Graeme’s Monthly Column

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A Call for Kindness & Respect

As an MSP and Scottish Government minister I find some of the very best and, sadly, worst of societal behaviours brought to me.

The former, as you might imagine, can be a thoroughly uplifting experience – providing welcome reminders of how kind and public spirited many of our citizens can be.

The latter, I’m afraid, leaves me despairing of some of my countrymen and women.

Two such recent experiences are worth highlighting, if only as a plea to those involved to desist.

As Scotland’s recently elected Transport Minister, I have been visiting a number of roads and bridges projects – meeting those who are charged with repairing and building our infrastructure.

Roadworks often lead to delays which lead to frustration for motorists. But nothing excuses the abuse which I have heard first-hand being hurled at our roadworkers as they go about their jobs.

I actually witnessed it myself whilst being briefed on site about the work being undertaken on the M8 and Woodside Viaduct. I have also spoken to staff who have been spat upon.

I am sure readers will agree that this is totally unacceptable.

The same goes for the treatment of supermarket workers, which I have had raised with me by the manager of a local supermarket. These staff have been key workers throughout the pandemic. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

And yet some are being subjected to horrific verbal abuse and, I am told, threats – simply for asking shoppers to wear face coverings in store.

My own experience of supermarket shopping indicates large scale compliance with the public health asks being made of us, but there are some who are reacting aggressively in refusing to don a covering when asked by managers. I am told this is happening, to a greater or lesser extent, in a number of locations across Angus.

I don’t know about you, but I find this as intolerable as the abuse being hurled at our road workers.

The past 16 months have been tough on everyone, and our patience has been understandably stretched. Only by working together, though, have we managed to turn the tide on this virus. Now with the slow loosening of restrictions, we can see friends and family and plan a return to a more normal life.

Let’s remember to treat everyone who has worked so hard to keep the country moving and fed with the kindness and respect they deserve.