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 says: “We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum … if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”
Sometimes, democracy works. It worked last month with proposed changes to business rates in Scotland. Independent assessors recalculated what each business would be charged. Since it had been seven years since the last review it was no surprise that some would see big changes.
Two thirds of local businesses saw no increase or a cut but some were facing dramatic eye-watering hikes in their rates. The hospitality trade – hotels, pubs and restaurants – seemed to be worst affected. Business owners contacted their local political leaders in anger and panic. They feared, rightly, that the scale of the increases could put them under.
On Sunday 12th February Tommy appeared on Radio 4's Westminster Hour where called on the UK Government to just get on with guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens already living in UK.
If you missed it you can catch up here.
This time next week I will be proposing a resolution in parliament on the situation in Palestine. It’ll make a change from wall to wall Trump and Brexit. The resolution has cross party support including a surprising number of Tories. It calls on the British Government to lead in getting new peace talks started and on the Israeli Government to stop building settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
But why? And why now?
I did ten press-ups this morning. It’s a start. Like many others the first days of my fledgling new year are driven by diet and detox. After the season of Christmas party excess and forced bonhomie it’s time to reset the body. The road to hell and all that…
I write on bank holiday Tuesday. The last day before the start of a new political term; last day of distraction. Tomorrow I’ll need to fire through the gears and get up to speed for the political challenges of 2017.
On Friday 2nd December, Tommy appeared on Any Questions:
Ritula Shah presents political debate and discussion from the Quarry Theatre at Bedford School with Labour MP Lisa Nandy, the SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, the Deputy Leader of UKIP and London assembly member Peter Whittle and the Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee Sarah Wollaston MP. Questions included: The Richmond by-election - should parties on the left form a liberal alliance? Will UKIP win the working class vote from Labour, "Cake and Eat it" plan for brexit? How much would you pay annually for access to the EU single market? animal fat in the new £5 note, Should taxes rise to fund the NHS and social care? and schools places and immigration.
Three and a half months on from Brexit and things are still as clear as mud. David Davies’ statement in the House of Commons this week told us literally nothing about how the Government intends to leave the EU. He talks of a Great Reform Bill, but seems to have no idea what should be in it.
Little wonder people are anxious. Many, from some unlikely quarters, are now asking if it might not be easier for Scotland just to become an independent country after all. Things are clearly going to change. The UK most Scots voted for in 2014 will not exist. The deal has changed. Perhaps the best way to give certainty to our businesses and citizens is to just go for it.
We're nearly there.
The SNP Depute Leader contest is in its final phase. The last hustings debate is in Inverness tonight and most members have already voted. So this week, I want to reflect on what the job might mean.
And so the election of a new depute leader of the SNP is underway. Indeed, if previous contests are anything to go by, most people may already have voted.
I’ve made organisational reform the key plank of my campaign. Central to this is developing a regional structure for the party, providing a bridge between the party leadership and branches on the ground.
Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the first independence referendum. Getting ready for the second one is providing the backdrop against which SNP members are selecting a new Depute Leader.
Ballot papers go out in four days’ time to more than 100,000 members eligible to vote in the contest. Campaigning by the four candidates began six weeks ago, and the contest has certainly been thorough.
I’m privileged to be a Member of Parliament – when your passion is politics there really is no better job. I’m even more privileged to represent Edinburgh East: a constituency that takes in the magnificent natural beauty of Arthur’s Seat, our historic castle and a world heritage site. We are a European capital to be proud of. But there’s something we need to talk about when it comes to the heart of our unique city: the controversy that is planning. Our city is growing and nothing stays the same. Development is necessary in a vibrant and dynamic city like ours. But I fear that our planners are at risk of leaving our residents behind as they chart the future. And there will be a bitter harvest if that is the case.
Read the full article in the Edinburgh Evening News.
We're past the halfway mark in the SNP depute leadership contest. Ballot papers go out in just 10 days’ time. This has been, and will continue to be, a good natured campaign – able candidates offering different views of what the job entails, discussing things in a respectful and thoughtful way.
So far there have been 17 hustings up and down the country with many more still to come. A few members have come up to me after these events a little frustrated. They complain that the meetings are meant to help people make up their minds and yet after hearing our presentations they are less sure of how to vote than beforehand.
We’re pretty much halfway now in the ten-week campaign to find a new depute leader of Scotland’s main political party. And in stark contrast to other parties, the SNP contest seems a positive and good-natured one.
Sadly, there are no women in contention, but members do have a choice of four able blokes – any of whom could make a decent fist of the job.
The contest for depute leader of the SNP is at the half-way mark. And it’s been an exemplar in how a democratic organisation should conduct itself. Able, thoughtful candidates have treated each other with respect and engaged with hundreds of party activists at dozens of hustings throughout the country. There’s just one thing that could have been better – it’s a shame this has ended up as a blokefest
The absence of any female candidates is a great disappointment and the contest would have been a richer one had there been some. We ought to ask ourselves why this happened. And we ought to make sure that it doesn’t mean that the position of women in Scotland and in our party gets less attention. I’ve heard a number of people remark that whilst it a shame there’s not a woman standing it’s okay since the party already has a strong female leader, and indeed is one of very few governing parties with a gender-balanced cabinet.
So, I think we can all agree, policy is quite important. We join political parties to change the world. And deciding how it should change can be the most exciting bit. Discussing, thinking, working out how to make things better with others who share the same objectives but may have a different way to get there.
The way we decide policy is crucial to the SNP’s cohesion and strength as a political party. The essence of a democratic process is that it offers a trade-off. In return for being able to argue and maybe win your point of view we each agree to abide by whatever position is eventually agreed by the whole group. People who support a minority position will get behind the majority because there’s been a fair debate on the options. This allows parties, and other organisations, to agree a common way forward and their supporters to rally behind it.
I’m standing for depute leader of the SNP because I want us to win the next independence referendum. To do that we need to get active, get organised and reach out, building a new independence alliance.
The past few years have been a time of tremendous change in Scottish politics. Fresh ideas have emerged, and old allegiances changed. Tens of thousands have joined the SNP. We need to get our party match fit to lead and win the next independence referendum.
Our party needs an organisational upgrade. That’s why I’m standing for depute leader. Over the next two months I’m keen to listen to members about how they think we can improve but I also want to chuck out some ideas for discussion myself.
This week I’m focusing on the basic unit of our organisation – the party branch. This is internal stuff. Non-party members should maybe look away now. Or maybe not.
And, we’re off! Nominations closed yesterday for the post of SNP depute and it was a shock to no-one that all four previously declared candidates have confirmed their position on the starting grid.
Today I launch my campaign at the CCA in Glasgow, where I’ll be setting out why I want the job.
The Brexit vote raises many issues, but one in particular concerns Tommy Sheppard – and that’s the status of EU nationals
It’s just four weeks since people voted to leave the European Union in a UK-wide referendum and chaos reigns. It’s clear no-one, least of all the British government, had the first clue about what should happen if the vote went the way it did. The Scottish Government is fighting to protect Scotland’s position in Europe following a huge vote in favour here. The best brains in the country have been commissioned to see how we can keep our Scottish passports whilst being part of the UK. The new Prime Minister has said that any ideas they come up with can feed into the UK Brexit planning.
Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.
We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?
Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Labour Party