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Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

It's been a fanatically busy couple of weeks! I imagine a lot of you are feeling much the same, juggling all the different people with different needs in your household.

None of this is made any easier by the relentless confusion and contradictions over Brexit. The SNP continues to regard the best outcome would be to stay in the EU.

Meantime, we get on with the everyday business of governing Scotland in the best interests of all our people, of whatever age, background, ethnicity, secuality, religion or disability.

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.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter, which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do  sign up here.

Catch up with the HamilTEN!
We had a bit of an event at the first ever HamilTen run on Saturday!

Organised by The Hamilton Bid, the 10k run was due to start up from Castle Street at 10 am, but there was a bit of a delay.

A truck clipped a telegraph pole and brought the wires down.

But the run was saved by the quick response of a runner who also happens to be a BT engineer.

Great to have the right people on hand at a time like this! Very many thanks to him.

Councillors John Ross and Stephanie Callaghan ran the race for Arch, the autism service in Hamilton.

Home truths about Brexit
People coming into my office often ask me "What will Brexit be for me and my family? How can I know since even the Westminster Government doesn't seem to know?"

And that's the crux of the problem. Nobody knows. All this shrieking from different conflicting interests from Jacob Rees Mogg with his investment funds in Ireland, to Boris Johnson and his personal ambitions.

Amid the squabbling over the future of this United Kingdom, as Westminster hurtles closer and closer to the cliff edge that is No Deal, the Scottish Government has published a detailed plan to keep both Scotland and the rest of the UK within the customs union and single market.

This approach would allow us to protect jobs and living standards - instead of arrogantly dismissing those proposals, the Prime Minister should be putting them on the table for consideration.

For us in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, what happens at the end of March next year - that's only six months away - remains a complete mystery. What I'm sure about, probably the only thing I'm sure about, is that it isn't going to be good for any of us here.

Hamilton Grammar pupils visit the Scottish Parliament
On a much happier note, I'm always enthused when young people show a real interest in our Parliament, so it was a joy to meet up with Hamilton Grammar pupils.

As an S1 Group, they are incredibly knowledgeable about the parliament and in the goings on of their local community. 

It’s clear to see all the hard work – which resulted in record breaking exam result success the school achieved - is pulsating throughout all year groups. 

My thanks to the staff and pupils for taking the time to visit the Scottish Parliament and I look forward to visiting the school again in the near future.

Tax raid on pensioners
Not one of us is unfamiliar with Tory austerity, but don't lose track of the confusion that continues inside the Labour Party. All very evident at its Conference this week.

Now we have yet another depressing example of the party's plans for taxing of pensioners.
The Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard MP, used his conference speech to propose a “1% windfall tax on Scotland’s wealthiest 10%” which he claims would raise £3.7bn. But official figures show that 49% of those affected are pensioner households.

Across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, we have many, many pensioner households, often just one person. These folk can't suddenly find a big chunk to pay Labour's Windfall Tax - and they shouldn't be asked to

Bruce Crawford, SNP MSP, points out:

“Labour’s plan for a one-off tax are completely half-baked. Half of those hit by this £3.7 billion tax bill would be pensioners – for whom having a house does not necessarily mean having a high income. 

“For many of those would be hit, their ‘wealth’ could be little more than their home and pension. How is Richard Leonard expecting those pensioners to afford a one-off tax bill?"

Fun at Fairhill
I had a great time at the annual Fairhill fun day a couple of weeks ago. Hundreds of people joined in the fun at Fairhill Lifestyles Centre.

Organised through Community Links and the Fairhill Community Group, the fun day included the famous boogie bus, kid’s entertainment, stall holders and Police Scotland.

The Fairhill Community Group deserve tremendous credit for always excelling themselves in putting the day on. 

I thank them for all their hard work in organising the day and supporting our local community. 

 The community spirit within Fairhill is clear to see and I am tremendously proud to represent such a vibrant, positive community as their local MSP in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

International Day of Peace

The Scottish Parliament marked the UN’s International Day of Peace on 21 September.

Here in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, we are particularly aware of the very expensive dangers sitting in our back gardens,
This year’s event celebrated “The Right to Peace” on the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.

 Long-time anti-nuclear proponent, Bill Kidd, MSP, said to the Chamber:

“Peace is the absence of violence. We are lucky enough to live in times of peace here in Scotland: the normal experience of Scottish people nowadays is very different to what people had to live through, and die for, during large parts of the twentieth century.
“If we have the ability to actively promote peace and the capacity to make a change, then we have the responsibility to do so.
“As parliamentarians we are privileged to be in a position to affect legislation working towards peace.
“Whether it be on climate justice by voting in the Climate Change Bill or previously voting for the Child Poverty Act, we have the ability to be ambitious in promoting peace.”

Here's to that!