A Week in Parliament

Holiday Spirit

I am glad to be able to spend a couple of weeks in the constituency. I know it will go by too quickly. Hopefully, readers too are able to enjoy the holiday period. Family Christmas and Hogmanay with my friends is my treat. I know when I return to Westminster I am straight back to a Bill Committee on the Trade Bill as well as further investigations and reporting as a member of the DEFRA Committee. So it might be a bit indulgent, but I know I need to recharge the batteries a bit.

Another One Bites the Dust

After an extended period the deputy prime minister resigned [was sacked] after he was found to have breached the Ministerial Code. He hadn’t done anything illegal even if he had watched legal pornography on his computer although there are so many strands that arise from this. Firstly, can anyone name a workplace that would not discipline or more likely sack someone for watching pornography in work time? If it wasn’t Damien Green and a staff member instead as he said, surely he would want to know who was doing this on his computer in his office?

Then we have to consider he lied about circumstances and police contact. He clearly went for the “say something, repeat it and don’t back down approach”. This was only undone by a retired policeman releasing the true information. And the attitude of Damien Green’s colleagues? They claim it wasn’t right for that information to be released. After the expense scandal before I was elected, I worry that there are still some politicians who get more excited about how misdoings are revealed rather than the misdoings themselves.

Another strand is David Davis the Brexit Secretary saying he would resign if Damian Green was sacked. It turns out his principles did not extend to following through and backing his friend.

Meanwhile, Westminster is also trying to get to grips with sexual harassment claims and an obvious lack of policy for this. A cross party group has worked together to define clearer rules, regulations and importantly, an independent way for accusations to be lodged and investigated. They took evidence from experts in this field and produced a report…except Labour have refused to sign it off. When a ministerial statement was given on this subject on the last day of parliament, it was clear there were splits on the Labour party about this and many of their MPs were calling for the report to be published in some form rather than be blocked which is what their leadership appears to want. It is extremely rare in Westminster for all parties to unite in a consistent manner and so,

Finally, the serious debate to be had about pornography, what is acceptable, what it does for woman’s’ rights given how most of it is portrayed and the availability to a switched on digital generation and how that then shapes attitudes to sex. This is a debate to return to.

Killie and Stevie

It is great to see the turnaround under Stevie Clarke. Hopefully the good work continues through the holiday period. I am a fan of a winter break after New Year when fans are skint and the weather often awful. However, I was shocked to find out a token two week break is followed by Killie having the Scottish Cup ‘pay at gate’ match then two midweek home games against St Johnstone, and Dundee, which will be poor crowds, with  Aberdeen away in-between! We also had midweek December away to Ross County which is the longest trip in the Premiership and a home televised game to Rangers causing more inconvenience. It is scandalous and something I intend to bring up with the All Party Group on Scottish Sports at Westminster. How difficult is it for the SPFL to get a fans’ perspective?

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard 28 December 2017