In challenging times celebrating our past becomes more important

After the most hectic month in British politics that any of us can remember the parliamentary summer recess comes as a welcome relief.

This break in the Westminster calendar gives MPs the chance to spend more time in their constituencies. For me, this is all the more important at a time of rapid political change.

I think it’s at moments like this that it’s important to reflect on the things that matter most to us. 

I’ve always felt grounded on returning to the Borders. For my whole life I have associated this gorgeous part of Scotland with family and friends — but also with a wider sense of place and belonging. 

This feeling is particularly strong during the Common Riding season. Attending these events is a reminder of what being an MP is really about — representing the place that you come from and taking pride in what makes it unique.  

The Common Ridings also remind me that, while we face significant challenges in the region, we also have phenomenal strengths.

This is why, whenever possible, I make attending these festivals a priority. Sadly, I haven’t managed to attend every Common Riding this year due to other commitments but I will do my best to attend those few I missed next year.

The strength of character that is on show at a Common Riding is something that every Borderer can take in pride. Part of that is about the diversity of the Scottish Borders — each of our different communities is distinct and that only serves to make the whole stronger.

As one of the stalwarts of the Hawick Common Riding pointed out, these festivals have aye been but it is the people of each town and their ability to come together that ensure that they will aye be. 

Our traditions and our distinctive culture give us a solid foundation to build on and there are few parts of the country that have such a rich inheritance. Personally, to be reminded that my job is to stand up for such resilient communities is a humbling experience.

But I also think we need to use these strengths as a launch pad to move the region forward — to establish new connections and be bolder when it comes to putting the Borders on the map. 

I’ve always admired the humility that you find amongst the Borderers, but perhaps we need to be better at telling the world about the remarkable skills and qualities we have here.

All politicians need to be reminded of the importance of humility now and then. But at the end of the day it’s my job to shout about everything the Borders has to offer from the rooftops. 

It has been said of the Scottish Borders that there are few parts of Britain where the past is so present. 

But while our history must always be remembered we should not become trapped by it. The past should offer us the strength to harness change and to look to the future with confidence, based on where we have been.