Tribalism of FMQs has no place at Holyrood claims Edinburgh MSP

Edinburgh Northern & Leith MSP Ben MacPherson. Picture: ALMeikle Photography
Edinburgh Northern & Leith MSP Ben MacPherson. Picture: ALMeikle Photography
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A NEW city MSP has used his first speech at Holyrood to urge fellow parliamentarians to leave tribalism behind and embrace a “more constructive” style of politics.

Ben Macpherson, who won Edinburgh Northern & Leith for the SNP in the election, singled out First Minister’s Questions as falling short of what the public wanted from their parliament.

And he directed a special appeal to opposition party leaders to change the tone.

The 31-year-old said: “For my generation, the conception and realisation of this institution, our Scottish Parliament, heralded the beginning of a more positive era for our country and an exciting new chapter in our nation’s story.”

He said he felt “grateful and privileged” now to be part of it. And he praised his predecessor, Labour’s Malcolm Chisholm – who stood down at the election after 17 years as MSP – as “an exemplary public servant”.

Mr Macpherson made clear his own support for Scotland to have “full powers” as the way to achieve social justice and enhance economic progress.

But he said: “I have always believed that the differing views on independence in our country and in this chamber must not distract us from the unifying hope of a better Scotland.”

And he called on fellow MSPs to work together.

He said: “Let us move beyond the tribalism, the exaggerated language and the unnecessary amplification of conflict.

“Let us move beyond the bad habits of the past that put so many people off politics.”

He argued the vast majority of people passionately wanted politicians to be more constructive and debate respectfully, considerately and constructively.

He said: “Too often, particularly at First Minister’s Questions, this chamber – this shop window to our democracy – has fallen short of the public’s expectations. We should recognise that and change it.

“In this new parliament, I sincerely hope that all of us can seize this chance, this fresh start, to embrace a more constructive style of political dialogue.

“I make that plea particularly strongly to the opposition leaders, as they will set the tone for First Minister’s Questions.”

Mr Macpherson cited the values of wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity set as the guiding principles of the parliament from its outset.

“Let us reflect those values in the style of our arguments and in the choice of our words.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com