What is Upgrade Holyrood?

Upgrade Holyrood is a political blog and resource dedicated to improving Scotland’s representative politics and delivering relevant political analysis and commentary.

How did Upgrade Holyrood start?

I have long had the idea a Scottish politics blog focused on improving our democracy but I turned that idea into reality ahead of the 2021 election. The prospect of Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross MP and Alba’s Kenny MacAskill MP and Neale Hanvey MP holding dual mandates, as well as attempts to exploit the weaknesses of Scotland’s voting system from Alex Salmond’s new Alba party, spurred me on to do something about it. Our politics can and must be better.

Who is behind Upgrade Holyrood?

Upgrade Holyrood is run by Richard Wood, a Scot from Edinburgh now working in Westminster. I am a passionate advocate of Proportional Representation and wider electoral reforms with experience as an activist with campaign organisation Make Votes Matter. I currently work for an MP and have a background in communications, media, politics and research.

What will become of Upgrade Holyrood?

In the immediate future, the goal is to sustain the site and grow a following from across the political spectrum. In the medium term, the aim is for the blog to evolve and work to achieve better democracy in Scotland and the wider UK where appropriate.

Scotland has a pretty good representative democracy (with PR, no House of Lords etc.) why not focus effort on improving Westminster?

The primary focus of Upgrade Holyrood is to facilitate discussions on improving democracy in Scotland but failures at Westminster will also be highlighted. There are also a significant number of campaigns and organisations dedicated to improving Westminster such as Make Votes Matter, the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy. Besides, everyone knows Westminster needs Proportional Representation and a democratic upper chamber!

I concluded that another separate voice in favour of reforming Westminster wouldn’t add much value and I can make contributions at a UK-level in other ways (such as being involved in MVM, ERS and writing in outlets to promote change at a UK level).

Scotland’s representative democracy is a significant improvement on Westminster’s but there is still room for improvement. That’s where Upgrade Holyrood comes in.

I have an idea to improve Scotland’s politics. Can I write a guest post about it?

Sure! Any contribution (that I’m happy with) would be most welcome. Feel free to send a short pitch to me (via upgradeholyrood@gmail.com) with the subject line “PITCH” followed by a short, snappy hook line. Please note that this is a voluntary endeavour so I cannot pay. Even I don’t get paid to do this!