Last week it was really useful to have a Constituency Week away from Westminster.
I have taken full advantage of this by visiting local organisations such as Sacro and Routes to Work. It is always interesting to speak to experts in their field and to learn what they are doing locally to improve people’s lives and chances.
I had a great time at St Aidan’s High School talking to pupils about my time at Westminster. I really enjoyed sharing tips with the debating team and hopefully some of my experience will help them do well in the North Lanarkshire Competition.
Time away from London has given me time to reflect on what is happening locally, nationally and internationally.
The Scottish Parliament elections will take place on 7 May and there is much work to be done to secure another SNP government which is committed to continuing to mitigate welfare cuts and to boost the Scottish economy.
We will have a referendum on EU membership on 23 June in spite of an appeal from our First Minister with Northern Irish and Welsh support to wait till later in the year. The SNP have been pressuring the Tory Government to put in safeguards to prevent Scotland being taken out of the EU in spite of a majority of Scots likely to vote to remain in The European Union. Leaving the European Union would give the Westminster government free reign to roll back on many of the improvements to working conditions which have improved the lives of many Scottish workers.
In the constituency, staff have been holding surgeries at foodbanks to assist people with their benefit issues or other problems they are facing. Volunteers at the foodbank told me that the most common reason for people seeking their help is due to the Tories’ sanction regime. We have always opposed Tory cuts against welfare and tax credits and will continue to do so.
This is also reflected in the Tories’ approach to Scotland’s new fiscal framework which could leave Scotland billions of pounds worse off each year. I recently discussed the issue on Politics Scotland and I am very clear that Scotland must not suffer as a result of the transfer of limited powers to the Scottish Government. The SNP will never make an agreement that would see Scotland worse off. I am confident that John Swinney will only sign up to the best deal for Scotland.