Commons Diary: Kirsty Blackman
A glamorous week of coach and train trips, and eyebrow-raising gory books, Kirsty Blackman is full of Glasgow conference cheer and returns to Westminster with pride
My week started early on Sunday with my husband and bairns dropping me off at the bus station so I could take a three hour coach trip to Glasgow for SNP conference. The journey was surprisingly smooth and, though I didn’t get much work done on the coach, I did read a few chapters of Stuart MacBride’s Flesh House. The books centre on DS Logan McRae who’s a police officer in Aberdeen. This one is incredibly gory though – I wouldn’t recommend reading it unless you’ve got a strong stomach.
Sunday was a day for meeting activists, including those involved in the SNP women’s forum. There was some great chat about how to get more women involved and particularly active in the party, and how to make branch meetings more welcoming. I also spent some time in the conference hall (which I kept calling the chamber, gah). I was really pleased with Justice Minister Humza Yousaf’s announcement to create a victims’ task force. Particularly when it comes to domestic violence and sexual abuse our justice system could do more to put the victim at the centre.
In the evening, I took part in Westminster Hour from Glasgow’s Pacific Quay studios. It’s quite an odd experience being the only one who’s not in the studio with the presenter. The main focuses were Brexit, Scottish independence and social care. We also chatted about Isabel Hardman’s new book – it sounds like it gives a pretty interesting insight into Parliament. I’m not sure about the part of the conversation where we discussed used condoms being found in MP’s offices though. Yeuch.
Monday was a busy day with fringe events. I took part in a thought provoking discussion with the Investors Association about how investors can influence companies, principally to act more ethically, but also to change more broadly. I was on the panel with Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy. I’m so full of admiration for Kate, she’s incredibly competent, sensible and just an all-round great person.
At lunch time I was at another fringe, this time focusing on City Deals and how we can make them work. It was brilliant to be able to sit on a panel with the SNP leaders of Scotland’s two largest cities – Edinburgh and Glasgow. Aberdeen’s City Deal was signed in November 2016 and, though it is having a positive impact, I’ve not been shy about criticising the low level of financial commitment from the UK Government. They’ve put in £125m – the Scottish Government have matched this and committed an extra £254m, recognising that the allocation was not enough to help us realise many of the infrastructure projects we had hoped to bring forward.
Monday night I was on the sleeper train from Glasgow to London. I slept surprisingly well, but for far too short a time. I did manage to finish my book though!
Our conference was still in full swing on Tuesday but I was in Westminster Hall. John McNally had secured a debate on the future of the oil and gas industry. It was great timing as MPs from across the house made the case for a predictable future fiscal regime for the industry. It would be useful if the Chancellor committed to this in his budget.
Tuesday afternoon I was back in Westminster Hall, sadly missing Dominic Rabb’s Brexit statement to sum up for the SNP in William Wragg’s debate on business banking fraud. Too many individuals have had their lives dramatically affected by this and have not yet had redress. I also missed the First Minister’s conference speech. It absolutely struck the perfect tone – full of optimism and hope – making commitments to reduce homelessness, increase nursing bursaries and to put fair work first. I’m so proud to be an SNP member.
Wednesday night it’s back on the sleeper – my fifth bed in as many nights. Who said being an MP isn’t glamorous?!
Kirsty Blackman is MP for Aberdeen North, Deputy Leader of SNP Westminster Group & Economy Spokesperson