BECOMING an MSP had never been the plan. Participating in elections was all about getting on those platforms and into hustings to make sure socialism was forced on to the agenda.

The job was to challenge the other parties and to bring the voice of those often excluded from debate and political forums. We were there to stick up for those struggling to be heard: the folk left in poverty; in poor housing; the young people reeling in the hopelessness of a bleak future blighted by lack of opportunity; the women trapped in dangerous relationships; the asylum seekers locked up in Dungavel.

We were there to raise those voices and those issues. It was never about getting elected.

Then on May 1, 2003, with the allied forces already invading Iraq, it was our time and there was no-one more surprised than myself when it became clear that the Scottish Socialist Party had captured the imagination of a big chunk of the electorate, and by the wee small hours of May 2, six SSP MSPs were in place and set for Holyrood.

The next few days are a bit of a blur, with media attention, press conferences, celebration and, for me, a certain amount of fear – where did I fit in? How would a single parent from Govanhill cope with the seasoned politicians skilled in debate and parliamentary procedures? This was not meant to happen.

The first thing I had to do was give up my beloved job as a youth worker in Drumchapel and say goodbye to the brilliant young people I had become so attached to. I cannot lie – it was a painful decision, but the electorate had listened and they had spoken. It was our time, it was their time too, and there was a job to do.

My fears were softened knowing my great friends Carolyn Leckie and Frances Curran would be joining me in what was now a rainbow parliament with seven Scottish Greens and a handful of Independents joining the existing mainstream parties. My fears disappeared, the courage of my convictions and the trust of those who had given us their precious vote shored me up and I now felt ready.

Our parliament requires us to take an “oath to the crown” before members can take their seats. As a committed republican, this stuck in my craw, and because I had not expected to be elected I had not sought any mandate around how to handle this antiquated ceremony in our fledgling democracy – I had already been chucked out of the Brownies for refusing to swear an oath to the Queen when I was about eight (I’d heard my parents take a swipe at such nonsense before and had to tell Brown Owl it was a no from me), so there was no way I could stand there and tell a lie. But what should I do?

Socialists had traditionally protested the oath with a defiant clenched fist, but I got it into my head that I needed a speech bubble expressing my feelings. Would I have something on a T-shirt or a placard? Perhaps, but time got away from me. So there I was, about to enter the parliament, searching my mind for inspiration.

All I had was my body and a pen, so I asked my daughter Nicola to scrawl “My oath is to the people” on my right hand. Jeezo, it was hard keeping the nervous hand sweat from smudging my speech bubble, and you have no idea how rude I seemed as I found about 20 different ways to avoid shaking hands with well wishers, but I somehow managed.

The National: Rosie Kane misses being in Holyrood with SNP MSP Margo MacDonaldRosie Kane misses being in Holyrood with SNP MSP Margo MacDonald

When I was called in to the chamber to swear the oath to someone who didn’t even vote for us, I carried the thoughts of those who did vote for us – the people. When asked to recite my allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and successors I amused myself by saying “hairs and accessories”, and around then I unfolded my right hand.

Cameras clicked, folk tutted, eyes rolled – but I had taken on Brown Owl so I didn’t waver, because I was doing my best to tell the truth and express my republicanism when it mattered the most.

It was hilarious when I went to buy milk at our wee Govanhill corner shop the next morning to be confronted with my coupon and my hand scribbles on every single front page!

I honestly had no idea I had rocked the system with the help of a daughter, a pen and a hand, but the way some of those journalists wrote their story you would think I was a modern-day Guy Fawkes. It was a bit of a riddy being recognised, but neighbours, friends and folk on the busses and trains were kind and supportive.

Participating and initiating debates soon became second nature and it turned out our new group of six were more than a match for the seasoned elected representatives.

I miss those days. I miss the hopes and the dreams we represented. I miss being in the community with case workers giving debt collectors or the Home Office laldy.

Then came the elections of 2007.

The SSP MSPs worked within working-class communities where we articulated radical politics and, while we had also warmed those communities to independence, ironically the SNP seemed more hostile towards us than the Labour Party.

I suppose we were more of a threat as it was their votes we had taken. The SNP were still struggling against Labour to capture the imagination of the working class in our streets and schemes.

This was the start of John Swinney’s era and the SNP were still primarily based in rural areas with farming and fishing communities. They saw how much traction we were gaining with radical ideas like free school meals and, I’m glad to say, they took up some of our manifesto promises and made them their own. But this was clearly going to impact on our future.

There were a number of issues creating barriers to us being re-elected in 2007 – one being, what I would call, manipulating the ballot paper via the Additional Member System.

Alex Salmond successfully did this by having “Alex Salmond for First Minister” on the paper – a trick Tommy Sheridan also attempted. This definitely shifted the numbers across Scotland towards the SNP and I wonder if the SSP created a wee bridge to access the working-class and neglected communities, allowing the SNP to grab ground from under the now centre-leaning Labour Party’s feet.

We were in the right place with the right attitudes and the left policies at the right time, and we did a bloody good job.

Scotland benefited from that rainbow parliament and the many shades of politics therein. It was different and broke with the dull traditions of Westminster. At the moment, the SNP MPs are doing a fine job against the odds there, but generally, Westminster is all very far away – geographically and politically – and isn’t likely to inspire future generations with socialist, anti-capitalist and feminist views towards its stuffy chamber.

I miss going to work with my friends at Holyrood. I miss the nerves, the protests both inside and outside the parliament. I miss the brilliant workers throughout the parliament – be they canteen staff, posties, security and even some of those MSPs across the chamber. I miss Margo MacDonald and I miss that chamber filled with rammies, of hope and of the many hues of political ideology. When will we see your likes again?