carbon speed dating, given the number of great organisations I met in that time.

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July News - Westminster

Well, where to start? With less than 100 days to go until the next Brexit deadline, Parliament has broken up for a 5 week recess and we have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet who seem hellbent on taking us out of the EU and are preparing to do so without a deal. From the moment Theresa May decided to stand down it was almost inevitable Boris Johnson would become the new PM but that didn't make it any less depressing. Prior to his announcement I made some predictions in my monthly Edinburgh Evening News column - you can read it here

The new hard-line Tory government seems determined that Scotland should be seen and not heard. At the start of the month I was refused my Freedom of Information Request to receive the results of polling by the Cabinet Office on attitudes towards the strength of the Union. You can only assume they've got something to hide. I've requested a review of the decision and you can read the full story here

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Submission to Short-Term Lets Consultation

short-term-lets

I know that short-term lets are a big concern for a lot of people in Edinburgh East. Many people have experienced anti-social behaviour from a flat let out for a stag weekend. Many others are feeling the impact that short-term lets are having on the housing market, both buying and renting, as homes are turned into unregulated and lucrative mini-hotels. This is driving up rents and house prices because homes are being taken out of housing supply at a time when Edinburgh's population is growing. Online platforms such as Airbnb have caused the number of short-term lets to mushroom because it's never been easier for visitors to find cheap accommodation.

This kind of 'disruptive' technology often leaves existing regulation not fit for purpose which leaves policy makers needing to catch up. The Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council are moving decisively to deal with this new landscape. I wanted to make my own views known - this is my contribution to the Scottish Government's Short-Term Lets Consultation.

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Will Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain be forced on Scotland?

Conference-Spring-19

The wait is nearly over. By next week the Tory party will have a new leader. And then they will foist him on the country at large. With most of the votes cast it seems that the clown prince is unstoppable. Barring a miracle Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.

And then what?

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Good Morning Scotland - Drug Inquiry

radio

Good Morning Scotland discussed the Scottish Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Problematic Drug Use this morning.

I was interviewed with Adam Tomkins MSP. Listen to the full interview here.

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Why the time is right to change our mind

conf-18

Democracy means the right to change your mind. Collectively, people can decide to do something, and if it doesn't work, or they don't like it, they can do something else. That much shouldn't be in doubt for the left - or any democrat. There's no argument in principle against having a second referendum - on anything - if that is what people want.

Then again, you can't go changing your mind every week, or even year, or nothing would ever be settled. So, when is it right to have a second vote? I'd argue three things need to be considered. First, has the information on which the first decision was based changed or proven to be have been wrong? Second, have opinions changed - at least enough to suggest a different result? Finally, is the legislature charged with implementing the decision unwilling, or unable, to do so.

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June News - Constituency

June-19-southside

Thanks to Headteacher Norma Prentice and her team for making me welcome at Castlebrae Community High School's Award Ceremony this month. Well done to School Dux - Alex Husain, to Proxime Accessit - Manon Muarage and to all the prize winners.

Next year more new students will join the school in S1 than there were on the entire school roll 5 years ago. And work on the new school building is due to start by the end of the year. Congratulations to all involved.

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June News - Westminster

June-19---drugs

June was a strange month. As busy as ever but with nothing happening. It seems like much is on hold while the Tory party decide who our next master is. But here are some of the things I was up to last month. 

When the EU extended our exit date to the 31st October, the message was clear: do not waste this time. Yet wasting time seems to be the aim of the game in Westminster until we know the outcome of the Tory leadership contest. There was one attempt to take control of the business of the House this month to prevent a no-deal with a Labour motion. However, once again the Labour party failed to organise itself and the despite all 35 SNP MPs voting for it, the motion was defeated 298-309.

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Tackling the Drugs Crisis

consumption-room-Canada

It was a misty murky morning as we pulled up at the community health centre in the Sandy Hill suburb of Ottawa. We’re here to visit the Oasis project which provides services for people with a serious drug problem. At the core is a consumption room where people can inject their own drugs in a safe manner supervised by trained medical staff.

On first impressions this looks like any medical centre I’ve ever been to. A bright reception desk with staff in uniform behind. Corridors leading to treatment rooms. Easy chairs in the waiting area. Posters and leaflets everywhere.

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10 reasons to change your mind about illegal drugs

consumption-room-Canada

In two weeks’ time we’ll know the number of drug related deaths in Scotland last year. Most people expect the figure to top 1100. Most of these deaths were preventable – they shouldn’t have happened.

They include people who overdosed by accident because their street drugs were cut with lethal toxins. Or people who had respiratory failure brought on by a cocktail of depressants. They didn’t mean to die.

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May News - Constituency

school-strike

Full kudos to the school students who were back out on strike this month, making their voices heard on Climate Change. I was pleased to be able to speak at their protest and offer my support. And it was great to hear so many passionate speeches from young activists.

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May News - Westminster

Drugs-inquiry

The election we didn't think would happen, did. And Edinburgh once again rejected Brexit decisively. 72% of those who voted chose to vote for a party that explicitly wants to remain in the EU - the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens or Change UK. And across Scotland the SNP returned the highest vote share of any party in the UK sending three MEPs to Brussels. I'll be doing all I can to ensure they get to stay there beyond October. On election day I had a column in the Edinburgh Evening News giving my take on what I thought might happen: I think it still stands.

Theresa May has, finally, resigned from office. But she hasn't gone yet. She'll leave as leader of the Conservative Party on the 7th June but remains as the Prime Minister until a new leader is selected - likely to be the end of July. In reality, I can't see how a new Prime Minister can change much in terms of the Brexit deal. The EU have been clear that they won't re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement and Parliamentary arithmetic remains the same. As it stands we're due to leave the EU on 31st October with, or without a deal, and parliament must act to ensure we don't have a no deal Brexit by accident - or indeed by design given what some of the candidates are saying. 

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EU elections: Why the Brexit crisis is going to get worse

EU

By 10pm it’ll all be over. Several million people in Scotland, and tens of millions across the UK, will have voted in the election we thought would never happen.

I’ve no idea what the outcome will be. Whereas in mainland Europe voters are discussing climate change, tax, jobs and the future of our continent – here it boils down to whether you want to leave or remain. My only prediction is this: the result in Scotland will be markedly different from that in the rest of the UK. In terms of votes cast and members elected I predict Scotland will reject Brexit by an even bigger margin than it did in 2016.

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April News - Constituency

Body-bingo

The main benefit of Brexit taking more of a back seat was having a bit more time in the constituency during April. I hold regular advice surgeries and it's always great to see what's going on in the buildings while I'm there. I got to join in with a spot of body bingo after holding my surgery at ⁦the Restalrig Lochend⁩ hub - a welcome change of scene!

Regular subscribers to my newsletter will know that I've long campaigned for regulation of short term lets. The impact of companies such as Airbnb on the area are obvious to all - particularly on communities such as the Old Town. So I welcomed the First Minister's announcement at last weekend's SNP conference of a new public consultation to control the number of lets and ensure they make a contribution to the services they use. Take part in the consultation here

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
26 March 2020
Tommys Blog
My constituency offices are closed but my team are working remotely in order to deal with casework.  The best way to get in touch is to email us at tommy.sheppard.mp@parliament.uk.  The current situation with COVID-19 means that I am experiencing a high volume of emails. You will receive a response however this may take longer than usual and my team and I are prioritising those with a sp...
Tommy Sheppard
18 March 2020
Tommys Blog

Time is running out for many of Edinburgh's small businesses. Today I've written to the Chancellor asking for additional emergency assistance for our hospitality sector through the COVID-19 epidemic.

 

Tommy Sheppard
02 March 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
 In Edinburgh in recent weeks, there have been a number of alarming incidents of racist violence. The only reason innocent people were attacked was the colour of their skin. Some victims have been subjects to months of abuse and intimidation. We know this because some of these incidents were reported to the police. What we do not know is how many are not reported....
Tommy Sheppard
31 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
Dear fellow Europeans I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The UK is leaving the European Union later tonight. I’ve resisted it every step of the way but now it is really happening. Please know that this is not what the people who live in this great city want. Boris Johnson does not act in our name. We are being dragged out of Europe against our will. And we are determined that this will not be the end of the...
Tommy Sheppard
29 January 2020
Tommys Blog
With everything that goes on at Westminster it can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day minutiae of debates and votes. Sometimes we need a reminder of the bigger picture. I got that last week when I met with one of my constituents, Gica, who spent time volunteering in Samos last year.Gica volunteered with refugees and the situation she described is appalling. And worsening. The refugee ...