In the SNP we have a great tradition - adoption nights! They are essentially a social event and fundraiser - held to celebrate the selection of our candidates and raise funds for our campaigns. I say it's an SNP tradition, because the other parties don't seem to hold them (but I could be wrong on this...).
Anyway, Saturday 26th April was the date of my 'adoption'. It was held in Cumbernauld New Town Hall, to mark my selection as the Westminster candidate for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East. I've done a bit of a report on the evening on my campaign website (link below), but I wanted to use my blog for more of a personal reflection.
The picture above (left to right) is of Jamie Hepburn MSP (AKA my lovely husband), John Swinney MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth), me, Cllr Derek Mackay (Leader of Renfrewshire Council) and Neil McCallum (my election agent and constituency convener).
The night itself was fantastic. We were entertained by two young musicians from the constituency - Colin Masterton and Jill Smithson. Amazing talent. In fact, they were so good, I'm sure some folk were wondering if we needed to bother with the speeches ;o)
But we did. Derek Mackay addressed the assembled SNP members and supporters, followed by John Swinney and then myself. Both Derek and John were far too kind about me, but I really appreciate their support and I only hope I can emulate some of what they have been able to achieve in their time as SNP representatives.
After the speeches, we were then lured on to the dance floor when the disco started!
So, that's an adoption night. Speeches, entertainment, fundraising.
I was especially pleased that my family came up from the Borders for the occasion. It was really interesting speaking to one of my brother's girlfriends afterwards. She told me on the way home that she had never voted before in her life. She said she thought politicians were all 'in it for themselves' and that politics was only for 'folk with money'. But, that shouldn't surprise me. After all, there are a number of people in Scotland who feel that way about politics unfortunately.
However, what did pleasantly surprise me is what she then said. She told me we had really opened her eyes that night. Because it was an internal SNP event, she heard us talking to ourselves and about what mattered to SNP members and activists. She realised how genuine our motives are, and was impressed by the passion and commitment we have for independence and using our independence to make Scotland a better place to live. She was surprised to meet such a diverse range of people from all walks of life and realised that politics did indeed matter to her. Maybe she was caught in the moment, but she also stated that she'd be voting in the future and casting her vote for the SNP!
I am so pleased that somebody from outwith the SNP was able to come along to an event like that, and go home impressed by our party and by our aspirations for her and everyone else in Scotland.
I feel so privileged to be representing the SNP as a candidate, and excited at the prospect of being able to represent this constituency. As an MP there is so much I could do to contribute to this area, and the opportunity to do so would be amazing. It may be a while yet before that Westminster election rolls round, but that just gives me more time to meet as many people in the constituency as possible.