Gillian Mackay: Concerns about Holyrood’s political culture are growing

This is the answer given to me by a male colleague after I raised the issue of noise as a barrier to my participation in the Chamber.

This is just one example of the behavior displayed and defended by many of my – mostly male – colleagues.

No woman gets into politics by accident, regardless of our party, we all have had to work hard for it.

In some ways, I was better prepared than most new MSPs. I had worked as a parliamentary researcher for the last seven years so I knew Holyrood well.

But increasingly I find that our Chamber is dominated by a discourse that values ​​competition, superiority and machismo over serious debate.

It’s part of a culture I and many other MSP women are increasingly concerned about – a culture in which predominantly male colleagues feel free to interrupt, shout down and abuse point of order motions to score political points.

Toxicity often extends to social media, which has become far more hostile since the GRR debates and the release of my buffer zone bill. Abuse by strangers, mostly men, is one reason I use Twitter a lot less than I used to.

Despite all of this, and in some ways because of this, camaraderie has developed between many MSPs from different parties. Sometimes we text each other across the room congratulating on a good speech or being reprimanded for “stealing” a question.

Our Parliament has long been known for its modern, progressive and positive culture, with contrasts often drawn between our Chamber and Westminster.

We must work to preserve that reputation and culture, rather than resorting to the kind of toxic, disrespectful, and misogynistic tone that has kept so many brilliant women from engaging in politics.

Gillian Mackay is the Scottish Green MSP for Central Scotland Gillian Mackay: Concerns about Holyrood’s political culture are growing

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