Deidre Brock: Interview with the MP for Edinburgh North and Leith

Deidre Brock, a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith, has held the seat since the 2015 general election.

She spoke to The Student about her re-election in December 2019 and her plans for the future.

When asked about the SNP majority in Scotland and whether or not this could constitute a mandate for Indyref2, Brock replies: “We already had a mandate for an independence referendum from the 2016 manifesto and we’ve strengthened that in each election since.

“I think the result was the people of Scotland saying that they’ve seen the work the SNP has done and they have confidence in us to continue standing up for them.”

The topic then turned to Brexit, regarding its current and potential impact on Scotland.

“Brexit is damaging in so many ways,” explains Brock. “…it rips part of our cultural experience away, it denies us ongoing links with our European friends, it takes away our rights to work, study, live and love in the EEA countries, and it damages us economically.

“That is just the start – once you start drawing the curtains and shutting yourself off from the world you start shrinking your world view and you limit your own imagination.

“Scotland needs to shake that off, shake the ashes of the UK off our feet and re-join the world.”

This leads to discussion about immigration; Brock speaks of the negative effect of certain government policies on society.

“The casework that my office deals with always had a fairly large element of immigration in it.

“Now that’s massively expanded as a result of the hostile environment policies that have been pursued by the UK Government and we’re spending much more time just trying to get sensible decisions made on immigration cases.

“I’m fairly sure that most MPs would tell you the same.”

Brock continues: “I’m also raising the issue in debates and criticising the policies of the UK government which I think you could safely describe as racist.

“That recent flight deporting people, for example, where the justification given was that they had committed crimes, didn’t have any white faces on it as deportees.

“Some of those folk had lived in the UK since they were toddlers, some have toddler children of their own, they’d served their sentences for crimes they had committed and had returned to being people contributing to society.

“For many of them that knock on the door came years later. That’s not about protecting society, that’s just racism by the UK Government.

“We work across party boundaries on these issues (and on many others) and there are people who represent all kinds of areas of the UK who are horrified by what’s going on.

“Importantly, we also work to support community groups and provide support and I do the other thing that everyone can do – speak to the people who are affected; if nothing else, it lets them know that we value them.”

Finally, the interview turns to Edinburgh North and Leith specifically: the changes that Brock hopes to introduce, and the challenges faced by her constituency.

“Every constituency is different and every area needs specific work. Edinburgh North and Leith covers a whole range of different communities, each with their own problems and issues needing addressed.

“It stretches from Princes Street to the river and from Leith Links to Blackhall. The issues in Granton aren’t the same as the issues in Stockbridge and the issues in the New Town are different from the issues on Leith Walk.

“We’re heavily affected by traffic congestion in several parts and we have some problems with Airbnb and other short lets but these are common across the city.

“The supply of affordable housing is an issue, particularly in Leith, to a greater extent than elsewhere which I’d like to see addressed but I think the Scottish Government is working towards solutions on that.

“I’m delighted to see that the film studio is coming to Leith which should offer jobs and training opportunities and I’m looking forward to seeing some of that experience spilling over into the rest of the area.

“We need to be able to build communities, though, to make people feel welcome and part of something – we need to have a decent welfare state and a welcoming immigration policy, we need to have decent, affordable and sustainable food supplies.

“For all of that we need independence.”

Image: Chris McAndrew via Wikipedia 

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