Youth Parliament impress at Holyrood

It seemed like any other weekend down at Holyrood, but behind the doors of the Scottish Parliament history was being made. The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) holds its 3rd sitting of 2010 in the chambers of The Scottish Parliament. There is often media scrutiny about whether the youth parliament is a worthy cause for tax payers money. There is also debate about if SYP actually do
make an impact on Scottish Politics. This sitting was a chance for the Scottish Youth Parliament to prove themselves as a serious pressure group and representative body for young people in Scotland.

The Friday saw the first meeting of the Public Petitions Committee in the chambers. Presenting a petition was Andrew Deans MSYP. Andrew was putting forward the argument ‘Ban Mosquito Devices now’. A campaign that has often been overlooked. Andrew has been campaigning against Mosquito devices over the past year, claiming that they are discriminative and cause harm to young people and children. This campaign was brought to SYP as a ‘members motion’ from Andrew, as a result of concern about the device in his local area. Bringing the petition to parliament could be the breakthrough his campaign needs.  “I was particularly pleased to hear Nigel Don MSP echo my sentiments that the use of the Mosquito is “indefensible”, because it was then that I realized that my presentation had really had an impact on how these decision makers felt, and obviously with such widespread support a solution is more likely. The committee seemed both impressed by the articulate young people of the SYP and genuinely interested in finding solutions to the problems we put to them.” Chair of the Public Petitions Commitee Rhona Brankin shares her views on the session and SYP – Listen here

On Friday afternoon the young people broke into workshops. The SYP Board and Conveners group took part in a special workshop delivered by the Scottish Parliament’s Futures Forum. Here they looked at the future of the youth parliament and where they would like to be in 10 years. This if proof that the parliament is not only being taken seriously in government but being assisted in their sustainability. Director of Futures Forum, Robert Rae tells me through e-mail about his session and if he thinks SYP have a genuine place in Scottish Politics.
“I thought the MSYPs I met had a lot of energy when engaging with the futures process; perhaps more than MSP’s! The quality of discussion was impressive and they worked well as a group to achieve a far-reaching vision for the Scottish Youth Parliament.”
I think the Scottish Youth Parliament has a unique position as part of the governance machinery of devolved Scotland. It gives voice to issues which are important to young people and generates real interest in politics with young people. In the future, it might usefully look for ways to challenge the body politic more on issues which will affect young people in the longer-term, outwith the 4 year electoral cycle.”

Chair of SYP, 20 year old Derek Couper spoke on the Friday to describe what the sitting means to his organisation and what he expects from the future. Listen here

One of the most anticipated events of the weekend was the results of SYP’s ‘Picture the Change’ manifesto consultation. This is where the youth parliament’s representation commitments are shown. Over the summer MSYP’s toured Scotland consulting young people about what should be in the SYP manifesto. The manifesto is to be aimed in March and SYP hope it will influence parties in the run up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections. The target of the process was to reach 15,000 consultations, a goal that was received with some dubiousness. Clare Ewing MSYP for Dunfermline West delivered the results on Saturday at the sitting. There had been plenty of speculation throughout the day as to whether the target had been met. The reaction from the MSYP’s upon finding out the results was shock, joy and pride. The SYP ‘Picture the Change’ consultation returned 42,804 responses. However, it still remains to be seen if this will influence party manifesto. Claire expresses how she felt. “I was completely shocked with I saw the results – all 42,804 of them when we only targeted for 15,000. The future to SYP is not only an exciting and prosperous as if we can consult with nearly 43,000 young people in 3 months what can we do in 3 years! ”

Some MSYP’s feel the organisation still has a long way to go in terms of representation. Rae Cahill MSYP Glasgow Kelvin shared her experiences via facebook mail.
“I think the result of the consultation shows how much more representative the SYP has become of young people, and it makes me proud to say I’m a member. However, I would be hesitant to say the SYP is fully representative of young people. In many areas, youth provision is not on the forefront of the council’s agenda, and so many MSYP’s have to carry out their work with limited/(at times) no support.”

It’s been a successful weekend for the Scottish Youth Parliament, and the young people of Scotland. They have proved their commitment to represent and campaign for the youth of Scotland and made plans for their future. It seems that they are being embraced into Scottish Politics and have a genuine place in the democratic process, this is something they will be focusing on over the next few years.

Danielle Rowley
Assessment 1 Part A



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