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.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all working from home. If you need help, phone the office as normal and leave an outline message. Someone will soon get back to you. You can also email me at any time. Att the contact details are at the end of this email.
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International Day of Peace
Today, 21 September, is the UN International Day of Peace, observed all over the world.
This year’s theme is ‘Shaping Peace Together’. Each year this celebration day is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
In the turmoil of violence, corruption, racism and worldwide diminution of human rights, it is a good day to take a little time out and find a way, however small it seems, to share the importance of peace.
The UN information says: “This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.
“As we struggle to defeat COVID-19, your voice is more important than ever. In these difficult times of physical distancing, this International Day of Peace will be dedicated to fostering dialogue and collecting ideas. The world will be invited to unite and share thoughts on how to weather this storm, heal our planet and change it for the better. Even though we may not be able to stand next to each other, we can still dream together.
“The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.” Celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic. Stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred. Join us so that we can shape peace together.”
“Independence has never been closer”
Now, more than ever before, independence for Scotland is an ambition becoming a reality.
The next Scottish Parliament election will be held on Thursday 6 May 2021.
I recently pledged to stake my claim (11 September) so that with your help and support, I intend to be back in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse with the privilege of serving all of you.
I’m working out the strategy and am gathering the pairs of comfortable shoes for the many miles I’ll walk between now and then.
I firmly believe that an SNP majority this time will make a second referendum unavoidable, no matter how much PM Boris Johnson tries to fight us off.
It’ll be a great time, full of enthusiastic volunteers who see our independence within our grasp.
Campaigning is exciting. You’ll meet some interesting people, share the SNP goals and achievements in Government and probably win another SNP vote or ten.
You’ll also make new friends who have the same kinds of beliefs as you do, and who will come from a vast array of backgrounds in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how important it is that decisions about Scotland’s future are made in Scotland. The last seven polls have shown that Scottish independence is fast becoming the established position of the people of Scotland.
A year before I was born the SNP’s historic 1967 Hamilton by-election was won by Winnie Ewing. For all that time, all of my life, Winnie has been an inspirational icon for the SNP and especially for women. We need to work together and focus all our efforts on the election in 2021 to achieve Scotland’s independent future.
By putting Scotland’s right to choose at the heart of that campaign we can turn the popular support for independence into a demand for a second referendum. A referendum we will win.
Let us honour the foundation that Winnie Ewing and countless other activists have laid out for us. We can achieve the dream that they have worked so hard for. Independence is coming and it is coming soon.
If you’d like to get involved in the campaign, contact the SNP office at 18 Townhead Street, Hamilton, ML3 7BE. Phone 01698 476 707.
Covid-19 Catch up
Imperial College London has produced interactive map that reveals nine Scottish regions projected to become coronavirus hotspots within a fortnight. Inevitably, that is going to mean tough new measures and local lockdowns are likely.
The map shows clusters in red within each UK nation.
The areas projected to see an increasing number of cases from 4 October are:
Imperial College London created the maps, which are updated daily, to reveal areas of concern and encourage local authorities to take action before it is too late.
Researchers there define a hotspot as a local authority where there are more than 50 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of the population per week.
The predictions are based on the current government measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, and each local authority is treated independently of its neighbours in the modelling.
An increase in cases in a local authority can be due to a rise in testing, which the model does not account for, the researchers said.
Information about the pandemic is excellent in Scotland because unlike Westminster, our First Minister provides it daily.
We also have in place a test and protect system that works. You can install the app at protect.scot. There is no cost. To get the best out of this system, we need to maximise the number of people using it.
When cases are increasing, as they are at present, the app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus.
It also means that if you test positive, the app can help determine contacts that you may have otherwise missed while keeping your own information private and anonymous.
This year, NHS Lanarkshire is delivering flu vaccinations to everyone who is eligible – this is more than 300,000 people.
Dr Linda Findlay, Medical Director South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The scale of the programme and the need to observe physical distancing means that clinics need to be held in large community venues. We expect there to be a high demand for this year’s vaccine and would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience with this new way of delivering this important vaccine.”
The eligible groups are:
· 2 to 5 years (not yet in school)
· Everyone aged under 65 at risk
· Everyone aged 65 and over
· People who have been shielding and members of their households
· 55 to 64 years (who are not otherwise eligible, if vaccine supplies allow later in the programme)
If you are eligible for the flu vaccination you will receive an invite with an allocated appointment at a local community vaccination clinic. If this appointment is not suitable, please call the number on your invite to reschedule.
Invites will be sent in batches, from mid-September, to make sure that the service can cope with the demand. You may receive your invite on a different date than usual, but you will receive one.
Appointments need to be allocated this year due to the sheer number of people to be vaccinated. There will be no drop-in clinics as we need to manage the number of people at each clinic to ensure physical distancing.
Pregnant women will receive their vaccine from their midwife and primary school children will receive it at school.
Dr Findlay added: “This year, more than ever, it is important that you receive your flu vaccine if you are eligible. Flu is serious and with covid-19 still circulating in the community we all need to play our part to keep ourselves as healthy as possible over the winter months. Receiving the vaccine will help protect you, your loved ones and the NHS.”
For more information on the delivery of the local flu programme, visit http://www.nhslanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk/flu
Have Your Say in the Future Governance of Scotland
A public consultation was launched on 1 September to provide the first real opportunity for everyone interested in the future governance of Scotland, to contribute to the content of a draft written constitution.
This online consultation will be conducted via a fully independent and transparent website: www.constitutionforscotland.scot
A non-aligned Scottish charity - Constitution for Scotland (SCO 49193) – is providing an opportunity through an interactive, internet-based platform for a public consultation on a written constitution for Scotland in the event of regaining our independence.
A constitution is, in some ways, a job specification for parliamentarians, setting out the conditions under which the people of a nation agree to be governed.
The consultation has evolved from a decision taken some 11 years ago by a 22-strong group of Scots to draft a 'model' written constitution for Scotland rather than just talk about the need for one.
The model constitution has been formulated to stimulate debate on specific proposals rather than vague notions - but is not in itself prescriptive.
It is offered as the groundwork for a skeletal outline of the future fundamental law of Scotland - based on the concept of popular democracy. The document within the website contains a summary outlining the 15 articles that are set out into 174 sections within the 'model' constitution.
The interactive debate will provide choices, enabling participants to read either the summary or the full model constitution. You can choose to read the summary and then use a Quick vote facility, or, use the Links or Searchbox to locate a section of interest, and from that section, another click will take you to the Vote, Amendment and Blog panels.
Then you may add your own ideas and comment on those of others. You will be able to return again and again to see the latest vote counts and rankings or update your own input and vote – right up to Independence Day.
When this consultation is concluded the politicians will know precisely what we want, and what we expect them to do about it, and that is what a constitution is all about. And Scotland will have a constitution which truly represents a modern popular democracy.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP?
The community spirit shown by people across Lanarkshire has been heart-warming. If you would like to offer your help, there are a whole host of new groups working across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
They are working together to help spread cheer and make sure the most vulnerable in our area are getting the necessities they need.
The range of services provided include delivering shopping to elderly or vulnerable neighbours, using online group chats to combat social isolation and loneliness, and handing out care packages to the elderly and vulnerable.
If you are in Hamilton, you can find more information about the Hamilton COVID-19 Warriors here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/213851619986142
If you are in Larkhall, you can find out more information about the COVID-19 Rainbows – Larkhall here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1092656721095368/permalink/1092743704420003
If you are in Stonehouse, you can find out more information about Stonehouse Coronavirus Community Support here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3402877913061116
At this time, it has never been more important for us all to look after our neighbours and family.
HELP SERVICES AVAILABLE
For Scottish Government information - https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
For NHS Scotland information - https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
For Resilience planning information - https://www.readyscotland.org/
For young people - https://young.scot/
Parents https://www.parentclub.scot/ and https://www.children1st.org.uk/help-for-families/parentline-scotland/
For older people - https://www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland/
For information on charities and third sector - https://scvo.org.uk/support/coronavirus
For non-domestic rates business support - https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/