Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser Column September 2019

Over the summer I read a book by journalist Isabel Hardman called Why We Get The Wrong Politicians. The title didn’t quite reflect the contents but it was a very good summary of all that’s wrong with our political system. It mainly focussed on Westminster but the lack of effective scrutiny, the struggles of MPs to juggle work and family life could equally apply in Holyrood.

I was reminded of that last point when Ruth Davidson resigned as Scottish Conservative Party leader. She has re-assessed her priorities since becoming a mum and decided that she could not in all conscience juggle the two roles properly. It is obviously a blow to my party but I admired Ruth for having the courage to make the decision.

Family must always come first. You career certainly shouldn’t come ahead of your family, so she has done the right thing. 

I recently made a speech in the Scottish Parliament on Brexit. There have been 34 debates on the subject in Holyrood and numerous statements and committee enquiries. Most of it has been hot air. One million people in Scotland voted for the UK to leave the EU but I am afraid their voices have almost been erased from history in our parliament. I was one of a handful of MSPs to say in advance of the referendum that I would be voting to leave. Our voices have hardly been heard in the parliament, so I was pleased to be able to stand up for democracy. It will be a dangerous state of affairs if the vote to leave is thwarted by a remainer parliament and I hope it does not happen.

I took part in the final ever Pedal for Scotland which passed through Coatbridge and other parts of North Lanarkshire. It was the fourth time I have done it but in its 20th year it was right to call it a day. I understand the frustration that many residents along the route must have felt at having roads closed all day.

The thing that has always struck me about the event is the number of families taking part. We need to make cycling a normal activity for people and so we need to make the infrastructure a lot safer than it is. North Lanarkshire has some decent off-road routes but nowhere near enough segregation from traffic, particularly in Airdrie and Coatbridge. I hope to speak to the council about this soon.