Politics is in a pretty bad place right now. Where are the big ideas? Where are the big personalities? Who is making an attempt to address the multiple crises that we see in every corner of our public services? Who is inspiring the next generation of citizens to drive the radical change needed? Sadly, no one that I can see.

In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour presented the most radical manifesto in decades to the UK electorate with commitments of fair taxation, a green new deal, national and regional development banks to grow a sustainable economy, nationalisation of rail, energy, water and Royal Mail, an energy price cap of £1000 per year, a revolution in workers’ rights, reform of social security to provide dignity for all, a mass council house building programme and investment in health, education and other public services.

Coming from miles back, Corbyn denied Theresa May a majority, which caused chaos in the Tory party and the House of Commons that goes on to this day.

Following that election the establishment took fright and did everything in their power to end any prospect of a Corbyn victory in 2019. Helped on by the treacherous conduct of some in his own party they unleashed the hounds of hell on him and anyone associated with him, demonsing one of Britain’s foremost anti-racist MPs through a series of lies and smears calling him an anti semite – an outrageous insult.

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The hatchet job on Corbyn worked and Labour was soundly defeated in 2019.

Now we see his successor Keir Starmer ahead in almost every poll, not because Labour is hugely popular and their programme exciting, radical and transformational (it isn’t) or his leadership inspirational and motivating (it’s not, he has the personality of a house brick) but because the Tories have become a tarnished toxic brand who everyone, apart from the super-rich, knows has made our lives worse.

When a party is so clearly associated with such chronically bad decision-making their days are well and truly numbered. But with Labour saying nothing that fundamentally challenges the status quo will we see any real and lasting change?

In Scotland, the very glue that holds our society together is being picked apart through mismanagement, underfunding and scandalous incompetence.

Record drugs deaths shatter the families who are left behind; an ‘institutionally racist’ police force has long abandoned any notion of community policing; the educational attainment gap grows; social care is a disaster with services being privatised amid a budget crisis and one in five Scots sit waiting on a hospital appointment as the use of the private sector soars for those who can afford it and new patients find it impossible to register with a GP or dentist.

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Meanwhile, hunger is growing; social workers are drowning under huge caseloads and families desperate for mental health support do not know where to turn to; our island communities can’t get to and from their land to trade, go to appointments or make a living; and local government has been hollowed out to a powerless shell where officials make decisions and councillors nod them through under the pretence that this some form of local democracy.

This is Scotland in 2023. What a mess.

So, as voters we have to demand better. We have to say to our elected representatives it is not longer acceptable for you keep your head down, say nothing, continue as voting fodder for your party, only good for doing what you are told, reading speeches written for you and following instructions.

We need politicians who have something to offer. Who will bring forward new legislation to answer the huge problems society faces. Who will argue for more doctors and nurses, for taxes on the rich and controls on the powerful, for a new funding system for re-democratised councils, for publicly owned renewables, for educational opportunities for all and for additional cash to be directed deliberately and consistently to areas of most need, ending the scandal of poverty and inequality that blights our society.

Last week, I launched my new book Hope & Despair – Lifting the Lid on the Lurky World of Scottish Politics – it looks at many of these themes.

To drag ourselves out of despair and rebuild hope, we need our politicians to step up to the mark, be willing to speak out and be bold. Cowards should depart the scene. The time for hiding is over – we cannot go on like this.

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We need politicians to use the privileged platform they have to bring forward new legislation. Every MSP who is not a minister can bring forward a members’ bill, there is no shortage of issues that need to be addressed. So where are the proposals to address the multiple crises we see unfolding in communities across Scotland?

Ask your MSP what they are doing. What are their ideas? Where are the principled voices speaking up for the poor, the low paid and those in desperate need of support?

With every day that passes the Scottish Parliament fails to address the deep seated inequalities that cause so much damage to our society. It is a parliament of the middle class for the middle class. This is an affront to those who campaigned so hard for the creation of the parliament in the first place. They believed in a parliament for all Scots – it’s time to deliver that vision.

Neil Findlay is a former Labour MSP. His new book Hope & Despair – Lifting the Lid on the Murky World of Scottish Politics is out now. It is published by Luath and is available from neilfindlaybooks.com and from other outlets