Sunday, 23 September 2007

A New Role

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.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Curbing Excesses

There has been so much I wanted to blog about over the last week, but I have been hindered by both lack of time and a dodgy internet connection.

And yesterday was our first wedding anniversary! One whole year of being Mrs H - I can't believe it has flown by so quickly!

Anyway, back to the issues. Most of what I wanted to say is no longer that topical, so I will restrict my comments to a story that caught my eye in today's Sunday Herald. The headline was a tad misleading - Swinney warning to public bodies: ‘curb pay deals’

If someone was to read this headline and no further, this would give the impression that the SNP is looking to restrict public sector pay deals. Nice bit of presentational spin from Mr Hutcheon... However, the story is actually about curbing the excessive, in my view, pay deals of the most senior employees in the public sector - the likes that are paid in excess of £100,000. No matter how experienced, how hardworking and talented someone is, I don't think it is right that taxpayers are funding such whopping great salaries. I think John Swinney is right to curb excessive pay deals and perks, and I think this fact is more deserving that been 'hidden' in a small story in a Sunday newspaper.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Scottish Government

I just don't see what all the fuss is about regarding the name change, from Scottish Executive to Scottish Government. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to explain to people on the doorstep the difference between the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive. Each time, I have explained that the Scottish Executive was the official name for the Scottish Government and all became clear.

People understand what a government is. The term Executive is so broad, it could mean many things. The name change will bring further clarity to how Scotland is actually governed.

One of the big problems with the term Scottish Executive was the impression it gave of devolution being somehow administrative and engendering the idea that the ruling parties were there to 'manage', which the previous Lib-Lab Executive took literally. Governments don't merely manage. Governments have aspirations, ideas and ambitious plans. So the name change this week is more than just cosmetic. It reflects the change that has happened in Scotland since the election of the SNP. An Executive has indeed been replaced by a party of government.