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Inside you'll find information about my work during August 2021.
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Tommy Sheppard MP Newsletter
Obviously, we were all deeply shocked to watch the awful events unfold in Afghanistan. It was clear that the urgent course of action was to help those trying to flee the country. However, once the immediate crisis has abated, we need an inquest into what went wrong. Dominic Raab and his holiday plans aside, thousands have died in the attempt to create a functioning Afghan state, and yet, the speed of the Taliban's victory once Western militaries withdrew, proves there has clearly been a colossal policy failure.
The UK has an obligation to play a major part in the relief efforts and resettlement of the frightened and traumatised people fleeing Afghanistan. This year is 70 years since the UK signed the UN Refugee Convention. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we stand #TogetherWithRefugees.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants ([link removed]) set out a series of actions that would help the UK Government meet its responsibilities to the Afghan people. This letter, from a cross-party group of MPs, was sent urging the Home Secretary to make these actions happen.
On 6^th October, universal credit is scheduled to be slashed by around 15-20%, depending on individual circumstances. This will be the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the foundation of the modern welfare state, impacting around 5 ½ million families. In August, figures published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation ([link removed]) show that, in Edinburgh East alone, this will impact 8330 (15%) working-age families and 3470 (38%) working-age families with children. The Scottish Government cannot change these policies whilst 85% of welfare expenditure and income-replacement benefits remain reserved to Westminster. Independence is the only way we can ensure that we are able to make these decisions for ourselves. However, until then, I, and the other SNP MPs in Westminster, will continue to demand action until the UK Government agrees to do what is right.
This month I joined Chris Mason ([link removed]) on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions. There was plenty to talk about. You can listen to my contributions here ([link removed]) .
I know we’re all sick to the back teeth of Covid restrictions, but the Scottish Government is right to be cautious and take a tentative approach to easing the rules. Definitely better than Boris Johnson’s gung-ho attitude, which is really not helpful. The schools going back in Scotland have seen a rise in the numbers, but hopefully, if we all keep following the advice, and take the vaccination when offered, it will mean we can get through this without further lockdown.
Back at the beginning of August, I had great fun visiting with some of the participants of ** IntoUniversity ([link removed])
in partnership with Edinburgh University at the White House. The new learning centre is helping support and inspire young people to look to the future and aspire to achieve. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can get in touch with them at ** [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])
6^th August was the 76^th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb. To mark the occasion, the ** Just Festival ([link removed])
, ** ICAN UK ([link removed])
and ** Scottish CND ([link removed])
organised Peace Cranes at St John’s Church on Princes Street. A beautiful and moving installation of 140,000 individually folded paper cranes - one for each person who died in the atrocity.
August also saw the return of the ** Craigmillar Festival ([link removed])
. A brilliant community festival which, this year, celebrates 100 years of Greater Craigmillar joining the boundary of the City of Edinburgh. There was plenty of great events and ways to get involved. I was honoured to be asked to hand out the winners’ medals at the festival footie match between ** Castlevale Youth ([link removed])
and ** Edina Hibs ([link removed])
. Of course, it’s the taking part that counts, but congratulations to Castlevale all the same!
I also attended another Craigmillar Festival event: ** Scottish Chamber Orchestra ([link removed])
principal cellist, Philip Higham, accompanying the ** Craigmillar Now ([link removed])
** Nihad Alturk ([link removed])
exhibition. Absolutely wonderful!
On the first Friday night since Covid restrictions were eased, I headed out with Sgt. Mike Smith and PC Aaron Stewart from ** Edinburgh Police ([link removed])
at the start of their shift. Good to see several dozen police officers on the streets keeping the city centre safe.
August saw the return of The Fringe and it was good to see the venues doing their best and proving that ** Edinburgh Fringe ([link removed])
is still alive and kicking. These are baby steps however, and it’s important not to have false ambition. It will almost certainly take a number of years before we get back to the way things were in 2019. Mind you, even only running at 10%, The Fringe is still one of the biggest arts festivals in the world!
It was great to meet with Nick Barley, Director of ** Edinburgh International Book Festival ([link removed])
, and watch the set up for live, online and hybrid events. I also stayed for the Scottish Publisher Showcase, which was championing Scottish independent publishers and help with the international promotion of their books following a challenging year for their industry.
On 26^th August, Henry wished all his fellow canine constituents a happy International Dog Day.
My office has started a phased reopening. In-person surgeries are now resuming, with safety measures in place. Appointments aren't needed for surgeries, but they are helpful. Please, as with every other in-door activity, wear a mask, and try not to be more than a couple of minutes early for your appointment as there will be limited waiting area space.
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Tommy Sheppard MP . 94 Portobello High Street . Edinburgh, EH15 1AN . United Kingdom
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