Opening Doors to the 2011 election

Congratulations to David ng Hop who has become the first member of our Opening Doors shadow scheme  to put himself forward for election to the Scottish Parliament.  David has been nominated as a Labour candidate for Lothian Region in next year’s Scottish elections.  A lot of work lies ahead but if he was successful, David could be the first Scottish Chinese member of the Scottish Parliament (unless of course anyone knows differently?).

David with Sarah Boyack on the shadow scheme at the Scottish Parliament

“If nothing else it will be a learning experience for me,” says David. After taking part in our shadow scheme he  is under no illusions about the amount of work facing any MSP – or the effort it takes to get elected to the job in the first place!

Learning was one of the main reasons David joined the shadow scheme in March this year when he enrolled for a placement shadowing Malcolm Chisholm and Sarah Boyack. The experience gave him a close look at the work of MSPs both in parliament and in the constituency and he decided he would like to stand for election himself.

“I would like to stand on behalf of ethnic minority communities.  I have a particular interest in equal opportunities and issues of disabled people,” says David who is dyslexic and also has experience of the needs of others through working as a home help.  He now works for Edinburgh city council as an Admin Assistant providing services for the disabled.

A strong supporter of grassroots community activism (through Community Council work as well as Scottish Labour Party and Scottish Co-op Party membership) David is also a keen trade unionist, a former member of the STUC Black Members Committee and currently on the Unison  Disabled Members Committee.

Now David has joined the long list of aspiring candidates from all main political parties in Scotland.  If he is selected this autumn his name will be added to  the Lothian Regional List on the ballot paper next May.

The List ‘top-up’ system is one of the distinguishing features of the Scottish Parliament. This new way of voting is nicely described on the Scottish Parliament website but – trying to sum it up briefly – it combines two voting systems:  the old first-pass-the-post system and a form of proportional representation (the additional members system) which is designed to more accurately reflect the way we vote.

So we each get two votes.  One for the constituency MSP, the other to  reflect the proportion of votes cast for political parties.  As David puts it: “The Scottish system gives smaller parties a better chance of getting into power.”

All very topical given the planned referendum on changing the way we elect our MPs to Westminster. Interesting to see that  Mark Lazarowicz, our  recently re-elected MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, is offering a chance to debate the issues of alternative vote and constitutional reform at Stockbridge Library on Wednesday 22nd September at 6.30pm.

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