I wrote a version of this blog five years ago after the last Scottish Parliament elections. I’m re-writing it a wee bit this time —partly because this election is nothing like any election we’ve ever had before, and partly because I have a bit of distance from it all these days.

Elections are hard work.

If you’ve never worked on an election campaign you probably think I’m being overly dramatic. But the truth is they are exhausting — mentally and physically. They test the limits of friendships and relationships. …


Many of you will have already seen ‘Resilience’, a brilliant film about the “biology of stress and the science of hope”. It’s been shown at numerous events over the past few years and is being shown on TV in the UK for the first time tonight.

It’s a very powerful film, which explains the science and practical impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). In no small way it has contributed to much of the growing understanding of ACEs, and the recent push for Scotland to become a ‘ACE aware nation’.

I started writing this blog at the start of the…


An empty hall.

From the podium on the tiny stage, up to a sea of empty, folded, black chairs, littered with a thousand flyers of fringe events that have come and gone.

Lights seem to stare me down, from all directions, daring me to blink first.

Suddenly the words on the page seem to be printed in far too small a font, and be far too far away from where they need to be.

A helpful reminder from a colleague that my speech is being taken live on the BBC, so best not screw up.

Then the hall isn’t empty…


A couple of years ago now I spent a night at the Glasgow City Mission Winter Shelter. I met men and women who had literally nowhere else to go, and listened to their stories, what got them to this point and what support they needed to no longer be homeless. In very few cases, if any, was the issue a lack of housing — their need was for support with relationship breakdown, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, unemployment and chaotic lifestyles which made holding down a home difficult.

For a couple of years now I’ve done the frankly…


If nothing else, 2016 will certainly go down as an unforgettable year. A roller-coaster of world events and political decisions that will shape things to come for years.

For me, one of the highlights of 2016 was standing as a candidate in the Scottish Parliament elections. Now stick with me — I can appreciate that being a Scottish Labour candidate in elections might not seem like a highlight, but it really was. It was a privilege, and you know what? It was great fun too.

Elections are hard work. They are exhausting — mentally and physically. They test the limits…


Lyndon Johnson’s introspection on behalf of the American nation was the result of a considerably more complex set of circumstances than our recent election, but the underlying point could stand for Scottish Labour now. We can’t change what has happened, but we can change what has yet to happen.

It’s difficult to put in writing exactly what the last few days have felt like.

I defy anyone involved in election campaigning to deny that you always think you've got a shot at winning — regardless of what the polls look like, or what odds the bookies are offering or what…


There has been much in the news today of the most recent case of the infamous ‘u-turn’ — that awful cardinal sin in politics of changing your mind. This particular u-turn is absolutely right — to reverse a plan to build a £75m replacement to Cornton Vale Prison.

This is the right decision.

The narrative surrounding the decision however seems to be based on the premise that female offenders are fundamentally different to all other offenders. There are of course differences — just as there are differences between young offenders and adult offenders, or between those on short term and…


Johann Lamont said in 2011 that Scottish Labour’s performance in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections was “a tired old politics machine which was more about itself than it was about them”.

She was right then, and she’s done much to shake us out of that delusion of ‘our right to govern’. Now it’s time for the rest of us to do our bit and get up off the ground, dust ourselves off, stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and get on with what we’re here for — fighting for a better, progressive, socially just, forward looking, fairer Scotland.

A few months…


“Now there is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage” — Lord Freud

Lord Freud’s comments today have been variously explained as “the same old Tories”, “a slip of the tongue”, “clumsy”, “thinking out loud” and a failure to “reject the premise of the question”.

Plenty of excuses — but no explanations.

In his ‘apology’, Lord Freud suggests not rejecting the premise of the question was his mistake. This is to miss the point.

It’s the “worth” part that is troubling. The Adam…

Michael Shanks

Teacher & lead a charity for children with disabilities. I used to work in children’s policy. I write about whatever pops into my head without rhyme nor reason.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store