Making a contribution shouldn’t be a privilege – it should be a right


I’m very lucky. I have a great job. As chief executive of the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD), I work with a brilliant team and some terrrific organisations. I’m privileged to work close to the heart of government, influencing legislation and policy. Most importantly, in all of this, I get to work alongside people […]
James and Adam – and a world with Down’s syndrome


In less than a fortnight, the World Down Syndrome Congress arrives in Glasgow. It’s the first time the triennial event has been held in the UK for 32 years. The Congress offers an unmissable opportunity to join the worldwide Down’s syndrome community for three days of discussion, debate and celebration. For people in Scotland, it’s […]
Obesity needs drastic action – but name calling individuals won’t do


When I passed the 11 plus in 1972, my mum sent me to tea with Charles. Charles was the other boy in my class who would be going to the grammar school that autumn. So my mum and his mum thought we should be mates. It didn’t really work out that way, although I did […]
Whose community is it anyway?


The lives of people with learning disabilities are changing. The burgeoning alumni of Scotland’s learning disability awards, since their inception in 2017, are a powerful testament to that. Along with the 2016 recipients of six lifetime RSA fellowships for people with learning disabilities in Scotland, they provide compelling evidence of the talent and potential in […]
Katie and William were not our children — but their tragic deaths are about us


Just another Monday. Even in this increasingly dysfunctional world, we still have them. We go about our business. I’d been meeting a colleague over coffee in Edinburgh’s George Street. A cheery enough hour spent. That thing we call catching up. I couldn’t help being reminded, while the caffeine was good, the coffee bar had been […]
Civil society – what next for Scotland?


When I was 15, I got into a bit of a stushie with my mum and dad. A couple of years earlier I’d become a member of my local church. I sang in the choir and edited its children’s newsletter, Small Talk. It was all going swimmingly until my running coach at school suggested I […]
Inclusive education – the hard lessons from Birmingham


There are some political moments that you keep coming back to. No matter the sands of time. They resonate. Sometimes for the right reasons, but not always. Margaret Thatcher’s speech to the Conservative Party conference on October 9th 1987 is, for me, one such moment. ‘‘Children are being taught they have an inalienable right to […]
Finding a way to belonging — on Constitution Street


Yesterday evening I took part in a protest. It wasn’t on the streets or outside a building. There were no placards, no hecklers. There was no lobbying, no them and us. It was a book launch. In a library. I’ve taken part in a protest in a library once before. Nearly 40 years ago, my […]