Monday, 12 November 2018

What it Takes to Become an MSP

MSP Kate Forbes has been the representative for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2016. She has contributed to many campaigns since her election, such as the ban of plastic straws, the promotion of teaching Gaelic, and closing the gender pay gap in the Highlands to name a few.

I spent an afternoon in the Houses of Parliament in Edinburgh speaking to Kate about what it takes to become an MSP.


      1. Which degree/qualification do parliament look for a candidate to have?


The whole point of being an MSP is that you are a representative of the people, and that means there should be a diverse range of MSPs in every sense of the word, including their educational qualifications. Therefore, there's there no set path in becoming an MSP in terms of education. There are so many varied routes and everyone has a different one. 

      2. What makes an exceptional MSP?


There are 3 key points - and all 3 are not skills you will ever learn through education. The first is being an MP for people. People are talking at, to and through MSPs every minute of the day so you must have a love for people or you'd go mad! It is constant interaction, so you must have empathy. Secondly, an ability to communicate. It's all fine and well if you're doing amazing things, but if you can't tell anyone about it then nobody knows about it. the bread and butter of being a politician is speeches and debates so this is obviously a key skill. And thirdly, being able to multitask. This is in terms of being able to pick up a variety of issues quickly to a high standard so you're able to talk to people about it in a sufficient way. 

      3. What impact do graduates/young people have? 


Everyone can have an impact if they get involved. As much as MSPs can encourage young people to have their say and make them feel welcomed, it's really up to them at the end of the day to participate - to join parties and campaign. And once you've got involved, you have the same say as everyone else, despite age or time or experience in the job. 

      4. What do graduates/young people find most challenging?


Probably one of two things. Firstly, it is the fact they may not feel welcome. On a daily basis someone could come up to you and say "you look awfully young". You can take that to heart or you can move on. Secondly, there are plenty of people with a lot more experience that we need to respect and learn from and it's not a factor of coming in and feeling you have a right to be there and share their views, as everyone else has got to the same place and you may end up drowning everyone else out.

      5. Why should someone become an MSP?


It is probably the only job in Scotland that blends the fence of public duty and desire to serve people, with the variety of subject matters and also can be done in every corner of the country. there are likely jobs that share the first two characteristics but you cannot necessarily do all over Scotland. Being an MSP means you can work everywhere and anywhere. It is a widespread role both geographically and in terms of subject matter. 

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What it Takes to Become an MSP

MSP Kate Forbes has been the representative for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2016. She has contributed to many campaigns since her elec...