Home   News   Article

Nicky Marr: Fergus Ewing – the right kind of politician

By Nicky Marr

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster...Picture: Callum Mackay..

It’s the question on everyone’s lips; what do we really want from our elected representatives?

Just look at the quartet of Conservative Prime Ministers we’ve had over the past 12 years. Cameron’s arrogance took us out of Europe. May showed her true colours after Grenfell, and with deportations of the Windrush generation. Johnston lied repeatedly, lied about lying, and lost us any remaining respect we may have had abroad. And in less than three weeks Truss’s stewardship has seen the value of the pound drop to the lowest level against the dollar since decimalisation in 1971, and we’re facing staggering rates of inflation.

I can’t help but feeling that none of these four is, or was, in office for the right reasons. But what actually are the right reasons to become an elected representative? I wouldn’t want the job, but I know what I’m looking for. And that’s someone who has a desire to make the country a better place, and, in working towards that, to honestly and faithfully serve their constituents.

I’d like to be represented by someone who has the courage of their convictions. Someone who isn’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in, or to speak out against party leadership, when they feel those leaders need to be brought to account, or their constituents are being let down.

Last week, Fergus Ewing, showed all of these qualities during a short but emotional speech in the Scottish Parliament. As a Point of Order, he asked the Presiding Officer for guidance in how to get answers from his own government, in order to “bring forward detailed revised timetables and detailed proposals for delivery of its 13-year-old pledges regarding dualling the A9 and A96.”

Click here to read more from Nicky Marr

Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021..Fergus Ewing, Scottish National Party..Picture: James Mackenzie..
Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021..Fergus Ewing, Scottish National Party..Picture: James Mackenzie..

Anyone who uses these lifeline routes to and from the Highlands and Moray will be aware of how many accidents occur, and how fragile lives can be. And they will also know that there are often no alternatives to road-use, given the serious lack of investment in public transport over the past several decades.

On 8th September during First Minister’s Questions, Ewing had raised concerns that the promised upgrades to both roads are highly unlikely to be concluded by anywhere near the promised timescales. He pressed for assurances that new timetables would quickly be drawn up. This extracted a response from the First Minister agreeing that road safety is of “paramount importance”.

But in spite of Nicols Sturgeon’s words, nothing happened. No revised timetables were published. Could this be because of the close relationship between the SNP and the Greens? One might reach that conclusion, but surely unsafe roads can’t just be ignored?

Mr Ewing felt compelled to speak again after two more fatal road traffic accidents on the A9 just a week later. One accident had claimed the life of Philippa Grant of Rothiemurchus, a vibrant, well-respected advocate for tourism and local charities. In the other, a holidaymaker from Wisconsin lost her life.

The Scottish Government has made significant and repeated pledges towards these two projects being undertaken, and yet little has happened. Of the 80 miles between Inverness and Perth that were originally due to be completed by 2025, only two of the 11 sections have been dualled. And construction is yet to start on the dualling of the A96, which was pencilled to be completed by 2030.

I know – roads don’t cause accidents, drivers do. And while research shows that dualling roads can’t ever completely prevent accidents from occurring, it does reduce accident numbers, and decreases fatalities.

And we all know, the A9 south of Inverness and the A96 between the Highland capital and Aberdeen aren’t the only roads that require investment. I was working in Thurso last week, so drove the A9 north on Tuesday and back on Wednesday. On both days the road was closed for several hours because of road traffic accidents. I was able to delay my travel to avoid getting stuck in queues, but my first thought was for anyone who may have been injured.

In politics, we get who we vote for. Thankfully, in Fergus Ewing, our area has at least one champion. Hopefully we’ll get some results.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More