Archive for August, 2011

Chair’s Blog – August

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Since the time of my last blog I have been extremely busy promoting our Love Equally campaign, as well as the promises I made to every single MSYP at our AGM in June.Grant Costello Msyp

It’s been a brilliant two months, with the SYP name and image growing a great deal – I’m so proud of the amazing work we have all done – from the SYP staff team to all the MSYPs pushing our campaign across Scotland.

As you may know I attended the launch of our national campaign Love Equally, but for the weeks previous I was busy meeting with our staff regularly to try and ensure this was one of the best launches that the Scottish Youth Parliament has ever had. I think many of you will agree it was a great success and with the massive media coverage we received from STV, The Scotsman, ITV Wales, Pink News and many more it was our best publicised campaign ever. Lessons have been learnt and I will ensure that MSYPs receive information in advance of future campaign launches.

Obviously the work of the campaign did not stop there.  While all of you were out working hard to gather hundreds of petition signatures, I was working on challenging the false perception of our campaign created by John Mason MSP’s motion in the Scottish Parliament. I am delighted that the work done by myself and the staff has paid off – with MSPs from every single party backing Patrick Harvie’s amendment to the motion and the personal messages of support we have been receiving for not only our national campaign but for the work we do as an organisation has been fantastic.

In my local area of East Kilbride I will be busy continuing to gather as many signatures as possible for our petition. Now can’t be the time to rest on our laurels, we need to show decisions makers of the Scottish Parliament that it’s time to not just consult on Equal Marriage, but to legislate on it. The only way that this is possible is to ensure that we get as many signatures as possible, so please keep promoting the campaign and petition.

Away from the hectic work of campaigning myself, Rae Cahill, Malcolm Andrews and Kyle Thornton went down to Leeds for the UKYP Sitting.  Well done to Kyle who successfully got a Scottish perspective into the UKYP manifesto with his motion on simplifying the UK tax system for young people everywhere. In Leeds I also met with the newly elected President of the NUS, Liam Burns, having extremely positive talks on new links between SYP and the National Union of Students.

This month I was also in London to meet with officials of the Votes@16 Coalition Group and representatives of the British Youth Council. Votes@16 is an important issue for us as an organization and I was proud to represent young people at that meeting and offer new and innovative ideas that have been effective for us in the SYP in the hope that one day votes at 16 will be a reality.

After the Votes at 16 meeting I met with staff from the British Youth Council and some of the young BYC members to see how BYC and the Scottish Youth Parliament can come much closer together and fight for the right of young people in the halls and corridors of Holyrood, Westminster and the European Parliament.

Last week, I went to Belfast with Marie Gallagher to speak at a member’s day of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF).  I thought it would also be a good opportunity to discuss how SYP and the NIYF could work more closely together and how we could learn for each other’s strengths.

I attended an evening reception at Edinburgh Castle with the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil MSP and the Climate Change and Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP as they launched Scotland’s bid to host the World Water Forum’s Conference in 2015. I chatted with both ministers on the SYP manifesto and was introduced to the Chief Executives of the World Water Forum and Scottish Water.

I was also invited to speak at the Young Scots for Independence’s National Conference, which was a great opportunity to promote our Love Equally campaign.

I have been extremely busy meeting with MSPs in our new office to help build upon the great feeling and momentum which the organisation is developing right now. Linda Fabiani MSP, Derek Mackay MSP, Kezia Dugdale MSP, Patrick Harvie MSP, Marco Biagi MSP and Joan McAlpine MSP are just some of parliamentarians I have met with to discuss our work in the Scottish Youth Parliament and of course our campaign.

I’m really looking forward to the October Sitting – as promised, at the hustings session there will be a Board Q&A. If you have any questions please feel free to ask us on day, or if you have any feedback or questions in advance of the meeting please email me

See you all in North Ayrshire on the 29th October!

Grant Costello

Scottish Youth Parliament

Riots – why not Scotland?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

With the growing success of our Love Equally campaign and lots going on at SYP, it would be easy to let the major public unsettlement in England pass us by without comment.

The riots have really made everyone have a think about society, and it’s not all bad either. Yes, there has been an eruption of anger and crime which has highlighted many issues. However, you cant help being moved by some of the efforts by member of the public to help, by communities getting together to clean up the mess. And it’s reassuring to see the media giving this part of the riots due coverage – rather than only focusing on the bad. The Metro posted this photo of a ‘broom army’.

Many questions are being asked, and at the moment there don’t seem to be many answers. Are these people angry about politics? Or are they solely opportunistic criminals? Have a look at this insightful article on the Guardian website about the psychology of the riot. It is a very complex topic to tackle, so this blog post will focus on a question that has been in our minds – why not Scotland?

There have been two arrests made in Scotland over Facebook pages apparently trying to start a Scottish riot, however so far the peace has been kept. What reasons do you think are behind why Scotland has kept out of this disturbance? Chair of SYP Grant Costello says: “No one really knows why they are actually happening, so it’s hard to say why it hasn’t happened here. But I think that in Scotland we have a different government, a different system of health care and social care, so maybe that’s what the difference is.”

A lot of social media sites have discussions about how the rioters are all young people and many users have criminalised all young people. However, the first person to attend court and plead guilty to looting is a 31 year old teacher.

Grant comments on this view of young people: “I don’t think you can blame all young people, it’s at most a couple of thousand young people out of the millions of young people living in the UK. It is a specific group of people that are intent on causing harm and disruption and a group of people who are left out from society. Most young people are terrified and disgusted at this behaviour, and many are trying to help the clean up.”

Liam Preston, Chair of the British Youth Council looks for the reasons behind why young people are acting in such a way. In his blog he says: “I read a tweet recently asking for ‘justice’ to be done to these young people, however the questions the young people are asking themselves and have been for a number of months now is where is the justice for what happened to them, where is the justice for those who caused the financial mess in the first place? The answer, wrongly, for some of them seems to be rioting and looting the streets of London.”

It is hard to say what will come next, the police and David Cameron promise that justice will be served and those committing the crimes will be punished accordingly. However, the more pressing question is – what will be done to stop the cause of these riots? What action do you think should be taken, and why do you think the riots haven’t spread to Scotland?

Interesting links:
This is a foreign blog but some of the photos are powerful and shocking
Chair of BYC’s blog
BBC running coverage


Love Equally

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Our ‘Love Equally’ campaign launched on Monday, and it’s been all go since then! We are delighted to have received so much support, media coverage and signatures on our petition, and we hope it keeps up!SYP's Love Equally Logo


Monday saw the launch of our Love Equally campaign at the Scottish Parliament. The press were invited to our SYP wedding reception where MSYP’s posed as couples for photos and spoke to press. MSYPs in attendance were Terri Miller, Jordan Linden, Grant Costello, Dariush Saheli, Eilidh Still, and Kelley Temple.  They were ‘wed’ with special guests including Patrick Harvie MSP and Marco Biagi MSP. We have some great photos of the launch on our facebook page.

Media coverage from launch:


Interest and Opinion

We seemed to have raised a lot of interest not only in our campaign, but in the general issue, which is already a hot topic.

Marco Biagi submitted a motion to parliament stating:

*S4M-00276 Marco Biagi MSP: Scottish Youth Parliament to Campaign for Marriage Equality—That the Parliament celebrates its long and close working relationship with the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP); notes that the SYP represents young people aged 14 to 25 from all across Scotland; further notes that, at its annual general meeting on 11-12 June 2011, the SYP chose to make marriage equality for same-sex couples its priority campaign for the coming year; awaits the opportunity for what it considers to be the wide range of views held on this subject to be expressed when the Scottish Government formally launches its consultation, and encourages the SYP, as part of its campaign, to play a full and proper role in this process. Supported by: Kevin Stewart*, Alison Johnstone*, Patrick Harvie*, Bob Doris*

John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettelston posed a contrasting motion to parliament reading:

S4M-00586 John Mason (Scottish National Party): That the Parliament notes the current discussion about same-sex marriages and the Scottish Government’s forthcoming public consultation concerning equal marriage; further notes that while some in society approve of same-sex sexual relationships, others do not agree with them; desires that Scotland should be a pluralistic society where all minorities can live together in peace and mutual tolerance; believes that free speech is a fundamental right and that even when there is disagreement with another person’s views, that person has the right to express these views, and considers that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved in or to approve of same-sex marriages.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie responded to John Mason’s motion by saying “Many progressive SNP MSPs will be holding their heads in their hands today to read what John Mason has written. Perhaps someone could sit down with him and explain that two men or two women deciding to get married doesn’t infringe the rights of heterosexual couples who want to marry, and that there’s no secret gay agenda to undermine society, just a campaign to be allowed to play a full part in it.”

We are glad that there is such a big discussion going on at the moment, which highlights the need for consultation. We have received many other messages of support over facebook and twitter, thanks to everyone who has been involved so far!

What’s next?

5th and 6th Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in Inverness
9th British Youth Council Conference, Glasgow
13th Youth Beatz, Dumfries
20th Festival of Politics, Edinburgh
27th and 28th The Young Carers Festival, West Linton
1st Template letter will be sent out to MSYPs encouraging them to write to their MSP and MP.
29th and 30th SYP October Sitting, kindly sponsored by North Ayrshire Council


Get involved!

Remember to keep us updated with your campaigning. Please send all completed petitions to Kate Bouchier-Hayes, Scottish Youth Parliament, Gordon Lamb House, 3 Jackson’s Entry, Edinburgh, EH8 8PJ.

Keep posting links to the online petition on facebook, twitter etc. The link is –