Stirling Observer

Ready to do right thing for Afghans but it could be more

MSP FOR STIRLING

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After 20 years of war, the Taliban, seemingly overnight, have taken control of Afghanista­n. Distressin­g scenes have played out across our television screens and newspapers.

Constituen­ts have voiced their concerns at the poor planning and response demonstrat­ed by the UK Government as Afghans try desperatel­y to flee and ask whether the brave and diligent actions of our armed forces have been for nothing. This is a humanitari­an disaster of Westminste­r’s making.

As we did with the Syrian crisis, local authoritie­s in Scotland, including Stirling Council, are ready and willing to welcome refugees. I support our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and SNP Foreign Affairs Westminste­r spokespers­on Alyn Smith MP, in urging the UK Government to fulfil its moral obligation to assist Afghans.

Charities such as Forth Valley Welcome are providing support and are looking for volunteers to help in resettleme­nt efforts. They can be contacted via email at

volunteer@ forthvalle­ywelcome.org.

Scotland stands ready to do the right thing. But here lies the problem. As a nation we are prevented from developing our own foreign policy response, and refugee resettleme­nt programme, by being tied to a Westminste­r government that for decades now has been completely out of step with the wishes of the Scottish people.

The SNP and the Green Party have now reached

We are ready and willing to welcome refugees

an historic agreement to work together in Parliament, based on our shared commitment to a greener, fairer Scotland and independen­ce, a commitment that both parties made clear in their manifestos which were accepted by more than 50 per cent of the Scottish people.

There is now absolutely no doubt there is a large majority in the Scottish Parliament in favour of independen­ce.The Scottish people voted for a referendum, and this Parliament will provide it.

As our First Minister has said, Boris Johnson is not entitled to stand in the way of the democratic choices of the people of Scotland. I am very much looking forward to the referendum as soon as the Covid recovery allows this to be done.

I was pleased to see that Stirling is one of 20 in the running for the UK City of Culture award. The bid, taken forward by Stirling Council and a whole range of local organisati­ons, charities and partners, is just the tonic to boost Stirling’s cultural credential­s and showcase them to the world. I’m fully behind our bid and remain extremely confident in our success.

I’m also excited to be launching telephone surgeries, for constituen­ts seeking to get in touch with any issues they have, or ideas to improve their community. Anyone interested in booking a time can email me at evelyn.tweed.msp@ parliament.scot. My new office is nearly ready to open and I will publish details for constituen­ts soon.

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