In these difficult times I’m determined to do all I can as Clydebank’s MP to stand up for the concerns of my constituents in the House of Commons. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak my constituency office team and I have been working flat out to provide advice and support to Bankies and residents across West Dunbartonshire.
In order to be as accessible as possible during the pandemic I have been running weekly virtual advice surgeries. This gives constituents the chance to speak with me via phone or video call, and I’m pleased to say it’s been well received even amongst those not used to using Zoom or other video meeting platforms.
One of the most pressing concerns I’ve been hearing about is the UK Chancellor’s decision to end the furlough scheme at the end of October. The new ‘Job Support Scheme’ the UK government just announced to replace the furlough scheme is woefully inadequate – but the Chancellor refuses to listen to the warnings from Scotland’s MPs, poverty action groups and charities of the financial hardship that will follow for millions of families.
Many Bankies like me are old enough to remember the damage that Thatcher’s Tory government did to our communities back in the 80s. I was a young teenager at the time and the resulting mass unemployment that was inflicted on us caused real hardship for countless working families here and across Scotland.
By making a deliberate choice to abandon workers, employers and businesses in their time of need it appears Boris Johnson’s current Tory government is fated to repeat the mistakes of the past.
My colleagues and I on the SNP benches have made clear to Chancellor Sunak that an urgent rethink is needed before it’s too late. People’s jobs and livelihoods are being needlessly put at risk by the UK’s decision to end the furlough scheme prematurely. The subsequent economic impact will also hit hard the many small businesses, self-employed and freelance workers in West Dunbartonshire and across the country already struggling due to shortfalls in the Treasury’s coronavirus support measures.
The latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey revealed that a record low of just 15 per cent of Scots trust the UK government to act in Scotland’s best interests. Given Westminster’s track record of disregarding the needs of our communities that’s perhaps no surprise. What is clear though is that if this Tory government refuses do what’s necessary to help people through this crisis in the coming months then it will demonstrate beyond any doubt why Scotland needs independence.
The Tories will never be forgiven should they choose once again to inflict mass unemployment and hardship on the people of Scotland.
This article was written for publication in the Clydebank Post.