It was a pleasure to speak with young activists today in support of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. These young people were ambassadors for the Bill, headed by Big Issue founder Lord Bird and Green MP Caroline Lucas, which is currently making its way through the House of Commons. I have also co-signed a letter to the UK Government… Read more »
In the debate on the Trade Bill I underline the importance of protecting our high quality food and environmental standards, and our NHS, from the vested interests of US companies. “I think it’s absolutely essential that the National Health Service free at the point of delivery, and predicated on being a service delivered by a public duty rather than by… Read more »
Citizens Advice Scotland’s Big Energy Saving Month launches on Monday 11 January. This campaign aims to help people cut their energy bills and get the financial support they are entitled to. According to their website the campaign is about: “giving people the power to save time, money and energy through everyday actions. The campaign raises public awareness of how simple… Read more »
Delighted to sign this pledge calling for MPs to have the power to scrutinise trade deals negotiated by the government before they are finalised and signed, especially as they affect our NHS. This is fundamental to our well-being and to our humanity.
From Tuesday 5 January East Lothian, along with the rest of mainland Scotland will move from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown. Similar to the restrictions put in place back in March 2020 this means that you should stay at home where possible. There are exceptions for a variety of activities, however these situations will only arise for essential activities…. Read more »
This is not where any of us expected to be last year, nor is it where we would wish to be heading into 2021. The continuing story of the power of human innovation in creating vaccines gives us hope that 2021 will be a better year for all across Scotland and around the World. It is up to us all… Read more »
Today the First Minister announced that East Lothian will move into Tier 3 on Friday 18 December from 6pm. This is disappointing and a hammer blow for many businesses. But public health has to be the priority. We need to redouble our efforts to suppress the virus as Christmas relaxations could compound it. Further financial support is needed along with… Read more »
In my column in this week’s East Lothian Courier I discuss how Brexit consequences are now being felt and they’re uniformly grim, with no redeeming features. “Helping me with my recent flitting were two East European lads. “Hard-working and good company, their English was impeccable and I learned not to assume all migrants from that part of the world are Polish…. Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier I discuss the problem of counterfeit good at Christmastime. “The move into Level 2 is welcome but continual vigilance will be required to keep it that way, let alone make progress. It’s easy to slip back, which was evident from being in London last week – a ghostly train carrying few passengers… Read more »
Around this time last year I had the pleasure of attending an event at the home of the Saltire in Athelstaneford in East Lothian. Restrictions do not allow me to be there today, but I look forward to celebrating the soul of our nation once it is safe to do so. The Scottish Flag Trust Trust looks after the Saltire… Read more »
This year, in order to help make sure everyone has the chance of a proper Christmas Dinner, I am supporting East Lothian Foodbank’s Jingle Bags campaign. The campaign aims to make sure that food bank users have the food available for a proper Christmas dinner. There is a full list of required food items at the Foodbank’s website: https://eastlothian.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/jingle-bags/ My… Read more »
The Scottish Government has today announced that as of 24 November East Lothian will move to level 2 of the COVID-19 Local protection levels. It’s welcome news that we in East Lothian are moving down to Level 2. This is largely down to the commitment and caution of the people of East Lothian. I want to once again give my… Read more »
Wishing All a very happy Diwali. It’s a very different celebration this year, but thanks go to the organisers of the online events. I look forward to being able to celebrate with you all next year, but for now: Happy Diwali as you light your lamps in East Lothian, across Scotland, and around the World.
Column: America is realising the futility of an all-out war on drugs and Scotland needs to do so too
In my column in the Scotsman I write about the need for new thinking on Drug legislation in the aftermath of the American Election. “In some states, it was simply a more liberal view on some aspects, such as the legalisation of marijuana, but in Oregon it was decriminalisation. “There’s a long way to go but it’s a start of rolling… Read more »
I’m delighted to receive this award for Cruelty Free International’s Parliamentarian of the Month, recognising our search for greater information about the way animals are treated in UK laboratories. The public has made it clear it wants an end to the continued high level of animal suffering in UK laboratories. I will continue to use my platform in order to… Read more »
I was very pleased to hear the news that Conor Howard will return to East Lothian following the Greek Court dismissing the extradition against him from Qatar. I’m delighted that the nightmare for him and his family is over, and he is able to come home. It has been fraught and so unnecessary. I was pleased to be advised by… Read more »
I have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, proposing a new scheme to help support the licensed trade during the next months of the Pandemic. I have asked him to consider the introduction of a “Pub Relief” – a policy proposal advocated by the Social Market Foundation and one which can be carried out across the UK. This approach would… Read more »
In my column in this week’s East Lothian Courier I discuss the pain caused by the mounting redundancies due to the economic shock of the pandemic. “Sadly, redundancies are mounting as furlough ends. It’s a tragedy for those losing their jobs and finding another isn’t easy. They’ve often given years of dedicated service. Hopefully, the position may be restored when… Read more »
I welcome the belated announcement that the Furlough Scheme has now been extended across the UK into December, although further clarity is needed still on the exact repercussions for Scottish decision making. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask why this extension wasn’t available when Scotland pushed for it; why it was left until five hours before the original Scheme… Read more »
I was delighted to get the chance to visit the new visitor centre at the Glenkinchie Distillery yesterday. The Glenkinchie is a key part of East Lothian’s food and drink industry, as well as our local and international tourism. I was extremely impressed with the new visitor attraction, and even more so by the commitment of Diageo to build on… Read more »
The Scottish Government announced this morning that East Lothian would be placed in Tier 3 of the new tiered Coronavirus response strategy. As I said in the East Lothian Courier this morning, I had hoped that East Lothian would be put into Tier 2: “As soon as you move to local authority areas as the basis for a decision then… Read more »
I met with the medical and administrative staff at the Riverside Medical Practice on 6 October after a large number of complaints from residents in the area relating to the difficulty in getting appointments, especially the 8am booking system. The staff and management team at Riverside were keen to say that they cared greatly about their patients and were worried… Read more »
Tomorrow (9 October) new measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) are to come into effect. There are specific measures in place for areas in the Central Belt, including the area covered by NHS Lothian, which includes East Lothian. You can find full details at the Scottish Government website. It’s disappointing and hard for many. However, the evidence is… Read more »
I was happy to table the following motion in the House of Commons, congratulating the Glenkinchie on receiving a Green Tourism Gold Award. The motion reads: “That this House congratulates the Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian for its receipt of a Green Tourism Gold Award; welcomes the commitment of Diageo to improving the sustainability of its distilleries and attractions; notes… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier I look at some of the major consequences of dropping the Furlough Scheme at the end of this month: “As the furlough scheme ends, it’s going to get worse. For that reason, it’s a huge mistake by the Tory Government to be ending the scheme that has worked well and when some… Read more »
Our European friends have seen the potential danger of forcing people back into work over the winter months, as well as the huge economic downside of pushing more and more people into unemployment and have very sensibly decided to extend the furlough scheme. We in Scotland do not have the economic powers necessary to implement our own furlough scheme so… Read more »
In my Column in the East Lothian Courier this week I discuss the need for greater vigilance in the face of rising case numbers in the constituency. “The coronavirus outbreak at the East Lothian Community Hospital and tightened lockdown re-imposed in the west of Scotland show the need for vigilance. “Outbreaks can occur in even the most rigorous of regimes…. Read more »
I had a meeting with the management, staff and Union reps at the East Coast Buses depot in Musselburgh on Friday. It was good to hear about the measures put in place to deal with the pandemic and ensure safety for staff and the public.
Scotland’s Test & Protect App is now available to download for your smartphone. You can download the app from the Protect.Scot website here. The Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other, reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns. The app will alert you… Read more »
I support the Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign. Every year in the UK, around 2,000 blood cancer patients need a stem cell donor to save their life – but too often a donor isn’t available, and they pass away waiting for a match. The Anthony Nolan charity reports that 1189 people are on the donor list in East Lothian, within… Read more »
Today is the 200th anniversary of the execution of Andrew Hardie and John Baird, two of the leaders of the 1820 working class rising that became known as the Radical War. After involvement in the declaration of a National Strike in Glasgow in April of 1820, Hardie and Baird led a small company to march on the Carron Company ironworks,… Read more »
Today I visited the site of the works on the A68 to meet with Bear Scotland officials and see for myself what has been happening following the landslip. I was hugely impressed by the work and was delighted to hear that it seems that the road will reopen on Monday, albeit initially with traffic lights operating at the site. A… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier this week, I discuss the worrying trend in unemployment, and how that trend looks increase due to the end of the Furlough scheme. “Unemployment is creeping up, increasing by 180 in July from June. More worryingly, it’s up by 70 for youngsters aged 18-24. The rate of 5.6 per cent is still… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman this week I discuss how “wars fought with weapons exported from developed countries, economic problems and environmental degradation are among the reasons why people leave developing countries in search of a better life.” “I don’t know why poor Mercy Baguma died or what brought her here. But it’s a tragedy that is going to… Read more »
I was pleased to sign this cross-party letter to Liz Truss (International Trade) and George Eustice (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) asking the government to clarify its commitment to protecting UK food standards in light of future trade deals. East Lothian is rightly famed for it’s fertile land and high quality produce, with farms across the county, and several local… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier I write about visiting the East Lothian Community Hospital. It was also an opportunity for me to meet trade union reps, which was humbling. Like others, I’ve seen on social media how hard it is for so many in the NHS who continue to give so much. Hearing the stories personally was… Read more »
In my column in this week’s East Lothian Courier I reflect on how the “downsides of ‘staycationing’ has been felt across the county.” Tourism is vital for East Lothian, with businesses and jobs depending upon it. The recent rush of visitors to hotels and chalet parks has been welcome and badly needed given that so much has been lost. But… Read more »
I was impressed to read about the fundraising work being done by Alex Brown, from Tranent, and more than happy to table a motion in Parliament congratulating him on the work he has been doing to raise money for local causes in East Lothian. You can read the full report at the East Lothian Courier website here, and read the… Read more »
The Scottish Government today published it’s most recent set of guidance on the route map through and out of the pandemic. You can find the detail of the information at the Scottish Government website here. It gives information on the recent changes, which include the following: From Monday 24 August: Organised outdoor contact sports for all ages can resume Driving… Read more »
Following the decisions made by East Lothian Council today, I welcome the decisions made regarding the proposed McDonalds Drive-Through and the Care Village outside of North Berwick. Traffic in that area of Musselburgh is bad enough. I have had messages from constituents as well, expressing concern about the potential noise and extra litter. I also echo my Council colleagues’ comments… Read more »
I have received enquiries from very anxious students and parents regarding the decisions made by the SQA in relation to grading this year. I have written to the schools in East Lothian stating my disappointment in the SQA’s decision-making process. I firmly believe the people best placed to know about pupils are those overseeing and working alongside them during their… Read more »
I recently met with the team at the Whitekirk Hill Leisure facilities between North Berwick and Dunbar. It was great to see the significant work done by the staff and management there to allow them to open their café and restaurant safely on a limited basis, and it was great to see visitors enjoying the gorgeous views over the East… Read more »
In my column in this week’s East Lothian Courier I discuss wearing masks, and getting the balance right between ensuring safe spaces for people in our communities and designing appropriate responses to local issues. “Remembering to take a mask can be frustrating when you’ve left home without one. I’ve started keeping them in different pockets and in the car or… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman I have written about the need for greater care for our countryside from visitors, in light of concerning recent reports from across Scotland, including in East Lothian. “The right to roam runs deep in the Scottish soul. People were rightly angered by being excluded from land that they saw as their birthright and progress… Read more »
A new report from Warwick University, supported by the CAGE Research Centre, suggests that people in East Lothian are already worse off by an average of £273.54 per person, and East Lothian as a whole is over £28 million worse off because of the Brexit vote. The report uses figures that run up to the end of 2019 and therefore… Read more »
I am encouraging locally-run shops and independent retailers in East Lothian’s towns and villages to enter Indie Retail’s Best Small Shops competition. The competition is free to enter and, according to Indie Retail, an organisation that promotes independent retail, “celebrates not only the commitment and creativity of entrepreneurial independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets but also, the central role… Read more »
In this week’s column in the East Lothian Courier I discuss our need to ‘ca’ canny’ as we head towards our new normal. “Getting out to shops, cafes and pubs is important for wellbeing, as much as our economy. I’ve enjoyed a coffee outdoors, nattering to friends and meeting with constituents. Simple things like that which we once took for… Read more »
I’m really pleased to support the East Lothian Courier’s Love Local Business campaign. While the governments rightly focus on maintaining the national economy, our high streets and local businesses are the backbone of our local economy here in East Lothian. We are rightly proud of our status as a tourist hub and we’re lucky to have so much choice in… Read more »
In my Column in the East Lothian Courier this week I discuss the importance of wearing masks at this time, as it becomes compulsory in shops as well as on public transport. London is a vast contrast to my more rural home. In some ways it was easier than my usual journey, with trains and subway quieter. However, everywhere, north… Read more »
I asked the Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about UK Government targets for Broadband and Mobile coverage. Good coverage is vital to keep our economy going and – most importantly – to keep up our connections with our friends and loved ones, however the UK Government’s current target for Scotland could leave many people (mainly in rural areas… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman today I write about the potential for a wave of unemployment on a much wider scale than that faced in the 80s. “Job losses are mounting, and unemployment threatens to become a tidal wave. We’ve been through it in the 1980s with Thatcherism, but the coronavirus crisis threatens to be worse and the effects… Read more »
Responding to today’s speech from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, I pointed out that “the least well off have suffered disproportionately with the health effects of this virus… they must not pay the price of the economic consequences.” I asked the Chancellor to “assure that the cost of these measures will not be borne by the poor and low paid, instead… Read more »
In my column in this week’s East Lothian Courier I reflect on the transition out of lockdown, and the mental health and employment issues raised by the process. “Lockdown wasn’t simple and coming out of it won’t be easy either. “Some challenged by the isolation will find the change hard to cope with. “I know I’m finding returning to London… Read more »
The Scottish Government announced today that from July 10 face coverings will be mandatory when shopping. Also announced were exceptions to the 2m distancing rule, as well as new guidance for children playing outdoors. Regarding face coverings, the Government said: “Following the successful introduction of mandatory face coverings on public transport, the measure will be extended to include retail settings… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier this week I discuss the need for fairer arrangements for National Grid connection charges. “I asked the business secretary about grid transmission charges. As offshore wind increases in scale and importance, it’s here that much of its energy lands. Cockenzie and Torness are transmission points, even if turbines are sited out at… Read more »
Today (June 24) the Scottish Government announced further details about the route map through and out of Lockdown. Provisional dates for a variety of areas, including relaxation of travel restrictions, restarting of the hospitality industry, and the reopening of hairdressers were announced. Key indicative dates from today’s briefing include from Phase 2: 3 July – Travel distance limit for leisure… Read more »
I welcome the Scottish Government announcement today that, providing we stay on track with suppressing the virus, school children will return full time at the start of the new academic year. This will be accompanied by £100m of funding to support a safe return as well as attainment. Planning for blended learning was essential and I am glad that it… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier I talk about the threat to Scottish Food standards in the controversial trade talks with the United States. “Farmers and constituents have been in touch, concerned about a reduction in food standards and protections. As USA trade deal negotiations continue, I share those fears, as it threatens those working hard on the… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman this week I wrote about my first foray into Prime Minister’s Questions: “with fertile East Lothian priding itself on its food and drink sector, any reduction in standards is a huge threat. “With the Tories failing to enshrine protections in the Agriculture Bill and ministers prevaricating a few days previously, I asked Boris Johnson… Read more »
I welcome the First Minister’s announcement today that we will be commencing Phase 2 of the COVID-19 – Framework for Decision Making. Phase 1 has been hard for everyone, especially those who are lonely, vulnerable and isolated. We still need to be cautious. We need to look after ourselves and ca canny when out and about, but for those who… Read more »
I asked Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, about ending the discriminatory regime of National Grid connection charges. These charges disproportionately affect sites in Scotland, Wales and the North of England, but it is in Scotland where the highest charges anywhere in the UK are applied. In contrast, energy producers based in London and… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier I write about how “racism afflicts every society and Scotland’s no different.” “Many constituents have been in touch about the events unfolding in the United States and, indeed, there were even some local demonstrations about them. “It’s both frightening and tragic and I’ve co-signed letters to the Government and supported motions seeking… Read more »
I signed, along with many colleagues from across parties, a letter to the Prime Minister calling on the UK Government to implement clean air proposals to help tackle Coronavirus transmissions. Research from Harvard University and QMU London suggests that some air pollution makes people more likely to catch the virus. It is true that air quality has improved since we… Read more »
To date, 10 prison staff have died in service from covid-19. In light of this, earlier this week I asked the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, whether he would “commit to adopting the best practice demands of the unions for a safe working environment” as well as pay compensation to the families of the 10 prison staff who have died, and… Read more »
Today at Prime Minister’s questions, I asked Boris Johnson to clarify the UK government’s intentions on animal welfare and food standards. The government have been avoiding the subject: they failed to enshrine protections in the Agriculture Bill, and earlier this week Ministers equivocated on this issue, so I called on the Prime Minister to “be clear today that high standards… Read more »
In the East Lothian Courier I write about how my email inbox is “has been inundated with communications about Dominic Cummings’ behaviour.” “Most are from people who tell me that they’ve never written to an MP before. Many are very distressing, detailing personal sacrifices made or loss endured by them or their family. “They’re entitled to feel angry as the… Read more »
I am encouraging parents of children aged four to five to apply for the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant. A one-off £250 payment is currently open to eligible families, with a child who was born between 1st March 2015 and 29th February 2016, who will be starting primary school later this year. The payment is part of the Scottish Government’s… Read more »
In my column in this week’s Scotsman, I discuss the idea of a four-day week and how “it offers a solution to both the economic fallout from coronavirus and the desire many will have for a different work-life balance.” “It’s being considered by countries from Finland to New Zealand and more will surely follow. It’s time we did the same.”… Read more »
The Scottish Government has rolled out the next step of it’s Test and Protect strategy today (28 May). You can read the full announcement at the Scottish Government website. From today everyone who has symptoms of Coronavirus is asked to book themselves in for a test as soon as those symptoms start to show. Testing is available at several drive-in… Read more »
East Lothian Council have opened up a consultation on Spaces for People in East Lothian. According to the council website “Given the limited space in our towns, it’s important we introduce enhanced spaces for people on foot, in wheelchairs and on bikes. “The requirements for social distancing are likely to remain in place for some time and people will be… Read more »
In my column in the East Lothian Courier I discuss just some of the issues that have been coming up regularly in my mailbox. One of the common themes is people in already difficult circumstances being hit the hardest. As I say in the column: “The most distressing has been the plight of those seeking to maintain contact with terminally… Read more »
Many constituents have written to me this afternoon expressing anger following the press conference where the Prime Minister defended the irresponsible actions of his advisor Dominic Cummings. I share their concerns and anger. For the Prime Minister to suggest that parents who complied with the lockdown rules were not caring enough, or that traveling huge distances across the country somehow… Read more »
The Scottish Government have today published their route map, indicating how we will proceed to ease the lockdown, continue to work to mitigate the damage of the virus and progress to a new normal. It is important for the many isolated and vulnerable people in East Lothian that start bringing this plan into reality, but it is equally important that… Read more »
In my column in today’s Scotsman, I discuss the need for a decent wage for our care workers. “If private sector care homes cannot afford to pay carers a decent wage, they should be taken over by councils or run by not-for-profit organisations.” “I’ve been in many care homes visiting as the constituency representative or meeting elderly friends or relatives…. Read more »
In the debate yesterday about the negotiations of a Future Relationship with the EU I asked Michael Gove whether or not there will be some arrangement to allow law enforcement in Scotland to have access to the European arrest warrant and Europol, both of which are important to ensure the safety and security of our society. His answer was simply… Read more »
Last week I was informed that East Lothian had raised a large amount of money for Christian Aid week. The theme of the annual fundraiser this year was focussed on the needs of those who have been hardest hit by the coronavirus in the poorest countries with the least developed health systems. I’m really pleased to note that the work… Read more »
I signed, along with MPs from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and Labour, a letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, calling on him to prevent economic support going to big businesses who are registered in tax havens. The letter also calls on the Chancellor to put restrictions on “excessive executive pay”. The letter reads in full: Dear Chancellor,… Read more »
Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech this evening (10 May), I wrote, along with Cllr Stuart Currie, SNP Group Leader for East Lothian Council that: “As representatives for East Lothian, we welcome Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement this evening, following the lead of devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in confirming that the lockdown will continue with some… Read more »
Writing in the East Lothian Courier, I talk about the changes that we must make to our economy, our society and our treatment of the natural world: “The Irish President, Michael D Higgins, made a remarkable speech about how both a better country and a fairer world need to come from this. Those sentiments and that ambition must apply here,… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman today (Thursday 7 May) I discuss the recent programme on the Scots language by Alistair Heather. “It built on much good work especially by the erudite Billy Kay. A Scots tongue there most certainly is and it’s both contemporary and historic. “I recall reading a biography of Mary of Guise, Mary Queen of Scots’… Read more »
A £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people opened today (30 April). Scottish Government Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our economy has been hit hard by this crisis and previously profitable businesses have seen demand dry up overnight. Our support will help alleviate the hardship those individuals and companies… Read more »
UPDATE 22 April: A reminder that the deadline to be sure payment comes through before the end of the month is today (Wed 22 April). HMRC have produced advice having difficulty accessing the system because they do not have an active PAYE enrolment. In order to make a claim they will need to: • have a Government Gateway (GG) ID… Read more »
Kenny MacAskill – Representing East Lothian Dear Friends, Welcome to the April edition of my newsletter. As I write, the lockdown period has just been extended another three weeks. I know how difficult this is for many of you, so can I take this opportunity to thank the people of East Lothian for their willingness to do what is right… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman Newspaper I write about how COVID-19 will only be wiped out if we do so all over the world, and how the poorest nations on earth will need our help. You can read the full piece at the Scotsman’s website here.
The Scottish Government have set up a new helpline for those in vulnerable groups who do not have family or community support. From the Scottish Government website: “The service – which opens tomorrow (Tuesday) – will offer help to those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online and who are over 70, disabled, require… Read more »
In my column in today’s Scotsman Newspaper I talk about the need for Scotland to implement a prisoner release scheme for inmates who will not be a danger to the public in order to avoid as far as possible a major outbreak of Coronavirus in our prisons.
I recently asked some questions in parliament about Coronavirus assistance for small businesses, clarity on furloughing staff, assistance for self-employed people and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). These questions were written on behalf of the many constituents who have been in touch with me recently to ask about these issues. I received the written answers to these questions… Read more »
On 24 March the Scottish Government announced they would provide you with support to self-isolate if you’re at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes including helping you to access medicine and food supplies. To help you further the Scottish Government would like to contact you by text message. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you‘ll… Read more »
A new ‘Scotland Cares’ campaign has been launched today by the Scottish Government to encourage people to volunteer. You can find the Coronavirus volunteering portal at readyscotland.org. The website is being constantly updated and provides advice on volunteering safely and the organisations to register an interest with such as Volunteer Scotland and the Red Cross. While the most important ask… Read more »
Visitors staying on leisure sites asked to return home. I welcome the news the Scottish Government has announced that in line with recent advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) announced by the First Minister, campsites, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland are to close immediately to new arrivals, including tourers, other transient visitors and holiday lets. I also welcome the clarity of… Read more »
The Scottish Government, publishing its child immunisation figures today, reminded parents that it is important that their children continue to get the vaccines they need during this time. Travel for medical purposes is explicitly allowed at this time. Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I am pleased to see that childhood immunisation rates across Scotland remain very high, reflecting both the… Read more »
This is a difficult time for many in the constituency. We have put these pages together to provide answers for some the frequently asked questions that come in to my mailbox. This is a fast moving situation and the advice will necesarily need to be updated over time. Every update to these pages will be date stamped so you can… Read more »
In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic I have made the regrettable decision to cancel my advice surgeries for the foreseeable future. This is a temporary measure until this situation passes, and rest assured, my office team and I are still on hand to help with your enquiries. You can contact me directly by email: email@example.com and regular updates will… Read more »
I spoke in a debate on Tackling Alcohol Harm in Westminster Hall on Tuesday (17 March). You can watch the full debate at the Parliament.Tv website here. And read my contribution at Hansard here.
East Lothian Investments has announced a new Business Interruption Loan scheme to support business at this time. They say: “In light of the Covid -19 pandemic, ELI has implemented a business interruption loan which replaces the previous interest free loan offering.” “Loans can be applied for to a maximum of £5,000, interest free with a holiday repayment period of 4… Read more »
New guidance from the Scottish Government about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been published. The main points are: To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact. People over 70 and those who have high risk and underlying health conditions are being strongly advised… Read more »
I sat down today for lunch with some volunteers at East Lothian Food Bank in Tranent. It was quite humbling to see the work that goes in to ensuring those in real need are able to feed their families and themselves. There are over 60 volunteers spread across East Lothian who do this vital work for the food bank. They… Read more »
In light of the news that the Scottish and UK Governments are moving from the ‘containment’ to the ‘delay’ phase in their response to the Coronavirus outbreak, I am advising constituents to continue to follow the official advice from the Governments. This includes continuing to wash your hands frequently. It also suggests that people who exhibit symptoms of the illness… Read more »
I spoke in Parliament today, asking a question of Johnny Mercer MP as part of his statement on Veterans Mental Health.
My column in today’s Scotsman: “It’s many years now since I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Alex Ferguson. Interviewing him as friend of Jimmy Reid, I ventured south with some trepidation, dressing-room tales of the “hairdryer” treatment going before him. But I came a way a fan and still rave about him to this day. “Now I’ve no doubt… Read more »
My column in today’s Scotsman: “The looming coronavirus threat can be viewed as a natural phenomenon, but another threat is entirely man-made and that’s the UK Government’s changes to immigration policy. For the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, totalk about “genuine difficulties” is as blasé as referring to coronavirus as a seasonal flu. It’s causing genuine fear and… Read more »
I’m supporting CHANGES East Lothian’s fundraiser to help pay for more people to receive an counselling with a trainee therapist. CHANGES promote positive wellbeing in East Lothian by offering a wide range of free courses, groups, therapies and activities as well as one-to-one CBT and counselling. Their base is in Musselburgh, though the support covers East Lothian with courses coming… Read more »
My column in this week’s East Lothian Courier: East Lothian isn’t just proud of its beaches but famed for them. It’s one of the reasons that day-trippers and holidaymakers come to the county. The sands are remarkable and a source of enjoyment for locals, as for visitors. But pollution and litter is a growing concern. For it’s not just in… Read more »
Visited the Aviation Preservation Society Scotland today, based in Congalton. The society are involved in a number of projects locally, not least building a fully functional replica of a World War 1 Sopwith Biplane, of the type that would have flown from East Fortune. It was great to see the plane as it nears completion and talk with the society… Read more »
My column today in the Scotsman discussing the deepening divides in English society. “Brexit and long-term social and economic changes have seen a divide appear in England and it’s deep. “It’ll take time and a lot more effort than the UK Government is currently making to address it. Indeed, they’re exacerbating it further by widening the gulf between rich and… Read more »
Great to catch up with the redoubtable WASPI women today. But it’s not good enough that they are still having to fight this battle!
Pleasure to meet today with the Governor of Punjab. Chaudry Mohammed Sarwar was formerly the MP for Glasgow Govan and Glasgow Central, so no stranger to the corridors of Westminster.
My next advice surgeries will take place on Friday (6 March) in Musselburgh, Prestonpans, and Tranent. You don’t need an appointment to come along, and the surgeries are open to all constituents. For more information, or to get in touch directly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – 6 March Musselburgh – Brunton Hall – 1-1.30pm Prestonpans – Aldhammer House – 2-2.30pm Tranent… Read more »
Following the first positive diagnosis of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland, in the Tayside area, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “Scotland is well equipped to deal with infections of this kind. We have a proven track record of dealing with challenging health issues, and have been preparing for this possibility since the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan…. Read more »
Fascinating visit to Torness Nuclear Power Station today, meeting management and Union Reps. The power station is an important part of the economy in East Lothian, so it was important to me to get a view of how it fits in, especially regarding alternative energy sources and our transition away from fossil fuels.
My column today in the Scotsman: How Scotland’s martyrs for democracy were written out of history The radicals of late 18th and early 19th-century Scotland were inspired by the French Revolution and Thomas Paine’s book ‘Rights of Man’ to campaign for greater democracy at a time when the country had only a few thousand voters, writes Kenny MacAskill. History, it’s… Read more »
It was really great to be out visiting Stevenson Astrosat in Musselburgh on Friday. I was extremely impressed at the innovative ways the company is are using satellite data and emerging space technologies to solve significant national and global problems. It’s great to see important work like this being done in our constituency.
My column in this week’s East Lothian Courier A constituent asked me if I knew the link between East Lothian and Palestine and I had to confess that I didn’t, though I’d met Ministers who had visited the Holy Land. But there is one and it laid the basis for the troubles there today. For Arthur Balfour was born into… Read more »
A pleasure to visit the Scottish Seabird Centre, and Chief Executive Susan Davies yesterday. The Seabird Centre is a major employer in North Berwick and an International tourist attraction. I was particularly interested in the work being done in research and conservation. The East Lothian Coast has a wealth of marine wildlife and the largest colony of Northern Gannets in… Read more »
Great to join students at Knox Academy in Haddington as they interviewed me on the specific impacts of the Climate Crisis on East Lothian. We had @KennyMacAskill in to @knoxacademy today to be interviewed on the climate emergency and how East Lothian is being impacted #climatechange #climatecrisis pic.twitter.com/pvZX78V6K1 — Knox Academy Library (@KASchoolLibrary) February 20, 2020
My column in the Scotsman. “There was a buzz in nationalist circles in Scotland, as there was surprise in British ones, at the Irish election result. “Sinn Fein polled better than many had ever imagined even if the demise of Fine Gael shouldn’t have come as such a shock. “It does mean that a United Ireland is drawing ever closer,… Read more »
My column in the Scotsman. “Visiting a community project in my constituency reminded me why justice is best delivered close to home. Youngsters in danger of going off the rails and the not-so-young seeking to get back on them were all being helped. Good work was being done and the community that had sometimes suffered from them appreciated it. “Atonement… Read more »
My column in the East Lothian Courier – 10 February 2020 The county possesses many holiday and caravan parks. Folk from near and far use them and enjoy them immensely. I’ve visited a few and they’re well looked after, bringing jobs and spending power to the communities near them. It’s no longer just caravans static or mobile on site but… Read more »
It was really great to spend some time yesterday with staff, volunteers, and service users at Headway East Lothian in Musselburgh, a charity that does fantastic work providing information, support and services to people with a brain injury, their families and carers. Headway are active throughout East Lothian, with regular meetings in Dunbar, Haddington and Musselburgh.
Viridor Dunbar Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) is an energy capture facility, located in one of the old Cement quarries outside Dunbar. I visited them yesterday (14 February) to find out more about what they do. The ERF takes in waste products that cannot be recycled and would normally be put into landfill. It then uses those materials to produce electricity… Read more »
I was delighted to pay a visit to the Tarmac Dunbar Cement Works today. The Cement Works is a major employer of locals in Dunbar. It was fascinating to see, how the plant works and to speak with management there about the process and how they are responding to local issues in the Dunbar area, national concerns about infrastructure projects… Read more »
In my column in the Scotsman this week I discuss why it’s high time we abolished the House of Lords. I’m a supporter of a second chamber, whether in the UK or an independent Scotland. The ability to have a further review and considered input enhances democracy. But planned appointments to the House of Lords, if true, are craven and… Read more »
Today I spoke in the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill debate. This issue is important because we need to keep our communities safe. It is essential that the methods we use to do this are proportionate and effective. You can watch the video below, or read the speech at the UK Parliament’s Hansard Website.
I am pleased to support this campaign from the charity Independent Age. The percentage of the population of retirement age in East Lothian is higher than the Scottish average. That means there are a significant number of pensioners in East Lothian who are not getting all the benefits they are entitled to. Pension credit not only tops up your pension… Read more »
Congratulations to those who have campaigned for this new cycle path. I’m quoted in the piece saying “This is great news. Safe, family-friendly active travel options are essential for both commuters and citizens alike. “This new pathway will be good for the health of local residents and our environment. Campaigners, CALA and local landowners are to be commended for making… Read more »
Outside the George Johstone Centre in Tranent after a busy day of surgeries in the west of the Constituency. For information on my future advice surgery dates, please see this page.
My column in The Scotsman today:- “The UK is weakened and diminished and it’s only going to get worse. In the space of a week, the bold Boris has provoked not just a fight but a backlash from the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc. Meanwhile over Huawei, he’s managed to irritate the world’s two superpowers, China and the USA…. Read more »
Great to catch up with Steve Gillan, the General Secretary of the POA, the Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers. The welfare of staff a vital concern.
I wrote in today’s Scotsman about the tendering process charities must undergo to secure a contract to provide care services. “Social enterprises are universally lauded, yet we put a ball and chain around their ankles. “If football managers can get “rolling contracts” why not them? Surely a lighter touch can prevail for smaller community services, where it’s clear their skills… Read more »
I was given an interesting briefing from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) today. Though East Lothian is well placed on air pollution there’s no room for complacency given the effect it has on vulnerable individuals and local hot spots. The briefing made reference to PM2.5 particles, which are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air… Read more »
A great pleasure to meet Dr Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Ambassador this morning. Donald Trump’s proposals are outrageous and the cause of the Palestinian people and their rights under international law must be protected.
Brexit isn’t a moment of celebration. The triumphalism from Downing Street is frankly disgraceful. It’s intimidatory and disrespectful towards those who have come from Europe and made this their home. – Longniddry, 31/01/2020
Minimum Unit Pricing Success – from the Daily Record Scotland’s former Justice Secretary has called on big booze companies to apologise for delaying the minimum pricing for alcohol. Kenny Macaskill’s call comes after the Treasury confirmed that there has been no increase in foreign duty on exports as a result of the 50p a unit base price. The SNP MP… Read more »
Commenting today in the Scotsman, on Emily Thornberry’s unfortunate comments about the SNP. “I’ve never met Emily Thornberry but I’m sure she doesn’t really hate the SNP. That was simply unfortunate rhetoric used by her as she played to the gallery in a party hustings. It was crass of her as I’m sure she’s not someone who burns with hate…. Read more »
My column in today’s Scotsman: “The coronavirus that’s afflicting China and in danger of spreading is frightening. Armed soldiers, dressed in biological uniforms and face masks, sealing off entire cities is reminiscent of reading an Arthur C Clarke novel or watching a sci-fi movie. But it’s real life and, despite some apparent heavy-handedness and concern about general lack of democracy… Read more »
I am quoted in the East Lothian Courier today talking about a report into deprivation levels across Scotland that suggests deprivation is rising in East Lothian. This latest report shows the impact of austerity. These aren’t just numbers but individuals and families who are suffering. Poverty is biting and Universal Credit is playing its part in the agony.