This morning we woke up in a country where newly elected members of its parliament took their oath or affirmation in at least eight different languages from all over the world.They included Gaelic, Scots, Doric, Orcadian, German, Urdu, sign language and even Zimbabwean Shona.
This morning we woke up in a country where its new parliament contains 58 women MSPs out of a total of 129. A parliament which has just seen its first two women of colour elected and where its first permanent wheelchair user has joined the ranks of MSPs.
A country where our parliament’s ruling party insists that the top place in its regional lists must be reserved for either a Bame or a disabled candidate.
This a parliament which is trying and improving, which knows that more work is needed and is determined to do it
This morning we work up to a country with a parliament which is not perfect, where we have not yet achieved gender parity, or enough LGBT representation; where we have very far to go before our Bame communities are properly represented numerically and where women need more help to play an active role in political life.
But this a parliament which is trying and improving, which knows that more work is needed and is determined to do it.
This morning we woke up in a country which is sending a 28-year-old Muslim woman to represent Airdrie and Shotts at Westminster. Anum Qaisar-Javed won the seat for the SNP after the party’s previous MP Neil Gray stood down to successfully stand for Holyrood.
After the result was announced Ms Qaisar-Javed said she wanted to be a role model not just for women or people of colour but for anyone from any minority group.
This morning we woke up in a country where a community can stand against the UK Home Office and protect its own
This is a country where we send immigrants and the children of immigrants to parliaments, to the very seats of power. A country where we do not send them ‘’home’’.
This morning we woke up in a country where a community can stand against the UK Home Office and protect its own.
Yesterday morning Pollokshields woke up in a country where immigrants can face a UK immigration raid and a neighbour’s first reaction was to throw himself under a van to prevent two men from being hauled off.
A country where he was quickly joined by hundreds of others who gathered in the streets demanding that the two men be released from custody.
A country appalled that such a raid could take place in the heart of one its most ethnically diverse areas just as the Muslim community celebrated Eid.
Kenmure Street in Glasgow’s Pollokshields was soon thronged with people determined to make sure the immigration van could not move with the men inside.
They chanted: ‘’These are our neighbours, let them go’’ and ‘’refugees are welcome here’’. A banner hung from an overlooking window saying: ‘’If this is Team UK we reject it.’’
This morning we woke up in a country where such despicable behaviour by UK immigration officers is called out by our own government. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the area’s constituency MSP, tweeted: ‘’I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid. My office is making urgent enquiries.’’
And Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he and the First Minister had been in touch with the Home Office to abandon the operation.
He said: ‘’I have expressed the Scottish government’s deep concern and anger about this operation by the Home Office …To take this action in Pollokshields a day after the First Minister warned of an upsurge in Covid cases in the south side of Glasgow is completely reckless.’’
Other voices were added to the outcry. Scottish rock band Primal Scream, Outlander star Sam Heughan and singer Karine Polwart were among those who took to social media to express their support for Pollokshields and their pride in the community action.
When the two man were eventually released from their ordeal with the help of the human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar the local hero who had crawled underneath the van had been there for eight hours.
This morning we woke up in a country where communities are not afraid to stand up to injustice and inhumanity.
We live in a country where we have the opportunity to put humanity and decency at the heart of our society and our government
It is a country where we are not intrinsically ‘’better’’ than those living in other countries or elsewhere in the UK. There are people Liverpool, in Manchester, in London, who have stood up to power and would have done so if confronted with a similar situation as those living in Pollokshields.
But we live in a country where we have the opportunity to put humanity and decency at the heart of our society and our government. A country where we have a chance to reject the heartless brutality of the Home Office, the corruption and greed of Westminster.
Don’t we have a responsibility to those living elsewhere who believe there is an alternative to to the current, morally bankrupt UK to seize the chance to make it a reality.
This morning we woke up in a country which stood together to protect the vulnerable in the name of common humanity. These are times we have rarely had more cause to Believe in Scotland.