Some elected representatives should do a little more research before tweeting. Perhaps they do, but think that blocking equates to silencing; it doesn’t and won’t.

If you’re self-employed, in Scotland, and disabled, and you ask the Scottish `Government for support in training perhaps one new staff member, providing a safety net, whilst passing on valuable skills, you’ll find yourself rebuffed and let down with the single explanation that these matters are mainly means tested or reserved to Westminster. 

As a disabled employer you’ll also find when ill and unable to work that’s hard cheese as you’ve to wait until the end of the financial year, prove where you’ve made a loss and seek a backdated benefit then – who with obligations such as dependents and a mortgage is likely to leave that to chance? So you go to work when you should stay at home. Forget holidays, days off and the red pen through the diary.

And if you’re employed in the law, with a substantial legal aid practice, and you find yourself disabled, expect no cuttings – do not take for granted that there will be a parking space outside the court where you appear; you’d be foolish to think there’s even access to a lift without having to phone in advance and hang around while a harassed staff member tries to locate the keys; you’ll also see at times that you’re marooned downstairs, behind a locked door, at lunchtime, for an hour with no means of escape. If you contact the government bodies dealing with access for disabled lawyers they’ll invite you to help them, at your own expense, in your own time, to review their protocol, as they are handsomely rewarded for listening to your voice of experience.

Two commitments a day is your desire ? Try running a legal aid case on fixed fees where much of your work is zero rated and you’re paying your own wages – wonder no more as to why legal aid lawyers are like hen’s teeth – it’s not greed, just simple economy. If our Scottish Government doesn’t get a grip on legal aid soon, there will be little left by way of criminal defence representation – what there is in many places is not diverse; there are faculties where all criminal agents are white men in their 50s. I’m back where I started in 1980 as the only wummin lawyer located in Clackmannanshire doing civil legal aid work. Feminist to my fingertips I am too, no thanks to the current regime.

Privately paying clients subsidise those on legal aid. Old lawyers like me make a profit from those people, not from a legal aid based business – private rates are multiple times legal aid rates and that’s wrong; but for as long as this country is governed by MSPs too disinterested to listen to the impact of their misdirected disengaged reforms justice in Scotland will see a downward slide.

During lockdown lawyers turned up; we did our bit, from home and in courts, at great cost to ourselves in physical and mental terms; conducted harrowing cases and kept the wheels turning. A wee bit of respect wouldn’t go amiss. Lawyers were also told to work at weekends in Cop26, for no extra reward, without prior consultation – compare and contrast. And worry about where Scotland’s system of justice is headed.