Disillusionment, weariness and exasperation.

These are just some of the attitudes I encounter towards Scottish politics.

There are voters who are disillusioned with the state of our country, not least as we hurtle towards a hard Brexit that could be prevented.

There are voters who are weary with a tired SNP Government who refuse to use their powers, or attempt anything radical to improve our schools and hospitals.

And there are voters who are exasperated with the Tory Government at Westminster, who continue with a failed austerity programme that’s leaving too many families behind.

At times, I share their frustration.

I would dearly like my own party to stand up to the Brexiteers, I wish Nicola Sturgeon would increase Child Benefit to lift thousands out of poverty and I dream of the day we kick the Tories out of Downing Street.

But, despite everything, I know that politics remains a force for good.

I was reminded of this at the weekend when a Neonatal Expenses Fund was made available to all parents whose babies are receiving care in a neonatal unit.

The fund will help the families of premature and sick newborn babies cope with the financial cost of their child being in hospital.

It could assist as many as 8000 families every year in Scotland.

It’s happening because my Labour colleague Mark Griffin made it happen.

His daughter Rosa was born 12 weeks early in April of last year, weighing a mere 1lb, and spent five months in Wishaw General Hospital.

Mark discovered the financial burden that was being placed on families. There were parents who couldn’t travel to see their baby because they couldn’t afford to pay for a taxi.

Mark wrote to the Health Secretary, launched a campaign and joined forces with charities in a bid to persuade the Scottish Government to listen. And they did.

The new £1.5million fund shows the difference that politicians can make.

Holyrood is home to many MSPs, from all parties, who have achieved great things.

But, in my book at least, few can hold a candle to Mark Griffin.

Last year, the Scottish Government announced plans for a soft opt-out system on organ
donation to reduce the numbers of people waiting for transplants.

The move came about after Mark, whose father died shortly after a transplant he had waited many years to receive, brought forward a backbench Member’s Bill to change the law.

And one of the most heart-warming moments in the Scottish Parliament came in 2015 when Mark’s British Sign Language (BSL) Bill was passed, triggering applause and cheers (and tears) in the public gallery.

This broke parliamentary protocol but such was the emotion that nobody cared.

The Bill made BSL a language in its own right, a historic decision to improve the daily life of the deaf population in Scotland, a message that they belong.

So whenever I’m disillusioned, or weary or exasperated, I recall that moment and the joy on people’s faces, and I remind myself that politics truly is a force for good.

This article was first published in the Daily Record newspaper on the 3rd of April 2018.

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