STUC conference – Motion on the just transition

At the recent Scottish Trade Union Congress conference (STUC) there was a motion passed on just transition – the idea that environmental progress must go hand in hand with society and the economy. South Lanarkshire and East Kilbride Trade Union Congress took the motion to the conference, and it was seconded by Public and Commercial Services Union.

Amended Motion No. 10 “Climate Change and Just Transition”

“That this Congress notes that 2016 was the hottest year on record and confirms the process of climate change that has contributed to the changing weather patterns across the world and threatens significant impacts on sea levels, water supplies and agriculture.

“Congress notes the targets set in the Paris Agreement to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels are likely to be undermined should the Trump Presidency refuse to abide by this agreement.

“Congress welcomes the consensus across most of Scottish political and civic society that ambitious targets should be set to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and resolves to continue to support these ambitions.

“Congress, however, believes that a transition to a low carbon economy must be a just transition. This includes looking to support those communities and nations across the world that will be most immediately at risk. It also means ensuring that workers and communities in Scotland need to be assured that jobs will be created in low carbon industries as part of this transition.

“Congress, therefore, welcomes the Joint Statement on a just transition supported by the STUC, a number of affiliates and environmental groups. The statement recognises that ‘It’s time for a just transition in Scotland, moving to a modern low carbon economy in ways which protect workers’ livelihoods, create a new industrial base and deliver a fairer Scotland’.

“Congress calls on the STUC General Council to continue working with affiliates and other organisations on this agenda and calls on the Scottish and UK Governments to take a decisive lead with plans to transform key sectors, including pursuing, where necessary, to secure change at sufficient pace and scale, options for public and community ownership or partial stakes in flagship projects and enterprises. 36

“Congress believes that much more can be achieved by governments by establishing a climate change or just transition commission, to oversee the transformations needed and which puts justice for workers and the community at its heart.”


It’s great to see unions highlight the just transition – their support is vital. It shows clear determination that people want change and recognise the need to act now. This is an issue that it’s very important now and for the future, and this is why I will continue work to ensure that no one is left behind as we move to a greener and cleaner Scotland.


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Peebles CAN open community garden yurt

Peebles CAN yurt visit 2017Peebles CAN (Community Action Network) is a not-for-profit community based organisation that works towards building community resilience and sustainability.  Their objective is to work creatively with all sectors of the community, with a particular focus on developing self-sustaining projects that build community capacity. They received a grant from the Climate Challenge fund for Grow, Cook, Build, and Own which is a project to encourage families to build a sustainable Peebles.

On Saturday the 22nd of April I was honoured to cut the ribbon to open a yurt. The yurt is a shelter for those who have been helping in the community garden. I spoke to one mum who spoke to me about her daughter’s enthusiasm that morning. She said “Her face lit up when we entered the yurt. She is usually shy about new things but, we entered the community garden and her face lit up. Non-stop drumming for 20 minutes and from this we discovered we would go every month and make use of the vegetable beds and help whenever we can.”

The grant will also be used to create 7 new job posts and run national campaigns which will aim to reduce 35 tonnes of carbon. It’s great to hear this money being well spent and I look forward to continuing to work with Peebles CAN in the future. If you would like to find out more about them please visit their website here.


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“What the Frack?” – Anti-fracking theatre

Claudia in frontA constituent Edie Goodwin recently got in contact with me regarding my fracking bill consultation to tell me about a play that she has put together to explain what fracking is and why it’s important to have a ‘frack-free’ Scotland.

Edie said “As a young person I see fracking as a hugely important issue – one that could have an immeasurably detrimental impact on health, democracy, life as a whole on this land that we share; but one which we can use as an opportunity to engage great swathes of the population.”

I was delighted to accept Edie’s invitation me to see her play performed in Biggar. The play was brilliantly put together and it was clear that a lot of hard work went into this. Edie also worked on a promotional video which you can watch here.

I would also refer those who are interested in my fracking bill to visit the website –  here.


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Time for Inclusive Education

The TIE campaign (Time for Inclusive Education) is a campaign with one very simple aim: to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia with inclusive education.

Despite recent progress towards LGBTI equality, our schools can remain breeding grounds for discrimination and prejudice based bullying. The TIE Campaign believes in an education system which is inclusive and free of prejudice for LGBTI youth.

My fellow Labour MSP, Monica Lennon, recently held a member’s business debate on the TIE Campaign. There were fabulous speeches made from all MSPs from different parties.

The TIE campaign conducted research which shows some key findings;

  • 90% of LGBT people have experienced homophobia, biphobia and transphobia at school
  • 64% of LGBT people have been directly bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • 27% of LGBT people have attempted suicide once as a result of bullying, while a further 15% have tried more than once
  • 95% of LGBT people believe that bullying has a long lasting negative effect on them
  • 80% of teachers don’t feel that they have been trained on how to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
  • 79% of teachers believe that LGBT inclusive education should be a legislative requirement for schools

Some of these statistics shocking, particularly that 27% of LGBT people have attempted suicide. No person should be in that situation. This is why I will work to ensure LGBT people are supported.

Reece Harding, an intern in my parliamentary office and Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Clydesdale, said, “These statics clearly show there is a lot of work needing to be done around LGBT issues. The Scottish Youth Parliament works very closely with the TIE Campaign, especially the 2 MSYPs from LGBT Youth Scotland, James Thomson MSYP & Michael Gowan MSYP. In conversation with TIE, they are looking at an action plan for schools and can be contacted by emailing

In my capacity as a member of the Education and Life Long Learning committee we also work with the TIE Campaign to ensure that there is support available for those who need it”

If you would like more information on the TIE Campaign you can visit their website here.


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Cycle Without Age

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Cycle Without Age event in Parliament hosted by Angus McDonald MSP. This concept, which was established in Copenhagen in 2012, reaches out to elderly members of the community who may be lonely or isolated. It enables them to keep active and stay part of the community.

Cycling Without Age allows the older people in society to go on bike rides as passengers in specially designed Trishaws. The bike is managed by a volunteer however allows the elderly person to feel the wind in their hair and enjoy the wonderful green spaces in their local environment.

In a society where our population is growing older this gets the benefit of keeping volunteers fit whilst helping an aging population, breaking down barriers between the generations.

I really enjoyed hearing about this project and I am hopeful it will be a hit in Scotland! It is a great way to improve the mental and physical health of all ages in Scotland.



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Child Tax Credit Cuts

Rape Clause DemoImmediately after the 2015 General Election, the Conservative UK Government forced through a Summer Budget and the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. This meant the number of children any family could claim means tested benefits for was reduced, limiting it to two children only.

In practice, this means families will not be able to claim Tax Credits or Universal Credit for a third (or fourth, etc.) child born after the 6 April 2017 – with some exceptions. One of these is if the child was a result of sexual abuse.  This has become known as the “Rape Clause”.

Scottish Labour vehemently oppose the Rape Clause, and on Tuesday the 25th of April there was a debate in the Parliament on this issue. I would never imagine that we would need to debate such an horrific issue.

I attended this debate and tried a number of times to make an intervention on Tory speakers to emphasise my concerns.  Each time I was refused. In fact, not a single Tory speaker took an intervention throughout the whole debate!

We are in no doubt that this policy will inflict harm on rape survivors, by removing their control over to whom and when they choose speak about their experience. This control is known to be a critical element in a woman’s recovery from rape, removing this control risks re-traumatising women.

The details of the rape clause are very disturbing which is why there should be no such thing here in Scotland and the UK. There are many exceptions such as;

  • Women who still live with the father of the child – i.e. the abusive partner – will not qualify for the exception;
  • They must make a signed declaration that the child was conceived as a result of rape, and that they do not live with the father of the child;
  • The claim must be verified by a third party referral (for instance a professional from the NHS, women’s aid or rape crisis, or the police). Across Scotland, women’s organisations have said they will not comply with DWP requirements, and the Scottish Government will not pass on DWP guidance.

This Tory clause is deeply insensitive and shameful. It further reflects on the whole approach taken in their Welfare Reform programme which is an attack on the vulnerable and those struggling on low incomes.

Our leader Kezia Dugdale gave an outstanding speech in the opening statements for the Labour party. I implore you to watch her speech below.

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Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Every year in Scotland nearly 4000 people are diagnosed with bowel Cancer and 1500 people die each year of it.

Bowel Cancer UK are encouraging people who are 50+ to take their test when they receive it in the post as it could save your life. Screening is the best way to detect the cancer early which means the best chance of survival. In some areas in Scotland the uptake of the test is only at 52% with the Scottish average being 52%. This means nearly half the population are missing out on the opportunity to detect the cancer early.

I would urge all my constituents to take the simple test when it come through the post.



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Holyrood Dog of the Year!

DSC_0018 (002)I am very excited to have the opportunity on the 8th of May to take part in Holyrood Dog of the Year competition, organised by The Kennel Club and The Dogs Trust. I will be joined by my beloved dog Roujan in the Scottish Parliament Park and we will show them why he is so special.

Our family dog has a very unique story to tell. We were on holiday in the South of France around 8 years ago when we discovered Roujan at the side of the road, very badly injured as he had been knocked over. We couldn’t just leave him there, so we took him to the vet who managed to save him. After a while in France recovering, no one claimed him so we brought him home to Scotland where he has been happy ever since.

Roujan is such a loving and resilient dog who is very loyal and brave with lots of determination. He hasn’t had an easy life. A few years ago he was attacked by another dog which has resulted in his still very cute but lopsided nose.

As well as the event on the 8th of May you have the opportunity to vote for Roujan to be voted top “Pawlitical Dog” here:




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Cycling will reduce heart disease

Cycling 1 WebA five-year study, based in Glasgow and published in the British Medical Journal surveyed 250,000 UK commuters showed cycling and walking had benefits to your likely hood of cancer and heart disease over sitting on public transport or taking the car.

The team who conducted research in Glasgow said cycling took no willpower once it became part of the work routine – unlike going to the gym.


The five-year study compared people who had an “active” commute with those who were mostly stationary.  Overall, 2,430 of those studied died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 had heart  problems.

But, during the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon.

Statistics also show that obesity costs the NHS millions every year.

In 2014, 65% of adults aged 16 and over were overweight, including 28% who were obese, and the Scottish Government estimated physical inactivity contributed nearly 2,500 deaths in Scotland, and a cost of £91 million per year.  If we continue to cycle and keep active, we will reduce the amount of money that the NHS spend on obesity which can then be spent elsewhere.

Cycling will also reduce the number of cars on the road and will be therefore less air pollution – another serious health issue that costs the NHS £1.1billion a year.

I have a bike of my own and cycle to the parliament on a regular basis. I am also the co-convenor of the Cross Party Group for Cycling, Walking and Buses and will continue to promote cycling within the South of Scotland.

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Fracking Ban Update

dreamstime_xl_20822603Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit to my consultation on my proposal to ban “fracking”. The results of my public consultation have now been processed, and 87% of the 1067 respondents were in favour of a ban. I am delighted with this overwhelming support.


My final proposal for a bill to prohibit the onshore extraction of unconventional oil and gas has now been formally lodged, and I will move on with the next step of the process.

The climate science is irrefutable. Scotland does not need a new fossil fuel as we shift towards a low carbon economy. Most respondees argued that we should be focussing on the development of jobs in the renewables industries.

Many are also concerned about the potential health implications of unconventional oil and gas extraction.



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