Monday, 30 April 2007

Echoes from the past

The Guardian newspaper is currently giving away 'Great speeches of the 20th century' booklets, one of which is a speech made by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1913. Of course, we are in the middle of an election campaign, so I've not yet had the chance to sit down and read it properly. But it has sparked a thought nonetheless.

One of the many arguments thrown at the suffragettes, from those who sought to deny women the right to vote, was that there was no point to female suffrage - because women would vote the way their husbands did anyway!

In Scotland today, similarly ludicrous arguments are being made in an attempt, by those parties that support the retention of the union, to deny the people of Scotland a vote on their future. I have heard many a politician claim that there is no point to holding a referendum on independence because voters in Scotland would say no anyway! They actually believe that they can predict the result of a popular vote on independence, and that this gives them a right to deny this vote in the first place!

Sunday, 29 April 2007

The final countdown - a pause for reflection

As I sit pondering the imminent last few days of the campaign, through my haze of exhaustion, I am still in awe of the SNP's position in the opinion polls, newspaper endorsements and the growing warmth and support for our party.

It appears that Scotland has opened its collective mind to the prospect of an SNP government and independence.

Perhaps it was inevitable that, after a few years of devolution, people in Scotland would increasingly begin to recognise the benefits of self-government and want even more. And it's not surprising that people are turning to the party that has consistently fought for Scotland's interests, and offered a positive future for Scotland with independence. The SNP of course!

But, the result is not a foregone conclusion. Only a fraction of votes have been cast (in the form of postal votes), and this election will be decided on Thursday when the vast majority of the electorate - who choose to use their vote - will make their trips to polling stations across Scotland. We still have a mammoth task ahead of us over the next few days to keep up the momentum of our campaign and persuade as many people as possible to vote SNP!

Whatever the final result of the election, I am proud to be part of the SNP - a party that has fought a positive campaign, based on policies that will benefit the people of Scotland, and a party that will offer the people of this country a say in Scotland's future. All we can do is put forward our vision for Scotland, and hope that people share it.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Walking with Dinosaurs

So, the last few days have been a complete whirlwind of activity - so much so, that all I can manage when we get in after campaigning is to drink a quick cuppa before bed! My blogging rate has suffered as a consequence.

But I just had to find the time to share the following with you...

We were campaigning on Kilsyth Main Street this morning, when the red balloons appeared around the corner, followed by a gaggle of Labour activists. The centrepiece of this ensemble was a retiring Labour councillor, who obviously thought he was auditioning for the part of town cryer. He was walking down the street, bellowing bizarre statements about the SNP and Alex Salmond. He called Alex a few names and shouted that 'the consequences of independence will be unspeakable'. Of course, amused and bemused by this strange tactic, I couldn't help but offer the following retort - 'yes, unspeakable - unspeakably great!'. He didn't like my friendly banter ;o)

He did us all a favour this morning though. Not only did it give us a chuckle, it also reminded the passing members of the public just why they are so keen to kick Labour out of government at this election :o)

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Britain to go bust!

According to the Financial Times, Scotland could afford to be independent...but only for a decade. After that, suggests their analysis, the oil money will run out, and with it Scotland's viability as an independent nation. Or so goes the unionist interpretation of the FT's analysis.

Economic Growth

Firstly, the suggestion that after ten years we could no longer afford to be independent is based on the assumption that during the first decade of our independence, Scotland's government will sit on its hands and do nothing to grow our economy. On the contrary, with independence, any party or parties that govern Scotland will have an array of economic levers that will allow them to boost economic growth. So, when the oil runs out, which of course it will, Scotland's economy will continue to flourish without it.

Double Standards

Secondly, why is the same logic not applied to Britain? Scotland's oil is currently keeping the British economy afloat, with Gordon Brown using it to plug holes in his financial management. If Scotland were to remain in the union, then it would be 'Britain's oil' that will run out. What then for Britain? Surely, given that Britain's independence would no longer be viable, I assume Westminster will be seeking urgent negotiations to form a political union with France, to allow Paris to make decisions on its behalf.

Self-interest reigns supreme

Yes, I am indeed referring to today's advert in a Scottish newspaper in support of the union, signed by 150 business people.

I don't have a problem with anyone publicly stating their support for the union. I don't agree with them, but they have every right to voice their opinions, as do those who have publicly backed the SNP and independence.

However, there are - in my opinion - two distinct differences between public supporters of the SNP and many public backers of the union.


SNP supporters want the people of Scotland to have the opportunity to decide their constitutional future, in a democratic referendum on independence. In contrast, the signatories to today's pro-union advert would seek to deny you and I that simple choice.


Those who have backed the SNP and independence do so because they believe it will be good for Scotland - all of Scotland. I suspect that there are many people among the signatories in today's advert that support the continuation of the union because they believe it is in their best interests, not Scotland's.

For example, I am not in the least surprised to discover that the chairman of TESCO supports the union. Why wouldn't he? HE does rather well out of it! It's a pity the same can't be said for others in Scotland, such as the many thousands of children growing up in poverty - under the union. Or the pensioners who freeze to death in their own homes over winter because they cannot afford to pay rocketing energy bills on their meagre pensions - under the union.

I want independence for Scotland, not for my own sake, but because I want our country to be run for the benefit of all our citizens, and to enable our country to play it's part in solving the challenges faced across the world. I wish others could see past their own self-interest - and what they perceive to be in their best interests - to grasp a more positive future for all of Scotland, with independence as the foundation for our country to flourish.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

The eyes of the world

The Scotsman has run an interesting story today (yes, really!) about the worldwide media interest in the Scottish Parliament elections.

Apparently, there has been an influx of foreign correspondents to Scotland, all keeping a watchful eye on developments.

What a breath of fresh air! Scotland has always attracted tourists from around the world, keen to experience our landscape, heritage and hospitality - but we are now on the political map too!

And this will just be a taste of things to come if Scotland chooses independence, and joins the world community on equal terms as a nation-state. With independence we will have our own voice in the world (not some muted distortion through Westminster), other countries will be able to hear what we have to say, and we will be able to play a full part in helping to address the challenges facing all nations and citizens on this planet.

The stage is set, the lights are on, the eyes of the world are watching - all we need now is every citizen of Scotland to play their part in moving our country forward to independence.

Monday, 23 April 2007

The reinforcements are coming!

So, Blair has dispatched his loyal troops up north to save Labour's faltering campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections.

How considerate of these New Labour politicians to take time out of their busy schedules to come to Scotland to remind us all that we are far too stupid and far too poor to run our own country. We should not want something better for ourselves and fellow citizens. We should certainly not aspire to be a normal country, with equal status in the world community of nations. The very idea! Just as well we have the likes of Hazel Blears to keep us in our place.

Does Blair actually believe that sending some New Labour ministers up here will do the Labour Party in Scotland any favours? Does he really believe that sending these people to deliver the same tired old message to people in Scotland will work to Labour's advantage?

All this does is reinforce the contrast between the Labour Party and the SNP. The SNP trusts the people of Scotland to shape their own future, a more positive future based on our country's equality with the other nations of the world. The Labour Party doesn't trust the people of Scotland to make the decisions that really matter, and they are not shy about telling us this.

The SNP wants the best for Scotland, the Labour Party wants to protect the union and the careers of politicians that depend on the continuation of this political union.

I have confidence in the people of Scotland that they will ignore Labour's scaremongering, and vote for Scotland's future.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Tunnel Vision

At last, I'm beginning to see the finishing post in this election campaign. When I first started writing this blog I mainly concerned myself with whatever issue exercised me most that day.

Ever since the campaign stepped up a gear my consciousness has become almost entirely consumed with organisational matters. Organising Jamie's schedule and campaign materials, leafleting, accompanying Jamie on visits and as he campaigns in the town centres and round the doors, and - the most of exciting of all - stuffing envelopes! That is one activity I certainly won't miss :o) My fingers have been shredded by paper cuts over the last few weeks, that was until I found a solution - pink rubber gloves! Great protection.

When you actually get a chance for a more in-depth chat with people about the issues that concern them most, it reminds you why you are turning your life topsy turvy and spending Saturday nights wearing rubber gloves while you stuff envelopes! Today, for example, we spoke to people on their doorsteps about Labour's plans to spend billions on nuclear weapons and disgraceful levels of child poverty in Scotland.

And that's why I remain motivated throughout election campaigns. At this election, the SNP has an historic opportunity to govern Scotland, and make real improvements to life in this country. Our plans to scrap the Council Tax and introduce a fairer system of local taxation, and our proposals to free young people of student debt, will make an enormous difference to thousands of people across Scotland.

But this will hopefully just be the start. An SNP government will give the people of Scotland the opportunity to shape their own future, with a referendum on independence. The people of Scotland deserve nothing less.

Right, back to those envelopes...

Friday, 20 April 2007

The truth will out

One of the strange things about 'fighting' a local election campaign is the almost complete lack of interaction with one's political opponents. Indeed, unless people in the local area take it upon themselves to arrange a hustings, then there is no opportunity at all for the different candidates to debate their policies with each other and, importantly, no opportunity for local people to quiz all of the candidates at the same time.

Until last night, we had not encountered candidates from the other parties at all in this campaign! We have seen a few activists round about while we have been campaigning in the town centres, but that's it.

Jamie had hustings tonight and last night - both in Cumbernauld - which brought together a wide range of candidates for the Scottish Parliament and local authority elections. They were organised by community councils and churches in the constituency.

Such meetings are really important in a democracy, because they allow for an opportunity to really debate issues in a transparent way, dig a bit further into the issues and allow voters to get closer to the truth.

One example of this has been the local Labour MSP's public comments on the closure of the A&E at Monklands hospital. She insists that she has been fighting this decision. However, tonight, we got closer to the truth. In fact, it was because she failed to fight the decision that one of the A&E's in the NHS Lanarkshire area would have to close in the first place, that it has come to this! It is no coincidence either that the other two A&E's saved from closure are both in PFI hospitals in the constituencies of the First Minister and Health Minister!

Without the forum of a hustings meeting, it is difficult to expose the truth behind Labour's political spin and bluster. The groups that organised these two hustings have done the voters of the local area a great service.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Scottish Borderer

I just have to comment on the remarks of Jeremy Purvis - Lib Dem candidate for Tweeddale, Etterick & Lauderdale - in today's Sunday Herald. He states that he was brought up as a Borderer, not as Scottish or English, and that national identity is somehow irrelevant in this part of Scotland.

He also makes a rather bizarre case against independence. He implies that his granny in Berwick, just across the border in England, would be denied access to the nearest large hospital, which is the Borders General Hospital in Scotland.

As a Borderer myself, I don't accept his analysis about national identity. It is true that there is a strong Borders identity, and that the Borders has a fair number of residents originally from England. So what? I had plenty of friends at school with one Scottish and one English parent, who both had strong national identifies and a strong Borders identity too. I think we can all accept that people can simultaneously possess a number of identities e.g. Scottish and European. What is wrong with having a sense of national identity, or regional identity for that matter?

The town of Berwick is very much part of the Borders community, and there is no reason for that to change with Scottish independence. Or does Jeremy believe that the high school rugby and hockey teams from Berwick will be prevented from playing with the other Borders teams by burly border guards?!? Surely, he would not peddle such ludicrous ideas...

And the same goes for his argument about the hospitals. With independence, will there be a 10 foot concrete wall erected at the border preventing ambulances from Berwick getting to the nearby hospital in Scotland? Of course not!

I doubt Jeremy believes this for a second, but it is all part of the desperate scaremongering that parties like his are engaging in for the purpose of protecting their own position and the union.

With independence, Scotland and England will not become strangers. We will build a new relationship, as equal nations and friends. No walls, no border guards.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

I'm cool!

Well, according to a group of young girls I met while out delivering Jamie's leaflets in Cumbernauld this afternoon :o)

Why is this newsworthy you ask? Well, that would be because it's the first time anyone has EVER described me as cool! As the school swot, with an interest in politics, my level of street cred has always been subterranean. Perhaps I met a new generation of potential SNP activists this afternoon ;o)

Anyway, politics may not be cool (and I'm certainly not) - but it is worthwhile. And that's what is keeping all of us activists going at the moment, through the exhaustion threshold, and what drives us constantly - the thought that we are playing our part in moving our country forward, to the benefit of all of Scotland. Hopefully, in a few years, those girls I met today will be benefiting from an SNP government and independence.

Now, that would be cool!

Friday, 13 April 2007

We're not all the same!

Unfortunately I missed the SNP's manifesto launch yesterday because I was at work :o(
However, I have heard wonderful reviews of the event.

It's becoming abundantly clear that the SNP has the most momentum in this election campaign, and there is a real sense of anticipation and excitement about the prospect of an SNP government - and not just from SNP members and political journalists salivating at the prospect of change because it gives them something to write about!

This sense of enthusiasm is shared by people across Scotland. I have been struck by the number of people who have approached me, while out campaigning, to say that they will be supporting the SNP. There is an increasing sense of warmth towards us, and confidence in our ability to make the right decisions for Scotland.

Unfortunately, there are still a significant number of sceptical voters, but who can blame them? After a decade of Labour rule (with a splash of Lib Dem in Scotland), the preceding Tory years and the Westminster rule we have experienced all of our lives, politics must seem rather hopeless at times. I often meet people on the doorsteps voicing their concern that all political parties and politicians are the same. This is a charge I always find difficult to respond to, because I always feel that nothing I say to the contrary will convince them. I've been told "well, you would say that, wouldn't you!" too many times over the years.

But even among this group, there are a large number who are prepared to give the SNP their cautious support and vote for us at this election, hoping that we will prove their theory that we are all the same entirely wrong!

I am confident that we will.

If the SNP becomes the largest party in May, we will not betray the trust that the people of Scotland have placed with us. The overarching guide for any SNP government will always be to make the decisions that are right for the people of Scotland - not some out-dated political union or vested interests.

Governing is difficult, and many difficult decisions have to be taken by political leaders. But let me leave you with one thought. An SNP government won't find the choice between spending billions on replacing the Trident nuclear missile system or giving our older citizens a decent pension 'difficult'. Choosing between weapons of mass destruction, designed to kill millions, or a decent standard of living for our pensioners is easy.

Monday, 9 April 2007

One for the ladies

Apparently the opinion polls show a gender gap in the SNP vote, with women less likely to vote SNP than men.

John Curtice - pollster and commentator - attributes this gender gap to an aversion among women voters in Scotland to the 'constitutional debate'.

However, the idea that the debate about Scotland's constitutional future is somehow separate from all of the other issues that concern people in Scotland is absurd.

Unfortunately, this myth is something that is regularly reinforced by the media. For example, the Sunday Post is asking voters to contact the newspaper about issues that concern them. They say:

"Are independence or more powers for Holyrood the dominant themes?"

"Or are you more bothered by bread-and-butter concerns like education, health and crime?"

Why the distinction?

The reason that we want and NEED independence is so that we can tackle the bread-and-butter issues. We want independence so that - among other things - we can introduce truly affordable childcare and more flexible working , which would make the lives of many working women a lot easier. With our resources controlled by London, and employment policies reserved to Westminster, it is clear that we need independence to make progress in these areas.

We also want independence so that we can eradicate poverty in Scotland. To do that we need control over tax and social security, and economic powers. As poverty is a major fuel for low educational attainment, poor health and crime, then it doesn't take a genius to make the link between the vast array of issues that concern people in Scotland and the SNP's proposed starting point for creating solutions - independence. With independence, our Parliament will have the powers to tackle the causes of the challenges facing Scotland in the 21st century.

It's time for Scotland's Parliament to have the powers it needs to address the priorities of the people of Scotland.

Sunday, 8 April 2007


Well, that pretty much sums up the last few days.

The campaign casualties?
Days of delivering Jamie's election leaflets have destroyed a pair of boots already. I'm exhausted and there's still so much to do. Better invest in another pair of boots...

New members
I've had a number of new members come up to me whilst campaigning in Kilsyth and Cumbernauld - more than usual over the last few days. They told me that they have recently joined the SNP after receiving information with our survey of local residents. They are convinced that it's now time for the SNP and many more people agree - SNP membership across Scotland has increased over the campaign period significantly.

And finally...
The tarantula was encountered while campaigning on the issue of Trident in Cumbernauld town centre. As it was the holiday weekend, there was some kind of mobile zoo in the centre to entertain the kids. Lured in by the sight of little hamsters and cute guinea pigs I ventured in for a closer be confronted by a massive tarantula!!! Those who know me will understand just how traumatic this was. Anyway, I soldiered on in a different part of the centre. Buoyed by my own bravery, I spoke to a number of people about the absolute horror of Trident. Not only are these weapons of mass destruction morally abhorrent, they are an incomprehensible waste of money, OUR money. Money that would be better spent on things like decent pensions. The people of Scotland aren't daft. They know this. Many also know that voting SNP will stop this disgrace.

It's campaigning against things like Trident that make the loss of favourite footwear and coming face-to-face with your biggest fear worthwhile.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Power to the People!

Following yesterday's STV debate, the Liberal Democrats have been talking up the idea of a Constitutional Convention to discuss new powers for the Scottish Parliament. They suggest this as an alternative to a democratic referendum on independence!

Basically, the Lib Dems are proposing to establish a talking shop for politicians and interest groups. No wonder people have a cynical view of politics sometimes!

Contrast this with the SNP's plans.

We want to take this decision out of the hands of politicians and interest groups, and put it firmly into the hands of the people of Scotland. That's why we will hold a DEMOCRATIC referendum on independence - and allow the people of Scotland to decide our country's future.

The SNP trusts the people of Scotland with their own future. The other parties must know that Scotland's people will choose independence too. Why else would these self-interested politicians seek to deny them a democratic vote on independence...?

Sunday, 1 April 2007

I don't BELIEVE it!...Does Jack?

Now I'm a grown-up, and I recognise that the world is full of people with different opinions. That's partly what makes the world such an interesting place. But when someone espouses an opinion they usually have an explanation for why they hold this opinion.

But not Jack McConnell! And that's why I object to his politics so much.

He has no explanation for why he objects to an independence referendum, and allowing the people of Scotland to decide their own future. He waffles something about 'uncertainty'. The only 'uncertainty' I can see relates to Jack McConnell's future in politics after May...

He does not explain why he is willing to let Scotland to be used as a dumping ground for Britain's deadly nuclear weapons.

Nor does he enlighten us as to why he is stuck like stubborn mould on bathroom tiles to the unfair Council Tax - a tax introduced by the Tories, which penalises those who can least afford it.

The only explanation I can see is that Jack does not actually hold these views. Rather, he has been instructed by his bosses in London to regurgitate these lines, and relentlessly attack the SNP and our desire to give control over Scotland's future to Scotland's people in a democratic referendum.

That's why he looks so embarrassed and awkward when he reads his script from London. We deserve better than someone who cannot stand up to likes of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to protect Scotland's interests.

That, for me, is the most important difference between Jack McConnell and Alex Salmond. Jack will do his best for Scotland UP TO A POINT - when it's easy and his London bosses don't interfere. Whereas Alex Salmond will ALWAYS do his best for Scotland. He won't pick fights with Westminster just for the sake of it, but he will stand up to those who would damage Scotland's interests. He won't roll over for any London masters. Scotland will always come first.

I watched the debate with the leaders of the main parties on STV earlier this evening. Jack was flustered and struggling - because he knows that people can now see through the self-interest and scaremongering of the Labour party. Alex Salmond was relaxed and confident, not because he is complacent about the good opinion polls for the SNP, but because he trusts the people of Scotland to choose a positive future for our country and is optimistic that they are ready to take that first step on 3 May.

If you want it, vote for it!

Jamie and I joined SNP activists in Kilsyth and Cumbernauld town centres yesterday, to hand out leaflets to residents about replacing the unfair Council Tax with a local income tax, based on ability to pay.

I've campaigned for the SNP across Scotland over the years, in areas where we have strong support and in areas where it seemed impossible that we could make a breakthrough any time soon.

So it is not just with a sense of optimism that I make the following statement, but with experience of talking to people in different parts of the country at many different times about the SNP and the future of Scotland.

I see a real shift in attitudes towards the SNP, our ideas and our desire for independence. People are opening their minds to us, and rather liking what they see and hear.

I see a significant difference in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth from just 4 years ago, at the last Scottish Parliament election. And it's not just dissatisfaction with Labour. People were fed up with them 4 years ago. Rather, people increasingly recognise that the SNP just wants what is best for Scotland, that we are the only party that is setting out a positive vision for the future of our country, and that we are a party that shares their values.

I am now more optimistic that this change, this increasing warmth towards the SNP, may translate into support at the ballot box. But it's not enough to count on that support. That's why I (like all my friends in the SNP) will be using all my energy over the next few weeks to speak to as many people as possible about the importance of not just supporting change, but of VOTING for it too.