East Lothian Courier – 16 July 2021


Last week saw Parliament finally have an opportunity to debate the Tory Governments proposed cut to the international aid budget. It’s an issue that concerns many constituents who were in contact with me and where I share their view that its deplorable.

I spoke in the debate making it clear that it was about many issues but in particular it concerned twin imperatives. Firstly, the moral duty to provide for those least fortunate and especially at this time with a global pandemic. Hardship in many ‘s land’s is already severe and Covid worsens it. But secondly, as a consequence there’s a public health imperative here. If we don’t support them to prosper and be able to tackle the pandemic, then another variant or new disease will strike us all and our vaccines might not protect us.

There was a mini rebellion by Tory backbenchers including former Premier Theresa May who expressed her anger at how it had been done, as well as what was being done. Several other senior Tories, such as the former International Aid Minister Andrew Mitchell also expressed their outrage. I praised them for having the courage of their party’s former convictions. It’s not easy to do what they did and whilst I still disagree with them profoundly on many issues, they deserve great credit for their efforts. Sadly, it wasn’t enough, and the Government still had a majority. I fear that many will suffer, and we all are threatened.

Locally the proposed train service changes remain a huge worry, including for myself as I invariably travel to London by train from Dunbar. The Express Service operator’s announcement came as a bolt from the blue and if implemented will leave many bereft. There has to be a balance with access to mainline services north and south but also the establishment of a local service. It can be done but the UK Government need to lean on the Express operators and the Scottish Government must provide a local service from Edinburgh to Berwick and preferably Newcastle. Both are possible but they’re essential for the communities on the Line