Christine Grahame MSP

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Christine Grahame MSP

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  • Member for: Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
  • Region: South Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Christine is a member of the following Committees:

Christine is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Conveners Group

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)

I do not want to dispute with the Presiding Officer, but I have no doubt that the reason why Labour members do not want to talk about the Chilcot inquiry is because it impacts on past Labour Governments. That is the real reason, and that is a disgrace, when the whole of Scotland and the whole of the UK and beyond are entitled to know the truth of what happened then.

Like Neil Bibby and many others, I marched against the war—not in our name. Even the dogs on the street knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that the war was about regime change and that the Blair and Bush cohort were together discussing how they could do it.

I do not know why we are waiting for the Chilcot inquiry report, because it will be a whitewash. There is no way that we are going to get people exposed to the critique of why they went into that illegal war, which took us into a bigger international mess than ever before. Quite rightly, the debate has been opened up to discuss the plight of the Iraqi people now and all that has happened, and we are not safer because of what happened in those days.

On the delay in publishing the report and the timing of publication, it is all right to say that we want it published as soon as possible, but I note that the Labour Party is not saying that that should be before the UK general election. Jim Murphy does not want it published before then. Why not? Because, on Mr Blair’s website, claim number 5 is that he stopped the illegal regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has cured everything. He has 50 claims on his website, and that is one of them.

The delay is because there are too many people with too much to lose, including not only Blair but Gordon Brown, who told the inquiry that the war was right and that the troops were properly armed and financed. In that case, why was I reading about the fact that they were getting food parcels, that they had the wrong shoes on their feet and that the vehicles that they were in did not protect them? Was I dreaming all that?

The Labour Party also has Jim Murphy, who apologises for everything but not for voting for the Iraq war. There is also Sir Jeremy Heywood, who is now Cabinet Secretary to David Cameron and who has been at the centre of Government for decades; he is keeping schtum. There is also George Bush and his extended family, with their interests in Halliburton and all the money that they made during the Iraq war and after it, and which they continue to make—they are all in it together.

Not only was the Iraq war illegal and about regime change, the conduct of the war was disgraceful. I will quote from people who know far better than me about that. Admiral Lord Boyce, the Chief of the Defence Staff at the time of the Iraq invasion said:

“I suspect if I asked half the Cabinet were we at war, they wouldn’t have known what I was talking about. So there was a lack of political cohesion at the top.”

Lady Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, said that the invasion of Iraq “undoubtedly increased the threat” of terrorist attacks in Britain. How right she was! Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser to the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said:

“I regarded the invasion of Iraq as illegal ... The rules of international law on the use of force by States are at the heart of international law. Collective security, as opposed to unilateral military action, is a central purpose of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Lord Goldsmith said:

“I was not being sufficiently involved in the meetings and discussions about the resolution and the policy behind it that were taking place at Ministerial level.”

I bless the internet, because it means that such information cannot be hidden from the public.

On the invasion of Iraq itself and the “shock and awe” to which the First Minister has referred, another commentator has stated:

“Everything would depend on what came next. But the American fantasy that the Iraqi state would continue to function and would pick up the pieces a day after Baghdad fell proved entirely unfunded. ‘You had no Iraqi institutions to co-opt,’ recalled General McKiernan. ‘No Iraqi army, no Iraqi police ... No local or national government organisations. Ministries didn’t exist.’ General William Wallace, commander of the US 5th Army Corps, put it more succinctly. ‘There was nobody to receive the surrender from. We couldn’t find them. They weren’t there.’”

The whole thing is a disgrace. The Labour Party members in the chamber might not have been here for the vote in 2003, but please do not defend the actions of anybody of any party who took us into that illegal war—you are worthy of better.

14:54  

Meeting of the Parliament 29 January 2015 : Thursday, January 29, 2015
Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

The member has been talking about air links to Iraq. I cannot for the life of me see how that links, even in the most tenuous way, to the motion and amendment that are published in the Business Bulletin. It was open to the Labour Party to lodge such an amendment if members wanted to bring in such matters. I seek your guidance on how far we may digress from what is in the Business Bulletin.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)

I commend Alison McInnes, not just for her very measured and thoughtful speech, but because she has single-handedly kept the focus on the delivery of the recommendations of Elish Angiolini’s commission. She has not been opportunistic; she has fought her case inside and outside the Parliament, and not just in the chamber but in committee.

Alison McInnes and I are not joined at the hip, but she and I visited the 218 centre a long time ago. Its regime is one of tough love, and there are people who go on that course who regress. Mention has been made of electronic tagging. Electronic tagging on its own is not a solution, because people can lapse. The women at the 218 centre are supervised and the regime is very tough. As has been said, the facility is residential and can take only 12 people at a time. The course lasts for months, so it is intensive. It is an excellent facility.

I get a bit tetchy when I am told the blooming obvious. Some of us have known for a long time how many women offenders there are, the percentage of them who committed minor offences, the number who are on remand and the number who are victims. We have known all that for a long time. Many people in prison, not just women, are themselves victims.

I want to provide some background. On 5 August 2014, Colin McConnell and the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice came before the Justice Committee to set out their plans for Inverclyde as a more immediate solution to the pressing problems that were faced at Cornton Vale. Again, I agree with Alison McInnes—I might be destroying her career. Kate Donegan is a reformer, as is Colin McConnell; I have a lot of time for them. They might or might not have been constrained by the previous cabinet secretary, but they were certainly not developing a superprison. I object to that term, as it suggests the creation of an Alcatraz. The facility that was envisaged was to be nothing like that; it was to be more like a community setting in which people could wander about, have a sense of ordinary life and be supported. Regardless of whether the new prison was the right thing to pursue, it was never going to be an Alcatraz. Let us get away from the idea that it was to be a superprison. The idea was to allow a holistic approach to be taken to the care and management of women.

Of course we had concerns about local access, which were raised by members across the committee.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Christine Grahame

None of us on the committee thought that what was proposed was perfect, but I do not recall anyone opposing it aggressively. We had huge reservations about local access. I can remember reasonable questions being asked by Elaine Murray and me about the south of Scotland, and by Margaret Mitchell about local access. The tenor of the discussion was, “If this is what’s on offer, let’s get the local stuff sorted out and let’s get the people who are really difficult inside the new prison.” There was not aggressive opposition to the proposal at that time. I know that the mood in committees is very different from the mood in the chamber, where proceedings are more confrontational. Such an environment is not right for committees. I put it on record that of course I welcome the turnaround.

Members have been in a difficult position for years. Richard Simpson produced an excellent report called “A Better Way” in 2002. One of the recommendations was about

“Shifting the culture towards rehabilitation and treatment.”

It is not Richard Simpson’s fault that that culture shift was not fully achieved. Jim Wallace was the Minister for Justice at the time. Labour and the Liberals were in power for eight years, but they did not manage to make the necessary change. I think that this is the first time that the Parliament is grasping the thistle and saying, “This must be done, because women offenders deserve to be dealt with differently.” Once we have done that, we might be able to move on to other people in the criminal justice system, such as young offenders, who might also be victims and need support.

I welcome the Government’s move. I do not want the issue to be treated as a political football. I have been here too long and have seen good people in other parties trying to change things. The change is about to be made. Let us do it, and let us give credit to the cabinet secretary. After being in post for one month, he decided to change the approach.

The solution is not an easy one. As Alison McInnes has quite rightly made clear—my goodness, I think that I have mentioned her four times now—we have to look at sentencing, judicial training and resources, by which I mean having the right people in the right place. It is of course important that people maintain their rented accommodation. One of the first things that we heard on our visit to the 218 project was that, when a woman came out of prison, someone was there to meet her, get her into a taxi and take her somewhere. It meant that she was not left standing outside, with nowhere to go. The second thing we heard at the project was that the people involved ensured that Glasgow City Council kept the person’s rented accommodation open while they were in prison. Such measures are simple and practical.

This is a difficult issue, and sometimes the public will not be on our side. If they see someone who has been in prison—or, indeed, who has not been put in prison—getting a helping hand in society, they will say, “Why are they getting that, and not a member of my family?” That is where the Parliament must show leadership and make it clear that these women, their families and their children are, in the main, victims. There are some really bad people who will have to be imprisoned in a national facility for society’s protection, but most of the women whom we are talking about are more of a danger to themselves than they are to society at large.

I very much welcome the approach that has been taken, and I hope that I am not going to see any more headlines in the papers that make it difficult for people like me to be consensual when that is what we want to be in our hearts.

16:06  

Justice Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Convener (Christine Grahame)

Good morning and welcome to the fourth meeting in 2015 of the Justice Committee. I ask everyone to switch off mobile phones and other electronic devices, as they interfere with broadcasting even when switched to silent. No apologies have been received.

Moving to agenda item 1, I invite the committee to consider taking in private item 3, which is consideration of our draft report on a supplementary legislative consent memorandum, and item 4, which is consideration of our work programme. Are we agreed?

Members indicated agreement.



Justice Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Convener

Agenda item 2 is our final evidence-taking session at stage 1 of the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill. I welcome to the meeting Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, who is accompanied by the following Scottish Government officials: Philip Lamont, head of the criminal justice and sentencing unit; Jane Moffat, head of the rehabilitation and reintegration unit; and Ann Davies, from the directorate for legal services.

I understand, cabinet secretary, that you do not want to make an opening statement—so far, you have won friends. We will go straight to questions. I will take Christian Allard, Elaine Murray, Gil Paterson, Alison McInnes, Margaret Mitchell, Roddy Campbell and then John Finnie. Why not join in, Jayne?



Justice Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Convener

There we are. You are all down for questions. Now I have forgotten who I am starting with. Is it Elaine? [Interruption.] No. It was Christian, was it not? The clerk has not written the names down fast enough. You were too fast for him, Christian. Off we go.



Justice Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Convener

I do not know whether you have had an opportunity to see Professor McNeill’s written submission to the committee, which we received on 20 January.



Justice Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Convener

He said:

“I spent last week in a meeting with European experts from several jurisdictions and many of them were expressing concern about the increasing numbers of prisoners opting to ‘max out’ on their sentences, in order to avoid ... the painful uncertainties attendant on discretionary release schemes and ... the more and more intrusive and sometimes disproportionate forms of post release supervision emerging in many jurisdictions.”

In other words, there are prisoners who are not looking for early release or parole, because they know that when they get out they will be free and easy. I do not know whether you addressed that in your response to Christian Allard.



Justice Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Convener

I shall let other members in and perhaps return to other issues later.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Christine Grahame
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12145: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12089: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12026: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11892: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11695: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Justice Committee, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11666: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11431: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11416: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11415: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11049: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Christine Grahame
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4F-02480: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23404: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23405: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23126: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23127: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23128: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22992: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03694: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22977: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02343: Christine Grahame, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>

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