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Politics Matter: Opportunity for our new MSPs to battle for victims

By Contributor

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David Stewart columnist...Picture: Gary Anthony..
David Stewart columnist...Picture: Gary Anthony..

I watched Douglas Ross make his bid for First Minister last week.

Now, I do not agree with Douglas or the Tories very often, but he was spot on in his views on the plight of victims in Scotland.

For over a decade I ran a social work team covering Dalneigh and South Kessock and I saw first-hand the pain and suffering endured by victims – particularly domestic violence, child abuse and the exploitation of the vulnerable.

So, when I was elected to the Scottish Parliament, I was determined to stand up for victims.

With the help of Victim Support Scotland, I prepared a Member’s Bill to create a Scottish victims commissioner.

I travelled to the Home Office in London to meet Sara Payne, a campaigner for victims’ rights and the then victims’ commissioner for England.

Some of you may well remember that Sara’s eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000.

The little girl, from Hersham, Surrey, was grabbed as she walked back to home along a country road after playing hide and seek in a cornfield.

Following the tragedy, her mother campaigned to have the law changed in England for parents to be given the right to know if a convicted child sex offender is living in their community.

Unfortunately, my bill ran out of parliamentary time at the end of my first session as an elected member. Maybe our new MSPs could pick up the torch for Highland victims?

Covid has cast a long shadow over the Highlands as well as the rest of Scotland.

Douglas Ross, Party Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party..Picture: James Mackenzie
Douglas Ross, Party Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party..Picture: James Mackenzie

Tourism is our most important industry. I want our hotels, guest houses and restaurants to recover and be busy with locals and tourists alike.

In the past, businesses told me that they do not want to be strangled with bureaucracy and red tape. They want certainty and consistency.

So, it was good to hear the news that the Ironworks in Inverness has reopened, as I have a particular affection for the music venue and know, through my earlier visits there, the dedication and commitment of Caroline Campbell and her staff. I hope it heralds the start of a brighter future for all our businesses.

I almost applied for a new job last week: manager of Caley Thistle.

It gave me a chance to review my football credentials: footballing skills – nil; coaching ability – nil (though I did play in a football charity match dressed as the King of Hearts once); management potential – nil (but I did

win the Football Manager 2021 Champions League

as boss of Manchester United).

Perhaps I will give this position a miss, but does the club need a veteran striker?!

Two weeks into retirement and a change of pace. I was helping my daughter Kirsty move house from Inverness to Black Isle.

I was given a key task, to unpack all the boxes of books and stack them neatly in the new bookcase. I suspect my daughter gave me a safe task to keep me quiet and to stop any attempt by me to turn the smooth removal operation into chaos.

Of course, you may have guessed this, I spent half my time reading the more interesting books rather than stacking them. I really need to work harder at retirement!

David Stewart is a former Labour politician who has served as a councillor, MP and MSP. His new column will appear fortnightly.

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