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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 story without even the pretence of checking fact or context.
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 by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (www.caabu.org) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (www.map.org.uk). Over four days we have a packed schedule of meetings with Palestinian and Israeli officials, human rights groups and the UK Foreign Office. We also get the chance to see first-hand what it’s like to live under a military occupation.
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 better world. Trump. What on earth has happened to America?
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 surprise. In Edinburgh 74.4% of people voted to remain in the EU. For all its flaws, people across our city recognised the overwhelming benefits of EU – be they economic, cultural, environmental and civil.
This week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.
Friday 27th January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.
Going back to Westminster after the summer recess you can almost feel the impending doom in the air. It’s the calm before the storm. Everyone knows something bad is going to happen. Just not what exactly. Like waiting for the ghoul to reveal itself in a horror movie.
And as the dread unfolds the discussion about whether there should be another Brexit referendum will intensify.