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.


Paul said...

This Thursday will be my first experience of voting. Having enjoyed studying modern studies through school i realise the importance of utilising your voting right and have made an attempt at reading through party policies for the European elections.

What strikes me most is how little these elections seem to mean to UK voters. Obviously in comparison to UK elections and Scottish elections the European takes less precedent, however they still have a vital part to play in politics within Great Britain.

Because I had taken part in a lot of Modern Studies activities at school, many of my friends are asking my advice on European elections. Many citing that they don't understand politics at all. What is frustrating about that is i've heard of politicians talking about 'getting down with the kids' and gaining the young persons vote... but what use is this if they don't understand what they are voting for. Many of my friends are voting in the European elections and have no clue what they're voting for. It would make better sense for only 30% of the public -who would make an educated choice - to vote, than 100% participation which runs the risk of a tabloid fronted BNP movement. (Although clearly that would undermine democracy) Perhaps instead of bumping up participation rates they should focus on bumping up EDUCATED votes. I don't know...

I'll stop at that really. I'm ranting on now. I stumbled across this blog whilst looking for party policies. It is an incredible insight into party politics so do keep writing :)

Julie Hepburn said...

Thanks for your comment Paul. I think you are right on many fronts, but I think rather than trying to increase the number of 'educated' votes (by which I think you mean those who are engaged and properly informed about all the different policies?), we should be trying to engage and inform more people. That is admittedly a difficult task when so many people are not interested in politics, and have such little regard for those involved in politics (particularly elected representatives). But it is the duty of all political parties to try and reach everyone in the area they seek to represent. I too cringe at politicians trying to be 'down with the kids'. I can honestly say I will never attempt this, because even when I was younger I was never 'down with the kids'...