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Inside Holyrood: In John Finnie's final column as an MSP he says scrutiny and necessary criticism of the government is the job of an MSP, not winning personal victories while he 'will always' be grateful for the chance to represent the Highlands

By Scott Maclennan

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Retiring Greens MSP John Finnie.
Retiring Greens MSP John Finnie.

In his last column as an MSP John Finnie wishes his successors in Holyrood well and reminds them their job is to serve their constituents not personal victories over opponents

As the Scottish Parliament elections draw closer, my time representing the Highlands and Islands in Holyrood comes to an end. It has been the greatest honour to represent the region for the last ten years. Even now, weeks away from retirement I don’t take that honour for granted.

Those reading this will not need reminding but the Highlands has a unique diversity of needs. Stretching from Campbelltown in the south all the way to Shetland it covers an enormous geographical area and faces challenges that simply don’t exist in places like Glasgow or the Lothians.

The Highlands are also in many ways more exposed to the effects of the climate emergency than other parts of the country. Extreme weather for example will exacerbate problems with fuel poverty which sadly remain all too common. But while the Highlands are vulnerable to a deteriorating climate they also have the potential to be at the heart of a green industrial revolution which will tackle the climate emergency while creating sustainable jobs for future generations.

Each year the Scottish Greens have engaged constructively with the Scottish Government when it comes to setting the nation’s budget. We’ve secured millions of pounds to address fuel poverty, project the natural environment and tackle climate change that simply wouldn’t have been made available if the Scottish Government had it all its own way.

Unlike the Tories and Labour who shout from the side lines in mock outrage while failing to put forward any constructive arguments, we’ve made our case over the years and delivered results. Though I make no secret about my support for independence, a willingness to engage with the Scottish Government isn’t about that. It’s always been about doing what’s best for the people who elected me.

I am not the only MSP from the Highlands standing down at this election, as my colleagues Gail Ross and David Stewart also take their leave from Holyrood. While all three of us were elected under different party colours their commitment to their constituents has always been beyond doubt. While naturally I hope to see my Green colleague Arianne Burgess successful once all the votes are cast, I offer my good wishes to every one of the new MSPs elected to serve the Highlands and Islands in May.

Throughout my time in Holyrood I have sought to improve and scrutinise government proposals where possible, criticising them where necessary, but always with the aim of serving those I represent. Those that embrace a style of politics which sees members of other parties as the enemy often forget that winning personal victories is not the job of an MSP.

I have always been grateful for the chance to represent the Highlands in Holyrood, and even as I leave politics behind that gratitude will always remain.

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