Kirsty Black­man

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FEATURES -

Politi­cians quite of­ten use the word sham­bles to de­scribe a sit­u­a­tion. It is use­ful be­cause it is a word which most peo­ple can re­late to. The phrase ‘It was a sham­bles’ cre­ates an im­age of ev­ery­thing just fall­ing down around your ears – ‘I tried to put up the book­case but it ended up in a sham­bles’.

To de­scribe Brexit as a sham­bles, though, is way too kind to the Tories – and ac­tu­ally far too gen­tle a word.

It is now 18 months since the ref­er­en­dum and they have not even con­cluded the three key stage-one is­sues – as agreed by the UK gov­ern­ment and the EU.

These are the sit­u­a­tion of EU na­tion­als in the UK and UK res­i­dents in the EU; the so-called di­vorce set­tle­ment and, most spec­tac­u­larly, the North­ern Ire­land bor­der.

This is be­fore we even get to the com­plex and de­tailed ques­tion of trade talks and tran­si­tional ar­range­ments and all the time the clock is tick­ing.

Ring­ing in our ears is the spec­tac­u­lar ar­ro­gance of the Leave cam­paign­ers who said all this was go­ing to be easy – ‘the eas­i­est deal in his­tory’. Do you re­mem­ber that?

Putting aside the barefaced lies about the NHS on the side of a bus, they now ap­pear clue­less.

Since the elec­tion in which the Tories lost their ma­jor­ity, West­min­ster is now a par­lia­ment of mi­nori­ties.

The SNP will work with any­one to get the best deal for Scot­land – a deal that we have be­lieved in since day one – that Scot­land must stay in the sin­gle mar­ket and the cus­toms union.

To do oth­er­wise will be ut­terly reck­less and do im­mense dam­age to Scot­tish business, com­merce, ed­u­ca­tion and to ev­ery com­mu­nity and to fam­i­lies across the coun­try.

This is why this week has been such a dis­ap­point­ment.

The Scot­tish Tories trooped through the vot­ing lobby to sup­port grab­bing power from Holy­rood. They failed to sup­port an amend­ment to pro­tect the pow­ers of the de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions.

They had a chance to pro­tect Scot­land, but in­stead chose to side with the hard Brex­i­teers.

Make no mistake, if this pro­ceeds, the peo­ple of Scot­land will suffer as a re­sult.

For the SNP it is clear we need to en­sure de­volved pow­ers, such as farm­ing, fish­ing and food, re­main de­volved.

Progress has been made in talks be­tween the Scot­tish and UK gov­ern­ments on UK frame­works, but that can­not mean West­min­ster tak­ing con­trol over de­volved pow­ers, rewrit­ing the de­vo­lu­tion set­tle­ment, and dic­tat­ing policy.

We will con­tinue to work with any­one who has Scot­land’s best in­ter­ests at heart.

Then came an­other rev­e­la­tion from the Brexit sec­re­tary David Davis that the UK gov­ern­ment has not con­ducted a sin­gle eco­nomic as­sess­ment on the im­pact of Brexit on the Bri­tish econ­omy.

This is sim­ply stag­ger­ing and, if ac­cu­rate, con­sti­tutes a se­ri­ous dere­lic­tion of duty.

The EU With­drawal Bill, as drafted, drives a coach and horses through the found­ing prin­ci­ples of de­vo­lu­tion and rep­re­sents a com­plete be­trayal of prom­ises made dur­ing the EU ref­er­en­dum.

The new Scot­tish Tories are show­ing what they’re good for – and that’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing. They are let­ting Scot­land down.

Bank clo­sures al­ways get peo­ple an­noyed – and rightly so. RBS cus­tomers and con­stituents of mine in Bridge of Don will be with­out their lo­cal branch and face hav­ing to reg­u­larly trek into the city for face-to-face bank­ing. Across the north-east our neigh­bour­ing towns, in­clud­ing El­lon, Huntly, Tur­riff and Banff, are set to lose their RBS branches as part of this ham­mer blow from the bank­ing gi­ant.

If all 62 clo­sures go ahead, it means there will be huge tracts of Scot­land that will have no bank­ing fa­cil­ity at all.

Cus­tomers, busi­nesses and, of course, the staff in­volved will all be anx­ious about los­ing the vi­tal ser­vice that a high-street branch of­fers.

It makes it all the more dif­fi­cult to take that it was not so long ago RBS was bailed out by the tax­payer – and now they are turning their back on so many com­mu­ni­ties.

My col­leagues in the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have made clear they will work con­struc­tively

It’s no se­cret that I love Christ­mas. The tree is al­ready up in our John Street of­fice and it’s such a mag­i­cal time to be a par­ent of small chil­dren. One of our favourite Christ­mas tra­di­tions is go­ing to buy our Christ­mas tree.

Ev­ery year, we go to Tyre­bag­ger on a week­end morn­ing. Ev­ery year we ar­gue at length about how big a Christ­mas tree we can fit in our house, about whether to get a fir or a spruce and about how to fit the tree in the car with­out crush­ing the chil­dren.

Ev­ery year, we get home and set the tree up and agree it’s the best we have ever had.

A key part of the tra­di­tion is the ex­cel­lent veni­son burg­ers they sell at Tyre­bag­ger.

I know many fam­i­lies have Christ­mas tra­di­tions and one of these is do­nat­ing toys to the Sal­va­tion Army or other char­i­ties, which can then be dis­trib­uted to kids who would oth­er­wise not re­ceive gifts.

This year I teamed up with the Sal­va­tion Army and stood in the Castle­gate in my one­sie, to en­cour­age folk to do­nate py­ja­mas, one­sies or warm socks to en­sure bairns have some­thing cosy to wear when they open these gifts.

I’m sure buy­ing and do­nat­ing these warm clothes will be­come an­other Christ­mas tra­di­tion for my fam­ily.

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