Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

July News - Westminster

Well, where to start? With less than 100 days to go until the next Brexit deadline, Parliament has broken up for a 5 week recess and we have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet who seem hellbent on taking us out of the EU and are preparing to do so without a deal. From the moment Theresa May decided to stand down it was almost inevitable Boris Johnson would become the new PM but that didn't make it any less depressing. Prior to his announcement I made some predictions in my monthly Edinburgh Evening News column - you can read it here

The new hard-line Tory government seems determined that Scotland should be seen and not heard. At the start of the month I was refused my Freedom of Information Request to receive the results of polling by the Cabinet Office on attitudes towards the strength of the Union. You can only assume they've got something to hide. I've requested a review of the decision and you can read the full story here

I had the chance to ask about this at Cabinet Office Questions. I wish ministers could actually answer a question but somewhere in this rambling reply I think he said there weren't any plans to change policy. Which makes it strange that the Cabinet Office is refusing to give me information on recent polling because it relates to the formulation of government policy.

On the day Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, and before he had announced any of his Cabinet, I had what I thought might be my last chance to question David Mundell as Secretary of State for Scotland. Unlike some of his cabinet colleagues, the Secretary of State lacked the integrity and conviction to resign. Watch the exchange here.

PM Johnson has appointed a privately educated Tory millionaire businessman to be the new Secretary of State for Scotland. The hard-line brexiter is called Alistair Jack. Who you ask? Indeed. I don't think I'd ever heard him speak before his promotion. I can only assume Johnson was trying to find the Scottish Tory who is most like himself. The Tory party in Scotland just became even more toxic. And to add insult to injury we now have the MP for Worcester as number two in the Scotland Office.

And so, to Johnson's first statement in the Commons. I really have to question how it has come to this.  Shouting vacuous platitudes and waving his arms around - the new PM seems to think if he huffs and puffs enough all the problems will go away. He was also unable to answer my very simple yes or no question (see here). Scotland has a different choice - Johnson is looking like the UK's last Prime Minister. 

"I believe devolution is a step along the way to becoming an independent country. But that's not a decision for politicians - it's for the people of Scotland". You can watch my full speech from a debate on 20 years of devolution here

In July the official statistics on drug related deaths in Scotland during 2018 were released. 1,187 people died. Many of these deaths were preventable. As part of the Scottish Affairs Committee I had a whistle stop visit to Frankfurt and Lisbon this month. We visited two of the four drug consumption rooms in Frankfurt. In 1991, before their introduction, 147 people died. Last year it was 22. Drug consumption rooms alone won't solve this problem but I firmly believe it's now time for a serious and sensible debate on reforming our drug laws. It's high time we had policies based on evidence and powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  

I was pleased to be able to host the launch of Make Votes Matter's Good Systems Agreement Campaign. This is about politicians agreeing on principles of good voting systems rather than a particular method of proportional representation - so including aspects such as proportionality, being representative, simplicity and accountability. Find out more about the campaign here

 

Visit to Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation
Submission to Short-Term Lets Consultation
 

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Monday, 26 August 2019

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
18 July 2019
Tommys Blog
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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?

Tommy Sheppard
08 July 2019
Tommys Blog
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Democracy means the right to change your mind. Collectively, people can decide to do something, and if it doesn't work, or they don't like it, they can do something else. That much shouldn't be in doubt for the left - or any democrat. There's no argument in principle against having a second referendum - on anything - if that is what people want.Then again, you can't go changing your mind every wee...
Tommy Sheppard
25 April 2019
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Forty years ago in the sweltering summer of 1979 I got myself arrested at Torness. I was one of hundreds protesting against the construction of the nuclear power station. For my efforts I got to spend a night in the cells at Dunbar nick.As the then Thatcher government was keen to point out - we didn't stop Torness. But as I'm keen to point out it was a tipping point. The time when nuclear energy l...
Tommy Sheppard
29 March 2019
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For many months the government has wielded a number of sticks to beat MPs into supporting its Withdrawal Agreement. It might be bad, they argue, but the alternative is worse. Remainers have been threatened with no deal. Leavers with no Brexit.The latest big stick is the threat of having to participate in the European parliamentary elections. To avoid this the Government (and the EU’s) new deadline...
Tommy Sheppard
28 March 2019
Tommys Blog
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So we’re not leaving the European Union tomorrow after all. As the Brexiters cancel their street parties and put away the bunting the rest of us should think carefully about what to do with the reprieve.This week started with parliament voting to take control of the process from government. A move without precedent. In truth, we were forced into it. What else can you do when faced with a governmen...