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Pam Duncan-Glancy: It is sometimes easy to forget but politics still has the power to make bad days better

© Andrew CawleyScottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy
Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy

It is one of life’s enduring truths that bad things can sometimes happen on good days.

Last week, I was humbled to collect an award for my work as an MSP. It was a very good day for me – Political Hero Of The Year, according to Holyrood magazine, since you asked – but while celebrating, I danced a little too vigorously and managed to lose my engagement ring. The definition of bad thing happening on a good day.

In politics too, the good and the bad can come in rapid succession, though lately, the bad seems to be arriving with astonishing regularity while the good often seems to have disappeared altogether.

It’s not true though, and even in the bleakest times we must try to accentuate the positive and remember that good is being done and, as a politician, I’m happy to think that so much of it is being done by my colleagues.

For example, in the last few weeks whilst the Tory circus was wreaking havoc with the economy and the days were looking very dark indeed, Living Rent campaigners, supported by Labour, were winning a rent freeze from the SNP and Greens. That was a progressive policy choice, something that is not as common as we would like, and it was a very good thing, particularly for my constituents across Glasgow feeling the cost-of-living crisis squeeze household budgets ever tighter.

It was another lesson showing how, as a politician, when you listen to the voices of communities; when you work with national and local campaigners; when you use the powers of the parliament, you just might have a chance to change lives for the better.

Back Off Scotland is another example. When I met them earlier this year, their passion and sheer graft in the name of women’s safety and human rights was clear for all to see. In the face of bile and harassment, they have worked tirelessly to end the harassment of women arriving and leaving outside abortion clinics.

My colleague, Gillian Mackay MSP, has taken the fight to the parliament with her law to create buffer zones to protect women and she has my full support. Meanwhile, other parliamentary colleagues, like Jackie Baillie, who was named MSP Of The Year at the awards last week, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Dr Sandesh Gulhane have also shown that good things can be done, even in the midst of bad day.

Their work on long Covid has been tireless and there is barely a week goes by without them using their platform in parliament to push the Scottish Government to do more for sufferers. If it weren’t for them and the activists from Long Covid Scotland, we would know little about this debilitating condition

The list of MSPs making a difference goes on. Edward Mountain’s campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer in the midst of some of the worst days of his life, turned bad news into good awareness.

Paul Sweeney’s drug death bill will save lives. The day it passes will be a good day that could end bad days for those families blighted by drugs.

And, despite the constant struggle for disability equality and the many bad days that brings, the day my bill to better support young disabled people into adulthood entered the Scottish Parliament was a good day for disabled people in Scotland, and probably one of the proudest of my life.

On good days and bad, I’ve learned that in and out of parliament, politics can change lives. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of that.

So, as we turn up our collars and turn to face tomorrow together, let’s remember to look for the good in it and remember that sometimes politics – and politicians – can make bad days better.