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.
So back to Westminster and the only real business this month was the Queen's Speech, such as it was. As I said in my Evening News column – “Having listened and then read the three-and-a-half-page handout it’s clear this is the thinnest of programmes from a government with neither a mandate nor a majority.” But there will be legislation to implement Brexit and the SNP will continue to fight for Scotland’s vote to be respected and our voice to be heard in the negotiations.
The Queen's Speech is followed by five days of debates each focused on a different aspect. This year I spoke in the debate on social care highlighting the flaws in the dementia tax policy and how we deliver and fund personal care in Scotland. You can watch it here.
One of the amendments on the Queen's Speech would have given Northern Irish women access to NHS-funded abortion care when they travel to England for help. For me this wasn't a moral issue about abortion (though I am pro-choice) but about equality. It was about whether women from Northern Ireland are treated in the same manner as women in the rest of the UK by the English NHS. I was delighted that the Government was forced into a climb down and women from NI will no longer be charged to have a termination by the NHS in England.
The deal with the DUP is an outrage - £1bill to keep the Tories in power for 2 years. And those who voted Tory thinking that the Scottish Tory MPs would somehow be different to the English ones or would stand up for Scotland’s voice should be reconsidering their choice. David Mundell promised time and time again that he wouldn’t let a deal be done that didn’t see funding consequentials for Scotland. It’s now clear he had no say whatsoever – once again proving that he’s the Cabinet’s man in Scotland, not Scotland’s man in the Cabinet. I look forward to holding him to account in my new role as SNP Spokesperson on the House of Lords, Scotland and Cabinet Offices.
This month it was Carers Week. Carers do a phenomenal and often undervalued role in our communities so I'm pleased to be able to pledge to speak up for them. About one in eight adults in Edinburgh East provide unpaid care for an ill, older or disabled loved one - a huge thanks to all 7036 of you.
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.
We need to talk about democracy. The UK government recently hosted its first ever “National Democracy Week” – with no sense of irony.
We absolutely should be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the equalisation of voting ages for men and women. Nobody would argue with that.