I was delighted to join our sister party Plaid Cymru and make the fraternal address at their conference.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I think we are all still processing the appalling news of the horrific fire at Grenfell House in London and the terrible loss of life – the extent of which is still becoming clear. My thoughts are with everyone affected and their families. The public inquiry into what has gone wrong promised by the UK Government must be thorough and wide-ranging.
Upon hearing the news, I immediately contacted the City of Edinburgh Council to seek assurances about the fire safety of residents of multi-storey tower blocks in Edinburgh East and across the city more generally. The Council has responded with the following statement:
Earlier in the month I held a public meeting on the future of Scotland post Brexit with panellists Simon Pia and Nicola McEwan. Thanks to them for joining me and to all those who came along - there was a great turn out and some very useful discussions. Interestingly, a significant proportion who had voted No in the last Indy ref would now vote Yes or were at least open-minded.
The Scottish Government is in the process of consulting the public on unconventional oil and gas. I would encourage everyone to take part. If you have any concerns about fracking in Scotland then now is the time to voice them.
Long before I stood for election I was opposed to fracking so I thought it might be useful to share my answers to the consultation questions. These are my views – no doubt you will have your own. Even if you don’t agree with me I would encourage you to make your views heard.
I met with RBS at Portobello High Street to raise my concerns about the impact the closure of the branch would have on the local community. The bank have made a commitment to continue to invest in the local community with charitable fundraising for local projects – if you have any ideas let me know and I will pass them on.
They are also running sessions to equip those who want to switch to digital banking with the skills they will need. But I recognise that many will still need to access a branch. If you want to switch to a bank that will continue to have a presence on the high street you can do so easily - find out more here.
The wait is nearly over. By next week the Tory party will have a new leader. And then they will foist him on the country at large. With most of the votes cast it seems that the clown prince is unstoppable. Barring a miracle Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.
And then what?