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 Sta...nd 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. More

Erasmus at the Jack Kane Centre

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I attended a very inspiring morning at the Jack Kane Centre where they were putting on an event for the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee at the Scottish Parliament. We were taken on a journey through the experiences of the young people who have been on the Erasmus+ plus programme with YouthLink Scotland.

This strand is not for university students but instead engages young people through youth work programmes and enables them to have an experience that broadens their horizons and introduces them to new cultures.

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Work Capability Assessments

As reported in the Herald yesterday, I have written to Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke about the UK Government's continued treatment of people with chronic, degenerative and lifelong conditions.

Last year his predecessor, Damian Green, promised that people with chronic, degenerative and lifelong conditions would no longer need to face repeated, unnecessary work capability assessments (WCAs) in future.

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Thomas Muir Lecture

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I had the great pleasure of giving the Thomas Muir lecture last week, which you can now watch thanks to the folks at Bella. In the end it came out a bit differently to the written version.

 

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Sandcastles at the Beach Busk

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My toughest job of the year (but one I love the most) - judging the Porty Sandcastle Competition! There were some phenomenal entries this year and with over 40 families taking part in that category I wish I could've given a top 10 rather than the usual first, second and third.

Congrats to all who took part and to all the performers at the Beach Busk. Henry (the dog) and I had a great afternoon out.

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MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine

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I was incredibly impressed by my visit to the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh's Bioquarter. Hundreds of scientists from across the globe developing truly world leading research in stem cells and regeneration. Clinical treatment is at the forefront - developing treatments to some of Scotland's most challenging diseases including liver disease, MS and MND.

And they have an excellent outreach and community engagement programme, particularly with Castlebrae CHS. Nathana and Jayanti came along from the school to tell me about the mentors who visit Castlebrae and support pupils with their science coursework and the summer internship programme in the centre.

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OneKind campaign for CCTV in abattoirs

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Recently I met with Sarah and Harry from OneKind to discuss animal welfare in Scotland, a cause close to my heart at Westminster.

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Friends of the Award

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Yesterday I met with Bob Hope, Chair of Trustees at FOTA (Friends of the Award). They do fantastic work supporting delivery of the Duke of Edinburgh Award across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The charity specialises in supporting young people with additional challenges in their lives whether that be a learning or physical disability, being a young carer, living in residential care or any other difficulty. Bob shared some of the impressive results they've had and I'm delighted that FOTA have received lottery funding to expand their service supporting young people with mental health difficulties.

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Visit to Caring in Craigmillar

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Lovely morning catching up with Kelly and the day service users at Caring in Craigmillar. Already looking forward to visiting again and seeing the new garden - the plans look great!

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Changing festival dates could be beneficial

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So our capital city is more than half way through hosting the world’s largest arts festival.  As ever amidst this explosion of artistic creativity there are a few controversies. Should workers in fringe venues be paid the living wage? Were the owners of St Andrew Square right to close it to the fringe and Jazz & Blues festivals? And the debate that intrigues me most: dates.

The Edinburgh festival that most people think of in August is in fact a bunch of separate festivals. The biggest by far is the Fringe. The biggest funded is the International Festival. Then there’s the Tattoo, the Book Festival and the Art Festival. The dates of all of these overlap considerably.

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Shaw Trust

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I had a great visit yesterday to Shaw Trust, Forth Sector and St Jude’s Laundry.

It was lovely to meet Alistair Kerr, Gemma Hope and Annie Dell from Shaw Trust who told me all about their focus on employment and wellbeing - running projects which help people with disabilities get into work.

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Thomas Muir Lecture - Thursday 24th August

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The obelisk on Calton Hill forms a familiar part of our iconic Edinburgh skyline. Many residents will pass it daily. But I would reckon only a very few will be aware of what it commemorates. Erected in 1844 the monument is to five men whose actions back in the late 18th century radically changed the political landscape in our country and across the UK. They sowed the seeds which eventually brought the democracy we take for granted today. One of these men is Thomas Muir.

This year, I am delighted to say I have had the enormous honour of being asked to give the Thomas Muir lecture.

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Parliamentary Business - July 2017

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Finally, it’s summer recess and I get to spend some time in the constituency. I’m sure you all know about my love affair with the Fringe. I was delighted to be able to help the Fringe celebrate its 70th year with a reception in Speaker’s House at the start of July after their original event had to be cancelled due to the election! I’m looking forward to it all starting in a few days time. 

Westminster had a very end of term feel about it this month with the Government seeming to be filling up time to avoid having to try and pass any actual legislation. Indeed, we even had a debate about how much legislation we should be passing in Private Members Bills (read my response here).

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Constituency Business - July 2017

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Finally, it’s summer recess and I get to spend some time in the constituency. I’m sure you all know about my love affair with the Fringe. I was delighted to be able to help the Fringe celebrate its 70th year with a reception in Speaker’s House at the start of July after their original event had to be cancelled due to the election! I’m looking forward to it all starting.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to the Edinburgh Back to School Bank at my Portobello Office – there’s been a fantastic response. If you can help we'd be delighted to receive school clothing for pupils aged 4-18. They regularly list items they are short of their Facebook page but are always short of girls black leggings - all sizes but especially ages 9-10 10-11 11-12 and ladies small black jumpers, cardigans and sweatshirts of all sizes from age 5 to 15.

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It's Brexit Again

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OK, sorry about this, but it’s Brexit again this month. Don’t blame me – I voted remain.

Remember the Great Repeal Bill David Davis promised last year. Well, it’s arrived, Except it’s now called the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. I’ve no idea why withdrawal is in brackets, maybe it’s not going to happen. It’s not that great either – just nineteen clauses, half of which are legalistic gobbledygook.

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The Corridors of Impotence

Yesterday I tweeted that I was heading back for the last week of term in the corridors of impotence. Little did I know when I said that how clear a demonstration we would have of that impotence last night.

So I spent my time on the train preparing to speak in a debate on the abuse MPs and candidates received, particularly online, during the General Election campaign. Yet I arrive in London to hear we might not get to the debate.

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Constituency Business - June 2017

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Well, it's good to be back. After a snap general election that wasn’t needed and that nobody wanted, I am delighted to have been returned to Westminster as MP for Edinburgh East.  Thanks to all those who supported me and came out to cast their vote on what must have been one of the wettest days of the summer so far! I pledge to help everyone, no matter who they voted for or what their political persuasion - it’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years and I don’t plan to change that now. I’m here to speak up for the people in Edinburgh East and to have the voice of our communities heard in Westminster. 

I’m pleased to say that my Portobello Office is now a drop off point for the Edinburgh Back to School Bank.  If you can help we'd be delighted to receive school clothing for pupils aged 4-18. They regularly list items they are short of their Facebook page but are always short of girls black leggings - all sizes but especially ages 9-10 10-11 11-12 and small ladies and black jumpers, cardigans and sweatshirts of all sizes from age 5 to 15. Thanks in advance.

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Parliamentary Business - June 2017

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Well, it's good to be back. After a snap general election that wasn’t needed and that nobody wanted, I am delighted to have been returned to Westminster as MP for Edinburgh East.  Thanks to all those who supported me and came out to cast their vote on what must have been one of the wettest days of the summer so far! I pledge to help everyone, no matter who they voted for or what their political persuasion - it’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years and I don’t plan to change that now. I’m here to speak up for the people in Edinburgh East and to have the voice of our communities heard in Westminster. 

So back to Westminster and the only real business this month was the Queen's Speech, such as it was. As I said in my Evening News column – “Having listened and then read the three-and-a-half-page handout it’s clear this is the thinnest of programmes from a government with neither a mandate nor a majority.”  But there will be legislation to implement Brexit and the SNP will continue to fight for Scotland’s vote to be respected and our voice to be heard in the negotiations.

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Back to Work

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I am delighted to have been returned to Westminster as MP for Edinburgh East following the snap election on 8th June. Thanks to all those who supported me and came out to cast their vote on what has to have been one of the wettest days of the summer so far! I pledge to help everyone, no matter who they voted for or what their political persuasion - it’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years and I don’t plan to change that now. I’m here to speak up for the people in Edinburgh East and to have the voice of our communities heard in Westminster. 

My offices have re-opened and the surgeries are up and running in the usual pattern - you can find more information here. Please do get in touch if there is anything I can help you with. 

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Was this the emptiest Queen’s Speech ever?

Well, this is awkward. I had hoped to use my column this month to bring a digest of the Queen's Speech. This is where Her Majesty reads out the legislative programme of the government of the day. Only there isn't one. Well, there is, but it is so vacuous and devoid of content that there might as well not be.

It’s surely bordering on abuse of the elderly to oblige a 91 year old woman to read this rubbish out loud whilst wearing heavy robes in London's suffocating 34 degree heat.

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Tower Blocks in Edinburgh - Update

My week started with a 9am briefing this morning from senior council and fire service officials. Since the tragedy happened at Grenfell House in West London they have been looking at fire safety in Edinburgh's high rise blocks. Everyone is anxious to make sure that such a horrific tragedy cannot happen again.

There are 45 multi-storey blocks of flats in Edinburgh - housing about 4000 tenants. Of these, 16 are relatively modern and have not been refurbished. The remaining 29 have had works done including external cladding. Every single one of them was inspected last week and we were told that in no case were materials used which were the same as those in Grenfell. All the cladding and insulation panels are mineral based and non-combustible.

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