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 White House Tea Dance

The White House Tea Dance

A change of pace on the tour today as I attended the White House tea dance. As well as tea and the legendary White House fruit scones, I had a bit of a dance and lots of chat with the locals. I also met Manager, Bob Giulianotti (driving the decks on this occasion!), and Head Chef, Richard Paton who outlined his emerging plans to combat food poverty in the area and help people enjoy, cook and generally reconnect with food. As we left I nipped round the back to see the crops in pots that form the basis of so much of the White House’s dishes– hugely impressed.

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The Cat and Dog Home

The Cat and Dog Home

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the highlights of this Summer’s tour has been today’s trip to the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. Like lots of people, I’ve been vaguely aware of driving past it on the Seafield Road but never given it a lot of thought. It was great to meet Howard Bridges the new Chief Executive – he lives on the premises with an uninterrupted view of the sea - and has been appointed to raise the profile of the Home.

Howard, and Operations Director, Lindsay Jardine, gave us a tour of the premises where we met lots of happy animals – so deserving of a forever home. Pictured here are Sasha – who, following cancer, has only three legs and is a big softy – and Miko - a boisterous collie who has gone from being very wary of strangers to forming a strong bond with his carer Vicky and will be snapped up when he’s ready. We also saw some adorable kittens and their young mum. The Home is particularly keen to promote their slightly older cats including Luna and April – two gorgeous torties and Andie a big, cuddly black and white charmer. My colleague fell in love with little stripey Mimi (pictured) who isn’t ready for rehoming yet. No wonder the staff here love their jobs! 

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Crew 2000

Crew 2000

The wealth of services and wonderful people doing great work in my constituency keeps astounding me. Today my tour took me to Crew 2000, who are a drug advice centre based in the central part of the constituency. They offer fantastic services including a drop-in centre and a welfare service, as well as doing outreach work in clubs and pubs. They offer direct help for festivals and events, and provide some addiction recovery services.

They were founded in 1992 by drug users themselves, concerned that the market was being flooded with dangerously cut drugs. They are based in the constituency of Edinburgh East, but they do work across Europe in the form of consultancy and working alongside other organisations.

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Drake Music Scotland

Drake Music Scotland

Had a great visit to Drake Music Scotland – another hidden gem in the constituency. They offer musical opportunities to people with disabilities in the local community, the city and throughout Scotland. Everyone can make music and Drake’s vision to is to enable that to happen via the tiniest adjustments to musical instruments, through to developing and using the highest tech equipment. I even got to play harp using Thumbjam on the iPad with Equilibrium who were playing their own, lovely, composition using a combination of the latest software and a real viola. Then we nipped in to listen to Ceilidh Band who were rehearsing and they spontaneously struck up Scotland the Brave which I really enjoyed! They demonstrated how Figurenotes works - a music notation system based on coloured shapes that is much easier than normal music notation.

 

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Play From Gaza

Play From Gaza

 

This was a genuine fringe first: a play from Gaza in the heart of Edinburgh despite all of the obstacles in the way.

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Thistle Foundation

Thistle Foundation

I visited the Thistle Foundation yesterday and met Mark Hoolihan, Diana Noel-Paton and some incredibly dedicated volunteers including Mags Hendry and Liz Deeming. They are an organisation based just off Niddrie Mains Road which supports people with disabilities and health conditions through health and wellbeing initiatives and supported living. They also work with health and social care professionals, offering training aimed at encouraging a cultural shift towards focussing on individuals needs rather than conditions or disabilities.

They are feeling very positive about the Scottish Government gaining more powers over welfare and hope that they will be able to use this change to greatly improve the work that they do.

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Books for Babies

Books for Babies

I had the pleasure of visiting Craigmillar Books for Babies this morning and meeting Kara Whelan and Michelle Jones. They have been doing very important work with families in Craigmillar, Niddrie, Bingham and Magdalene for the last 17 years.

They aim to foster a love of books, rhymes and words both spoken and written, from a very early age.

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Visit to the Trussell Trust

Visit to the Trussell Trust

I had a very moving visit to the Trussell Trust foodbank in Leith earlier. Ewan Gurr (Head of the Trussell Trust Team in Scotland), Rev. Iain May (Foodbank Chair), Arthur Mathieson (Project Manager) and all the volunteers work incredibly hard and offer a vital sticking plaster to our broken system. The most common reasons for people requiring the support of the foodbank are benefits changes, benefits delays and low income. It is imperative that we tackle food poverty and these systemic causes and I will be fighting for this in Westminster.

If you are in a position to be able to help, the foodbank is short of Smash, Jam, Sugar, Tinned Meat, Creamed Rice and Steamed puddings. You can find out more here.

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UK Government must end Police & Fire VAT Anomaly

UK Government must end Police & Fire VAT Anomaly

On the 21st July, I backed the SNP's call for the Treasury to look again at exempting the Scottish Police and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service from a continuing VAT anomaly. Police Scotland is the only police authority in the UK unable to recover VAT and is liable to an annual cost of around £23 million. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is similarly disadvantaged, and is liable for an annual cost of around £10 million.

My support was added in the debate on the Finance Bill:

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Labour have left the building...

Labour have left the building...

It’s been quite a week to finish the first term of the new parliament. On Monday the Tories’ welfare bill passed its second reading by 308 votes to 124, the majority exactly equal to the number of Labour MPs who didn’t vote against it.  This is an odious package of measures. Choice highlights include reducing the work allowance people on benefit can claim so that their payments are reduced, removing housing benefit for anyone under 25, and the two child policy which will deny benefits to larger families

The bill also reduces the benefits cap which any one household can claim to £380 a week. Not many people get this level of benefits and where they do you can bet most of it will be to cover the cost of high private rents. The effect of the cap will be to force people to move into poorer areas where rents are lower, cleansing nice middle class Tory areas of claimants and creating ghettos of poverty where the chances of getting a decent job are even more remote than before. This is a restructuring of welfare to achieve social engineering on a grand scale.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
11 July 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media

We need to talk about democracy. The UK government recently hosted its first ever “National Democracy Week” – with no sense of irony.

We absolutely should be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the equalisation of voting ages for men and women. Nobody would argue with that.

Tommy Sheppard
21 June 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
Brexit rumbles on. Last week the SNP walked out of parliament in protest at not being allowed to discuss House of Lords amendments that will seriously affect how we are governed. If we can’t have our say inside the chamber we’ll make our arguments outside.Meanwhile the UK government say we’re scaremongering. What power grab say the Tories? They claim that the Scottish government will get more powe...
Tommy Sheppard
15 June 2018
Tommy's Blog
Buckle up folks – here comes a bumper blog as this week saw the return of the EU Withdrawal Bill after its time in the Lords. Or, more accurately, we were back voting on the EU Withdrawal Bill given there was precious little time for any actual debate. Over two days we were supposed to debate and vote on 20 different changes to the Bill that the Lords had put forward.You’ll likely have seen and he...
Tommy Sheppard
19 May 2018
Tommy's Blog
Okay I know that it’s probably not the best time to try to start a discussion about the monarchy. With a popular prince wedding his celebrity sweetheart in a lavish event resplendent in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, it might be best for dissidents like myself to keep our republican heads below the parapet.Then again, with the nation’s attention focused on the royals because of the wedding, t...
Tommy Sheppard
02 May 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
This is a piece about the SNP’s constitutional review. Exciting, huh? Well, maybe not, but important all the same.I know – at least I hope – no-one joins a political party to debate its internal structure. And set against debates on Indy, Brexit and the World War III this is unlikely to get anyone’s political juices flowing. People are motivated by ideas and feelings, powerful emotions that propel...