You might have noticed an excellent interview with Laurie Donaldson earlier this month in the new edition of Scottish Christian Broadcast. They have kindly given us permission to repost that interview for you in it's entirety here. Read on...
Julianne Robertson speaks to Laurie Donaldson, Scripture Union Scotland’s rep on the Scottish Youth Parliament who has his eye on Scotland’s future political landscape.
Who are you?
I’m Laurie Donaldson, I’m almost 18 and currently in my final year at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh. I’m currently finishing my exams and am looking forward to the next step – university! I’ve been offered an unconditional place at Aberdeen to study history and sociology. I live with my family in Edinburgh and go to Central Church. In my spare time I really enjoy spending time with my friends, as well as meeting new people. I’m also into sport – mainly football, basketball and rugby.
How did you become a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament?
I was at the Scottish Youth Parliament doing work experience, and I loved it – I was really keen to get involved, however they had already held their election. But then I found out there was one organisation which still needed a rep – it was Scripture Union Scotland. So I contacted them and, after one other person came forward for the role, I was selected to represent SU Scotland in the Scottish Youth Parliament – it was a case of grabbing the opportunity when it came along! I was in just the right place at the right time.
What does it involve?
I have to spend about one hour each week campaigning on issues which directly affect young people, for example votes at 16, asking organisations to pay a living wage, the young carers grant – these were three of the most prominent and successful campaigns which I’ve been part of. As well as these, on a national level I’ve been to Holyrood to speak in the chamber at the Scottish Parliament on Votes at 16 – that was very cool! I also got to speak for three minutes at the House of Commons at the dispatch box on youth unemployment – that was an amazing experience, which was also broadcast on TV on BBC Parliament! So now I’ve really got a taste for politics. My interest started when I was doing modern studies at school – I was studying some of the real problems in society and realised I wanted to change that – to improve the systems that aren’t working. My desire to change things is really the driving force behind my passion for politics.
And recently you’ve been voted ‘Up and Coming Scottish Politician’ at the Scottish Variety Awards – you must be pleased!
That was seriously amazing! But the thing that really stood out for me was the support of my family and friends - having a really massive church family rooting for me and getting people to vote. There’s an amazing community in the church and if I was to thank anyone for this it’s the church family for backing me up.
This is certainly an interesting time to be part of Scotland’s political scene, with the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum in September...
It’s exciting – I’m not part of any political party yet because the Scottish Youth Parliament is not partisan, it simply stands for youth issues. Also because after the referendum, no matter what the result is, the parties in Scotland could change radically, so I’m biding my time to see how it goes. For now, I’m modelling my political principals on Jesus, who showed compassion for every single section of society, from the very poorest person all the way up to the rich and corrupt tax collectors. He was there for everyone and that’s the thing which has sealed my passion for politics – to be like Jesus in trying to help change things for everyone who needs it.
Scotland will definitely see change in the next few months and years – do you think we are seeking God’s plan for our nation?
I believe God is up to something! I see how the churches are changing already and taking a more practical role in reacting to the needs of the community, organising food banks and that sort of thing. I was really fortunate to be at Tony Benn’s funeral recently and he was all about building society based on peoples’ needs rather than on profit, and I think perhaps his death was a turning point and we’ll go back to that way of thinking again. It’s an exciting time – I see real potential for change in the lowest levels of society.
What about your own future? Do you plan to go into politics?
I do want to go into politics and be an MSP at some point further down the line. Everyone in politics has motivation for being there, and my reason is my belief that Jesus was a radical person. He’s my inspiration, I want to emulate his view of social justice and his desire to help and change the lives of the people who had been rejected by society. I want to make a difference, and being in politics is the way I see myself being able to improve things. Christians are needed to serve in the church, but they’re needed just as much in secular society – in business, the police, politics, government. God’s given me a compassion for poor people and the skills and enthusiasm to take on this role and I think being a politician is what I’m meant to do.
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