Apologies for my absence from blogging for quite so long. But there has been a reason for my absence. I have been selected as the SNP's candidate for the Westminster constituency of Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. Given that we are all at the mercy of Gordon Brown and his decision about when to actually call the next Westminster election, my focus has naturally been on preparing for the eventuality that it could be sooner rather than later.
I'm really delighted to have been chosen as the SNP's candidate for the constituency and I can't wait for the campaign to get into full swing. I'm particularly looking forward to the opportunity to publicly debate the issues with candidates from the other parties.
I think the next Westminster election presents an ideal opportunity to make the case for independence - to explain what powers Scotland is still without, and what independence would mean for the people of Scotland.
I relish the opportunity to explain to the people of Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East that independence would give us the power to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland, to introduce decent state pensions, and to represent ourselves in the EU, UN and wider world stage. And that's just a start.
To me, independence is not only the fair and democratic path for Scotland in itself; it is also the foundation for tackling all the challenges facing our country in the 21st century - from enduring poverty, substance abuse and anti-social behaviour, to our nation's chronic lack of collective self-confidence. Once we achieve equality for our nation through independence, we can then truly start to ensure equality for our citizens.
Until we achieve independence for Scotland, so many important powers that affect our nation will be retained at Westminster and so it is vital that the SNP are represented there. Because without us, Scotland is not represented. That's why I am standing for Westminster.