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An update from Patrick Grady MP
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Patrick Grady
SNP MP for Glasgow North

Summer 2016 Newsletter



Dear Friend

It's been a busy few months since my last newsletter, and a lot has happened in the meantime. Here's an update on what I've been up to in Parliament and in Glasgow North, in a bumper edition of my MP newsletter.

 


Brexit and a New Government


People in Scotland are still coming to terms with the result of the vote to leave the European Union – a position which we voted overwhelmingly against, including 78% of voters in Glasgow North. It would clearly be democratically indefensible for Scotland to be forced out of the EU against the clear will of the Scottish people. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already been busy, meeting leaders across the EU to discuss how best to protect Scotland’s membership and has made clear that all options are on the table including, if necessary, a second referendum on independence.

A great number of constituents contacted me concerned about the leave vote, and I held a special evening surgery to try to help address some of these concerns. I also sponsored Early Day Motion (EDM) 265 welcoming the Scottish Government’s expert-led Standing Council on Europe, chaired by Prof essor Anton Muscatelli of Glasgow University in the constituency, which will advise Scottish Ministers on how best to secure Scotland's relationship with the EU.

My immediate concern following the result has been to reassure EU citizens living in Scotland that they are welcome here. The First Minister has written an open letter to EU citizens in Scotland reiterating how highly we value their contribution to our economy, society and culture. During Questions to the Secretary of State for Education I asked Nicky Morgan MP to provide assurances that children from EU countries will be allowed to complete their education and won’t be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations. While the then Secretary of State seemed to accept my argument, we now face a new post-Brexit Government at Westminster and a new Prime Minister in Theresa May who have their own agenda. You can be confident that my colleagues and I will continue to push until we get categorical guarantees from the new Government on the continued rights of EU citizens living in Scotland.
 


Local Organisations


We're fortunate in Glasgow North to have many fantastic hardworking charities, organisations and groups committed to improving their local communities. In the last few months I've visited and met with a wide range of organisations including Maryhill Integration Network where I took part in a lively chat with their men's group as part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2016. The Network had their 15th anniversary this year and they celebrated in style as they were crowned Grassroots Champions at the Community Integration Awards 2016. I was delighted to join MIN for the celebrations and tabled EDM 284 congratulating them on their success. 

I also met recently with first-year pupils at Hillhead Secondary School who are taking part in their Leadership Academy scheme and visited the fantastic Woodland Outdoor Kindergarten in Dawsholm Park where I was presented with an 'adventure stick' made by the kids!

I am always keen to engage with local organisations and I keep my diary packed full of visits, meetings and activities whenever I'm in the constituency. If you would like to talk to me about a project that you are involved with in the constituency please don't hesitate to get in touch. 


International Aid & Chilcot Report


As International Development Spokesperson for the SNP at Westminster it was my privilege to speak in the Westminster Hall debate on foreign aid. Spending on foreign aid has its critics in Parliament as well as some sections of the media, but I know first hand from my time at SCIAF that foreign aid works. There's no question that foreign aid from the UK and Scottish Governments has saved and changed millions of lives around the world over the years.  Work funded by the Scottish Government includes projects which have led to the quadrupling of the number of medics graduating in Malawi - from 16 to over 100 every year. The SNP have long supported the UN target to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international development and will continue to support UK spending at this level.

After a seven-year wait the Chilcot Inquiry finally published its report into the war in Iraq, and its conclusions are devastating for Tony Blair. The report is a catalogue of failure and neglect of the government and is excoriating of the former Prime Minister who led the country into a tragic conflict that has proved devastating for stability in the Middle East. It's clear that there now has to be some form of accountability for those identified in the report. 
 


Trident Vote


Last month, every single SNP MP voted against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Tragically, and in the face of overwhelming opposition from 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs, the UK Parliament voted to impose a new generation of nuclear weapons on Scottish waters.

In an era of biting austerity and economic instability renewing Trident is simply economically unjustifiable. I spoke out during the debate about the obscene spiraling costs of the system.  Recent estimates have placed these as high as £205billion, but could be even more given the massive fluctuations in the currency market following the Brexit vote.

Of particular concern during the debate was the Prime Minister’s response to a question posed by my colleague George Kerevan MP in which she said she would be personally willing to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children.

The SNP is fundamentally opposed to nuclear weapons, and it is a damning indictment of the new Prime Minister that her first motion in Parliament was to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system. We will never stop fighting against this morally obscene and redundant weapons system.


Award Winners 


I was delighted to nominate Kelvin Hair for the National Responsible Business Champion award and welcome salon director Rhonda Fraser to Parliament for the award ceremony. Rhonda and her team do a great deal for the local community including helping establish the Queen Margaret Drive Community group and opening up their back shop for the use of local community groups. Kelvin Hair can be hugely proud to have been one of only 16 companies shortlisted for the award among much larger companies such as Zurich Insurance Ltd and Manchester Airport.

Fantastic local mental health and cycling charity Common Wheel celebrated its 15th anniversary this summer, and received well-deserved recognition for their excellent work when they were shortlisted for Radio 4’s ‘All in The Mind’ award. I took the opportunity to congratulate the team and acknowledge their achievements by tabling EDM 124 which was widely supported at Parliament. It was also my pleasure to meet with Neil and Christopher from the charity after the awards ceremony and they shared the great news that Common Wheel had won!
 

Space, the Final Frontier...

 
Parliament was taken to another planet recently, when, along with my SNP colleague, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, I sponsored a debate on space policy to mark Major Tim Peake’s historic spacewalk. The debate even caught the attention of Captain Kirk himself as William Shatner wrote a letter of support!  

During the debate I highlighted the excellent work of the University of Glasgow who are one of the leading centres for space science and research in the UK and who recently played a crucial role in the detection of gravitational waves – one of the landmark scientific breakthroughs of our times.

I also met with scientists from the University at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, an annual display of the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology in the UK. The University of Glasgow’s research was one of just 22 projects to exhibit out of hundreds of entries. It was a fantastic event and I even got the opportunity to hold an actual piece of the planet Mars!

I have also added an International Space Station tracker to the homepage of my website so any budding stargazers in the constituency can know when to look out for the next fly-over.
 

Local
Artists

 
Last year I launched a project which invites local artists to display their work in my office in an effort to support rising creative talent in the constituency. Since then I have had the pleasure of welcoming numerous artists to participate in the project.

The latest artist to take part is Jane Gardiner, who is displaying her painting ‘The Superwoman’ in my constituency office until August. You are welcome to stop by at any time to admire the beautiful artwork.

I took the opportunity to highlight the many wonderful artists who have already taken part in project during a debate in Parliament on the contribution that the creative industries make to our society. I was delighted to have the chance to praise the very special creative spirit of Glasgow North and the wealth of creative talent within the constituency, not only in traditional areas such as music, art, writing and dance but also with newer digital, e-sports and gaming mediums.

You can read more about Jane’s work and the other artists who have participated in the project at my website where you can also get in touch about displaying your own work.



 


Snooper's Charter & Panama Papers


Many of you wrote to me about the Investigatory Powers Bill and raised concerns around privacy. I'm pleased to say that the UK finally listened to the SNP and included an amendment providing civil liability for unlawful interception. However, many of the amendments proposed by the SNP to strengthen the Bill were rejected which therefore made it impossible for me to support.
 
You may also be aware of the huge leak of documents, known as the ‘Panama Papers’, which lifted the lid over the use of tax havens by the rich to hide their wealth. Following this leak I and the SNP in Westminster called on David Cameron to clamp down on off-shore tax havens but it remains to be seen what action will be taken by the new Government on this crucial issue. The Scottish Government has already set a positive example by introducing robust anti-avoidance rules for devolved taxes - among the toughest in the world.

 


Green and Open Spaces


I was delighted when the Scottish Government decided to call-in the development proposal for the North Kelvin Meadow and the Children’s Wood and was pleased when the Scottish Government reporter found that the land shouldn't be used for housing. The campaigners know that the issue is not settled yet, but this was a big step forward in saving the meadow.

The residents of Glasgow North have, however, again found themselves in a fight to protect local green spaces after the much loved Elephant Park in Maryhill was threatened by proposals to redevelop the site of the old Shakespeare Street School.  Local residents have done a great job of forming the Elephant Park Association and collecting over 2,000 signatories to their petition. While it would be good to see some of our beautiful old buildings being brought back in to use, that doesn’t have to be at the expense of important local amenities and open spaces. I have submitted an objection against this proposal and we're now waiting for the decision of the planning committee.
 


Working Together


One of the issues that constituents contact me about most regularly is litter. That’s why I co-hosted a litter summit with Sandra White MSP at the Hillhead Library and invited along representatives from Land and Environmental Services, Community Councils, local Councillors and concerned constituents. It was a very productive evening where many of the key issues were raised and discussed and, while we clearly have a lot of work still do on this issue, I felt that this was a very good start.

I was pleased to host my first joint surgery with Bob Doris, the newly-elected constituency MSP for Maryhill and Springburn, at the Maryhill Burgh Halls and hope to arrange similar events in the future.

I've also added a new monthly evening surgery, which will be held at my constituency office on the first Thursday of the month. You can find details of all my surgeries and how to get in touch for an appointment at my website.
 

Finally, I would like to express my sincere condolences over the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP. Parliament was rightly recalled during the referendum recess to pay tribute to Jo and politicians from all parties attended a memorial service at St Margaret's Church. I was particularly touched by the comments of my friend and SNP colleague Eilidh Whiteford MP who knew Jo personally and gave a moving tribute her life and work.

It is a fitting tribute to Jo that the fundraising page set up in her memory has now raised over £1.5 million for the charities closest to her heart. If you wish you can contribute to the fundraising page here.

This was an utter tragedy and my thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.
 

 

Get in Touch 


I'm always happy to hear from constituents who need my help or would like to bring any issues to my attention. You can reach me by letter, email, phone or by attending one of my advice surgeries. You can find the full list of my surgeries on my website.

Please note that my surgeries can be very busy and it's best to contact my office to make an appointment in advance.

Glasgow North Constituency Office
Unit 1 Firhill Business Centre
76 Firhill Road
Glasgow G20 7BA
Tel: 0141 946 3062
Email: patrick.grady.mp@parliament.uk
 
Copyright © 2016 Patrick Grady MP, All rights reserved.


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