Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Euro hustings in Cumbernauld

European fever hit Cumbernauld at the weekend, when the SNP's candidates for the European elections rolled into town. OK, perhaps 'fever' is an over-statement. It was a cold, wet Saturday night when the candidates turned up to Cornerstone House to address SNP members. But it was an interesting evening, and the candidates covered a lot of ground - and we all went away more informed than when we arrived. The smiles you see below are not the standard politician smiles. Oh no. Everyone had just had a nice biscuit with their cup of tea!

Anyway, the group you see before you is a mixture of the European candidates, local councillors and of course me and my other half (we never miss a good photo opportunity!).

The European elections don't usually set the heather alight in Scotland, but the EU has more impact than many people think. Sitting listening to the candidates, it really hit home just how much influence EU decisions have on our everyday lives. The EU shapes our laws, and is also a key source of funding for numerous community projects across Scotland. Duncan Ross (European candidate on the left of the photo) urged us to look out for projects in our area that simply wouldn't happen without EU funding, and use that information to explain to people just why the EU elections really do matter to people locally. Ian Hudghton (MEP and SNP President, next to Duncan in the photo) pointed out that the EU provides plenty of opportunities that Scotland is missing out on, because the UK Government (as the member state) doesn't utilise them.

I am personally looking forward to the European Parliament elections in June (well, I say that now, but ask me again when I've been chapping doors in the rain for hours...). These elections give us the opportunity to highlight just how much Scotland is held back by our lack of independence. Having no direct influence in the EU might not seem like a 'bread and butter' issue, especially these days, but constitutional constraints like these affect our ability to tackle the problems that matter most to people.