My name is Bethany Parsons and I’m standing to be your next Labour MSP candidate in Edinburgh Northern and Leith.
As committed trade unionist, socialist, and feminist, I have the experience and values needed to represent you in Parliament and to help deliver the next Labour Government in Holyrood.
Now an Edinburgh local, I grew up in the Tory heartlands of Essex, where I first got involved in the trade union movement at the age of 20. I was working as an X-ray machine operator at the London 2012 Olympics, and a GMB recruiter came to our SIA licence training and left with my direct debit details. I had experienced unfair and exploitative workplace practices before, but this was the first time that someone reached out to me to say, it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve held onto this belief in the power of the union ever since, and I’m currently a dues-paying member of both Unite and the UCU.
Coming of age under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, I felt disillusioned with mainstream politics for a long time, but it was the Labour Party and its commitment to socialist and anti-austerity values that convinced me to get more involved in politics. At my first Scottish Labour Conference I heard Jeremy Corbyn commit to a vision of a society that builds houses and council houses, ending homelessness; rewards people fairly for their labour; brings public services – such as the railways and the postal service – back into public ownership; protects and funds the NHS; guarantees access to education for all; and that brings an end to austerity. I heard Richard Leonard set forth a socialist vision of society under a Labour government that includes tackling poverty, unemployment, climate change, and homelessness. What I heard Jeremy and Richard describe in these visions for the future of Britain were the values I share as a committed socialist, trade unionist, and feminist.
Since then, I’ve become the Vice Chair for Membership of Edinburgh Eastern CLP, doing my best to engage and invigorate the membership. As a Labour campaigner, I have campaigned against both Tory and SNP austerity, with the unions against post office closures, and against council cuts. I offer my solidarity whenever I can, attending marches and rallies for LGBT and trans rights, for the victims of the Grenfell tragedy, and in solidarity with the striking EIS lecturers.
Now, I’m ready to campaign for the next Labour Government in Holyrood. I believe that my skills and experience make me the best candidate for the hard work and struggle ahead. I’m no stranger to public speaking as I’ve given talks at international conferences as well as at Scottish Labour Party Conference. As a teacher accredited by the Higher Education Academy, I practised disseminating complex ideas to a variety of audiences. On the picket line with the UCU last year, I learned everything I never knew about the international labour movement.
But, for me, this is not just about the dream of a Labour victory. What I think is at stake in these elections is the future of the Scottish Labour Party. Things aren’t looking good for us right now: we’re third in Holyrood, and came sixth in Edinburgh in the Euros. Despite a huge grassroots effort, we only got 15% of the first preference votes in the Leith Walk by- election. Neil Findlay quit the front bench due to the “endless internal battles” within the Party. The Party, with all its “thugs and incompetents”, is threatening to turn on itself.
With these elections, we need to deliver a clear message: we are the party of democratic socialism, we are the political party of the trade union movement, and we are fundamentally for the many, not the few. As your candidate for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, I will embody these ideals and keep the community at heart in all I do.