Roz Currie

Chief of Staff

Syria Vote: Reflections from the Team

Syria Vote: Reflections from the Team

Last week was, without doubt, the toughest since Tommy got elected.  The week was dominated by the potential of the UK Government launching air strikes in Syria.

Tommy has always been clear on his position regarding this so was able to respond quickly to the increasing number of constituents who were emailing him.  On Monday evening he was asked to lead for the SNP on the back bench debate on the Middle East.  It was clear from the start of the debate that the focus would be Syria.  Social media was on fire, as was his email inbox.  It only escalated as we headed in to the main debate and vote on Wednesday.

So, what happens in an MPs office when all of this is happening in that there London? Tommy has all of his staff in Edinburgh to serve constituents so on a busy week like that, there are a lot more phone calls and emails back and forth keeping each other up to date. Managing the email inbox becomes more challenging ensuring he sees briefings in a timely manner and that the hundreds of constituents expressing their views receive responses to their emails.

Constituency casework carries on too. People's issues do not go away because the country might go to war, and there was arguably more we could do to help them than we could do about stopping the Tory government going headlong into bombing.

The biggest difficulty for me was the emotions we were feeling. I am used to dealing with strong emotions (in my past career I supported families and children in some horrendous situations) and pride myself in being able to empathise without taking all the emotions home with me.  This was different though and I didn't expect it.

The team wanted to show our support so headed to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday lunch time for an anti-war demo, joined by many MSPs.  Taking those moments out to reflect allowed the reality to hit, and the anger and sadness hit.  The result of the final vote late that night wasn't a surprise but it was still hard.  We all got into this to make a difference and the knowledge that the group hadn't been able to stop this despite all their work makes you feel powerless.  When Tommy returned on Friday, the tiredness on his face showed how tough a week it had been.

No matter how hard things were for us and the MPs, we are well aware that things just got significantly worse for the people of Syria. I wish we could do more.

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