Catriona Stewart

The Herald and Glasgow Times

Over the past year we've had a focus in the paper on helping our readers through the cost of living crisis. It has been dismaying, to say the least, to watch the unfolding shenanigans at Westminster while hearing first-hand from our audience how financially difficult life is becoming and the fears they have for the future.

In my column on poverty I wanted to write an honest piece about this, detailing my firsthand experience of growing up in a struggling household. It always seems the worst hypocrisy to ask others to talk about their experiences while being ashamed of one's own. I had a huge amount of feedback following this column, from a complimentary retweet by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to a flood of letters in my inbox from people saying it had altered their perspectives on people living in poverty. I was asked on BBC radio to talk about it and the piece generated more below the line comments than almost anything else I've written this year. The story about Lorna Slater of the Scottish Greens grabbed headlines in Scotland in the wake of COP26. The reaction was overwhelmingly one of disdain for Slater and her diva ways. I wanted to write a corrective to this as I felt the criticism flew in the face of any positive progress we'd made during the pandemic on a variety of topics - from disability to widening access in politics, to workers rights and sexism. It was a feather-ruffler of a column as I was pushing against what was the dominant narrative about the story - but I made a strong enough argument to win readers around. It's been a year of a widening gulf between those in positions of power and everyone else. I thought it was extremely striking to see three such stories illustrate this and dominate the headlines at the same time. I wanted to weave together the news lines about Prince Andrew, Boris Johnson and Novak Djokovic as a chance to talk about power and influence and why we allow ourselves to be swayed by these forces. Readers didn't immediately warm to my point about personal responsibility... but it definitely gave food for thought.