I’M still mid-transition from MEP to MP, and have been struck that people get in touch about very different things to my former constituency workload.

As an MEP, we always had the rule that anyone getting in touch got a response, but usually the response was to signpost them to where the answer actually was. Politicians are not courts of appeal for the decisions of other politicians, but often people would get in touch with MEPs as if we could somehow gainsay a planning decision, or even a court decision.

I’m now proud to be MP for Stirling, and proud to be part of a team of politicians serving our community. The SNP form, with Labour, the administration in Stirling Council, and my great pal Bruce Crawford serves as an MSP. Bruce and I have formed a joint operation based out of the same building (if not office) in Stirling, with a combined team of seven, so anyone getting in touch with the parliamentary office is triaged quickly to the person or organisation best placed to deal with their issue.

We’re having weekly video-conferences with the SNP council group to compare notes on what needs done, so we are able to pull in expertise from the council, Scottish and UK networks. For so long as the constitutional settlement remains as it is, we need to work across the organisational boundaries to ensure the people we all serve get the best result as fast as possible.

But it is important to remember there’s no hierarchy – we’re all elected representatives in different places with different responsibilities. I can’t countermand a council decision no more than Bruce can countermand mine. We’re all working in different places and it is more important than ever that we work together.

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So it is all the more absurd that the UK Parliament isn’t working at all. MPs are all in our constituencies working away, but the methods whereby we can hold the UK Government to account are being limited because we are formally on the Easter recess.

This needs to stop now and we need to recall the UK Parliament. Yes, we’ll need to find new ways of remote working but I’m glad that Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle is very much in favour of finding ways to do this. We might not be able for now to conduct full debates in the normal way but we could certainly organise ourselves to have remote debate and to do more in questioning the UK Government than we presently can.

This is not just a desire for a knockabout – the UK Government needs all the ideas and support it can get.

There are real issues about how the business support mechanisms are working, and we have constructive suggestions to make. Similarly, where I think we are going to see the next big problem is on income support – the SNP policy is to implement urgently a universal basic income to give everyone a safety net, where UK policy has been a series of well-intentioned measures that do not quite join up, so a lot of people are falling through the cracks.

On the UK Government response to the coronavirus crisis itself, we have constructive suggestions and real questions to ask – not least why some companies are now working solely for NHS England and not sending products to Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

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For individual companies to make this decision would be bad enough, but if it is a result of UK Government policy then it is a scandal and needs thorough investigation.

In the same way as the UK Government failed to take part in EU procurement schemes for ventilators and PPE equipment, there seems to be an inequality across the UK procurement market where none should exist. We also have the shabby situation of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office network being entirely overwhelmed by the number of UK nationals stuck overseas with no recourse but to the support of the state. The SNP called weeks ago for evacuation flights to be organised to alleviate the pressure, and where a few have been organised it has been nowhere near enough.

So we are working together, we are working constructively, and now is not the time to be scoring points. Nicola Sturgeon has held a virtual First Minister’s Questions and continues to be open and transparent even as the opposition try to score points. But we must hold the UK Government to account for the real-world decisions that are making an impact on our citizens. If we can do it in Stirling and in Scotland, surely we can find a way to make Westminster do it too.

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