Scotland’s first MSP who is a permanent wheelchair user has vowed to use her position to fight for disability rights.
In her maiden speech to the Scottish Parliament, Labour’s Glasgow MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy thanked those who helped her campaign and said she would work across the chamber for “big and bold change” on tackling poverty.
She said: “I want to pay tribute to the disability movement, the fights we have won for disabled people’s rights throughout history have led to this moment.
“I promise that for as long as I am in this place, your fight will be my fight.
“There will be nothing about us without us.
“‘She’s a fighter’ was not just the slogan of my campaign, it’s the story of my life.
“But sadly, the story of far too many people’s lives.”
She said many disabled people had been living in poverty before Covid, but the pandemic has made the problem worse.
Half of all households in poverty have a disabled person in them, she said, calling for a social security system to ensure “no-one is held back by poverty or inequality”.
She continued: “I have hope because for too long this Parliament and others like it have not looked like the people they are here to represent.
“But this year is different, the people of Scotland broke glass ceilings and glass staircases, this room got a bit closer to looking like the people of Scotland.”
She concluded her speech by saying: “To all disabled children out there, to anyone who’s ever felt left out or left behind, I’m here for you.
“And as long as I am here, you will be here with me.
“I will fight for you like our lives depend on it.”
In the closing speech of the coronavirus debate, new Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said Ms Duncan-Glancy’s speech was “one of the best, if not the best opening speech I’ve ever heard”.
Mr Yousaf added: “You are not just excellent in your own right, very clearly there will be many, many, many people who will look up to you as a role model.”