For the past two weeks I’ve been on holiday in Northern Ireland – two weeks of blissful ignorance of the goings on in Scottish politics while I spent time with my partner, our son, and the family I left behind when I moved to Scotland seven years ago. It’s been heavenly.
But alas, all good things must come to an end – so without further ado, let’s dive into what Midlothian’s newest MP has been up to while I’ve been away.
In my last piece, I wrote about how Ms Rowley seemed only to appear in Midlothian when there was a camera about, and apparently she is eager to prove me correct, if the events of the WASPI Women Awareness event in Dalkeith on the 21st of July are any indication.
The Midlothian Advertiser published an article today (26th July) about this event, along with the picture below:
To look at that photo, it would appear that our newest MP is joining with the SNP to promote the cause of the Women Against State Pension Inequality. And, were that that the case, I’d be the first to applaud her efforts. Indeed, I believe the cause of the WASPI women is one that should be championed by all MPs.
The situation is not as the Advertiser would have you believe, however.
Ms Rowley was indeed present – but sources from the event have confirmed that she put in an appearance almost an hour after the event had begun, conveniently missing the speeches, the rally and the canvassing.
Indeed, the official WASPI picture paints a strikingly different scene:
SNP Cllr Dianne Alexander, who organised the event in question – a fact not published by the Advertiser, or indeed by Ms Rowley herself – and MSP Colin Beattie are both present; however, Ms Rowley is nowhere to be seen, and by the time the Advertiser took the photo they would eventually publish, the event was nearly over – hence the decreased number of participants in their photo.
Indeed, it seems Ms Rowley has an issue with actually dealing with members of the public – which quite neatly leads me to my next entry…
An odd thing happened this week – the SNP Council Group at Midlothian Council started receiving a number of calls from constituents enquiring about the impending closure of Dalkeith Job Centre.
Naturally, this came as quite a surprise to the Councillors, who had heard nothing of such a closure. The origin of the concerns was identified as a statement made by, you guessed it, Ms Danielle Rowley MP:
Just seven words, written as simply as though she were telling us the sky is indeed blue – “The Dalkeith Job Centre is closing.”
Naturally, such a claim was immediately investigated by both the SNP Midlothian Council Group and MSP Colin Beattie, but imagine their surprise when their investigations and enquiries with the Department of Work and Pensions yielded… nothing:
There is no closure scheduled for Dalkeith Job Centre; indeed, such an action would require the completion of a public consultation, which – at time of writing – has not taken place.
Naturally, the publication of this statement from the SNP Group had many flocking back to Danielle asking her what, exactly, was going on – and indeed, she clarified:
To summarise – that is our elected representative in Parliament, freely admitting on Facebook that this information came from a union, not from the DWP or sources within Parliament – and considering the effect that such a closure would have on the community, you would think that some fact checking would have been done by either herself or her staff before she made that information publicly available.
But instead of doing the bare minimum, Ms Rowley simply repeats what she has been told verbatim. Were I more cynical, I would suspect that the plan all along was to announce this as factually as she did so that when the closure did not come to fruition, the credit for “preventing” this would go to her.
But perhaps I’m mistaken. Perhaps Ms Rowley merely has other, more pressing issues on her mind…
If the events of the 26th of July are any indication, Ms Rowley truly does have more pressing issues on her mind.
It appears that political infighting and the prospect of a potential coup against Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale MSP are more important to our new MP than the needs of her constituents.
Last night, the majority of new Scottish Labour MPs backed Ms Rowley to become Chair of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party, aiming to defeat outspoken Corbyn critic and Dugdale ally, Ian Murray. However, due to an intervention by Labour peers in the House of Lords, Ian Murray won the chair.
Why is this important?
Because had Danielle Rowley been successfully voted in as chair of the SPLP, she would have used her position on the Scottish Executive to influence and support any attempt of Scottish Labour to oust Kezia Dugdale. In the event of a coup, the natural successor as leader of the Scottish Labour party in Holyrood would be none other than Alex Rowley MSP – Danielle’s father.
When Ms Rowley was selected as candidate for Midlothian back in May, Mr Rowley was asked by the Herald whether nepotism had played a part in his daughter’s selection:
I’ll tell you what’s insulting.
What is insulting is that, instead of a voice for the constituency, we have an MP more interested in publicity shots and posting misinformation in order to garner a few Facebook likes. We have an MP who seeks to use her influence to further the political aspirations of her father; who shows up late to events (when she can be bothered to show up at all) and who seems far more interested in furthering her own career than actually engaging with her own constituents. An MP who takes on more and more roles that demand more time at the House of Commons; time that is then not spent in her constituency.
When her name was published in the list of Scottish Labour candidates, the party stated that she reflected “the diversity of 21st century Scotland”.
In truth, she is just another example of the reality of Labour in the 21st Century – divided, unprincipled, and more interested in good publicity than actually getting on with the day job.