POLITICS can be a messy business, parliaments can be divisive clashes of ideas and ideologies. 

Holyrood in this respect is no different and much of my first year as an MSP was spent powerfully debating against the nationalists, arguing for economic growth, a working NHS, a proper education for our children and for Nicola Sturgeon to ditch her pursuit of independence.

Sometimes these debates aren’t the most civil encounters and admittedly I was a bit surprised at the tone in the Scottish Parliament. However, division aside there are occasions when MSPs from across the chamber do come together and act in the national interest. I believe last week was a prime example.

We passed two pieces of vital legislation: The Child Poverty Bill and the Seat Belts on School Transport Bill. Both will tackle problems faced by our children which is why I think they are so important.

Let me briefly address both: no child should have to live in poverty in Scotland. After several months of cross-party talks and debates MSPs finally came to a consensus and overwhelmingly voted it through last week.

The second bill will ensure that as of 2021 all school buses must install seat belts that children have to wear when travelling to and from school, as well as on school trips. This is a positive step that will help ensure that children are safe on school transportation — once again this was passed by a huge majority in Holyrood.

Last week stands out not just because we passed legislation into law but because this was a clear example of the benefits that the Scottish Parliament can deliver for Scotland when it uses the vast array of powers at its disposal.

Instead of endless debates on non-binding motions or discussing reserved matters for months on end, let’s make sure MSPs are put to work and earn the taxpayer money that we are paid. After all that’s why we stood in the first place and why the public saw fit to elect us.

I want to see more of this and less grandstanding political gestures in the parliament, I want to see MSPs actually debate issues like education or the NHS on government time (usually we have to force this to debate it on a time-restricted member’s debate). That’s how we can start delivering for Scotland.

I do believe that it’s because the SNP government doesn’t allow us to debate difficult issues (i.e. areas where they are weak) that the west of Scotland suffers. When a government doesn’t allow room for a region’s representatives to voice their concerns then they keep pressing forward regardless.

So, I say let’s push for a change of tact from Nicola Sturgeon and start putting real issues back on the agenda. We’ve shown what good we can achieve when we work together and use the powers at our disposal.