<strong>By MARTIN DOCHERTY | MP for West Dunbartonshire </strong> <strong>By MARTIN DOCHERTY | MP for West Dunbartonshire </strong> <strong>THE energy the national press has put into ridiculing SNP MPs, who have apparently behaved shockingly doing such things as eating a chip butty and chatting to canteen staff, is unbelievable.</strong> The establishment are challenged by the presence of folk like you and me, there to do a job, and while that will be difficult for many of the old politicos, in with the bricks as they say, it’s a change that is long overdue.
It’s all part of the wider Westminster problem of self aggrandising MPs forgetting they are there to represent their constituents. I have no problem with traditions, but when convention becomes more important and newsworthy than the serious issues we’re meant to be tackling that'’s unforgivable.
The SNP has already had some success working with Labour and other colleagues in Westminster to force a significant change in stance by the government on its planned repeal of the human rights act. Rather than publish draft legislation to implement the changes they want, the Tories have been forced instead to announce a public consultation in the Queen'’s speech.
We will now seek support from others in the chamber to force a rethink on the Scotland Bill; the piece of legislation that is supposed to devolve more powers to Scotland. It has been revealed this week that Scotland will only be permitted to use any new devolved powers if they have, “consulted with, and obtained the agreement of, the Secretary of State [for Scotland]”.
This essentially gives Westminster veto over every decision Scotland makes using the new powers, meaning that the Tories, with no mandate to govern Scotland, will have the final say on matters that are supposed to be devolved to the Scottish Government and Parliament. That is simply not acceptable.
On a much more positive note, after more than a decade of waiting for recognition, the memorial in memory of those we'’ve lost from asbestos poisoning was unveiled on Saturday at the newly renamed ‘Truth and Justice Square’.
The fight for truth and justice has been long fought by the Clydebank Asbestos Group and the Clydebank Post has backed them all the way and reported on their successes in the Scottish Parliament. My colleague Gil Paterson MSP, who has worked tirelessly to highlight the work of the asbestos group at the highest levels of government, and I had the pleasure of being there for the unveiling. It was an emotional and poignant moment for everyone.
It is widely recognised that Clydebank has been the hardest hit area in the UK, with asbestos related conditions such as the untreatable mesothelioma cancer disproportionately affecting local families. I think it’s entirely fitting that this International Asbestos Memorial for the known and unknown is situated in our home town.
Finally, let’s not forget that this week is volunteers week. I would like to say a big thank you to all of West Dunbartonshire'’s volunteers. Volunteers are vital to the fabric of every community and we would be greatly diminished without their efforts.