WFD’s Chief Executive reflects on the importance of strong institutions and good leadership in strenthening democracy in the decades since 1989 and today.
Contributing to the development of democracy across the globe
Patrick Grady MP
The development of inclusive democracy worldwide is a monumental task.
Westminster Foundation for Democracy staff and partners, as well as my fellow parliamentarians and governors, do an incredible job working to promote effective parliaments and multi-party politics in countries transitioning to democracy.
Taking on the role of SNP Governor for WFD is an unexpected, and somewhat bittersweet, opportunity. I’m following my SNP colleague, and former MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Tasmina, and Alex Salmond, sat as Governors for the SNP as it became the third largest party in the House of Commons in 2015. They oversaw a significant scaling-up of our work within the Foundation and deserve our thanks for their efforts over the last couple of years.
As WFD nears a quarter of a century, we all have a renewed opportunity to ensure we do all we can to provide international partners with the expertise in developing parliaments, political party structures and civil society organisation – the vital institutions of a functioning democracy. I’m looking forward to supporting the continuing growth and development of our WFD funded SNP programmes, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, Kurdistan and Sub-Saharan Africa regions, contributing to the increasing integrated work of WFD parties, and collaboration with likeminded organisations and stakeholders such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Much of my professional career has been spent in development, with stints in the charitable and public sectors, most recently as Advocacy Manager for the Glasgow based Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF). Through this time, I was aware of and impressed by the activities undertaken by WFD and I have greatly enjoyed working with colleagues from the organisation since my election as Member of Parliament for Glasgow North in 2015.
Some of the most memorable moments from my career in development come from my time spent living in Malawi where I taught at St Peter’s Secondary School in the northern capital, Mzuzu. I was touched by the warmth of the welcome I received from the community in which I lived and I feel both lucky and proud to have retained close friendships with many of those I met. It has been a pleasure to welcome some of those – including teachers, pupils, priests and even a Bishop – on reciprocal visits to Scotland and the rest of the UK. The connections between Malawi and Scotland, in particular, go deep and demonstrate the importance of developing people-to-people relationships to complement those between institutions. I am very pleased that Malawi is now considered a priority country for WFD this year.
During the last Parliament, I was SNP International Development Spokesperson and was pleased to lead our case for the sector. I look forward to bringing this experience to bear as a Governor of WFD and am confident that my successor as SNP International Development Spokesperson, Chris Law MP, will continue to make the case for funding work in international development to ensure that we can alleviate poverty and, more broadly, meet the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
Patrick Grady is MP for Glasgow North, SNP Chief Whip in the House of Commons and a Governor of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, having been SNP International Development Spokesperson in the last Parliament.
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