Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland in 1959, Tommy was educated at a local grammar school and, equipped with the requisite A levels, moved to Scotland to study medicine at Aberdeen University. He graduated with a degree in politics and sociology – the start of a lifelong interest in politics.

He returned to Scotland in 1993 and established the Stand Comedy Club in 1995, which he started as a hobby and built into a successful business. Tommy lives in Minto Street with his partner Kate and cocker spaniel Henry.

Leave a light on for Scotland

EU

Dear fellow Europeans 

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The UK is leaving the European Union later tonight. I’ve resisted it every step of the way but now it is really happening. Please know that this is not what the people who live in this great city want. Boris Johnson does not act in our name. We are being dragged out of Europe against our will. And we are determined that this will not be the end of the matter.

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The refugee crisis in Samos

Samos

With everything that goes on at Westminster it can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day minutiae of debates and votes. Sometimes we need a reminder of the bigger picture. I got that last week when I met with one of my constituents, Gica, who spent time volunteering in Samos last year.

Gica volunteered with refugees and the situation she described is appalling. And worsening. The refugee camp on Samos was set-up by the Greek army for about 800 people. There are now 7,500 refugees living in the camp.

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The English left have nothing to fear from Scottish independence

tommy-constituency

This week Politico reported that Number Ten are set to launch a pro-union offensive north of the border. Last week leadership contender Lisa Nandy provoked fierce criticism by saying Labour should learn from Spain’s attempts to defeat Catalan independence campaigners.

Both approaches from different parts of the British political mainstream have in common a denial of the express views of voters in Scotland. Rather than seek to understand why people elected the SNP in 80% of Scotland’s seats they would rather tell them that they are wrong. This is not a good look for democrats – and it’s especially not a good look for anyone claiming the mantle progressive.

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Business Questions

You'll have had your sovereignty people of Scotland. And it seems Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks the country of Scotland is the same as the county of Somerset. Watch a clip here and the full exchange from today's Business Questions here.

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Press Release - SNP CRITICISE LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE'S ANTI-DEMOCRATIC REMARKS

SNP CRITICISE LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE'S ANTI-DEMOCRATIC REMARKS

LABOUR "HOPELESSLY OUT OF TOUCH" WITH THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND

The SNP has criticised Lisa Nandy after the Labour leadership candidate stated she would deny the people of Scotland a choice over their future if she became leader – going as far as to suggest that she would follow the example of independence movements suppressed through violence.

When also asked by the BBC’s Andrew Neil if she backed Scotland’s democratic right to choose their own future if the Scottish Parliament returned a pro-independence referendum majority, Nandy replied, “No...” and referred to learning lessons from Catalonia, where democratically elected political leaders have been jailed.

Earlier, Nandy’s fellow leadership challenger Jess Phillips was criticised for being "hopelessly out of touch" with Scotland after refusing to accept Scotland's right to choose, stating that “I don't think we should have another referendum on Scottish independence" while claiming a majority did not support a referendum - despite the SNP winning more than eighty per cent of seats in Scotland on a mandate to hold an independence referendum.

Commenting, SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said:

“There is a running anti-democratic theme dominating the Labour leadership contest and it only confirms why the Labour party is in a state of utter disarray in Westminster, in its Scottish branch office, and why it is hopelessly out of touch with the people of Scotland.

“With Lisa Nandy even lurching so far to the extremes by condoning violence and imprisonment as a way to oppose independence, it suggests there is a deeper problem rotting at the core of the Labour party. 

“With the SNP winning more than eighty per cent of seats in Scotland on a mandate to hold an independence referendum, all Labour leadership candidates must make clear whether they respect democracy or if they will instead follow the lead of Tory leader Boris Johnson in denying democracy.

“The people of Scotland must have the choice of a better future than the broken Westminster system being imposed upon us. That is a decision solely for the people of Scotland - not Boris Johnson, not Lisa Nandy, or any other detached Westminster politician.”

Ends

Transcript of Lisa Nandy’s interview with Andrew Neil - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BoHqI1X6OpxLsvkn85wwqmJNwIq-3yio6NQZQpoYybk/mobilebasic

 

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EU Withdrawal Bill Debate

The SNP has consistently voted against Brexit. When it returned under the new Tory government, we did exactly the same again - voting against the miserable Withdrawal Agreement bill which will be terrible for the people of Scotland. Scotland's voice is being ignored. You can watch my full speech from the debate here.

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Business Questions

As SNP Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, I take part in Business Questions every Thursday morning. On my first outing I pointed out that the UK government needs to recognise that its mandate does not extend to Scotland. You can watch the exchange here.

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Prime Minster's Questions

At today's PMQs I sought a commitment from Boris Johnson to consider a pilot scheme of supervised overdose prevention facilities to help tackle the drugs crisis.

He appeared to be at least open to the discussion but we need a firm commitment. The evidence is clear - he must act now.

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Their Scottish Lordships

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We are in the midst of a sustained and serious constitutional crisis. A central feature of the broken Westminster system has always been the undemocratic House of Lords. My 2019 report into the Scottish Lords lays bare the extent to which the Scottish Lords were unrepresentative of Scotland.
 
The report examines the House of Lords in the previous UK parliament and found that in every single area of analysis - covering political affiliation, constitutional aspiration, gender, age and social background - the evidence exposes the chasm which exists between peers and the democratically elected representations of Scotland.  

The report was produced ahead of the 2019 General Election and publication was delayed because of it. However, the arguments and information are current and will inform the constitutional debate in the year ahead. 

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A tale of two elections

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Is it just me or does last month’s election already seem a long time ago? That last week in parliament was a pretty turgid affair. Self-congratulation by the tea-room Tories was matched by remorse and recrimination as Labour losers cleared lockers and desks. And then it was Christmas. There was no settling of the dust, no clarity on what the election results actually meant.

That starts now. Not for the first time this was a tale of two elections. We were somewhere very similar in May 2015. Then, as now, the Tories won convincingly south of the border in a campaign dominated by whether to leave the European Union. Then, as now, Scotland just as convincingly voted for the SNP in a campaign dominated by Scotland’s relationship with the UK.

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Edinburgh SNP politicians ask Scottish Government to pilot action on short-term lets in the Capital.

I was very happy to put my name to this joint letter with Edinburgh SNP colleagues about curbing numbers of Airbnb-type short term let flats in Edinburgh.

I welcome the Scottish Government's analysis of responses to the short term lets consultation and I want to see new regulations to curb problem holiday lets to be piloted here in the capital. I'm proud of our Team SNP approach to seek positive change for our constituents and our city.

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September News - Constituency

Sept-19---climate-change

One of my favourite (and toughest) jobs of the year is judging the Portobello Sandcastle competition. This year was no different with lots of families and individuals battling the wind - though thankfully not the rain - to make some incredible creations. Congrats to Eleanor, her dad Jonathan and all who took part!

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September News - Westminster

WM-Sept-19
Every month when I sit down to write this it amazes me how much has happened in such a short space of time. September was no different. We headed back after recess with one clear priority - to work with other parties to prevent a no-deal Brexit prior to Boris Johnson's planned shut down of parliament with a five week prorogation. One that turned out to be unlawful - but more on that later. 

The month began with what I described as a "turbulent few days". I recorded a series of videos on my social media channels as we progressed through that week. You can follow me on Facebook here and Twitter here. When events are happening quickly I often find that it's the quickest way for me to communicate with constituents. 

On the first day back (3rd Sept), an application was made for a Standing Order 24 debate to try and take control of the order paper. This was to allow the option of bringing forward emergency legislation to prevent the Prime Minister from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. We managed to do that (the vote passed 318-301). I also spoke in the emergency debate - you can watch the video here

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August News - Constituency

Aug-19---Craigentinny-street-surger_20190925-091747_1

 

August is usually a month that's focussed solely on the constituency. It's the month where my newsletter is a jolly affair telling you about all the fantastic organisations I've visited. And I will do that. But first we have to talk about events in Westminster. Last week the Prime Minister chose to ask the Queen to prorogue parliament, effectively reducing the amount of time available to stop a no deal Brexit.
 
The decision was utterly disgraceful, undemocratic and must be challenged. I'm on my way to Westminster today to do just that. I've been inundated with emails from constituents telling me how angry and upset they are. Let me assure you, I feel that anger, upset and frustration too.

Tomorrow Parliament returns and I promise I'll do all I can to prevent no deal. The SNP will work with others, as we have been doing for months, to stop this outrage. Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP group in Westminster, spoke on the SNP’s behalf at last Tuesday’s cross-party summit. My colleagues and I signed the cross-party Church House Declaration opposing a No-Deal Brexit and any attempt by Boris Johnson to shut down Parliament to force it through. And my colleague Joanna Cherry QC has been leading on a court challenge which will be heard this week. 

I'll do my best to keep folk updated on my Facebook and Twitter pages over the coming days as I imagine things will move quickly. 
 
 
But for now, back to the constituency.  It was great to catch up with the team at The Fruitmarket Gallery at the start of parliamentary recess.  It was really useful to chat through the work they do, including with young people, and to hear about their redevelopment and expansion. I can't wait to go back and visit the new space.
 

What a great tribute to Scotland's youngest suffragette Bessie Watson. Her story is now being shared more widely thanks to those at 6VT Edinburgh City Youth Cafe and their 'Best for Bessie' project. Look out for the plaque (unveiled by the First Minister) next time you're walking through The Vennel.

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Boris Johnson set to be accountable to MPs for four of 82 days as PM

WM-Sept-19

At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.

I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and other cross party MPS, in this legal action and in truth the unanimous decision was even better than we hoped for. The government will appeal but for now it stands charged of breaking the law.

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The SNP, Brexit and calls for a General Election

WM-Sept-19

I've had a few emails recently from people who are asking about the SNP position regarding a general election.


While I recorded some video updates last week, 
one of the limitations of social media is that it mitigates against context and nuance, so it is not always an adequate medium to communicate one's ideas. Also, while the instant nature of social media is useful it is limited in a situation like this where events are changing hourly and policy needs to be constantly refined and updated. So, I've taken time to set out my thinking here - and hope it will help in expressing my position.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Willie Lawrie
All of your blog presumes that Scotland will still be in the UK after the next election. What if Scotland returns a massive majori... Read More
Monday, 09 September 2019 11:45
Guest — Dennis Nicholson
The SNP should ask for a mandate to negotiate immediately for independence not for another pointless demand for a S30 order which ... Read More
Monday, 09 September 2019 16:36
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Stop No Deal

tommy-speaking

Under the new Prime Minister, the UK’s headlong dash towards the No Deal Brexit cliff edge has accelerated. Johnson makes demands he knows the European Union cannot accept. He demands the removal of the Backstop. The Backstop was designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and thus peace in Northern Ireland and is, let’s not forget, an international treaty which is overwhelmingly supported by the people of both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The EU has repeatedly ruled out changes to the Backstop so it is clear that Johnson is deliberately asking for the impossible while gearing up to blame No Deal on Merkel and Macron. In doing so, he is gambling with all our futures. The warnings of the economic and social effects of No Deal are clear.

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In the coming election we must tackle Unionist myths

Conference-Spring-19

And so the parliamentary summer recess draws to a close. This week Westminster opposition parties meet to plan their autumn attack. The week after, battle commences in the palace by the Thames. The parliament and the premier, each with a death wish on each other. The question: who will get the killer blow in first?

What is clear is that a General Election is coming. Either the government will collapse parliament and head for the polls, or parliament will collapse the government and do the same. Will it be October or will the Tories drag a deal from somewhere and crawl through the winter in the hope of leaving the Brexit Party behind?

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It's better to be led by the left while we're in UK

Conference-Spring-19

Dearie me, what’s going on in the People’s Party? First, shadow chancellor John McDonnell states that a Westminster Labour government wouldn’t block a request from the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum. He says it twice just in case anyone thinks the first time was a mistake. And this week Jeremy Corbyn says it again to be sure.

Now, in one sense, it’s an unremarkable statement. But strangely it seems to have caused apoplectic rage in Labour’s Scottish ranks. This summer’s red-on-red action marks a further step in the journey to irrelevance by this once great party.

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Why criticism of Edinburgh festival must be taken seriously this time

fringe-copyright-free

As I write we pass the halfway point on the most sodden Edinburgh festival in many years. And the usual controversies rage. For many locals there’s an increasing feeling that the festival is something done to Edinburgh rather than for it.

There are many parts of this city where the balance sheet of festival pros and cons is negative. Now there have always been curmudgeons annoyed by the impossible enthusiasm and exuberance of the bright young things staging their annual artistic invasion. But this is a different criticism. This is a claim that the organisation of the festivals contribute to a structural inequality taking wealth from the city’s masses and depositing it into the hands of rich producers from elsewhere.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
31 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
Dear fellow Europeans I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The UK is leaving the European Union later tonight. I’ve resisted it every step of the way but now it is really happening. Please know that this is not what the people who live in this great city want. Boris Johnson does not act in our name. We are being dragged out of Europe against our will. And we are determined that this will not be the end of the...
Tommy Sheppard
29 January 2020
Tommys Blog
With everything that goes on at Westminster it can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day minutiae of debates and votes. Sometimes we need a reminder of the bigger picture. I got that last week when I met with one of my constituents, Gica, who spent time volunteering in Samos last year.Gica volunteered with refugees and the situation she described is appalling. And worsening. The refugee ...
Tommy Sheppard
23 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
This week Politico reported that Number Ten are set to launch a pro-union offensive north of the border. Last week leadership contender Lisa Nandy provoked fierce criticism by saying Labour should learn from Spain’s attempts to defeat Catalan independence campaigners.Both approaches from different parts of the British political mainstream have in common a denial of the express views of voters in S...
Tommy Sheppard
03 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
Is it just me or does last month’s election already seem a long time ago? That last week in parliament was a pretty turgid affair. Self-congratulation by the tea-room Tories was matched by remorse and recrimination as Labour losers cleared lockers and desks. And then it was Christmas. There was no settling of the dust, no clarity on what the election results actually meant.That starts now. Not for...
Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and ot...