A Week in Parliament

That Bar Incident

Another MP has been accused of unacceptable behaviour in a bar and is being investigated by the Tory party. There is no doubt he was absolutely steaming drunk, and this begs the question about being drunk in and around the workplace. However, it is possible for MPs and staffers to go to such a bar when all their work is finished or at the very least, Parliament has finished for the day. It is natural for some people to have an after work drink with colleagues. However, at Westminster, with many staff being young, and MPs with no family home to return to, then the temptation to drink more regularly can happen. There are effectively only two bars in the complex and they are surprisingly small which indicates how few people of the thousands within the complex actually partake at a given time.

It is hard to believe that the drinking culture is not as bad as it used to be as previously there were more bars opening later. Yet, things are much better than the recent past. This latest incident indicates that there is still a long way to go in terms of behaviour and responsibility. I have met constituents in the evening and it can be sociable to have a discussion at Strangers or on the Terrace and makes for a pleasant visitor experience. That’s not enough to justify retaining the temptation, and I certainly fail to understand why bars are open during daytime core work hours. This latest incident rightly brings MP behaviours and culture into the spotlight – and inevitably tars us all with the same brush. For everybody’s sake, particularly those who have been on the receiving end of the alleged groping, this has to be properly investigated and lessons learned. Pre-emptive comments from colleagues putting “stress” as a reason for misbehaviour helps no-one and belittles the seriousness of the matters.

 Glasgow Airport Rail Link

There has been much SNP Government bashing over the fact the latest proposals for rail connections to Glasgow involve going via Paisley. A rail study demonstrated that an additional service direct from the airport would mean a reduction in rail services from Ayrshire due to the capacity issues on the bridges that serve Central Station. Therefore, I fully support the revised proposals and anyone from Ayrshire using rail should do likewise.

 February Recess

Parliament usually has a parliamentary recess in February. This has now been cancelled. I know many will be saying “it’s time they did more work” or “they get too many holidays anyway”. However, such a recess allows me to spend more time in my constituency. The big gripe I have about the cancellation is the number of workers at Westminster who will have made plans for that week only to have to cancel them. What if that was the only time they could get away with family? Worse, the Government is so chaotic we have had many days when business has collapsed early or it is padded out with general debates. It is just further confirmation of a Government in complete chaos.

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.