My first year as the local MP
Following on from Gavin’s blog about his first year as an MP at Westminster, the Renfrewshire MP blogs about his work in the constituency over the past year.
For the past half-century, the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North – in its various forms and guises – has consistently returned Labour MPs to the House of Commons. Indeed, in modern times, the seat had been the definition of ‘Labour heartland’.
The incumbent Labour MP had been elected in 2001 and at the 2015 Westminster election he was defending a massive majority of over 15,000 votes. However, after the votes had been cast and counted, I won the seat for the SNP for the first time with a 26.5% swing and a 9,000 strong majority.
During that election campaign, I knocked on countless doors and spoke to many people throughout Renfrewshire. The feeling on the doorsteps was palpable – people felt that their MP was remote and unaccountable; people wanted something different.
Therefore, I pledged to residents in Renfrewshire that I would be an accessible, hard-working local MP if they elected me to represent them in the UK Parliament. Since being elected, I have worked hard – tirelessly, I dare say – to fulfil that promise.
I opened up shop-front office in Renfrew immediately after the election and I hold 13 regular constituency advice surgeries across Renfrewshire throughout the month – no other elected representative in Scotland holds more. I believe that it is important to be accessible to the people who elected me to represent them, and an office with an open door policy and regular advice surgeries are key to ensuring accessibility and accountability.
Just as my first year as an MP at Westminster has been hectic, so too has my first year in the constituency. Over the past year, I have responded to over 6,000 e-mails and letters, taken on over 2,400 cases on behalf of my constituents and attended over 260 engagements.
As you might expect, when I was elected as an MP, I looked forward to standing up for our communities and our country at Westminster. However, while the work that we do in parliament is undoubtedly important, I must admit that the greatest satisfaction of the job is from the work that we do here in Renfrewshire – making a difference to the lives of people who visit my office, attend a surgery or write an e-mail to me seeking my help.
For those of you who voted for me last year, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for placing your trust and support in me. For those of you who perhaps did not vote for me last year, I promise to work just as hard for you and your families while I am your MP.
Believe me, there is no greater honour or privilege than to represent our towns and villages in the House of Commons and to serve the people of Renfrewshire each and every day.