It would be remiss not to give a big thank you to everyone who took part in last week’s Scottish Parliament elections. Especially to the 16 and 17 year olds voting for the first time. It was fantastic to see so many of them proactively engaged in the campaign and our democracy is certainly enriched from their participation in setting the agenda for what is, after all, their own future.
I’m naturally delighted that my SNP colleagues, Fergus Ewing, Kate Forbes and Gail Ross were all elected as the Highland constituency representatives, along with Maree Todd on the list. Hearty congratulations to them all and, of course, to the new and returning – Green, Labour and Tory list members for the Highlands and Islands.
I will be writing to them all to welcome them to their roles and I am sure they will all join me in working hard to achieve the very best for our constituents. I have often found that best results are achieved when elected members of all parties work together for issues of common purpose locally.
Indeed, I think most folk would be surprised to see how well candidates and political teams get on with each other – the election count itself is, in particular, a great leveller for politicians. Winning or losing, most of us find election night exciting and enjoyable as the various permutations emerge. Our Highland count happens overnight, often until past 8 o’clock of the next morning so sleep deprivation, after days and weeks for full on campaigning, is a shared experience.
It was certainly no different last Friday morning when I only managed a 40 minute snooze between getting home from the Count and my first appointment. In these circumstances you might expect that I wouldn’t enjoy the day, however, the opposite is the case. Believe me, the best antidote to the “bubble” of politics is to get back out with people in our communities.
The first stop of the day was to the barracks at Fort George, home to The Black Watch 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) amongst others. Despite its thick, imposing high walls, designed to keep people out, it is a place where I met people and families who live and hail from all around our constituency and beyond. These men & women perform their duties in our service, often at levels of skill, dedication and sacrifice that few of us would be prepared to undertake but they are also people who are part of the fabric of our community. It was very energising to hear more about their work and their initiatives in the wider community. I was grateful for their time to meet everyone and I look forward to doing what I can to support our military community.
My next stop of the day was to Drakies Primary School community café. I had a great time and particularly enjoyed the scones amongst other treats prepared by the pupils. The Community Café is part of the NHS reach out programme which aims to help overcome loneliness by offering support to those who need it. The head teacher and staff deserve great credit for giving the pupils the opportunity and responsibility for creating the café and I know that Drakies will benefit as a result.