Scottish Parliament's youngest ever petitioner, Callum Isted, is a champion of democracy – Scotsman comment

If you believe some cynics, politics should be regarded with contempt.

Callum Isted meets Nicola Sturgeon after he spoke to the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee (Picture: Gordon Terris/Herald and Times/PA Wire)
Callum Isted meets Nicola Sturgeon after he spoke to the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee (Picture: Gordon Terris/Herald and Times/PA Wire)

However, when seven-year-old Callum Isted became the Scottish Parliament’s youngest ever petitioner – in a sense, its youngest ‘politician’ – he demonstrated the power of a good idea to tackle a serious problem.

Concerned about plastic pollution, Callum, a pupil at Livingston's Dedridge Primary, had already raised money to buy refillable water bottles for his school by holding a 134-mile sponsored walk and other means.

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His next step was to take the campaign nationwide and that meant a trip to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.

Warning about the problems that plastic from discarded water bottles can cause to the environment, he told MSPs yesterday: “Animals could get injured or die if they are litter and humans could get ill if they eat a fish that has eaten plastic. These are called microplastics.”

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Callum then went to see Nicola Sturgeon to show her the refillable metal bottles he wants to be given to pupils across Scotland.

The First Minister had already described his campaign as a “really laudable aim and ambition” and Conservative MSP Sue Webber said she thought it “would be foolhardy not to get onside with Callum and his petition and back it all the way”.

It remains to be seen whether such cross-party support will be translated into actual action. This is not simple. Practical questions need to be asked, not least about whether the budget for such a scheme can be found amid competing demands.

But young Callum Isted has shown that, in a democracy, we all have at least a chance to change our country for the better.

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