43rd Edition
December 12th, 2016

Monday 5th December

My column appears in The National every Monday. 
Photo: The National
George Kerevan: It doesn't matter who wins elections - the banks and economic elites remain in charge

I’M WRITING this before the outcome of the Italian constitutional referendum is known. Opinion polls in Italy have been banned since the middle of November, so the result is anyone’s guess – though given recent experience with polling results, one might be better looking at a sheep’s entrails as the ancient Romans did.

But if Prime Minister Matteo Renzi loses his gamble to centralise power, the better to ram home neoliberal economic reforms, then Italy joins the list of countries where the electorate has stuck up two fingers to the ruling establishment.
You can read all of my column HERE

In the afternoon along with my normal Parliamentary business in my role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Business Banking I met with Patrick Grady MP and one of his constituents to discuss problems he has been having with his bank.

Tuesday 6th December

George and Sergi Marcen with Margaret Ferrier MP, Carol Monaghan MP and Douglas Chapman MP.
It was my pleasure to host a briefing by Sergi Marcen, head of the Catalan Government’s Delegation to Britain and Ireland. He gave my colleagues andmyself a full briefing on the Catalan Government’s strategy for independence, which showed us so many similarities with Scotland.

In the course of the discussion he reported that the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, faces a prosecution brought by the Spanish Government at the Catalan Supreme Court over her decision to allow a debate on independence – not because she advocated it but because she allowed Parliament to discuss it. For us this was simply a question of free speech.

Immediately my colleague Margaret Ferrier MP and I together drafted an Early Day Motion expressing our concern over Ms. Forcadell’s trial.

It reads:

“That this House notes with concern the decision of Catalonia's High Court to proceed with the prosecution of the Speaker and President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, for allegedly violating Spanish law by allowing a parliamentary debate on altering the Spanish constitution, specifically on holding a referendum on Catalan independence; further notes that if found guilty, Ms Forcadell could be subject to debarment from public office and a personal fine; believes that, regardless of the constitutional legalities involved, to take steps to potentially remove and fine a Speaker for facilitating a debate in an elected chamber is regrettable and sets a dangerous precedent that could undermine public support for the democratic process; voices concern at the exceptional speed at which the case against Ms Forcadell is being pursued; and urges the Spanish government to reconsider the prosecution and to seek a resolution of its disagreements with members of the Catalan Parliament through mutual dialogue.”

To date 18 MPs have signed this, of whom three are Plaid Cymru, two SDLP, one Labour and the rest SNP. I have been doing many interviews with the Catalan and Spanish media. The National also covered it and you can read its report HERE

Later in the day I attended the Treasury Select Committee, where we interviewed a team of economists: Dr Andrew Lilico, Executive Director and Principal , Europe Economics, Jonathan Portes, Research Fellow, National Institute of Economic and Social Research and Dr Martin Weale, Professor in the Department of Political Economy and School of Management and Business, Kings College London.

Following that we quizzed Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Emeritus Fellow in Macroeconomics, Merton College Oxford, and Philip Booth, Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics, St. Mary’s University.

You can watch the session HERE

As an MP covering a large rural area I was pleased to attend the SNP MP’s Rural Affairs Group. After that I attended our Economy Group. In the evening I attended a reception at the Bank of England where I had a number of interesting conversations.

Wednesday 7th December

In the morning I met with Donna Bathgate of the Equity Release Council and then with staff to plan the briefing for the debate I am introducing on my Back Bench Bill to create a platform for commercial financial dispute resolution.

During the debate on Exiting the European Union I asked my colleague, Angus MacNeil MP:

“Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government could show good faith by agreeing to reveal their goals and negotiating strategy with the devolved Administrations under Privy Council rules, which would put aside the whole question that the Government cannot reveal their negotiating hand?”

He replied:

“My hon. Friend makes an excellent suggestion; perhaps the Government should explore that further.”

It is recorded HERE

You can watch this HERE

On a busy day I attended the Treasury Select Committee where we interviewed economist Kate Barker, on Housing Policy. You can watch the Committee’s proceedings HERE

Thursday 8th December

I have to express my respect and pride in Michelle Thomson MP for her statement to the House of Commons in a debate on violence against women of her dreadful experience of being raped at the age of 14. You can read about it HERE

Friday 9th December​

This morning, back in East Lothian, I met again with Tomasz Sidor and  Stephen Newlins of East Lothian Business Gateway to discuss the prospect of a test build of one of his ecoready houses. We agreed to explore possibilities in the county.

Then on to advice surgeries in Musselburgh, Port Seton and Tranent, where I met with Maestro Paul Macdonald, the sword-maker, who is lobbying for the recognition of traditional Scottish craft skills.

When I first visited his workshop a few months ago he kindly let me handle Rob Roy's sword.

Saturday 10th December

A brilliantly sunny day, and perfect for a ride down the coast to Prestonpans to visit one of my favourite pubs in East Lothian, The Goth.

One of the new proprietors, Sean Wood, had invited me to witness a brewing day, when he was instructing students in the art of making real craft beer - not a computer in sight. Unfortunately I never got to taste it, as I left before opening hours, but I will be back.

I'm so relieved that The Goth is doing well again, with craft beer, good food, and regular music nights. There are only four Gothenburg pubs in Scotland which continue to be run on the original lines, with 95% of the profits going to the local community. Ours inhabits the most beautiful building, with stunning views over the Forth to Fife.
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