Inside out: a view from the shadows

David and Sarah by the stairs in the Scottish Parliament
David Ng Hop with Sarah Boyack MSP at the Scottish Parliament

“It’s never ending”, says David Ng Hop, describing the work of an MSP.  David had asked to take part in the Opening Doors shadow scheme because he wanted to see every aspect of what it means to be a member of the Scottish Parliament.  Here is his report…

I spent four days with two very different MSPs, one a shadow minister the other an opposition back bencher. The four days allowed me the opportunity to see the variety of work which is done day to day through Parliament and also within the constituency office.  I discovered one thing very quickly – this is not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job.  The work of an MSP is never-ending.

Over the four days I spent two with Sarah Boyack, MSP for Edinburgh Central and two with Malcolm Chisholm, MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith.  In many ways their work is very different.  Sarah is the shadow Minister for the Environment while Malcolm’s main area of work is as a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee and the Finance Committee.

But their constituency responsibilities are similar. Both send out regular updates to people in their constituency, both get huge numbers of emails and letters every day and every single one has to be answered.

Inside the Parliament I had the chance of sitting in and listening to the Equal Opportunities Committee and from the gallery of the debating chamber I saw the vote on the Public Service Reform bill as well as general questions and First Minister’s Questions.  Following Sarah in her duties outside Parliament I visited the new Tynecastle High School (which was built under the last Labour-LibDem coalition in the Scottish Parliament) and sat in on a meeting with the Head Teacher.

I didn’t spend all the time watching. I also had the chance to help with work in the office, stuffing envelopes with letters replying to constituents campaigning against the cuts proposed by the council.

It was all very interesting.  I would like to thank both Sarah and Malcolm for allowing me to be with them over four days – and to thank their teams of Personal Assistants who all made me very welcome. I would like to thank them all.

David is a support assistant in the City of Edinburgh Council health and social care department. We would like to thank him for his enthusiastic support of the Opening Doors shadow scheme which aims to encourage ethnic minority representation in politics.

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