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Inside Holyrood: Access to food is a human right that is denied to too many people in Scotland while Covid-19 has only made that worse

By Staff Reporter

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I’m delighted that I have been re-elected to represent the Highlands and Islands region for another five years. Thank you to everyone who voted for me – I don’t take a single vote for granted.

I had my doubts about whether this election should have taken place at all considering how easily the virus can spread, but so many dedicated individuals, including the voting public, have made this election a safe success and I take my hat off to them all.

I have been an MSP for 18 years and have never seen such a diverse group of MSPs that now represent our country. We have 58 women MSPs, six minority-ethnic MSPs and several members with disabilities including Scottish Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy who is a permanent wheelchair user. All will bring different life experiences which I’m certain will make the Scottish Parliament more diverse and progressive.

One of the key issues I am going to be fighting on in the coming term is that of the Right to Food. It is a disgrace that in 2021, in a country known for its excellent food production, there are people living in food poverty, shockingly also including those living in in-work poverty.

Access to food is a human right, but it is being denied to too many people in Scotland. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this and increased the need for action to be taken. It is not just access to food, but to affordable, healthy, high quality food.

I intend to bring forward a Bill during this term, to enshrine the Human Right to Food into Scots’ law, to place responsibility for realising and progressing this right upon the Scottish Government, including the ability to hold them to account. It would also include the establishment of an independent statutory food commission, to enable joined up policy making across food policy, set measurable targets on food security and require the government to check policies against requirement of the right to food.

The Right to Food is also tied up with a stronger food policy overall – from farm to fork – to address the government’s lack of ambition and enable future legislation which would look at concerns across the food sector, including workers’ rights, sustainability, local produce and food insecurity.

Lastly, this week we have seen restrictions ease and can finally hug our loved ones. Although these are incredibly positive steps, I can’t help but feel like we’re in a post-war type scenario.

NHS waiting times are longer than ever, businesses are on the brink and mental health services are at breaking point. Its important we begin this term focusing on these issues and a national recovery plan that is fair for all, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

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