It hardly seems possible we have come to the end of this Parliamentary session already. The recess from Thursday means those of us that are not retiring head off to our constituencies to prepare for polling day on 6th May.
That day will come soon enough, but what a flurry of activity has heralded the end of what has been a frenetic five years. The final one has been particularly testing for us all, but people across this country have pulled together like no other time in my life as we have collectively made our way through Scotland’s experience of a global pandemic.
I hardly know where to start.
For me, women and children have been at the centre of so many of the developments of the past couple of weeks. The devastating death of Sarah Everard led to an outpouring of stories from women telling of the daily challenge of being a woman and feeling safe. The fact that men need to step up and take responsibility in this area will – hopefully – help change attitudes forever, away from the onus being on women to be vigilant, to men calling out the unacceptable views and behaviours of their friends and colleagues.
This is an issue that touches every community in Scotland, and I commend the Tak A Stand project that is being run in Orkney right now, where anonymous submissions from survivors are raising awareness and challenging sexual violence in the islands. Run in partnership with Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service, this Instagram page is a harrowing read, but the posts come with trigger warnings. It is crucial that lessons are learned and this toxic culture is changed.
One of my biggest days at the office came just over a week ago, when in the morning I took part in a Children and Young People’s Cabinet, and a Q&A with kinship carers as part of Kinship Carers Week. Then later in the day I led the chamber through Stage 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill. It was such a great feeling when it was passed unanimously. I’ve signed a lot of legislation in the last few years but this one was a revolution in children’s rights – I couldn’t have been more excited! By incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law, we are pioneers, the first administration in the UK and the first devolved legislature anywhere in the world to do so.
Contrast that with the move the same week by the Tory UK Government to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads. I know that I will always choose bairns not bombs.
And as Nicola Sturgeon survived everything the opposition parties threw at her to lead the SNP into the election, party membership has risen by over 12,500, including a 25% rise in Orkney to approaching 300 members.
There is a debate to be had over the future of Scotland.
Stay strong folks.
Maree Todd is the SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Region in the Scottish Parliament. This is the last in the regular columns by MSPs who represent the Region until after the election on May 6th 2021.