Ferry Fiasco – Scotsman Article – 19 July 2021

I’m fascinated by ferries. I suppose it’s because every summer I spent holidays with grandparents on Lewis. For me a break doesn’t start unless there’s a sail, no matter how short. It also means I take an interest in the affairs of CalMac even though I don’t live in a community where they’re a lifeline service. I’m old enough to… Read more »

Climate Change – Scotsman Article – 19 July 2021

Many years ago I was visiting Georgia in the Caucusus, a parliamentary exchange also facilitating some research for a book I was researching. I recall being shocked at the poverty there which seemed third world, as it was then described, though now more accurately termed the developing world. For whilst it may have been Stalin’s birthplace when the Soviets departed,… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 16 July 2021

Last week saw Parliament finally have an opportunity to debate the Tory Governments proposed cut to the international aid budget. It’s an issue that concerns many constituents who were in contact with me and where I share their view that its deplorable. I spoke in the debate making it clear that it was about many issues but in particular it… Read more »

The Real Boris – Scotsman Article – 13 July 2021

Boris has no more interest in football than I have in croquet, but he milked the English teams’ success for all it was worth. Unflattering photographs of him in an England shirt and equally grotesque flag displays at Downing Street, worry him not. After all this is the man who was pictured sliding down a rope wire waving union jacks…. Read more »

Not Going to Script – Scotsman Article – 13 July 2021

Sometimes life just don’t go according to script. The football was one such event where like many I thought England were destined to win. More so when it went to penalties and it seemed as if ghosts would be slain. But it wasn’t to be, and I feel sorry for Gareth Southgate and his team. He’s as admirable, as they’re… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 09 July 2021

Behind the faux bonhomie and jocularity with Boris Johnson there lies a vicious streak. After all he was once accused by the TV interviewer Eddie Mair of being a “Nasty piece of work.” Those traits were certainly in evidence last week where his jocularity over the football was a veneer for repressive and vindictive legislation, as well as benefit changes… Read more »

Batley and Spen – Scotsman Article – 06 July 2021

It wasn’t shrieks of joy from Labour when they sneaked home last week in Batley and Spen, but sobs of relief. What’s being portrayed as some historic victory that now provides the platform for a Labour election victory’s arrent nonsense, when its actually a phyricc victory. One that simply prolongs the moment before they have address just what they’re for,… Read more »

SNP and EU – Scotsman Article – 06 July 2021

It’s one thing in politics to tell folk know what you’re against, that can be easy. It’s a completely different thing though to articulate what you’re for, as that can be complex and risk alienating those you’ve been courting. SNP policy on the EU encapsulates that.  I was happy to support their Westminster debate earlier this week condemning the UK… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 02 July 2021

Football’s coming home all right but not as hoped by some, as it’s the staggering rise in infections that’s winning. It may have been the young lads who travelled and others of all ages who gathered that’s fired it but just what did Governments both sides of the border expect would happen? When youth football was unable to resume for… Read more »

Sporting Integrity – Scotsman Article – 29 June 2021

With the Olympics coming round again I’ve been minding past moments. In particular, the 100 metres contest in 1988 that pitted the USAs Carl Lewis against Canada’s Ben Johnson. I suppose Allan Wells success at earlier games had sparked interest but, in any event, it’s one of the highlights for me. I confess to rooting for Johnson who seemed that… Read more »

Tactician Not Strategist – Scotsman Article – 29 June 2021

I’ve an old friend who spent many years in international affairs at the highest levels, often trying to broker settlements on very testing issues and mingling with all sorts of leaders. So, when he spoke I listened, and I recall him describing Nicola Sturgeon as a tactician not a strategist. By that he meant that she’s very able in setting… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 24 June 2021

It was disappointing to see East Lothian topping the coronavirus infections table last week. No doubt it was related to the football, both those that headed to London and others who simply gathered at home. Waiting at King’s Cross for the train home I saw several trains arrive from Scotland and it was a largely a new generation of the… Read more »

SNP Indy Funds – Scotsman Article – 22 June 2021

It’s no surprise that neither Police nor the Crown thought there was any criminality involved in the Indy Ref 2 funds story. Both organisations view these matters as largely internal and given the wording of what people donated to it was always unlikely. They’ll see it as being for members or the Electoral Commission. But that doesn’t mean that in… Read more »

BBC Coverage – Scotsman Article – 22 June 2021

Speaking to a friend in Ireland, I enquired about coverage of the Euros there. Ireland hasn’t qualified but interest still remains, even if not the frenzy that existed under Jack Charlton many years ago now.   But commentary’s by RTE as the national channel and panelists for pre and post match reflection are again ex or current Irish internationals, or… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 11 June 2021

Valiant attempts were made last week in Parliament to restore what had been a Tory manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on foreign aid. Those doing the orchestrating were dome dissident Tories, but I was happy to support them as I believe what they were seeking to do was right. Sadly, the amendment to a Bill which… Read more »

Internal Democracy – Scotsman Article – 01 June 2021

The SNP’s no longer my party though internal democracy was a factor leading to my departure. Political parties governance is also largely for the membership, as with any such organisation. But the SNP’s no ordinary party as its the party of Government in Scotland and its influence is extensive across the land. Hence factors that would routinely not apply with… Read more »

Independence in the UK – Scotsman Article – 01 June 2021

Independence in the UK” has yet again been bandied about in political circles. My good friend Henry McLeish has long advocated it and now it’s the former long serving MEP David Martin who’s articulating it. Many mock or deride it on both sides of the constitutional divide and it’s not without difficulties, either in delivery or even definition.   Aside… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 04 June 2021

I’ve no doubt that the UK Government Minister would have enjoyed his visit to Glenkinchie last week. The new visitor centre’s a remarkable venue and it’s a tragedy that it’s been unable to be fully utilised due to restrictions. That’ll change soon but what won’t alter are the risks East Lothian and Scotland face from trade deals such as the… Read more »

Boxing Success – Scotsman Article – 25 May 2021

I’ve always been more a football or rugby man, than boxing. But I’ve respected boxing’s fitness levels and the discipline’s incredible, and I’m proud to call Alex Arthur a friend. Sporting success has been limited in Scotland over recent years despite recent valiant efforts by the national football and rugby teams, and some individual successes. So you’d think a Scottish… Read more »

IndyRef2 Fiction – Scotsman Article – 25 May 2021

For all the campaign rhetoric it didn’t take the SNP long to kick Indy Ref2 down the road. Despite pledging that every vote would ensure the referendum, reality has arrived. SNP sources now talk about the latter part of the parliamentary term. At best that’s late 2023 and beyond. In reality they’ve sold the pass and the likelihood of a… Read more »

Scottish Police Authority – Scotsman Article – 04 May 2021

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has been a largely anonymous organisation since inception. Press coverage restricted to budgetary issues, appointment of a Chief Constable or even removal of one with the ignominious departure of Phil Gormley from that post. Yet it’s a vital body and one where it was always anticipated it would have more than just a role in… Read more »

Campaign Review – Scotsman Article – 04 May 2021

 The Election campaigns nearly over bar the shouting. Even that’ll be muted given restrictions at the count, where numbers are limited and declarations delayed. But the outcome’ll still have major implications for governance and the independence campaign; and whilst there may be limited alteration to the former if polls are to be believed, the dynamic of the latter’s certainly going… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 31 May 2021

Josh Taylor’s fantastic victory was rightly celebrated in the Pans and across the county. He’s done outstandingly well and it’s taken sacrifice and dedication. I’ve followed his career since his first efforts in an East Edinburgh gym, through his Commonwealth Gold success, to this global victory. It was a great pity though that of us most weren’t able to watch… Read more »

East Lothian Courier – 24 May 2021

Last week brought a physical return to Westminster and in London as in East Lothian life’s slowly regaining normality. The focus in Parliament was on the Queens Speech which sets out the Tory Governments plans. Much doesn’t apply to Scotland but there are omissions that are significant. As indicated previously building social housing’s essential to address homelessness, create work and… Read more »

Nationality & Borders Bill (Second Reading) – 20 July 2021

My speech on opposition of the Nationality & Borders Bill (second reading). I am concerned about the manner in which immigration policy is being taken amongst the most vulnerable.


MACASKILL HITS OUT AT SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT OVER FAILURE TO DEMAND POWER OVER DRUG POLICY AND DRUG CONSUMPTION ROOMS Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MP has hit out at the Scottish Government following confirmation from the Home Office, in a Parliamentary Written Answer to him, that neither the Justice Secretary or the Lord Advocate has sought a review of drug policy or Drug… Read more »

Voter ID Debate – 13 July 2021

My speech for the Voter ID debate which took place in Westminster Hall. 50 years of political experience tells me that it is not necessary.

International Aid Debate – 13 July 2021

My speech on International Aid debate. I voted against the proposed cuts, but shamefully those on the Tory Benches voted it through. We are all part of the human race and need to protect everyone. By protecting everyone we are protecting ourselves.


Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MP has today (Tuesday) renewed his calls for a shake up in the powers of the Lord Advocate. In a statement Mr MacAskill, ALBA MP for East Lothian said: “This latest development in the complaint against the SNP just accelerates the need for change in the Lord Advocates powers. “The Chinese walls and recusal by the Lord… Read more »


In a statement ALBA’s Kenny MacAskill MP who recently led the campaign to save the two BBC studios at Atlantic Quay in Glasgow said: “The arrogance of BBC Senior management knows no bounds. These savage cuts in the Scottish budget and the derisory share in network spending, less than our population share and less than in Wales, while London hoovers up over… Read more »

Questions to Cabinet Office – 08 July 2021

I outlined to Mr Gove that whilst polled public attitudes towards the Union may be hidden, the private attitude by the Prime Minister to devolution is clearly known and hostile. The choice for Scotland is between an integrating Union under the Tories or independence. Know which option I would prefer!

EU Settlement Debate

I was happy to support the SNP Motion on the EU settlement debate.  Immigration is seen as a threat and a danger south of the Border.  Here in Scotland immigration is seen as a necessity, full of opportunities and is to be supported. The EU settlement is causing extreme fear. We need people to come to our country.  We need… Read more »

Protections for Bloggers

My question to the Attorney General asking for a commitment that bloggers are equally entitled to protections afforded to the mainstream media.      

Development Aid Debate: 30 June 2021

My contribution to the Development Aid Budget debate. Pointing out the obvious – we will benefit economically if we offer support. We will face the consequences if we don’t.  


REQUIRED TO DELIVER PROGRESS SAYS ALBA’S MACASKILL AS HE ISSUES CALL FOR YES SUMMIT “It is because we need the full powers of Independence to recover from Covid and safeguard public health and the economy that we need action to secure Independence now. “The Scottish Parliament has a clear mandate for Independence but the FM has put it on ice… Read more »

Information for constituents who are BT customers.

There’s a new BT Home Essentials service now up and running. This plan is a reliable and affordable way for those who receive support (like Universal Credit/Pension Credit) to be able to stay connected and have a low-cost broadband and phone package. Full details of the plan attached.    


TV is our window on the world. We are already forced to watch it through someone else’s lens and now even that’s under attack! It’s time BBC Scotland had a Board that stood up for staff and viewers. Full press release: MACASKILL CALLS FOR SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT TO HAVE BROADCASTING POWERS AND TURNS UP THE HEAT ON BBC EXECUTIVES OVER BLATANT… Read more »

Prime Ministers Questions: 17 June 2021

My question to the Prime Minister on the remit of the Lord Advocate and current problem with the dual role. He has agreed to look into this anomaly. Pity he cannot keep up with politics North of the border!    

Recommendations for the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan

On June 10th in Westminster Hall, I spoke in the debate regarding the Recommendations for the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan. While most of the aspects of this debate relate to England, there are some that do relate to Scotland and I hope one day they will be replicated. You can watch my contribution here.  

Mobile Testing Unit: Haddington

In recent months, mobile COVID-19 testing units have been deployed to various locations around East Lothian. For the first time, a unit will be based and operating out of part of the John Muir House car park from Monday, 31 May. Demand for car parking in the John Muir House campus has been lower than ‘normal’ Testing will be available… Read more »

World Press Freedom Day 2021

Today in Parliament I spoke in Westminster Hall on World Press Freedom Day. A free press is essential for the proper functioning of democracy. We are beginning to see worrying restrictions on the free expression of journalists across Scotland. In my speech I make the argument again for the separation of the role of the Lord Advocate as a Scottish… Read more »

Early Day Motion: East Jerusalem and Gaza

Following the news reports and testimony over the last few days, I tabled the following motion in the Commons: “That this House condemns unreservedly the Israeli brutality in East Jerusalem and Gaza; refutes entirely that there is any equivalence with actions by Palestinian demonstrators or militants; notes that there is no comparison between state orchestrated violence perpetrated by a military… Read more »

Calling for better alcohol labelling

I was pleased to sign this open letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, calling for better labelling requirements for alcoholic drinks. A new poll from YouGov asked the public what legal requirements they would like to see for alcohol labelling. The majority of those asked supported more information being included on labels including: 75% of people want the… Read more »

Free Covid test kits available for anyone without symptoms

The Scottish Government have announced that: “free lateral flow home test kits will be available for pick up without an appointment from many local walk-in or drive-through test sites from 3.30pm each day, or by ordering online or by phone, for people to test themselves twice-weekly.” I would encourage constituents in East Lothian to take up this offer which is… Read more »

Statement on Prime Minister’s communications with the pharmaceutical industry

I was pleased to co-sign this statement calling on Prime Minister, government ministers and senior civil servants to publish all their private communications with pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists since the start of the pandemic. The full text of the statement reads: “The alleged ease of access that wealthy business people have had directly to the Prime Minister in order to… Read more »

Mobile COVID-19 testing continues across East Lothian

Mobile testing units will continue to operate across East Lothian for another four weeks in a bid to help identify positive cases of COVID-19 in people who are asymptomatic and break chains of transmission. Members of the public who have no symptoms associated with Covid-19, but who may be infectious and spreading the disease without knowing it, are invited to… Read more »

Guidance on benefits rates changes from Age UK

As the benefits rates change from year to year, Age UK have produced an informative guide outlining the most notable changes this year. This includes information on: Increases to the new and basic State Pension, as well as increases to Pension and Savings Credit. Changes to entitlements for council tax support, housing benefit, winter fuel payment, cold weather payment and warm… Read more »

The lockdown anniversary

Today at 12 I held a moment’s silence, along with many across the country. The Pandemic has brought us low as a nation, and yet the resilience and determination to do what is right for those we live amongst has never been stronger. The work of recovery will be hard, and the onus is on us as politicians to work… Read more »

Timetable for further lockdown easing

Yesterday the Scottish Government set out indicative dates for further easing of the lockdown across Scotland. You can read the full announcement at the Scottish Government website here: https://www.gov.scot/news/timetable-for-further-lockdown-easing/ “Stay at Home regulations will be lifted on 2 April and replaced with guidance to Stay Local, with more services including hairdressers, garden centres and non-essential click and collect services able… Read more »

Launch of mobile testing units in East Lothian’s fight against COVID-19

From East Lothian Council Two mobile Covid-19 asymptomatic testing units are set to be deployed in East Lothian in a bid to help identify positive cases and break chains of transmission. Members of the public who have no symptoms associated with Covid-19, but who may be infectious and spreading the disease without knowing it, can book a test online or telephone 0300 303… Read more »

Column: Finding the right balance over coronavirus restrictions

In my column in the East Lothian Courier I discuss what I see in the short term as vaccinations continue to be rolled out. “One and a half million doses is something to be proud of for those delivering it and for the rest of us to be reassured by. Minds are now rightly turning to post lockdown but continued… Read more »

Column: Recognising the needs of young people

In a piece in the Edinburgh Evening News I discuss how the vaccination rollout has rightly prioritised the elderly, and how minds are turning to other groups. “Health and social carers have also been addressed but minds are also correctly turning to other vulnerable groups, whether retail workers, teachers or police. It’s not just for them but for the piece of… Read more »

Comment on the Budget Statement

Although the furlough extension was welcome the budget from the Chancellor was still disappointing. The burden has once again fallen on those least able to bear it whilst further benefits have been given to Boris Johnsons rich chumocracy. It was particularly disappointing that the current Universal Credit uplift has neither been extended nor made permanent feature. The proposal to stop… Read more »

Coronavirus Fuel Poverty Fund

A new fund has been released by East Lothian Council to all householders who are struggling to heat their homes at this time. On their website East Lothian Council say: “A one-off payment of £100 will be paid to people who need help with their gas or electricity. These payments will help alleviate poverty and financial hardship, providing a warm environment… Read more »

Column: Coronavirus vaccination rollout on track

In my column in the East Lothian Courier I discuss conversations with the Health Secretary and the health board about the vaccine rollout. “The issue of many being asked to travel to Edinburgh is being addressed with the mass vaccination centre at Queen Margaret University opening up, East Lothian Community Hospital also, and improvements in supply to GP practices which… Read more »

Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund open for applications

This grant scheme, provided by the Scottish Government, is designed to help alleviate financial hardship for newly self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria. I would encourage any constituent whose status as being newly self-employed makes them ineligible for the UK Government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme to apply for this new scheme, which awards a one-off payment of £4,000. The… Read more »

Column: We must help the vulnerable

In my column in the East Lothian Courier I discuss how I believe we should move on with the vaccine roll-out across Scotland. “Recent emphasis has been on protecting the elderly. Rolling out vaccinations to those in care homes and to the oldest age groups was the right thing to do. They’re the most vulnerable and require urgent protection. “I… Read more »

Cold weather payment triggered in areas of East Lothian

This morning a cold weather payment was triggered in areas of East Lothian.  This includes postcodes beginning: EH21, EH22, EH31, EH32, EH33, EH34, EH35, EH36, EH37, EH39, EH40, EH41, EH42, TD11 and TD13. Cold Weather Payments are made to recipients of selected benefits. £25 will be paid to eligible residents. You can find more information and eligibility criteria at the… Read more »

Column: Big vaccine effort

In my column in this week’s East Lothian Courier I discuss the work that is going in to getting the vaccine out, as well as the issues of global inequality in the pandemic response: There are many concerns about the vaccine rollout. If everyone could be given the jag tomorrow, then it would be done. But this is an unprecedented… Read more »

Politics Live on BBC2 2/2/21

I was interviewed on the BBC’s Politics Live programme this afternoon, discussing a number of topics including the potential requirement for all visitors to Scotland to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival.  Subsequent to this interview the Scottish Government has announced that visitors will indeed have to quarantine.  You can find more information on this new aspect of our efforts… Read more »

Supporting the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill

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 »

Speaking in Parliament: The Trade Bill

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 »

The Big Energy Saving Month 2021 launches today

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 »

Pledging to back Scrutiny of Trade Deals

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.

East Lothian and Scotland enter lockdown

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 »

Happy Hogmanay

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 »

East Lothian Moves to Tier 3 on 18/12

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 »

Column: Grim impact of Brexit

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 »

Column: Beware of counterfeit goods

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 »

Happy St Andrews Day!

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 »

Supporting East Lothian Foodbank’s Jingle Bag Campaign

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 »

East Lothian moves to Level 2 of Coronavirus Local protection

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 »

Happy Diwali

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 »

Cruelty Free International Parliamentarian of the Month

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 »

Good News as Conor begins journey back to Scotland

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 »