Posts Tagged ‘Grant Costello’

Chairs Blog – August

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Don’t you love the summer holidays.  Weeks go by with nothing to do, everyone goes on holiday – it’s all great.

Well, that might be some people’s idea of a holiday but it’s certainly not how things have been for SYP since the Sitting.  We’ve had MSYPs out across Scotland at events, the campaigns team have been working with the Conveners Group to put together our new campaign –which is all going to be incredibly exciting.  We’ve got We-CTV starting again in September, and at the end of the month the SYP Elections Commission will be releasing their report.  So it’s all go.

However, I’m sure most MSYPs will agree with me the most important developments have been over Votes at 16.  As you will know, Votes at 16 is a core belief of the Scottish Youth Parliament.  As an organisation who believe young people deserve to be heard, it is central to all our campaigning for 16 and 17-year-olds, who can work, marry, and join the army, to also be allowed to choose the politicians in charge of these areas.  We don’t really think the opposing arguments are credible.

To help make this happen, SYP have been working with NUS Scotland to try and encourage both the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to make votes at 16 happen for the referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future.

The key activity has been Robin Parker, NUS Scotland President, and myself sending a letter to Michael Moore MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Bruce Crawford, Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy, asking them to work together to make this a reality.  With this in mind we are very encouraged to hear the UK Government may be prepared to consider allowing this measure (insert link).  Furthermore we have heard from the Scottish Government they are keen to meet with us to have our input into the next stage.  So it seems Scotland’s leaders are at least listening to us on this issue.

But it’s crucial we keep involved.  Sadly Ross Greer MSYPs epetition has now expired; so what we have done is set up a brand new petition calling for votes at 16, both for the referendum but also for all future elections as well – you can sign the petition at .  As for the rest of the campaign – I’ll keep you posted on all the developments – you can read all our news releases on the blog!

Next Sitting

Believe it or not we are only seven weeks away from our next sitting.  North Lanarkshire Council are kindly hosting us on the 27th and 28th October – it should be epic.  As always though, what makes the sitting is not the organisation or the location, but what we as MSYPs put into it.  Therefore if anyone has a Member’s Motion they would like to have debated at the Sitting could they get in touch with Kate ( by Friday 7th September by 5pm. If you would like more information then please click here:

Children and Young People’s Bill

The Scottish Government are considering whether they should combine all the rights, duties and guidance affecting young people in Scotland into one law – the Children and Young People Bill. It’s vital that young people’s views are listened to when shaping this so please give us 10 minutes of your time to take part in this quick survey and we’ll make sure the Government listen!. You’ll be entered into a prize draw for a £50 Amazon voucher – what are you waiting for?!?

A Scotland for Children: a consultation on the Children & Young People…

SYP call for plain tobacco packaging

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Grant Costello MSYP speaking at the AGMToday, 10th August 2012, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) responded to the Uk and Scottish Government consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products by endorsing calls for plain standard packaging regulations to be brought in and enforced in Scotland.

The SYP response is shaped by a debate at the SYP National Sitting in June 2012, on a ‘Members Motion’ by Ruairidh White MSYP: “Tobacco companies should have to prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information on packaging. This will make tobacco smoking less appealing to young people.” This was supported by 72% of Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

SYP responded with four specific recommendations, that:

Tobacco companies should have to prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information on packaging. This will make tobacco smoking less appealing to young people.

  • There should be a change in the law to require standardised packaging for tobacco products.
  • Standard packaging should either be white or grey, with all text including the brand name in a plain, black font with all text being the same size.
  • Health warnings on tobacco products should remain, including graphic images in colour.

Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says:

“It’s time for the Scottish Government to remove the branding and logos which help to make smoking so attractive.  Standardised packaging will help to discouraging young people from taking up smoking, and also make it easier to stop.  This of course will lead to lower smoking rates, fewer smokers, and as a result a healthier Scotland.”


The SYP response can be read in full here: Standardised Packaging of Tobacco_SYP Response.

Votes at 16 crucial to fighting voter apathy

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

by Grant Costello, SYP Chair

The devastatingly low turnout in this years local elections must act as a wake-up call to Scotland’s political leaders.  Some of the figures are breathtaking.  In the Maryhill Ward in Dundee less than 30% of eligible voters went to the polls.  It was worse in the George Street Ward in Aberdeen, which only had 20% turnout.  The tale was the same across Scotland.

But at the same time as people are staying away, there are young people who want to vote, but who aren’t getting the opportunity.  The SYP’s experience shows young people are interested in politics – 85,000 young people voted in our elections, we received 42,000 responses to our Manifesto, Change the Picture, and over a thousand young people marched on Valentines Day in support of Equal Marriage.

So young people are willing to be involved if they have the opportunity.  But at the moment they don’t get the chance.  When young people leave school, they’re expected to take on the responsibilities of society, without any say.  No wonder they feel rejected.  No wonder when they are finally eligible to vote, they don’t recognise the value.  Between 16 and 18 they may have: married, started working, or even joined the military – all of it without voting. No wonder they ask, “What’s the point?”

That’s where lowering the voting age makes a difference.  It provides a relevance to citizenship lessons.  It provides an opportunity for first-time voters to go to the ballot-box as a group.  Because getting young people to vote for the first time is crucial.  It changes the act of voting from something done by other people, to a personal act of citizenship.  I vote because that is what we do in a democracy.

That deals with so many of the reasons young people don’t vote.  They don’t engage because they have not been given the chance.  They don’t engage because none of their peers are.  They don’t engage because they don’t see the point, and they don’t think it will change anything.

When young people get the chance to vote, more will – mathematics alone assures that.  That means the issues young people care about become more relevant, as politicians react to the new voting group.   That makes politics more relevant to young people, which means more young people are interested, which mean more young people vote.  It creates a virtuous cycle.

That is especially true at local elections.  From services to schools to skills training, local authorities have an enormous influence over young people.  They deserve a chance to have their say, and to get involved.

It’s clear excluding young people from voting is disengaging them – so political parties don’t pay attention to their interests.  We need to change that mindset.  We need to encourage greater engagement with the issues young people care about; the issues of the future.  That’s why the SYP believe it’s essential the political leaders of the present start to listen, and make themselves accountable, to those who are the future of Scotland.

A abbreviated version of this article first appeared in the Sunday Herald