My End of Year Message

Like many readers, the year 2017 has flown past for myself. Clearly there was another general election this year, which was unexpected, unnecessary and unwanted. I was honoured to be re-elected and given the instability of the new Tory Government it remains to be seen if this parliamentary term will last the intended 5 year period.

It is clear that the UK Government still does not have a real plan for Brexit. However, after 18 months and caving in on every demand, they have finally agreed the preliminary terms. So, phase 2 of the talks now begin. The aim is to have deals concluded by October 2018, in order to allow them to be ratified in time for the UK’s planned EU exit in March 2019, so in reality only 10 months to do the real hard negotiations. Government Ministers better make the best of the Christmas holidays as they will be busy thereafter!

Sadly, too many people at this time of year are reliant on foodbanks. This is a combination of Tory welfare cuts, zero hours contracts, low wages and sometimes lack of full time jobs. We have to remember that when children are involved then daily life, including school work and learning is more difficult if you are hungry. I will certainly be making more donations to the foodbank collections and I would urge others to support these initiatives. It would be best if they were not required at all, but at the moment that is wishful thinking.

My personal Christmas wish list is fairer transitional arrangements for women affected by the state pension age increases; EU negotiations that allows Scotland to stay in the single market and customs union, protecting jobs; the UK Government providing financial support for the Ayrshire Growth Deal; the UK Government loosening their purse strings to reverse the cuts to the Scottish budget and for the UK Government to confirm that powers that come from the EU will go directly to the Scottish Government as well as the equivalent budgets. I appreciate that I am somewhat optimistic with my list but even some movement would be good. The WASPI women deserve a decent Christmas present and I hope that the parliamentary arithmetic now means that something will happen.

Here’s to a Merry Christmas 2017, a Happy New Year to all. Remember, for any last minute shopping…use the wonderful friendly local shops.

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard