THE Scottish Labour Party might currently have a few flies in its ointment but Monica Lennon is not one of them.
Two years after arriving at Holyrood, she has shown herself to be a committed, tenacious MSP with a willingness to go where other politicians often fear to tread.
Her campaign to end period poverty has won acclaim and attention across Britain but, more importantly, is gaining traction and securing action.
Her clear-eyed focus on doing what she can to make lives better has revealed a courageous politician unafraid to wear her heart on her sleeve.
She shows that bravery again today after choosing to speak about her dad’s alcoholism and the toll it took on him and the people who loved him.
As an MSP, she says, as someone who has endured the anger, guilt and turmoil of growing up in the shadow of alcoholism, she believes it is her duty, no matter how painful, to speak out.
She hopes her frankness might encourage others to talk about the damage being done by drink; damage done to them, to their families, to neighbours, to friends, and to colleagues.
She’s right. It is time for Scotland to talk about this. Real talking, not mouthing the usual platitudes about the need for action followed by an absolute refusal to countenance any action that might actually sober us up.
It’s time to talk about everything from special booze queues in supermarkets and minimum pricing to properly-funded, easily-accessible support and counselling for alcoholics and their loved ones.
Because we are a country awash with drink. The financial cost is astronomical. The cost in ruined lives, shattered and shortened by drink, is incalculable. The cost in children growing up in homes soaked with booze and riven with tension will be paid for many generations to come.
We can pretend it’s not our problem. That we’re social drinkers, not problem drinkers. That sharing a bottle of £9 Pinot Blanc while watching Dr Foster is different from throwing down two litres of cheap cider on a park bench.
Well, it is and it’s not. The bottle of wine can easily become two. The weekly treat can easily become the nightly necessity. And social drinking can easily become problem drinking.
We need to talk about a culture where drinking – often to excess – is not only seen as the normal thing but something to be encouraged. That culture has to change.
There is an Irish saying about how the man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man.
Well, it could not be clearer, that Scotland has taken a drink. We now need to stop drink taking Scotland.