Politics, homelessness and scuba diving: Iain McGill

I thought to myself if I’m so hacked off about the decisions they make affecting people’s lives, it might be easier and more productive to kick them out and become the MP myself…

Iain McGill, Scottish Conservative candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith explains why he’s standing for election on 8 June. Welcome to Leith Open Space #onlinehustings: five questions for five candidates. 

Q1 What are the most important issues for people in the constituency? Name, perhaps, three.

The number one issue is the threat of another independence referendum – if people back it they’re voting SNP, if they don’t back it they’re voting Conservative.

Second issue is Brexit – there’s a straight choice – either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn (propped up by Sturgeon) will be at the negotiating table getting a deal for Britain. I know who I trust…

Third is work that pays. Employment is up 2.9 million since the 2010 general election, we’ve taken the lowest paid 1.3 million out of paying tax all together and boosted wages through the new living wage – at the moment worth an extra £1,400 to people on it.

Q2 How would you use your seat in Westminster to address local issues, using powers not held by the Scottish Parliament?

I’d be using my position, profile, resources and skills to bring change across the constituency and across powers held by council, Scottish parliament and Westminster. An example would be around homelessness – what’s not productive is the shrugging their shoulders and blaming MSPs, MSPs blaming MPs and MPs blaming Councillors – all have the powers to end homelessness – and working together we can – I’ll be working positively across levels of Government and party political splits to end rough sleeping in Edinburgh.

Q3 What or who motivated you to become a politician – were you inspired by anyone in particular and if so what did you admire about them?

I’ve been motivated and inspired by anyone who ever told me I’d never amount to much, by everybody who ever said that it was to hard to get involved in politics, that parties did not need ordinary working people like myself. I knew that was not true, and I enjoy proving it. Politics is great, and accessible to all – I’d urge you to get involved!
My motivation was much more to do with seeing were things where going wrong – my backgrounds international aid and development, then working in care and support work in Edinburgh – and constantly seeing campaigns to petition your MP on this or that, demonstrate here or there, I thought to myself if I’m so hacked off about the decisions they make affecting people’s life’s that it might be easier and more productive to kick them out and become the MP myself…

Q4 Being an MP is a hugely demanding job, how do you like to unwind, relax and recharge your batteries?

Scuba diving is my favourite thing. Nothing relaxes me like being underwater. I’d dive in a muddy puddle if it was the only water around. Thankfully we’ve fantastic diving down in Eyemouth/St Abbs not far from here, and tons of wrecks in Forth.

Football is also my thing, I follow Hearts home and away, and referee as well to keep fit, and give something back to the game and stay involved. I’ve refereed at every Homeless World Cup since 2005 with it was in Edinburgh – it’s my favourite bit of refereeing.

Q5 Can you share with us a quotation from a favourite poem or song?

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try, try and try …

Contact Iain McGill @IanMcGill Facebook page HERE 

Featured image courtesy The Edinburgh Reporter

5 thoughts on “Politics, homelessness and scuba diving: Iain McGill”

  1. Sounds like a rounded, grounded guy who would make a committed MP, working with others to make a difference. Hope Iain gets the chance even if I cannot vote for him as I don’t live in Edinburgh North and Leith.

  2. I like the concept of the online hustings; I hope that it will be taken seriously by the candidates.

    One of the pressing issues of this and the previous Parliament has been social welfare. The cutting of disability allowances and of course the two child tax credit cap, with its associated “Rape Clause” have attracted a lot of negative attention. The unveiling of the Conservative manifesto this week revealed that the Tories intend to further restrict the provision of social welfare.

    I ask, particularly to Mr McGill, as an MP will the candidate support the UK Government in its efforts to reduce a public spending deficit by targeting savings on social welfare, and if so what benefits?

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful and respectful question Scott, passing it on to Iain McGill. If you’re on Twitter you might like to follow threads of conversation. Best wishes, Fay

  4. The Government spends £94bn every year on working-age benefits, so unemployed people and people on low incomes can meet basic needs and are given the support to find work. We have also built a strong safety net for disabled people by increasing spending on disability benefits by more than £3 billion in real terms since 2010. We are now spending about £50 billion on benefits alone to support people with disabilities and health conditions.

    As our General Election manifesto makes clear, we will continue to run the welfare system in accordance with our belief that work is the best route out of poverty, that work should always pay, and that the system should be fair both to the people in need of support and those who pay for it. The manifesto also states that we have no plans for further radical welfare reform in this parliament.

    The passing of the 2016 Scotland Act means the Scottish Government can exercise significant powers in social security. Not only will it be entirely responsible for most disability benefits, it has the power to top up reserved benefits and, crucially, introduce any new benefits too. It gives all political parties unprecedented powers to design a distinct Scottish approach to social security if they so wish.

    Scottish Conservatives will continue to work with parties to design a Scottish disability benefits system that allows the government to support the most vulnerable people in our society as best as possible. That should be the key feature of any future welfare system. It should also be flexible, responsive and personalised, putting first the claimants it is meant to support. We should seek to minimise any administrative complexity to make navigating the system easier but also to allow for the fast-tracking of support for people with a terminal illness.

  5. Thank you for your reply, Mr. McGill. The manifesto is an interesting document in that it seems to be an attempt to manage, perhaps to down-manage, expectations. Mr. McGill quotes a chunk of page 52 of his party’s manifesto. The assurance that there will be “no plans for further radical welfare reform” is subtly but significantly different from the previous, clear-cut pledge that there will be “no new welfare cuts”. Similarly, the pledge from the 2015 manifesto to “work to eliminate child poverty” was changed to the rather more passive and less ambitious “we want to reduce levels of child poverty” (page 72). That seems telling.

    I welcome the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament, even beyond the Scotland Act of 2016, but I am wary of the Conservative’s swift and repeated retort to any criticism of welfare cuts that is made by the Scottish Government with the assertion that Holyrood should plug all the gaps. The budgetary framework to do so is not secure enough. Importantly, the Scottish Government cannot borrow, which limits its flexibility to spend. Beyond that, however, as the independent non-party think-tank Reform Scotland has identified, the Scottish Government is not adequately equipped with the budgetary framework to mitigate the full onslaught of Tory cuts. With 71% of the Scottish Government’s tax revenue raised through the sole source of Income Tax and with less than 30% of the total tax income raised in Scotland raised by the Scottish Parliament Holyrood is not sufficiently equipped to absorb the shock of Tory welfare cuts. Devolved welfare benefits amount to less than 15% of the total welfare expenditure in Scotland, so with the budgetary framework outlined above the Tories expect the Scottish Government to potentially cover anything up to 85% of Scottish welfare spending which could be faced with Conservative cuts.
    Even were that sustainable for the Scottish Government, it does not seem a mature devolution settlement to me.

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