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

Fracking ban makes me proud of SNP government

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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.

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Scotland Bans Fracking

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.

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Catalonia

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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.

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TSB Still Closed on Niddrie Mains Road

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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?

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IFAW Campaign to Stop the Ivory Trade

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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.

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Permanent Residence Certification Petition

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.

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EU Withdrawal Bill

The EU Withdrawal Bill passed its second reading with the help of the Scottish Tories. Here's my speech from the chamber explaining why I voted against it.  
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International Day of Democracy

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.

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Scrap the Cap Demo at Westminster

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There was a big turnout from SNP MPs to support Royal College of Nursing #scrapthecap demo at Westminster.

And great to see Geoff who had made the journey from Edinburgh East alongside other RCN members from across the UK.

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Royal High Primary - Who Represents Us?

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I was delighted to be invited, for the second year running, to the Royal High Primary to join the P7s for a discussion as part of their topic 'Who Represents Us?'.

We had a great discussion about the role of an MP as part of their democracy project.

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Constituency Business - August 2017

Welcome to my August Newsletter.  Parliament has been in recess for the past month so this newsletter will focus on my work in Edinburgh East. Though of course, politics continues even when the Westminster parliament isn't sitting. And the mess that is Brexit continues unabated. Next week I head back to Westminster where we'll have the first vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill. Let's see if Corbyn and his parliamentary party are ready to work with us on this. August is a great month for me - I'm able to be based at home (the joy of sleeping in your own bed every night cannot be underestimated!) and I get to catch up on all the goings on in the constituency. Though it does feature the toughest decision of my year - judging the Portobello Sandcastle Competition (winner above). It was a great sunny day with lots of people taking part in the Beach Busk along the prom. I'm already looking forward to next year. 

This month I was honoured to be asked to give the annual Thomas Muir memorial lecture. Thomas Muir was a tireless campaigner for political reform in the late 18th Century and his actions radically changed the political landscape in our country and across the UK. In the lecture I focused on the parallels between our movement today and Muir's work and the lessons we need to learn from the General Election. You can watch my lecture here. 

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MPs reporting their own constituents - a statement

MPs have been reporting their own constituents to the Home Office for breaking immigration rules. Let me say that again, Members of Parliament - who people come to for help and advice – have been reporting these same people to the Home Office for immigration enforcement. 482 tip offs between 2014 and 2016.

You’d be forgiven for having missed this news that was reported last Friday by politics.co.uk. The mainstream media didn’t exactly jump on it. But it is a major story and we should all be outraged by it. Trust in elected members isn’t exactly at its highest level and this rightly adds to the anger and distrust many feel.

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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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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
11 December 2018
Tommy's Blog
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more farcical, yesterday happened. Government ministers spent the weekend assuring us the vote planned for today would go ahead. Some were even claiming the PM might win it (it’s nearly Christmas after all, the season of miracles). Even late yesterday morning the Downing St press office were still telling us the vote was going ahead, while the PM was h...
Tommy Sheppard
23 November 2018
Tommy's Blog
It’s been a little while since I've written a blog on Brexit. Things are now moving quite quickly so I thought it might be helpful for me to share a few of my thoughts on where we are.The proposal put forward by Theresa May last week is not a good one and not one I can support. While the SNP Scottish government remain of the view that the best option for Scotland would be to remain in the European...
Tommy Sheppard
08 November 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
The budget was last week. Did you notice? As squibs go, this one was pretty damp. We’ll be debating the detail in the finance bill next week but the real story is one of indifference and missed opportunity.Since the 2008 crash, governments across the western world have seen their revenues unable to meet spending. In the US and most European countries the response was to use the power and funds of ...
Tommy Sheppard
11 October 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
We were supposed to set off from Johnston Terrace at one o’clock on last Saturday’s march for independence. In fact, it was a quarter past two by the time I turned into the Lawnmarket and began the walk down the Royal Mile to Holyrood.That’s what happens when the biggest gathering in years descends upon the centre of Edinburgh and parades through narrow medieval streets. As a popular tweet quipped...