While Parliament may be in recess for the summer, politics rarely stops - and over the last few weeks it has been disappointing to see the Labour Party renege on one policy pledge after another.

In particular, their decision to maintain the two-child cap on benefits is just astonishing.

Evidence shows that the cap has pushed a further 250,000 children into poverty, predominately from working families who are already struggling in the UK’s low-wage, post-Brexit economy.

Indeed, the policy has impacted over 700 families in North Ayrshire alone yet Labour are now looking to maintain it if they come to power.

On hearing of the U-turn, I wrote to Keir Starmer expressing my dismay that he would persist with a policy which has condemned thousands of families in Scotland and across the UK to poverty.

Designating any child as not worthy of support is a shameful legacy inflicted by the Tories and I am utterly aghast he wishes Labour to share in it.

The excuse of 'there is no money left' is both illiterate, regarding modern economics, and fails to take account of the damage done to children growing up in poverty with regard to their general nutrition and health, brain development and educational attainment.

This means the government ends up spending money in the future to pick up the pieces of young lives blighted by poverty which is driven by such an appalling policy. Not only is it immoral, it is incredibly short-sighted.

Locally, I was disappointed to hear about the redundancies at the Irvine Merck plant and, in particular, the way the news appeared to have been communicated to the staff affected.

I have written to the management for clarification regarding both their decision and their notification procedure but also to enquire if they have considered all other options, including redeployment to other areas of the business given 13 is a relatively small number of staff for the size of the organisation.

I have also written to Virgin Money following the announcement that they are to close their Irvine store in November. While the town still has a few other bank branches I fear that, one by one, they may become a thing of the past as we have seen in many other towns.

While banking hubs are now providing services in some areas, such as the one recently opened in Troon or due to open in Kilwinning, I would hope the remaining banks see the benefit of maintaining a presence in a large, and indeed growing, town like Irvine.

On a happier note, I was delighted to get on my bike and join Holly and Caitie McCubbin, two young sisters who are cycling 100 miles over the summer to raise funds for Ataxia UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Unfortunately, normal service had resumed with the summer weather and we got utterly soaked, but there was no moaning from either of them.

If you have any money to spare, you can find their fundraisers at -



Some of you may have read that I will not be standing again at the General Election next year.

It has been an immense privilege to represent the constituency which has been my home for the past 27 years but, after three terms in office, it is now time to retire and pass on the baton.

Becoming an MP wasn’t something I had ever envisaged and, while Westminster is not for the faint-hearted, it is also rewarding - especially when I and my team succeed in resolving issues for constituents, or help local voluntary groups bring a community project to fruition.