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I joined the SNP almost 25 years ago.  There have been big changes in the party and movement I signed up to as a shy 15-year-old, and I feel so lucky to have been part of them.

So it is only after some considerable thought that I announce today that I have decided not to seek re-election in 2021.

I first became an MSP in 2007 – elected quite unexpectedly on an incredible night for the SNP.
It was a life-changing moment - and from the outset I was aware it came with enormous responsibility. I can safely say I know what imposter syndrome feels like.

There was no going back though – and looking back, I’m so glad fate dealt me the hand it did. The opportunity to serve constituents across the region, and in Clydesdale constituency since 2011, is a genuine privilege.

I can honestly say I have given everything to do my job as well as I possibly can - and I will of course continue to do that until the end of the parliamentary term in 2021.

I am immensely proud to have been part of a government that has done so much to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country.

In particular, the revolution in Early Years – from the transformational increase in childcare provision, to the Best Start Grant and of course the Baby Box - will leave its mark on Scotland for generations to come. And our work to support some of our most vulnerable children - raising the age looked-after young people can leave their care setting - is a positively life-changing action taken on the basis of listening and responding to the young people themselves.

And as Communities Secretary, I have had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the Scottish Child Payment – probably the most ambitious anti-poverty measure undertaken anywhere in the UK - which will start making payments to families across Scotland later this year.
I’m also proud that the SNP has done so much to stand up for women, whether it is improving gender balance on public boards, action to tackle the gender pay gap, standing up for the pensions of the WASPI women, or opposing policies like the abhorrent rape clause.

More recently I have had Ministerial responsibility for taking forward the Scottish Government’s world-leading initiatives to tackle period poverty, and MSPs from across the chamber deserve great credit for working together to deliver on our shared ambitions.

But just as Scotland has changed significantly for the better since 2007, so have my personal circumstances.
I have got married and have been blessed with two beautiful boys, who are growing up fast. Indeed, in 2014 I became the first Scottish Minister to take maternity leave.

My husband and I are very fortunate - we have managed to find ways for me to do my job and have a family at the same time, with Fraser taking on most of the day-to-day parenting.

But there is no getting away from the fact that the job – while immensely rewarding - is demanding in terms of pressure and time. I hope in future I can spend a little more time with my boys at home.

So, after much consideration, now feels like a good time to prepare myself for taking a step back from frontline party politics and government.

Once I stand down, I look forward to new challenges and, I hope, a better work-life balance – but until then, I will continue to work tirelessly for my constituents, and I will be pleased to continue serving in the Cabinet for as long as the First Minister wants me to.

My support for the SNP and independence is as strong as ever - and I look forward to continuing to campaign for Scotland to secure its independence in the not-too-distant future.

I hope I have been a positive role model to younger people, and my message to anyone thinking of entering politics – particularly young women – is to go for it!

It’s not always easy, and sometimes you really agonise over the decisions you take. But whether it is the relatively small victories you and your staff achieve on behalf of your constituents, or helping to drive forward transformational national policies in government – it is always, always worth it. Politics can – and does – make a difference.

There are so many people I would like to thank, not least the brilliant staff in my constituency office and the dedicated local activists who have supported me over the years. I have also met countless inspiring people who give so much in their jobs and roles in communities across the length and breadth of the country.

Scotland is blessed – and I look forward to playing my part in the next chapter of our country’s history. Thank you!

Surgeries

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Aileen Campbell MSP, Kirkton Chambers, 12 Kirkton Street, Carluke ML8 4AB • 01555 750 249 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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