On Tuesday evening, I dropped into the Fuse Youth cafe to watch the Scottish Youth Parliament election hustings for the Baillieston and Shettleston areas.
I know from speaking to former MSYPs that the Scottish Youth Parliament isn't everyone's cup of tea (due to their inclination to stay away from partisan politics) but for young people interested in politics generally, it's certainly a good learning experience.
The candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves, and then took pre-arranged questions from the floor. I was really impressed by how confident they were, and how passionately they spoke about the issues they face. I'm sure many of them will go far. In a political world dominated by old, white men, they were a real breath of fresh air. There was a great turnout too, and it gave me hope for the future. I wish all the candidates the best of luck.
Getting involved in politics can be daunting. When I was at school, I often felt like I was the only person interested in politics, and it can seem a bit geeky. Not many teenagers want to stay in and watch Question Time and Newsnight! I joined the SNP while I was still at school, but I didn't get properly active until I reached university in Aberdeen. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had that option; I'm certain I'd be in the SNP, but the rest of my life would probably look very different.
I didn't join Young Scots for Independence until after I left uni, but once I did, I didn't look back! I owe a great deal to Aileen, Jamie and David McDonald, and I'm very proud to have played my small part in building up the YSI as a real way for young people to get involved in the SNP and learn the ropes. I am very glad to see more and more young people getting up at conference and putting their points across in such a thoughtful and compelling way. They seem much more confident than I was (I still get incredibly nervous!) and they can hold their own in debate. More importantly, they're dedicated campaigners, and understand the importance of taking to the streets.
I know that these days the very thought of politics is enough to make people throw their tv out the window, but perhaps a new generation is what's needed to clean up our political system. The people coming up behind me can see the problems, and I hope they will be able to make change happen.