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EMMA RODDICK: Budget time 'means a lot of stressed and gloomy-looking politicians'

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Emma Roddick.
MSP Emma Roddick.

It’s budget time at the Parliament. Unfortunately, the UK government’s autumn statement delivered a worst-case scenario for Scotland, neglecting to provide cost-of-living support or make the necessary investment into public service.

Along with a real-terms cut to our capital budget, that means a lot of stressed and gloomy-looking politicians having to make decisions we don’t want to make. However, our budget will be based on our priorities: tackling poverty, growing a fair economy, and investing in public services. And there is good news to keep us going.

Firstly, we have multiple bidders for the Moy to Tomatin section of the A9 dualling – a demonstration that the Scottish Government has listened to the demands of locals and taken onboard suggestions from industry on how to make the contract more appealing. I know affected communities are always waiting eagerly for updates – I’m the same – and hope everyone will see this as the good sign that it is.

As I write this, I’ve just left the chamber where MSPs voted unanimously for the UN Rights of the Child Bill. I grew up listening to my Mam, a social worker, tell me all about why kids needed to be protected, saying that, sometimes, adults can be horrible. As an adult now, I understand that we all play a part in empowering and protecting the youngest members of our community and what happens if we fail.

Throughout the bill’s journey, which has been an unusually long one with the UK Government taking the Scottish Government to court over certain sections, children and young people fed in. That includes telling us what protections they need and guiding us on how we can best communicate a complex human rights treaty in a way they understand, and which allows them to put it into words when their rights are not being met.

That’s a harder job than it sounds. Making sure everyone understands what a law is trying to do when it’s so often wrapped up in government-speak is not easy. I always thought I spoke in simple terms but had an unpleasant awakening as my former history teacher interrupted me while speaking to her class.

She prompted me to clarify multiple times – FMQs, First Minister’s Questions. Bill, a proposed law. Misogyny, mistreating or showing hatred toward women and girls for being women or girls. It matters that kids understand what their rights are, and one brilliant effort I’ve seen to ensure they do is from the organisation Article 12, which created a deck of cards with the rights printed on them.

Because now that the Rights of the Children Bill is passed, the work begins: we need to make these rights well-known, visible, and protected.

As this is my last column before Christmas, I want to wish everyone happy holidays and remind you that there is support available if you are struggling with mental health, housing, heating, or any other issue.

My office is available on 01463 536036 until December 22, and emails will be monitored at emma.roddick.msp@parliament.scot.

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