25th October 2010


At the Scottish Parliament, it is usually me who gets to put people on the spot with difficult questions, either in the chamber or the committees.

But the shoe was on the other foot during a recent visit to Gourock High, where the modern studies pupils got to ask me about my job as an MSP and politics in general.

From Afghanistan to Gamu in X Factor, it was fascinating to get their insight into the political issues of the day.

Of course, we are told they are the generation who are least interested in politics, even though they have the most to lose from the decisions that are taken later this week.

Chancellor George Osborne will announce on Wednesday his Comprehensive Spending Review and, after weeks and months of speculation, we will find out exactly where his axe will fall.

For young people, there promises to be little good news and uncomfortable question marks will hang over their future prospects.

For those who want to go to college, will there be places for them as funding for further education shrinks? For those hoping to go to university, how much will it cost?

For those wanting to learn the skills of a trade, will there be support for apprenticeships as the public sector and small businesses are squeezed? And for would-be teachers and nurses, what prospects for their careers against a background of cuts already biting in our health and educations services thanks to the Scottish Government in Edinburgh?

We don’t have to look too far in the past to see how young people suffer when a an indiscriminate and short-sighted approach is taken to dealing with an economic recession.

In the Thatcher years, the government were quick to consign a generation to the employment scrapheap and communities like ours have been trying to repair the damage ever since.

We must ensure this government is not allowed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

While its necessary to balance the books by repaying the debts of the past, we can afford to stop investing in the future.