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Inside Holyrood: Highland MSP he hopes he has been a 'good representative'


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MSP David Stewart.
MSP David Stewart.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart is retiring from frontline politics at the end of this parliamentary term.

This will be my last newspaper column.

My retirement from political life is drawing near which means I will soon be opening my last case for my last constituent.

It could be a health-related issue, or a housing crisis, or maybe a cry for help from a broken soul.

Whatever the matter, it will be the last time that I can go to the aid of a constituent.

In a few short weeks, I will bid farewell to a career that has, above all else, shown me the importance of compassion, and the value of fighting for change.

I hope I have been a good representative.

I hope the battles not won have sown seeds which will come through.

I must pass the baton on, but it’s true a more perfect world would have handed me more time.

I would, time allowing, have continued pressing the government to bring in a graduated driving licence so that we could do as other countries have done and bring down road traffic fatality rates among young and novice drivers.

I welcomed last week’s department of transport decision to continue researching the feasibility of this scheme and am forever grateful to those who supported me in this campaign, none more so than Diane and Graham Matheson, with whom I joined forces in the aftermath of a car crash which so tragically claimed the life of their 17-year-old son Callum.

Callum was a passenger in 17-year-old Ahlee Jackson’s car. She too lost her young life that day.

I greatly admire the Mathesons, and know our work together has effected change.

Retired Inverness plumber Murray Menzies and his wife Jennifer also have my utmost respect.

I regret running out of time to secure them the justice they deserve.

Held hostage by a so-called “debt” of £1.2 million to Mr Menzies’s former Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme, we took his fight to Westminster, but the UK Government still has to right this wrong.

A great deal of work has also been devoted to my campaign for a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner for NHS Highland, which would remove the need for patients to travel out of the region. The buds on this battle are beginning to show.

I was delighted my Bill was passed which means all new-build social housing properties are now fitted with sprinklers.

But soon it will be time to turn to my other great passion: American political and military history.

I will have time to read the books on my shelves.

The other day, I read the valedictory speech of General MacArthur at West Point. He made reference to a 1920s American ballad which said: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”.

Perhaps veteran politicians never die, they just fade away—a Highlander who loved his job and tried to do his duty.


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