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New Highlands and Islands MSP says internet trolling won't dent her determination to break down barriers

By Louise Glen

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Emma Roddick MSP, in the Scottish Parliament.
Emma Roddick MSP, in the Scottish Parliament.

A new MSP who has created waves just days after being elected insists online trolls won’t stop her highlighting important social issues.

Emma Roddick (23), who has strong Ross-shire connections, became Scotland’s youngest MSP when she was elected as a Highlands and Islands list member for the SNP in last week’s elections.

This week she created a Twitter storm after raising concerns about the potential financial barriers to entering politics some people might face.

Tweeting about not having the cash to make ends meet before her first day at Holyrood, she said: “Probably a point to be made about new MSPs being expected to live, travel, dress, spend money like an MSP for a month before they receive a salary.

“Hello, unplanned overdraft.”

While she received widespread support, including from former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson who said she faced similar concerns when she was first elected, others were not so kind.

Annie Wells, a Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow, tweeted: “Aw, diddums. Your sheer entitlement is on full display here, please reflect on this tweet for the benefit of your constituents.”

Another told her bluntly: “Dry your eyes.”

Responding exclusively to the HN Ms Roddick – who has previously spoken about her issues with mental health, physical disability and homelessness – insisted: “No amount of internet trolling is going to change the fact that I want to break down barriers for other young, disabled or working class people seeking election – rather than pull up the ladder behind me.

“I often hear people complain politicians are all the same, or that we need more honest ones who say things how they are.

“But if those who do are torn down immediately, and those who aren’t the typical middle class, middle-aged white man face extra hurdles and abuse from the start, how can we ever expect things to change?”

She added: “I believe the issue of working class representation at all levels of government is something that is seriously lacking, and that lived experience is required for us to effectively tackle all these issues and more.”

Ms Roddick has been a councillor for Inverness Central since 2019 and intends to combine that role with her new responsibilities, though she has announced she will donate her £18,000 councillor’s salary to local charities.

She also intends to donate a portion of what will be the almost £65,000 she earns as an MSP, admitting she found the prospect of earning so much “genuinely scary”, never having earned half as much before.

She admitted: “My situation is not comparable to people who are not about to get paid in a month’s time – a situation I’ve been in myself – and I don’t pretend otherwise.”

But she added: “If these extra hurdles exist from the get-go, we can’t expect working class people to stand and therefore become legislators.

“Without lived experience of poverty, how can you write laws which are poverty-proof?”

Former Highland Labour MSP David Stewart, who retired ahead of last week’s elections, said: “I have sympathy for Emma and nobody should have to put up with online abuse.

“My advice would be to focus on what you can say and do.

“Fresh MSPs can bring new energy and perspective on things.

“If politicians needed to be at the height of fashion, I’d have never been elected!”

READ: OPINION: Inverness Central councillor Emma Roddick argues that harmful stereotypes on mental health still exist – and must be tackled

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