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I am elated to finally see progress being made in the long and hard campaign to win justice for those that suffered through the miners' strike.
To finally begin the process of righting a wrong and clearing the name of honest hard working Scots will be a relief to thousands across the country. Justice is very rarely easily won and loosening the stranglehold that the authorities have held regarding this issue over the years has been at times fruitless.
The Scottish Governments' announcement that we will see a review into the actions of the police is welcome. The hard work of MSPs such as Neil Findlay, and all of the campaigners, has proven fruitful as we have taken our first step on the ladder of due process.
Communities like Midlothian were left devastated with the closure of the mines, and this led to terrible scenes on the picket lines. This had tragic consequences for families as the striking miners were arrested and beaten. Many are still left with convictions today, something which hung around their necks for the remainder of their working lives.
We hope to see the full extent of the actions of the police to come to light, the entire community from top to bottom felt ripples to the present day. We are calling for justice to all of those involved, including police officers that were ostracised or overlooked for promotion for refusing to arrest friends and family on the picket line for what they saw as politically motivated unjust policing.
The suffering that was inflicted upon mining communities like ours can never be reversed, what we can do is acknowledge this suffering and free individuals from the shackles of the past. At the very least the miners and their families deserve liberation through truth.
I hope that the UK government follow suit and launch a nationwide Hillsborough type independent enquiry to uncover the truth about the treatment of strikers and protesters in 1984.
Having been elected to serve Midlothian at the last election, I feel it is essential to keep you updated with my constituency and Parliamentary activities.
This edition of the newsletter will contain:
- Justice for the miners?
- One year as your MP
- Questions in Parliament.
- Period poverty
- The Great Get Together
- Crummock update
- Helping you (May's casework analysis)
- Contact details
My monthly newsletter is distributed across the constituency and helps spark up debate around critical issues. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with you, and digital communications are an important part of that.
Shown solidarity at the Unison Pay Up Now rally
Campaigned for votes at 16 and chaired an APPG
Made my office a foodbank drop off point
I Provide free sanitary products for staff and visiting constituents
My Frontline staff are trained in Safetalk to recognise mental health issues
Backed Usdaw Union's Freedom from Fear campaign
Campaigned against the closure of RBS branches in Bonnyrigg and Penicuik
Raised concerns with PIP assessments
Celebrated 100 years of the start of women's suffrage
I brought leaders Jeremy Corbyn MP and Richard Leonard MSP to events in Penicuik
Campaigned to lower the maximum bet on fixed odds betting terminals
Supported the University lectures strike
Supported bills on Refugee Family Reunion and Unpaid Trial Shifts
Questioned the government over the abhorrent rape clause
One Year As Your MP
What we have achieved
What we have achieved
One year ago in June 2017, you put your trust in me and voted for me to become your MP. I am so proud to represent the place I call home and have had a great and busy first year in the job. I pledge to keep up the hard work representing you and have some exciting plans for the year ahead. If you have any problems you want to talk to me about, or if you just want a chat about an issue, please get in touch or visit one of my surgeries
Helped hundreds of people that have come to me with their issues
Held the first Women’s Matters event in Midlothian
Brought experts around the table to discuss Universal Credit
Called for automatic split payments of Universal Credit
Held surgeries in every part of Midlothian
I have asked almost 100 Parliamentary questions
Campaigned to scrap the public sector pay cap
Campaigned with WASPI women
Campaigned for better access to GP practices and GP appointments
Attended gala days and local events
Campaigned for a £10 real Living Wage
Visited care homes and nurseries
Hosted school visits to Parliament
Chaired Richard Leonards leadership campaign
Campaigned for the end of austerity and Midlothian Council to be fully funded
Campaigned for better broadband access
In 2000, the Labour government cut VAT on tampons from 17.5% to 5%. That was a good start, but 18 years later it's time to take the next step and zero-rate them. Government should also fund our local councils to ensure free sanitary products are available in public buildings. It would be a fitting tribute to the women who, exactly a century ago, won us the vote if my generation of female parliamentarians could make that happen.
I will continue fighting in Parliament for equality and to break the stigma surrounding periods. If you are interested in helping end period poverty, you can donate sanitary products to your local foodbank. They are always in need of products and sanitary products for girls are of vital importance to allow a comfortable, safe, and healthy period for women across Midlothian.
The great get together
Broadband drop in event
Having issues with your internet? Then come along to a drop in event I have organised to provide you with the opportunity to discuss your concerns with those responsible for the internet provision in Midlothian.
There will be representatives from Digital Scotland, Open Reach and some internet providers present.
When: Friday 20th of July
Time: 10am to 12noon
Where: Penicuik Town Hall, 33 High St, Penicuik EH26 8HS
No need to register, just turn up on the day ,and someone will be available to talk to you. Hope to see you there!
PERIOD POVERTY: BREAKING THE TABOO
Last month I became the first member to tell the chamber that I was on my period.
Since then I have received a great deal of support from women up and down the country. It's good that this has had so much coverage, but that a woman has said she’s on her period – something that happens to half the population every month – has made such big news shows how far we need to go to break the taboo. In my constituency office in Midlothian, I provide free sanitary products out of my own pocket. However, direct action can only ever be part of the solution to period poverty when essential items like sanitary wear are still taxed as luxuries.
People in Midlothian and across the UK came together to celebrate the life of murdered MP Jo Cox and uphold her belief that we have more in common than that which divides us.
It was fantastic to see so many of my constituents turn out for some lovely tea, coffee, cake and conversation in Jarnac Court. Hearing about what you value within our community and your suggestions of ways in which we can grow and welcome people into our community were inspiring.
I am so proud to have been born and raised in Midlothian, the welcome we give to newcomers and the inclusivity of our area deserves to be celebrated.
Thank you very much to everyone who came by to chat and share your experiences, we really are a community built in the spirit that Jo Cox championed.
With representation from local people, Midlothian Voluntary action, and the Refugee comminute we celebrated diversity in Midlothian and shared our experiences with everybody.
The fact that so many local people turned out to proves that we really are all far more united and have more in common than that which divides us. Thank you all for such an amazing day!
I raised the concerns to the Secretary of State for Scotland of construction workers in Midlothian and across Scotland, following the devastating news that almost 300 Crummock employees will be facing an uncertain future after the firm went into receivership.
Last month I met with the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell.
Among other things, I requested a task force be put in place following Crummock's closure to support re-employment and retraining, and raised the knock-on effects the closure will have on the local community and economy.
We also discussed the need for a coherent industrial strategy for Scotland. Having lost high street branches of RBS and given the precarious position of Poundworld, we need a strategy to mitigate the damage and protect our local economies. Cuts to local government budgets, which can be key drivers in the local economy, and the Government's policies of austerity have played a part in creating the insecurity many workers across Scotland feel.
Sadly the Secretary of State confirmed that there had been no contact from the Scottish Government on Crummock; however, he has pledged to write in support of the letter I will be writing to the new Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Derek Mackay MSP. The Secretary of State also committed to keeping a close eye on the re-employment and retraining of ex-staff, including ensuring data is broken down to capture the impact of the closure on female workers and to use this information to understand precisely what more can be done.
I also received assurances that information would be sent back to local job centres to inform the staff of the specific circumstances that former Crummock staff face.It is clear that the Scottish Government must do more with the devolved powers that they have regarding local government funding. I will be writing to Derek Mackay MSP, as the new Cabinet Secretary responsible, to ask again for a task force to be set up. I will also be reaching out to Johnston Carmichael (the receivers) to seek information on the assessments they have made regarding pension provisions.
At a time when we are eagerly trying to encourage people to exercise their democratic right to vote, the Government's voter ID pilot has led to over 300 people being turned away from polling stations.
I raised this in Parliament in the hope that the Government will re-evaluate their proposed system and adopt a more inclusive, more democratic means of voter ID.
I can’t help but feel that this is not only a hindrance to those that are working hard to inspire people to vote, but also a poorly thought out assault on democracy and political expression.
asking the right questions:
Questions in parliament
I contributed to the Westminster Hall debate on the banning of the sale of animal fur in the UK.
Thank you to all constituents who emailed me about this important issue, and who campaign on animal welfare.
The fashion and beauty industries rely too heavily on the cruelty of animals. With a Prime Minister open in her support of fox hunting, and a Government that attempted to remove the acknowledgement of animal sentience, it is now, more than ever, important to speak up for animals.
It is Labour policy to ban the sale of fur in the UK and to continue our progressive record on the protection of animals.
My constituency office is always open to the public, in June we were very busy with people in need of help or advice. I like to provide an overview of the types of issues that we are facing in Midlothian for the readers of my newsletter.
The most common cases we had in June where: local government, social security and pensions, housing and health services. Below I have provided you with a more detailed breakdown of the types of cases we have been working on over the month.
Again, Housing is one of our most significant issues, and a lot of people who have been in touch have had issues such as homelessness. My constituents continue to suffer from local government issues, which made up nearly 20% of all of Junes cases, council tax, roads, and parking persist as the major issues within this field. In June there was a rise in the number of Social Security and Pension issues being raised with me, this rise is expected as more and more people are being switched over to the botched Universal Credit benefit.
If you need any help or advice, please contact, and we will do our best to help.
I hold surgeries on Fridays at various venues across Midlothian; the information will circulate on my social media throughout the month and within the local press.
Please see the next page for more information regarding ways to contact me if you are in need of assistance, or wish to discuss local issues.
0131 663 9675
Ways to get in touch
97 High Street, Dalkeith, Midlothian, EH22 1AX