Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Louise Gilmour: Scotland deserves better than another parliament full of Andrex puppies

© Andrew CawleyGMB Scotland Secretary, Louise Gilmour.
GMB Scotland Secretary, Louise Gilmour.

It is May 17 1999 and the Scottish Parliament’s first cabinet poses for pictures in the sunshine outside Bute House.

Days after forming a government, Donald Dewar and his 10 new ministers all wear the same nervy grins and the same dark suits, even the women. All three of them.

Exactly a quarter of a century later, much has been said about the recent reshuffle of Holyrood’s ministerial team but hardly a word about the fact that eight of John Swinney’s 10 ministers are not men. It seems remarkably unremarkable.

Amid all the shouting and bawling, as our politicians reel from crisis and emergency to scandal and fiasco, it is easy to forget our country is, in many important ways, better today than yesterday.

That hardly an eyebrow is raised when our government includes more women – a clear majority of women – only reveals the distance quietly travelled.

The systemic and shameful failure of our health services across a range of conditions affecting only women is just one of the good reasons why more females in positions of power and influence are so urgently needed.

A few days ago, a Westminster report detailing the scale of trauma inflicted on new mothers by inadequate maternity care exposed the tragic consequences of that failure.

Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes highlighted others recently when she spoke of her gratitude for the specialist support she needed to overcome perinatal mental health issues and why it must be made available to every woman that needs it.

The Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch MSP also had some trenchant thoughts on the postcode lottery where expert help for women enduring a range of life-changing and life-threatening conditions becomes more of a gamble with every mile they live from the Central Belt.

Kate Forbes © Jane Barlow / PA
Kate Forbes

Of course, politicians do not have to live it to legislate for it, but sometimes it helps. And that is why our councils and parliaments must be as diverse as the voters they represent.

There is nothing wrong with the kind of middle-aged, middle-class white men who, along with their few female colleagues, flanked Donald Dewar on the stone steps of Bute House in 1999 but, from here, they do seem, well, a little samey.

Billy Connolly insisted anyone who wants to be a politician should be barred from ever being one but he was joking (probably) because there are many good ones; smart people, full of energy and conviction, and driven by an honest ambition to make things better.

That is not all of them, however, and there is a nagging suspicion that too many of our politicians know nothing but politics and, after assiduously scaling the party ranks, from student activist to backbencher, have as much experience of the real world as an Andrex puppy.

Politics, like any job promising a little power and a good wage, will always attract careerists with an expenses form and a soundbite where their talent and principles should be but our parliaments can sometime seem to have a surfeit.

We deserve better and our parties can do better. They are the gatekeepers and must do more to usher in the very best candidates and turn away more of those owed a favour for good attendance at branch meetings.

They must find and select real talent, people with a record of exceptional achievement that stretches beyond winning student debates and waiting for Buggins’ turn at the selection committee.

They need to do it urgently because voters’ dwindling faith in our politicians is already well-documented. It may not last another 25 years.

Louise Gilmour is GMB Scotland secretary