LAST Saturday I attended the 1820 Radical War Memorial in Greenock alongside Councillors Jim MacLeod and Chris Curley and leading members of the 1820 Society – including local organiser Iain Ramsey. 

We were also joined by various other groups and individuals including the local Riverview Players theatrical group who performed an act in memory of the tragic events of 1820.

At the memorial I spoke alongside Iain and Heather Davies from Riverview Players. It was a particular treat to hear two of Iain’s great grandchildren sing a song in Gaelic.

The Radical War, also known as the Scottish Insurrection of 1820, was a week of strikes and unrest – a culmination of radical demands for reforms in the UK.

There were marches and rallies; a number of leaders were captured and executed, others sent off to colonies to be imprisoned. 

In Greenock, several prisoners being taken to the old Jail on Bank Street were freed by local citizens but sadly eight people aged between eight and 65 were killed by the state in the trouble that ensued on Cathcart Street.

It’s important we remember these chapters of our local history and commemorate those who gave their lives to improve ours by seeking fairness, democracy and our own parliament.

Looking nationally, the media has been busy about some of the things I’ve long campaigned about during my time as an MSP.

At the beginning of the month, the Guardian wrote a piece about sex for rent – a practice that more people are beginning to be aware of. 

My research into this seems to suggest this isn’t a major issue in Scotland, though it is rife in the likes of London, but I believe that one rogue landlord taking advantage of at-risk individuals in need of accommodation is one too many. 

I hope that as the media pick up on this issue, the campaign to criminalise sex for rent practices will gain more ground to protect those looking for short-term accommodation or to rent.

Closer to home, Glasgow City Council are asking for local councils to be given the powers to ban fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in their local authority areas. 

The council leader, Susan Aitken says she looks forward to the day when these machines become illegal – and I second these comments. FOBTs are highly addictive and destroy the lives of the gamblers hooked on the machines as well as their family’s and friends, and damages the communities they live in too.

Last but not least, I’m delighted to hear the news that Waitrose is looking to remove single use disposable cups from all their UK stores. 

The supermarket says this will prevent 52 million cups being thrown away every year, so I warmly welcome their move to reusable cups instead.