​First do no harm - the person behind the politics - Simita Kumar

Councillor Simita Kumar is leader of the SNP group on Edinburgh City CouncilCouncillor Simita Kumar is leader of the SNP group on Edinburgh City Council
Councillor Simita Kumar is leader of the SNP group on Edinburgh City Council
When I look back at my election as the new SNP leader on Edinburgh Council, I will always remember that it coincided with John Swinney’s election as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.

As I begin my journey, I am determined to learn and grow. I am educated, I have significant work experience, I have transferable skills and a bag full of toolkits. I have a working-class background, I’m an immigrant, a woman, an ethnic minority – this leadership should be a breeze!

But politics is hard – it is both physically and emotionally challenging.

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As a member of the public, I always found the churlish behaviour of politicians from Westminster to City Chambers so off-putting.

Now, I find myself in the thick of it. One of my first votes as leader was to remove Tories from the Labour-Tory-Lib Dem coalition administration. The other was against the Rwanda Bill.

The debate that followed was interesting but not surprising. I was accused of making it personal. I didn’t.

I thought the Tories’ personal attack on me was uncalled for. It’s not personal, it’s politics. Yet we often forget that there is a person at the end of it.

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I joined SNP because I want an independent Scotland. I ran for office because at the core of it, I want to help people and leave things better than I found them.

In that spirit, I do want to work with all parties collegiately.

I will still call Labour out for cosying up with the Tories. I will still call Tories out for creating the worst cost-of-living-crisis in memory. I will still call out the unionists’ parties for putting constitutional issues before socialism.

The list is endless. But I will try to challenge constructively.

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So, in the words of John Swinney, I too will pledge to stop screaming, start talking, and better yet, start listening because there’s a real person behind the politics, but first, do no harm.

Councillor Simita Kumar is leader of the SNP group on Edinburgh City Council

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