Once again, Westminster has been embroiled in controversy following revelations a Tory donor made racist, misogynistic and threatening comments regarding the MP, Dianne Abbot.

While the Prime Minster said the remarks were “wrong” he refused to condemn them as racist and misogynistic, despite the fact they were very clearly targeting Ms Abbot’s race and sex.

As with Tory MP, Lee Anderson’s comments about the Mayor of London, Rishi Sunak couldn’t bring himself to call out overt racism and this complete failure of leadership simply emboldens others to indulge in racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism – all of which are unacceptable and dangerous.

To make matters worse, the Speaker of House of Commons then refused to allow Diane Abbot herself to speak during Prime Minister’s Questions, despite the matter being discussed by all three main party leaders, calling into question his own conduct for the second time in a matter of weeks.

This debacle unfortunately diverted media attention from the recent disastrous Budget, which according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), will result in £18 billion in further cuts to public services.

While a reduction in National Insurance (NI) helps those in work, it is higher earners who benefit most while ordinary people lose out from the destruction of local public services such as health and education.

Although polls suggest the Tories are unlikely to have to deal with the impact after the General Election, the IFS has warned that both the current UK Government and the Labour Party, who supported the NI reduction, are joining in a conspiracy of silence in not discussing the cuts which are an inevitable result of this policy decision. 

In response, SNP MPs tabled a reasoned amendment to the subsequent NI Contribution Bill, but it was voted down by the Tories, with Labour abstaining, condemning our public services to another decade of austerity and cuts.

The Scottish budget already faces a 16 per cent real-terms cut in capital funding, for infrastructure and equipment, which is now delaying NHS investment such as the planned Elective Treatment Centres which are vital to dealing with post-pandemic waiting lists.

Locally, I was delighted to attend the 10th anniversary celebration of Ayrshire College.

Having been to a number of the graduation days since becoming an MP, I know how highly the students rate the experience they have at the different campuses and, from my engagement with local industry, I also know the value many employers place on the education the College provides.

I was also honoured to attend the ordination of Father Francis Dougan as Bishop of Galloway, in both a personal capacity and on behalf of my constituents.

It was a beautiful, moving and happy service of celebration and welcome, and I wish Bishop Dougan all the very best for the years ahead.