Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.
My door is open to anyone who seeks advice and support, so you can phone or email me at any time.
You also have the option of visiting constituency surgeries on Mondays. You don't need to make an appointment.
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Hamilton Jobs fair
I’d like to remind everyone, especially those younger people who are just finishing up their school years, that the Hamilton Jobs fair is on Friday 5 July between 11am and 2pm at the Town House.
This is a regular event that I’ve been promoting for years and years. I do feel that it’s so important everyone gets the opportunity to live the career they want to so it’s a great chance to meet potential employers face to face.
These are jobs that are available now so go and pitch your best and I am wishing everyone gets at least close to what they want!
Back at Brexit
It’s been a great couple of weeks for lies! We’ve seen Corbyn say he will definitely work towards a second referendum on Brexit then the next day he says, well, maybe we’ll consider it. We've watched the Channel 4 debate among the candidates fighting for the second position but Boris Johnston, the bookies favourite, absent.
We’ve seen Michael Gove admit to taking cocaine "several times". We’ve had Better Together campaigners exposed by the SNP as the bunch of Project Fear’ scare stories they put out crumble. The myth that Scotland would be vetoed from joining the EU and Scotland could only guarantee its EU membership by staying within the UK.
Wasn’t that a choice irony?
The Scottish Parliament has introduced a Bill to make provision for the holding of a referendum throughout Scotland on. The Referendums (Scotland) Bill will provide a legal framework for the holding of referendums on any matters within Scotland’s control. It is intended that the Bill will have completed its parliamentary progress by the end of this calendar year.
The Bill includes provision for the date, question and referendum period to be set by secondary legislation. For a referendum on independence, it is proposed that this would take place following a transfer of power, ensuring such a referendum could not be legally challenged.
Putting in a framework in Scotland would allow a future referendum to take place in a timely fashion.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Now, more than ever, it is essential that we keep Scotland’s options open so that people have the opportunity to choose a better future.
“An independence referendum within this parliamentary term will give Scotland the opportunity to choose to be an independent European nation - rather than have a Brexit future imposed upon us.
“Throughout the Brexit process, Scotland has been treated with contempt by Westminster, and our efforts to find compromise and protect the interests of the people of Scotland, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, have been ignored.
“We will seek agreement to a transfer of power at an appropriate point to enable an independence referendum that is beyond challenge to be held later in this parliament. It is essential the UK Government recognises that it would be a democratic outrage if it seeks to block such a referendum – indeed, any such stance would, in my view, prove to be utterly unsustainable.”
Government Business and Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell said:
“Although referendums have become an increasingly common feature of UK democracy, it is a long time since the framework governing them was last comprehensively reviewed.
“Introducing a standing framework for referendums is a reasonable thing for any country or Parliament to have and this legislation will put Scotland in the same position as the UK and many other countries.”
Donald Trump’s visit
From beginning to end, Donald Trump’s visit was a series of dishonest claims and sheer ignorance of the UK’s systems. Once Theresa May had enlightened him by informing him during a press conference that NHS stood for National Health Service, Mr Trump said yes, of course the NHS would be on the table for negotiations in a trade agreement, along with everything else such as chlorinated chicken, hormone-packed beef and dangerous additives like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to mention just a few.
As Kirsty Blackman MP, SNP, "Donald Trump cannot be trusted to keep his hands off our NHS, and the Tories are plotting to block the Scottish Government having any veto over such a damaging deal. The SNP government will fight to the end to defend Scotland's public services from this unprecedented Tory Brexit danger. Our NHS must remain in public hands - it is not, and should never be, up for sale.”
He retracted next day, after someone had told him about just how crucial the NHS to the people of the UK, including Scotland. No, he said, the NHS wouldn’t be on the table after all. I suppose it depends upon whose promises you’re inclined to believe. To me, there doesn’t seem to be much sign of real honesty anywhere outside of the SNP where what you see is what you get.
Not only is Donald Trump a dubious source of truth, listening to Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage is a positive feast of dishonesty and disingenuous comments. ‘Normality’ in politics has become thoroughly corrupt and is successfully squeezing out the meeting of democracy – the rule of the people – because people are angry and they need someone to blame.
We must resist this encroachment upon our own fundamental briefs in respect, dignity, fairness, compassion and a sense of being able to get listened to.
Back in 2014, even though the Scottish Referendum on independence failed by a small margin, it raised political consciousness hugely. Everyone on the buses, on the trains, in the bars and shops, was talking politics. They were being heard and that is a huge step forward.
As many of you know, I’ve been actively attacking the UK’s detention of migrant children for years. I have never accepted Westminster’s casual dumping of Lord Alf Dubs’ parliamentary agreement to accept into the UK some 3,000 migrant children. The deal was agreed then dropped. Another symptom of political arrogance.
Closer to our own front door is Dungavel detention centre. My colleague, Linda Fabiani MSP, East Kilbride, along with myself and others in the SNP, have been trying to get the centre closed for years.
Linda has written to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, inviting him to visit the centre which is home to at least 20 children and six pregnant women who have been there since 2016. It’s another example of promises unmet. The UK vowed that it would end detention of under-18s at Dungavel almost 10 years ago.
The UK Government vowed to end the detention of children at Dungavel almost ten years ago, but it has now been revealed that 19 children and 6 pregnant women have been held at the privately-run detention centre since 2016.
The figures, obtained by an FOI request, also show that almost 3,000 people have been held for more than 28 days.
Dungavel, which opened in South Lanarkshire in 2001, is operated by a US firm on behalf of the Home Office and accommodates almost 300 people detained under immigration laws before they are forced to leave the UK.
The centre has been mired in controversy - with reports that more than 200 detainees are considered at risk of self-harm, and asylum seekers being paid just £1 for an hour of work. Human rights organisations have also raised concerns over the safety of women and vulnerable detainees after a sharp rise in crime was reported at the centre.
She points out: “This is the harsh reality of the Tories ‘hostile environment’ – children and pregnant women held behind barbed wire, in a facility which is entirely unsuitable for vulnerable people.
“The UK government must stop detaining children and pregnant women at Dungavel – and they must do so now.
“Innocent families, women and children shouldn’t be detained like this, especially given it’s a decade since the Home Office promised to end the barbaric practice of detaining children.
“The Tories have an abysmal track record on their mistreatment of asylum seekers.
“These figures are a depressing reminder of the total disregard this Tory government shows towards migrants, and show the need for Scotland to have full control over immigration.”
Full Best Start Grant package now available.
A brand new benefit for low income families is now open for applications.
The £250 School Age Payment is for families with a child old enough to start primary school this August.
The payment is part of the Best Start Grant, a package of three payments for families in receipt of eligible benefits - including Universal Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit and tax credits - to help at key stages in a child’s life.
The Best Start Grant package also includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which has been open for applications since December 2018 and the Early Learning Payment, which launched in April.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“Covering the costs of a child starting school puts pressure on family finances, and we have created this new payment to help ease that burden, putting more money into the pockets of families at a time when they need it most.
“We are committed to doing all we can to make sure Scotland is the best place for a child to grow up. We want to increase financial support to families, bringing equality to children by giving them help towards a fairer start.
“We also want to encourage everyone who is entitled to a payment to apply, so will be working with services to promote the benefit to ensure as many people as possible are aware they can access this new additional support.”
Female Genital Mutilation Bill
FGM is an issue that I’ve been seeking to stop in Scotland ever since I first became aware of it. So I’m delighted to now be able to see action on a new Bill. The act is already illegal but there remains a need to protect women and girls who may be considered at risk from FGM.
The legislation would introduce Protection Orders specifically designed to safeguard women and children who might find themselves under pressure to undergo FGM.
The Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill will also see statutory guidance issued for professionals and agencies working in this area. This will help to ensure a more consistent and holistic multi-agency response across services to victims of FGM and those at risk of the practice.
The introduction of this legislation builds on the commitment made within the Scottish Government’s National Action Plan to prevent and eradicate FGM and to strengthen the law in this area.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a deeply abhorrent practice and a fundamental violation of the human rights of women and girls. It is a physical manifestation of deep-rooted gender inequality.
FGM is already illegal. This Bill will provide for increased protection with the introduction of protection orders and putting guidance on a statutory footing to improve the response of services.
FGM survivor Neneh Bojang from Edinburgh said: “I was just nine years old when I was subjected to FGM. It was excruciating and has caused me pain throughout my life. If this Bill prevents even just one woman from going through the same, then in my eyes, it will be a success.”