After 22 years it’s time for me to call it a day - Iain Gray MSP
This will be my final ‘Letter From Holyrood’ as I retire after 22 years in politics, first as MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands and for the last 14 years as MSP for East Lothian.
It has been the privilege of my life to represent first my home city and then my adopted home in Scotland’s Parliament. It was a particular honour to be one the first 129 MSPs when the parliament began back in 1999.
While Holyrood does not always get (or always deserve!) the best press, over those years we have done many things I am proud to have been part of – transforming how we support people with learning disabilities to the smoking ban, the ‘right to roam’, and in the last days of the last parliament, finally creating redress for the survivors of historic sexual abuse as children and the incorporation of childrens’ rights into our law.
The parliament I leave is not the one I joined, having gained significant powers over tax and welfare through the Smith commission on which I served in 2014 – making Holyrood one of the most powerful devolved legislatures in the world.
My only regret is that we have spent too long debating the constitution and our parliament’s
powers, and not enough time using them to make Scotland better. Yet I do believe that we have made it better.
In both Pentlands and East Lothian I have loved working with the many local people and groups who serve their communities with little or no reward. From the Rep Council in Wester Hailes to the resilience groups which sprang up in every town and village in East Lothian when Covid struck they have been an inspiration to me.
Finally, throughout my whole life, from growing up in Edinburgh to representing East Lothian, the Evening News has been a constant presence
Local papers are another critical part of what binds our communities together and they have it tough nowadays – so keep buying and reading the News.
Iain Gray is Labour MSP for East Lothian