This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.

Barrett’s Blog

From 1st January 2010 this site will no longer be updated, in accordance with Parliamentary rules.

The site will be kept online and can still be used to find information and to contact John, but the latest news will be posted on the West Edinburgh Liberal Democrats website.

This blog aims to give an insight into the day to day life of an MP, rather than being a political soapbox.

April 2008

30 April 2008

Prime Minister’s questions is always a key part of any Wednesday, but I am leaving all of that out of this blog as every word spoken at Westminster is available in Hansard and the comments, issues and votes at Westminster are all detailed and monitored elsewhere on this site. This blog is for non-Westminster stuff.

Tomorrow is election day in London and the battle is on to be the new Mayor and for many council seats. Fortunately Scotland has an election free year. There will probably be elections every year in Edinburgh and Scotland so we should enjoy the break. Sadly there will be a by-election following the death of Gwynneth Dunwoody. The writ was moved today for an early election in late May. Doing this one week before her funeral looks like an attempt to limit the campaigning to a couple of weeks and does nobody involved with this decision any credit.

Wednesday is the one night I am in Westminster that finishes reasonably early - 8pm tonight. Went along to the acoustic room in Farringdon to see Stars of Sunday League and Anton Barbeau, both excellent. Arrived too late for food and survived on a pint (or two) and two packets of crisps. Also forgot that the Victoria line closes at 10pm midweek, which made it difficult to get back. Overall a really enjoyable change from Westminster.

29 April 2008

Rent rise

Rental increase in the flat means that the London living allowance will not cover it any more. Will have to look at alternatives. Thought there was a property crash in London! Over £20,000 a year for a very small flat is madness. Commuting 400 miles and living in a flat in London instead of my home in Edinburgh is the only down side of the job - nothing to complain about really. Good news in today's ComRes poll in the Independent. The Scottish breakdown would result in us winning Edinburgh South and Edinburgh North & Leith. 

28 April 2008

Back to Westminster

After a morning in the Edinburgh office, back to Westminster in the afternoon. Finance Bill-later finish expected, but it only went on until about 11pm - not too bad as the normal Monday finish time is around 10.30pm. 

27 April 2008

Work life balancing act

Spent some time on the Parliamentary emails at home in the morning to try to clear them before the next wave starts on Monday. Family gathering with relatives visiting that I've not seen for years and played with Maria in the afternoon. Emails and paperwork in the evening. Finished at 11.55 - knackered.

26 April 2008

Port Edgar

Saturday mornings are usually filled with advice surgeries or campaigning. Picked up leaflets for delivery then visited Port Edgar about the marina development proposals. Met up with many Ferry residents. Went back to the mobility exhibition, this time as a potential customer, with Sarah, Maria, (who tried out an electric wheelchair and crashed it - lessons required) and Hope - met up with a friend, whose grandson was killed by a hit and run close to my house and also Sarah's friend, who has a little boy with Downe's Syndrome. Felt worn out by the end of the visit. Went out to see Son of Rambow in the evening - for some light relief.

25 April 2008

Mobility exhibition

Visited the Motability exhibition at Ingliston. Saw an amazing array of products for the disabled and met up with the organisers and exhibitors. The real star was Kerry McGregor, who reached the X -Factor finals a couple of years ago, when Leona Lewis won. She was not only really nice and had a great singing voice, but she was also in a wheelchair. Over lunch she told me how as a young gymnast she enjoyed climbing trees. She fell out of a tree and broke her back at the age of 13 and has been in a wheelchair ever since. 

Advice Surgeries in the afternoon - always busy. More and more people are coming in with a range of problems which include debt. Last week one constituent detailed the repayments of a £2,000 bank loan over three years with the Bank of Scotland. The total repayment was just under £3,500 almost double the original loan amount - a real scandal. The banks have a lot to answer for. When the bank rate is reducing, many customers are paying even higher rates of interest. One particular case stuck in my mind. A constituent about to be evicted and feeling as if her life was over and not yet 50.

24 April 2008

Pink hat

Arrived back into Edinburgh on Thursday early in the afternoon. Waiting to be picked up to go into the office, when a group of WAGs heading off to Benidorm for a hen weekend dressed in pink with pink cowboy hats approached me to ask if I would take a photo of their group. They were in holiday mood and having a good laugh. After the photo they pounced and gave me kisses on the cheeks and popped a pink cowboy hat on my head - so when Ewan arrived 5 minutes later I was looking slightly different, with my pink hat and pink cheeks. They must have known about my hat collection - it now has a new addition.

This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.