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Keeping up with you

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.

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.

Budget Day


On Monday 29 October we heard Philip Hammond deliver the UK budget

We didn’t expect much and we certainly didn’t get it. That 50p piece celebrating Brexit  will give you an ever decreasing amount to invest in the £25m you’ll be spending on the Brexit Festival.

The £950m ‘increase’ in funding over three years for Scotland is a bit of a con. Hammond has no choice but to give the Scottish Government its share of the Barnett Consequentials. Besides, in reality we have been short-changed to the tune of £50m for our NHS. What Scotland decides to do with that funding is up to our own Government, thank goodness.

To put this in context, the Scottish NHS costs around £13bn a year to run.

So, over and above the £350m a week that we were promised in 2016 and have never seen, we have, well, 50p. In other words, we are seeing none of this promised Brexit ‘dividend,’ just more Universal Credit suffering.

The Chancellor claims that austerity is ending; Mrs May says it has already ended. We didn’t see evidence of either in this budget.

And, of course, if there is no Brexit deal – a terrifying prospect that looks more likely every minute – Mr Hammond will have to tear up all his hard work and start again with a new budget in just five months’ time.

Items that we in Scotland really hoped to see in the Budget included the Real Living Wage, but all Mr Hammond has done is put in a small inflationary increase in the National Wage which will rise from £7.83 to £8.31 in April. No mention of our calls to extend to all workers, regardless of age.

Appalling Tory policies are increasing poverty 



The Nasty Party is living up to its name. They really seem to regard increasing poverty as some kind of success!

What we are seeing is:

  • Backed the two-child cap, which puts 150,000 Scottish children at greater risk of poverty by 2021. 
  • Argued there was no “hard evidence” explaining rising foodbank demand – despite the overwhelming evidence pointing the finger precisely at Tory policies.
  • Said that only “tiny” numbers were affected by sanctions – when figures show that Scots have been sanctioned 400,000 times since 2010. 
  • Argued that the minimum wage should be scrapped. 
  • Branded the Bedroom Tax an “opportunity” – when three quarters of those affected were forced to cut back on food. 

Have you ever watch Rich House, Poor House? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Jacob Rees-Mogg or Boris Johnson spend a week living on the home of an average Hamilton family?


Michelle Ballantyne MSP



Entirely in the spirit of the Tories’ notion of welfare, Michelle Ballantyne MSP, and the Scottish Tory welfare spokesperson, has declared that “people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like.”

Since her comments, it has emerged that Ms Ballantyne claimed tax credits and child benefit for her own six children. A typical hypocrisy, the kind of attitude we have become all too familiar with.

One rule for the rich, and another for the rest of us. That’s Tory equality in the 21st century UK.

Ms Ballantyne has previously called for a debate on whether there should be a “restriction” on the number of children people can have – showing that these statements reflect long-held views. 

I wonder how you would all react, in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse to that kind of ruling? I’d love to hear your views. I am reminded of the former Chinese ‘one child’ policy which was relaxed in 2013 and that is in a hard-line Communist country. An interesting model for the UK.

Lanarkshire Rape Crisis Centre

There’s an interesting vacancy at LRCC for the right person. The centre, at the Brandon House Business Centre, is looking for a Development Worker. They say: “We are keen to reach a diverse and wide range of potential applicants, including those from minority and hard to reach groups. With this in mind, it would be great if you were willing to share this opportunity with as many of your staff, volunteers, service users, patrons and contacts as possible through any channels, including social media.”

If you are interested, please call Julie Gatens on 01698 527006 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


‘Fright Night’ in Stonehouse

Everyone enjoyed the fun on Saturday past and there was a great atmosphere throughout the evening.

The Friends of Stonehouse Park mounted a fantastic even for all ages. That’s the kind of community activity I love to see.


Council initiative to help the third sector


South Lanarkshire Council has teamed up with SCVO’s Funding Scotland to provide a free online funding search facility to charities, community groups and social enterprises in South Lanarkshire.

In these very straitened times, the fantastic small local groups that make such a difference to people, really struggle to find the funding to continue what they are doing. They all do their best with street collections, local events and sales.

But the Tories have withdrawn government funding from so many of these groups, the services they have been providing, so essential for local people, have been lost.

Registration is free and fast. Just go to