All 4 candidates have been invited to East Lothian CA
WHEN - Monday 22nd August - 7pm
Our party needs an organisational upgrade. That’s why I’m standing for depute leader. Over the next two months I’m keen to listen to members about how they think we can improve but I also want to chuck out some ideas for discussion myself.
This week I’m focusing on the basic unit of our organisation – the party branch. This is internal stuff. Non-party members should maybe look away now. Or maybe not.
And, we’re off! Nominations closed yesterday for the post of SNP depute and it was a shock to no-one that all four previously declared candidates have confirmed their position on the starting grid.
Today I launch my campaign at the CCA in Glasgow, where I’ll be setting out why I want the job.
I had a great time meeting the folks at Community Renewal Scotland. Sheila McWhirter, Sean Connor and Archie Lowe took me through all the work they are doing across East Edinburgh and the projects specifically focused on Magdalene and Bingham.
They have a holistic approach which involves employability services for all but also a focus on supporting young people into employment and other positive outcomes such as training, education or volunteering. They have a Health Case Manager who offers individually tailored support from counselling to referrals. They also work with communities, listening to what they want and then helping people connect and become active and find ways to achieve change. This is what they have been doing in Magdalene and Bingham and they are now looking at how to build on the response from the community.
Come along to hear the candidates set out their case for the Depute Leadership, and have your opportunity to ask questions!Candidates:
Cllr Chris McEleny (confirmed)
There is still a week to go before nominations close and it already seems as if the contest to become depute leader of the SNP has been running for ages. Two weeks ago in this paper I threw my hat in the ring and I have been bowled over at the messages of support and encouragement I have received since. Already there is a strong field and I hope that before next Friday a few more might enter the race.
I am grateful to The National for offering me this column over the next 12 weeks to set out my vision for the SNP and share what I can bring to the role. And in case anyone gets bored, there will be stuff other than the election in here too.
Over the past few weeks I have been approached by a wide range of SNP members asking me to stand for the position of Depute Leader of our Party. After much thought I have decided to do so. Here’s why.
At this critical time in our nation’s history we have a window of opportunity, yet we still have much work to do in a short time. To be successful we need to use all of the talents of our party. I believe the job of Depute Leader is key to our success.
I write this barely 60 hours after finding out that the people of the UK had voted to leave the European Union – and in truth I’m still trying to get my head around it.
Shock was the first feeling. Sure, I knew that a leave vote was always on the cards, but somehow I never really believed it could happen. I thought in the final stages that enough had been done to save the day; that people would reject the narrow minded intolerance on which this most reactionary of campaigns was based. But it turned out that I was living in a Caledonian bubble and that England, outside of its metropolis, is indeed another country.
Seriously impressed at the new Portobello High School which is entering the final phase of construction. The council and contractors are now confident that the school will be ready to move in for the half term break in October – and from what I saw today they look like they are on schedule.
Big thanks to Stuart Danskin from the main contractor Balfour Beatty who took time out to show me round the building. It’s massive – you’ve got no idea how big as you look in from Milton Road. Stuart’s in charge of an operation that had more than 150 workers on site the when I visited – and has had over 200 at one time.
Four elections and a referendum: It’s been a helluva five years. With the new SNP Government now sworn in the party can at last move off a permanent war footing. It’s time to take stock, re-group and plan.
And what a change in the political terrain has taken place. The Labour heartlands are no more. Once the party of the working class, Labour is now only capable of clinging on to constituencies that contain a substantial liberal middle class committed to voting tactically to keep the SNP out. And the SNP, although still able to straddle the class divide in its appeal, is now without doubt the political representative of central Scotland’s working class communities.
No matter how you look at it, the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election was a convincing win for the SNP. The party was seeking an historic third term after nine years in charge at Holyrood. It got it. With knobs on. More votes than ever before in a Scottish parliamentary election and a bigger share of the vote too.
What’s not to like? Well, I guess the fact that even though it was its best ever performance the party still lost a few seats and narrowly missed out on an overall majority. That, though, is how the system is designed. It is almost impossible to get more than 50% of the seats unless you get more than 50% of the votes. Almost, but not quite. Last time round in 2011 the SNP did just that, but in retrospect it’s pretty obvious that was something of a fluke, involving winning some unlikely seats by a whisker in three or four way marginal contests. Nowhere illustrates this better than what happened in Edinburgh.
14 years ago today, the Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouthi was jailed. This week I sponsored a parliamentary motion calling on the Israeli parliament to release him.
I, and the other MPs who have signed, are calling for his release so that he can play a part in the process of reconciliation, unification and negotiation that will be needed before Palestine achieves its independence. Barghouthi, now 56, is still the candidate in the strongest position to win a presidential election to succeed Mahmoud Abbas, according to a recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research. And precedents has been set - just look at South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was released from prison so he could take part in negotiations for majority rule, and India, where Gandhi and Nehru were released by the British so they could take part in negotiations for independence.
So it has been a busy old recess kicking off with some canvassing and campaigning over the Easter weekend. My Westminster constituency takes in parts of four Holyrood constituencies so I am doing my best to get around all of them.
The four fantastic Edinburgh SNP candidates are Ash Denham for Edinburgh Eastern, Alison Dickie for Edinburgh Central, Ben McPherson for Edinburgh Northern and Leith and Jim Eadie for Edinburgh Southern. Here’s me with Ash and some activists at a street stall in Portobello.
I will be voting to stay in the European Union in June. This is not in the belief that everything is in perfect working order, but in the hope that we can work with neighbouring countries to turn it into a much better institution than it is now.
I hope that Scotland will soon be an independent country but to get things done, whether at home or abroad, we will have to work together with other countries. An independent Scotland will have to work with the rest of Britain on a great number of things. And we’ll certainly need to work together across Europe. This means choosing to share or pool sovereignty and there’s nothing wrong with that - providing that choice is freely made and people have the right to change their mind.
The Sunday Express recently reported that I have broken one of the rules of the House of Commons. These things have a way of getting out of proportion, so I wanted to be very clear with everyone about what has happened.
All MPs have to register any outside interests, including shares they own in private companies.
Tucked away near the Beach in Porty is a little gate in a wall. I must have sauntered past that gate may times but recently I managed to get to the other side to discover the wonderful, community run, Portobello Toddlers Hut. I had no idea it had been running as a toddlers group since in 1929, making it one of the oldest community run childcare facilities in the UK.
I was warmly welcomed by a number of parents on the committee along with staff and volunteers. There was the usual February wind blowing on the prom (as you can tell from the photo!) but the toddlers didn't even seem to notice as they played happily outside in the yard of the hut. It was great to hear about the history of the place alongside the activities the current toddlers enjoy. The new book corner looks particularly inviting.
Going back to Westminster after the summer recess you can almost feel the impending doom in the air. It’s the calm before the storm. Everyone knows something bad is going to happen. Just not what exactly. Like waiting for the ghoul to reveal itself in a horror movie.
And as the dread unfolds the discussion about whether there should be another Brexit referendum will intensify.