It won’t surprise anyone to hear that I’m no fan of the Tories and their right-wing politics – but this week Ruth Davidson’s band of Scottish Tory MPs sunk to a new low. Across Scotland thousands of families are being pushed into poverty, debt and destitution as the UK government rolls out its disastrous Universal Credit system.
This broken Tory system – that sets out to replace most of our existing social security support for low income, disabled, and unemployed families – has cost taxpayers billions more than planned to implement, and has been beset by deep-rooted problems from the start. Delayed payments and errors have literally driven families into rent arrears, and have forced parents and the disabled to rely on emergency aid, and food parcels, just to feed their kids and get by – it’s an absolute disgrace.
Let me be clear, the SNP doesn’t oppose the principle of Universal Credit but all governments have a duty to make sure the policies they introduce actually work. Like so many of the policies of this shambolic and uncaring Tory government, Universal Credit is half-baked.
That’s why, having seen the devastating impact of Universal Credit in its current form, the SNP has called for an urgent halt to the roll out in order to allow the UK government the time it needs to fix the problems and get this policy right – instead of sending even more families into crisis.
On Wednesday, Westminster had an important vote on Universal Credit – a chance for MPs of all parties to do their job representing their constituents who are suffering as a result of this policy. Scotland’s SNP MPs were out in force. We were there speaking, and listening to countless politicians relate harrowing stories from their constituents of being driven into hardship and hunger by the botched roll-out. And at the end of the debate, we voted to halt the roll out.
However one Scottish Tory MP, Douglas Ross, cared so little that he was completely absent from parliament – choosing instead to earn big cash on the side, and spend time rubbing shoulders with celebrities, in his second job as a referee at a football match in Spain.
Now if you read this column you’ll know I’m a football fan – but when you are elected and paid to do a job representing your constituents you put your role as an MP first, especially on one of the most important issues facing the country. The role of any MP is to do everything you can to get the best deal for your constituents – but Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tory MPs are an absolute waste of space.
In his election campaign, Douglas Ross said he would not let his referring interfere with his job in parliament- already he is going back on his word. The sheer arrogance of it - I don’t think he had any intention to put the responsibilities he has as a MP first. In a pathetic attempt to deflect the negative attention away from their absentee referee, the Scottish Tory press office were briefing journalists about my apparent poor attendance in parliament.
As regular readers will know, I’ve not been that well and haven’t been travelling to London but no matter what it took I wouldn’t have missed the chance to speak up for my constituents on Universal Credit. They also briefed that SNP MPs don’t vote as often as the Tories - but yes, that’s because we rightly choose to only vote on issues affecting Scotland - it’s what we’re elected to do.
Meanwhile the Tory MPs rubber-stamp every right-wing policy that Theresa May shoves their way. Whether its refusing to speak out on Universal Credit, backing the dodgy Tory-DUP £1billion deal that saw Scotland’s public services lose out, or allowing the Tory government to devastate Scotland’s economy by dragging us out of the Single market and Customs Union against our will – the Scottish Tories are on the side of their Westminster masters not their Scottish constituents.
This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.
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