This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament. To celebrate the occasion Brig spoke to some MSP’s about their time in the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Conservative spokesperson for Finance Murdo Fraser, MSP for the Mid Scotland and Fife region told Brig that since the creation of the Scottish Parliament devolution has been “entrenched and enhanced” and it has become “much stronger” than when it was first opened in 1999.
I believe that devolution is here to stay, with a strong, successful Scottish Parliament part of the United Kingdom, reflecting a constitutional arrangement that has majority support from the Scottish people.
Fraser also recounted that the biggest regret he has in the 20 years of the Scottish Parliament is “an undue focus on constitutional issues” which he argues has left many other areas of policy without “the attention they deserve.”
Christine Grahame SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale has been an MSP since 1999 and currently holds one of the Deputy Presiding Officer positions in the Scottish Parliament.
Grahame told Brig that the Scottish Parliament “has grown into a voice for Scotland.”
1999 and the paint smells fresh and the desks and the MSPs are brand new. Mail is delivered in elastic bound bundles 4 times a day. Brochures come by the bagful. E-mails are rare, the fax is the most technological gadget. 20 years on, there is only the odd letter delivered by mail, nearly everyone has an e-mail address, the fax machine is obsolete. Few brochures. Politicians use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with constituents. Many Acts of Parliament have been passed. Some radical like Free Personal Care, others best left, and probably gathering dust, on the shelf. Abolition of Warrant Sales, Prescription Charges the making of Police Scotland these and many more policies distinguish Scotland from its neighbour England. Two Referenda and Scotland’s Independence still on the agenda as 62 % Scots voted Remain and Brexit looms. This Parliament has grown into a voice for Scotland.
Mark Ruskell who is a Scottish Green MSP, was first elected as a MSP between 2003-2007 and was re-elected at the 2016 election to represent the Mid Scotland and Fife region told Brig that devolution is not a “fixed” process.
Ruskell also added that in his view, the Scottish Parliament has “worked best” when the government of the day has no majority because “it has allowed ordinary people to have their say too”.
Ruskell exemplified this through the 2009 Climate change Bill that went through the Scottish Parliament because it was a cross party effort. In 2019, an updated version will come before the Scottish Parliament which he hopes will improve on the current bill.