Ethan Young is the SNP candidate in the upcoming by election in Craigentinny/Duddingston.
He has been involved with the SNP for about 15 years and has stood for selection as candidate before, but this is his first time as the candidate.
He and his supporters are active in the area, and one of the SNP ‘big guns’ has supported him recently with his leafleting around the Ward.
Click below to listen to our interview in full.
Ethan explained that his previous experience of standing for selection has helped him in knowing how to put himself forward and to try to articulate the issues that he believes in, so that in the short space of time there is to speak to people he can make the biggest impact.
So what are the issues that he is campaigning on?
Ethan replied: “Fundamentally, I want to be a voice for the people in our community. We’ve not had an SNP councillor since our last councillor had to step down due to ill health. I very much want to be able to take people’s issues into the council and adddress them as their councillor but also, I want to be able to tell people about what’s going on in Council, why tough decisions are being made, to ensure that they know that I’m getting the issues across.
“There’s various issues that are affecting us right now. Covid-19 has shone a spotlight on a lot of the cracks in our system, especially around things like health and social care, I personally use social care, and I want to ensure that we have a more robust system, where everyone has the care and support they need. And also that our carers whether they’re paid or not, are valued, and that we actually recognise that as a key part of society.
“There’s also things like transport, I really want to improve local transport for the area that has been cut. I’m hearing a lot from our community, that people have had their travel networks cut off which has had a big impact on their lives.
“There’s also things around housing as well. Now we as a party within the council are doing great work on providing new social housing, but I want to ensure that we’re maintaining the council houses that we have in this area, because I think we can be doing more to ensure that these houses are maintained so that people have the safe and secure homes that they need.
” I think there has been a lot of great work during this time. I would quite like to harness that – not that I believe people should be relying on food banks or relying on help in that way all the time – but what we’ve seen is what can happen when people have more time to focus on their neighbours and their community. People do rally round and people do want community, they want to support each other. They want to make sure that people aren’t alone and isolated, and needing medicines or food. And I think that’s really key we need to harness that, you know, and this isn’t just a community thing it’s a societal thing. We need to be thinking about more progressive ways in which we can allow people to do what they inherently want to do. And that is to to be with people and commune with people.
“At the moment I am a participation manager at Inclusion Scotland, and that means that I am responsible for working to reduce the barriers that disabled people face when getting involved in politics at all levels. And we work on things like public appointment boards, as well.
“Broadly speaking, our vision at Inclusion Scotland is about ensuring that disabled people can not just live independently, but also take part in public and civic life. We look through the lens of the social model, where we see that the barriers that disable us, are a product of society, and the way it is shaped, and attitudes in society. So we work to reduce those barriers, whether it’s environmental barriers, structural barriers, or attitudinal barriers.
“In a way when I came into this job having experience in the world of politics was very key because I’m helping to influence that, so it is key that I had an understanding. But I will also still be putting myself forward for other things, because I think that adds to my skill set and understanding that the barriers other disabled people face. The more I understand that the more we can help to reduce the barriers to full participation in politics. And it’s key, because we see that disabled people constantly and consistently, are left behind, whether it’s during a pandemic, whether it’s change of government, whether it’s a change of policy, like austerity. We see how austerity has affected us all the way down to council level, and it’s disabled people that are always at the frontline of that. Until we have a more representative democracy where disabled people have an influence in the policies and decisions that are being made, then we will continue to be to be left behind to not be at the forefront of people’s minds.”
He explained he used to drive when he first started living there, but driving was becoming more difficult, so now he uses public transport. He says he understands how fundamental public transport is to people being able to participate in society in the way that they choose.
But the park was a lifesaver. He said: “Being close to Lochend Park has been really good because during the pandemic, – well we are still during the pandemic – but I was isolating for quite a bit of that and not even able to get to the park. But when things relaxed a little bit, it was so good to be able to get round to the park and use our green space. And I think that’s another key learning, that where people are living in flats or houses, where they don’t have gardens, we need our green spaces, you know. We need that for our mental health to be able to to get out into green space, and outside the house. If we are going to live in a world where we are going to continue to be in our houses more, we need to ensure that there are spaces for people to – when they can get out of their house – to go and reap the benefits of that.
“That comes back to housing as well. We need to ensure that, we’re not selling off green space land to build houses because we need that we can’t just completely overdevelop our areas because further down the line we will live to regret it. Once you start building you can’t get it back.”
Elaine Ford, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Margaret Arma Graham, Scottish Labour Party
Tam Laird, Scottish Libertarian Party
Andrew McDonald, Independent
Ben Parker, Scottish Green Party
Eleanor Price, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Ethan Young, Scottish National Party (SNP)
The vacancy occurred earlier this year when SNP councillor Ian Campbell resigned due to ill health. The ward is currently represented by three councillors, Labour’s Joan Griffiths, Conservative councillor John McLellan, and Green Alex Staniforth.
Find out more about the Craigentinny/Duddingston by-election, including all the safety measures in place, on the Council website.