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 UK voted for Brexit - so where do we go from here?

The UK voted for Brexit - so where do we go from here?

I write this barely 60 hours after finding out that the people of the UK had voted to leave the European Union – and in truth I’m still trying to get my head around it.

Shock was the first feeling. Sure, I knew that a leave vote was always on the cards, but somehow I never really believed it could happen. I thought in the final stages that enough had been done to save the day; that people would reject the narrow minded intolerance on which this most reactionary of campaigns was based. But it turned out that I was living in a Caledonian bubble and that England, outside of its metropolis, is indeed another country.

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Visit to the New Porty High School Site

Visit to the New Porty High School Site

Seriously impressed at the new Portobello High School which is entering the final phase of construction. The council and contractors are now confident that the school will be ready to move in for the half term break in October – and from what I saw today they look like they are on schedule.

Big thanks to Stuart Danskin from the main contractor Balfour Beatty who took time out to show me round the building. It’s massive – you’ve got no idea how big as you look in from Milton Road. Stuart’s in charge of an operation that had more than 150 workers on site the when I visited – and has had over 200 at one time.

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Let's change the terrain and target open minds

Let's change the terrain and target open minds

Four elections and a referendum: It’s been a helluva five years. With the new SNP Government now sworn in the party can at last move off a permanent war footing. It’s time to take stock, re-group and plan.

And what a change in the political terrain has taken place. The Labour heartlands are no more. Once the party of the working class, Labour is now only capable of clinging on to constituencies that contain a substantial liberal middle class committed to voting tactically to keep the SNP out. And the SNP, although still able to straddle the class divide in its appeal, is now without doubt the political representative of central Scotland’s working class communities.

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SNP win Scottish Election with Highest Ever Vote in Edinburgh

SNP win Scottish Election with Highest Ever Vote in Edinburgh

No matter how you look at it, the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election was a convincing win for the SNP. The party was seeking an historic third term after nine years in charge at Holyrood. It got it. With knobs on. More votes than ever before in a Scottish parliamentary election and a bigger share of the vote too.

What’s not to like? Well, I guess the fact that even though it was its best ever performance the party still lost a few seats and narrowly missed out on an overall majority. That, though, is how the system is designed. It is almost impossible to get more than 50% of the seats unless you get more than 50% of the votes. Almost, but not quite.  Last time round in 2011 the SNP did just that, but in retrospect it’s pretty obvious that was something of a fluke, involving winning some unlikely seats by a whisker in three or four way marginal contests. Nowhere illustrates this better than what happened in Edinburgh.

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Marwan Barghouthi could bring peace and independence to Palestine. But he's in jail

14 years ago today, the Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouthi was jailed.  This week I sponsored a parliamentary motion calling on the Israeli parliament to release him.   

I, and the other MPs who have signed, are calling for his release so that he can play a part in the process of reconciliation, unification and negotiation that will be needed before Palestine achieves its independence. Barghouthi, now 56, is still the candidate in the strongest position to win a presidential election to succeed Mahmoud Abbas, according to a recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.   And precedents has been set - just look at South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was released from prison so he could take part in negotiations for majority rule, and India, where Gandhi and Nehru were released by the British so they could take part in negotiations for independence. 

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Easter Holidays

Easter Holidays

So it has been a busy old recess kicking off with some canvassing and campaigning over the Easter weekend. My Westminster constituency takes in parts of four Holyrood constituencies so I am doing my best to get around all of them.

The four fantastic Edinburgh SNP candidates are Ash Denham for Edinburgh Eastern, Alison Dickie for Edinburgh Central, Ben McPherson for Edinburgh Northern and Leith and Jim Eadie for Edinburgh Southern. Here’s me with Ash and some activists at a street stall in Portobello.

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The Positive Case for Europe

The Positive Case for Europe

I will be voting to stay in the European Union in June. This is not in the belief that everything is in perfect working order, but in the hope that we can work with neighbouring countries to turn it into a much better institution than it is now.

I hope that Scotland will soon be an independent country but to get things done, whether at home or abroad, we will have to work together with other countries. An independent Scotland will have to work with the rest of Britain on a great number of things. And we’ll certainly need to work together across Europe. This means choosing to share or pool sovereignty and there’s nothing wrong with that - providing that choice is freely made and people have the right to change their mind.

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Register of Interests

The Sunday Express recently reported that I have broken one of the rules of the House of Commons. These things have a way of getting out of proportion, so I wanted to be very clear with everyone about what has happened.

All MPs have to register any outside interests, including shares they own in private companies.

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Portobello Toddlers Hut

Portobello Toddlers Hut

Tucked away near the Beach in Porty is a little gate in a wall. I must have sauntered past that gate may times but recently I managed to get to the other side to discover the wonderful, community run, Portobello Toddlers Hut.  I had no idea it had been running as a toddlers group since in 1929, making it one of the oldest community run childcare facilities in the UK.

I was warmly welcomed by a number of parents on the committee along with staff and volunteers.  There was the usual February wind blowing on the prom (as you can tell from the photo!) but the toddlers didn't even seem to notice as they played happily outside in the yard of the hut. It was great to hear about the history of the place alongside the activities the current toddlers enjoy. The new book corner looks particularly inviting.

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Israel/Palestine is a powder keg waiting to blow

Israel/Palestine is a powder keg waiting to blow

“Welcome to Israel” she said with no more sullenness than passport control officers the world over. And that was that, I was through. No “just follow me sir” to a windowless room, no search, no hassle. My colleague Hameed, who was organising our trip, wasn’t so lucky. An hour and a half later he joined our party on the other side of customs. We’re here on a four day trip from the UK parliament: six MPs, three Labour, and three SNP.

This is a report of what we saw and what we heard in discussions with over 20 MPs, NGOs, academics and a few punters too. Things aren’t good. Israel/Palestine is a powder keg waiting to blow. With everyone’s eyes on Syria and Yemen today and Iraq and Iran before that, the problems on the shores of the Med have fallen down the international agenda. And yet whilst solving the Palestinian conflict wouldn’t automatically lead to peace in the wider region, it would sure make other resolutions a damn sight easier.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
30 March 2017
Tommy's Blog
Articles
Media
There have been some daft arguments put against allowing people in Scotland to have a choice about the future of their country.You have no mandate Ruth Davidson tells Nicola Sturgeon. Really? Did the SNP not mention this in their manifesto for the Scottish Parliament election last year? Let’s check. Maybe it’s buried away somewhere. No wait. Page 24 has a whole section on a second referendum. It s...
Tommy Sheppard
11 March 2017
Tommy's Blog
I’ve been denounced – again!This time I appear to have incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church in Scotland’s hierarchy. A front page report in yesterday’s Scottish Catholic Observer claims I have a “plan” to outlaw Catholic schools and that my views are “chillingly intolerant”. Sadly due to the deterioration of Scottish journalism once great newspapers like The Scotsman have simply rehashed the ...
Tommy Sheppard
19 February 2017
Tommy's Blog
Policy
The hills around Jerusalem were drenched in sun the last time I was here. It brought out their significance and history. This week, though, the Holy Land has been visited by a Scottish winter. As I peer through the steamed up windows of our VW Transporter, it’s decidedly dreich out there.I’m here on a parliamentary delegation to see if the political mood matches the weather. The trip is organised ...
Tommy Sheppard
30 January 2017
Tommy's Blog
Policy
I write from the train, speeding towards London to begin another week traipsing the corridors of impotence. This week, as many, will be wall to wall Brexit as we debate the terms on which we should be leaving the EU, and try to protect Scotland’s position amid the chaos.But something else is dominating the international agenda and consumes the imagination of every person who dares hope for a bette...
Tommy Sheppard
26 January 2017
Tommy's Blog
Policy
You’ll not be surprised to hear that ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union, I have been receiving lots of letters and emails from constituents raising their concerns. While there have been a couple of requests asking me to respect the UK wide result and vote to trigger article 50, the vast majority have asked me to do all I can to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.That’s not a surpr...