Visiting the Glenkinchie Distillery redevelopment

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 »

Comment: East Lothian placed in Tier 3 of new Scottish Government System

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 »

Meeting with Riverside Medical Practice

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 »

New moves to stop COVID-19 spread

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 »

EDM: Congratulating Glenkinchie Distillery

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 »

Column: Ending furlough scheme is a mistake

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 »

Calling on the PM to extend the Furlough Scheme

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 »

Column: Greater COVID vigilance is needed

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 »

Meeting Staff at Musselburgh Bus Depot

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.

Scottish Test & Protect App now available

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 »

Join the Stem Cell Donation register – save a life!

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 »

EDM: Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Hardie & Baird, and the 1820 Radicals

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 »

Update on the works on the A68 slippage

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 »

Worrying figures on unemployment

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 »

Column: Plastic pollution: West can’t dump its waste on Africa

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 »

Calling on the UK Government to protect food standards

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 »

Column: Let’s keep things as local as possible

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 »

Column: Please ‘wild camp’ properly

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 »

Fundraising efforts recognised in Early Day Motion in Parliament

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 »

Updated route map through Pandemic – 20/08/20

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 »

McDonalds Drive Through and Care Village rejected

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 »

SQA Exam Results

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 »

Visiting Whitekirk Hill

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 »

Column: Striking the Right Balance

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 »

Column: The trashing of Scotland’s countryside must stop

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 »

East Lothian Residents already £273 worse off because of Brexit – with No Deal still on the table

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 »

Enter the Best Small Shops competition

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 »

Column: Connections are key

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 »

Backing Local Business

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 »

Please wear a mask

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 »

Question in Parliament on Broadband and Mobile Coverage

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 »

Column: Coronavirus economic crisis risks mass unemployment on much wider scale than 1980s

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 »

Protecting the lowest paid from Coronavirus Economic Consequences

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 »

Column: Coming out of lockdown will not be simple

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 »

Scottish Government announcement on 2 July – Face Coverings in Shops

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 »

Column: More support for wind power required

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 »

Further Lockdown Route Map information from the Scottish Government

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 »

Scottish Government announces return to full time education in August

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 »

Column: US trade deal threat is real

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 »

Column: Chlorinated chicken isn’t only US threat to Scottish food

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 »

Coronavirus Response Phase 2 Update – 18 June 2020

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 »

Unfair National Grid Connection Charges

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 »

Column: Understanding Scotland’s slavery links is important

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 »

Calling on the Prime Minister to implement clean air proposals to tackle Coronavirus

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 »

Questioning the Justice Secretary on safety in prisons and staff deaths from Coronavirus

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 »

Prime Minister’s Questions – Animal Welfare and Food Standards

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 »

Column: My Email inbox after the Dominic Cummings issue

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 »

Reminder to parents in East Lothian eligible to apply for £250 primary school start grant

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 »

Column: Why four-day working week is an idea whose time has come

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 »

Test and Protect System implemented across Scotland

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 Consults on safe physical distancing

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 »

Lockdown has provided unanticipated consequences

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 »

Comments on Prime Minister’s press conference

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 »

Scottish Government publishes route map out of lockdown

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 »

Decent wage for care staff more important than private profits

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 »

Debate on the Future Relationship with the EU: Negotiations

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 »

East Lothian’s contribution to Christian Aid Week

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 »

Letter to the Chancellor: Do not give bailouts to tax haven businesses

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 »

Response to Prime Minister’s statement on Coronavirus Response

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 »

Bass Rock Sea View Firth Of Forth

Once this crisis is over, we must return to a fairer world

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 »

“It’s about who we are and how we view ourselves” My column on the Scots Language

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 »

£100m funds to help business opened today

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 »

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme opens today

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 »

Bass Rock Sea View Firth Of Forth

April Newsletter

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 »

Coronavirus pandemic is not a war but a test of our humanity

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.

New coronavirus helpline for Scots in vulnerable groups

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 »

Scotland’s prisons are a coronavirus hothouse. Here’s what we must do

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.

Coronavirus Advice – Questions in Parliament

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 »

Update from the Scottish Government on Shielding

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 »

New Volunteering Campaign Launched by Scottish Government

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 »

Campsites and caravan parks to close

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 »

Children should continue to be vaccinated throughout coronavirus outbreak

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 »

Coronavirus Advice pages and resources

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 »

Surgeries postponed due to Coronavirus

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: kenny.macaskill.mp@parliament.uk and regular updates will… Read more »

Debate on Tackling Alcohol Harm

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.

Business Interruption Loans from East Lothian Investments

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 »

Coronavirus: Updated guidance from the Scottish Government

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 »

Visiting East Lothian Foodbank

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 »

Bass Rock Sea View Firth Of Forth

Updated Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidelines from the Scottish Government

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 »

Speech in Parliament: Veteran’s Mental Health

I spoke in Parliament today, asking a question of Johnny Mercer MP as part of his statement on Veterans Mental Health.

Alex Ferguson could teach politicians about real leadership

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 »

Unionists are denying Scotland a devolved immigration system for purely political reasons

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 »

CHANGES East Lothian

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 »

We must protect our beaches

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 »

Visiting the Aviation Preservation Society Scotland

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 »

Why England is much more divided than Scotland

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 »

Meeting WASPI Women in Parliament

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!

Meeting the Governer of Punjab

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.

Surgeries Information

Advice Surgeries – 6 March

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 kenny.macaskill.mp@parliament.uk – 6 March Musselburgh – Brunton Hall – 1-1.30pm Prestonpans – Aldhammer House – 2-2.30pm Tranent… Read more »

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice from the Scottish Government

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 »

Visiting Torness Power Station

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.

How Scotland’s martyrs for democracy were written out of history

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 »

Visiting Astrosat in Musselburgh

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.

A Link to Palestine – East Lothian Courier

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 »

Visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre

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 »

Visiting Knox Academy to discuss Climate Change

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

Lesson for SNP from Sinn Fein’s Irish election result isn’t what some seem to think

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 »

Fate of Australian exiled to Scotland shows why UK’s deportations are so wrong

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 »

Motorhome ‘rip-off’

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 »

Visiting Headway East Lothian in Musselburgh

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.

Visiting Viridor Energy Recovery Facility

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 »

Visiting the Dunbar Cement Works

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 »

Here’s why it’s time to abolish the House of Lords

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 »

Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill

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.

Pension credit campaign

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 »

Groundbreaking day for safe cycle path linking East Lothian coastal villages

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 Johnstone Centre

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.

Scottish Parliament Building Scotland

If SNP wins 2021 Holyrood election, Scottish independence will come

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 »

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Meeting with Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the POA

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.

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How government rigs system in favour of big business over local charities

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 »

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Bass Rock Sea View Firth Of Forth

East Lothian has some of the lowest levels of PM2.5 Air Pollution in the Country

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 »

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Meeting the Palestinian Ambassador

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.

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Video: On Brexit Day

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

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Minimum Unit Pricing Success

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 »

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Labour leadership contender’s claim SNP are Tories shows she doesn’t understand Scotland

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 »

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Wuchang Epidemic Wuhan  S Virus

A deadly global pandemic is coming even if it’s not from China

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 »

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Scottish Parliament Building Scotland

Deprivation levels on the rise in East Lothian, says new report

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.

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