It hardly seems a year ago that I had the privilege of being elected to serve the people of North Ayrshire & Arran, securing 53.2% of the vote and a majority of 13,573.
The trust placed in me and the SNP is something that I and my party take very seriously and have worked hard to try and repay.
Over the last year I have spoken in 49 debates, speaking out for my constituents, Scotland and party on a range of issues from funeral poverty to the menace of fixed odds betting terminals, threats to tax credits and shameful arms sales by the UK Government to repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia. I have also dealt with several thousand constituent enquiries, undertaken hundreds of constituency engagements and held regular advice surgeries. Indeed, I was one of the first of the new MPs to establish a constituency office, which is based in Ardrossan.
In Westminster it is generally agreed that SNP MPs have acquitted ourselves well, participating enthusiastically, energetically, constructively and in numbers to every Commons debate, working with others where we find common cause and can improve the lives of people in Scotland. There is a growing consensus that the SNP is providing the real opposition to the Tories at Westminster.
We opposed the deep and unnecessary cuts put forward in the Welfare Reform Bill and spoke out against Trident, whilst Labour abstained. We made sure that the concerns of people across the UK about the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have been fully aired in parliament, whilst other parties took little interest.
Furthermore, consistently at Prime Minister’s Questions whilst SNP Leader Angus Robertson holds Cameron to account on issues such as state pension equalisation and cuts to benefits for disabled people, the scattergun approach of other party leaders lets Cameron off the hook, contrasting sharply with Robertson’s statesmanlike self-assurance.
Tory attempts to cut Scotland’s budget by £7billion thwarted by the SNP, welfare cuts, the deep divisions on Europe, the Panama Papers exposition of how hopelessly tax avoidance laws have been drafted and presided over by successive UK Governments to benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations, the shambolic state pension equalisation, the Chilcot Report delay and a continuation of the austerity agenda, all required a strong opposition which the SNP provided whilst Labour is riven by infighting and factionalism.
The SNP in Westminster has made its presence felt by voting to protect terms and conditions for Scotland’s workers in the retail sector, fought hard to have Scottish workers excluded from the pernicious trade union legislation, where we were opposed by Labour, and secured a freeze on both fuel and whisky duty. We continue to fight for equality, social justice and progressive change, always standing up for Scotland’s interests.
I will continue to be an accessible, visible and hardworking MP for North Ayrshire & Arran and, with my MP colleagues, will continue to be a strong voice for Scotland at Westminster.