Katherine Sangster’s View on politics

Thursday April 8th 2021


Midlothian View Holyrood Challenge: This View has been written by Katherine Sangster, the Scottish Labour Party's and Scottish Co-operative Party's candidate in the Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale constituency for the Scottish Elections on Thursday May 6th 2021

Thank you to Midlothian View for giving all the candidates an opportunity to write about themselves and the issues close to their hearts. Unfortunately this will be an election conducted remotely and without the opportunity of chatting and meeting people so therefore it will be harder to get to know your candidate.

Covid-19’s impact on our families, our communities and our economy has been profound. It has presented us all with huge challenges but has also demonstrated the resilience of our communities. In 2021 we will need to start the hard work of rebuilding our country and that task needs new faces, fresh ideas and experience outside of Holyrood.

I am a working parent who prior to 2015 had never been involved in politics. However, I like many other parents soon realised that childcare policies may sound good on the back of an election leaflet or coming out of the mouth of a politician on television but the reality for many working parents is an unfair and unworkable system. So in 2015, I campaigned for fairer access to childcare and led Fair Funding for our Kids – a nationwide campaign that got childcare on to the national agenda, building a movement of mums that demanded action from Government. Our campaign secured more funded childcare from Government – a step towards equality, but there is still plenty to be done.

As part of this campaign, I was speaking on television, writing for newspapers and lobbying politicians. All things I has never done before but I was speaking from the heart and articulating mine and others’ experience. Now with five years plus experience in politics I still firmly believe that policy is best made by those with lived experience and the job of a politician is to listen and advocate on peoples behalf, and I will always put that at the heart of what I do.

Politics has become increasingly discredited over the last few years, with politicians seen as out of touch, an elite to be at best ignored or worse mistrusted. The rebuilding of trust and engagement must begin at a local level. Most of all people just want you to listen and they want to tell you about the issues impacting their lives. Working for an MP now, every day I support people with the issues that blight their lives from poor housing to an inhumane benefits system to bins not getting picked up. These are issues that affect people day in day out.

After a working day, settling down to catch up on the news of the day is a disconcerting experience. There seems to be a disconnect between the concerns of professional commentators and that of our communities. Chatting to voters and speaking to constituents, I have experienced no appetite for debate on a second referendum just a desire from people that we as politicians and aspiring politicians listen to their concerns and respond to those concerns.

We need to elect MSPs to Holyrood who understand these concerns and will fully use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to make people’s lives better. Holyrood is one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. As Donald Dewar said at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999

“A Scottish Parliament, not an end but a means to greater ends.”

On the 6th May please use your vote carefully and let’s start the task of uniting our country behind our national recovery.

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