Without our members the SNP is nothing.
One of the things that attracted me when joining the SNP 22 years ago, was the role ordinary SNP members can play in setting our party policy and working directly with our elected politicians, to make a positive change in our communities. My position as a Council Leader has allowed me to speak to members from all over the country, and it’s safe to say that in some areas, there is a serious disconnect between MSPs, MPs and the wider membership.
I’ve been pleased to say that in my own area, the local SNP MP and MSP are excellent community minded representatives and do consider the views of local members and how their work can impact on the SNP Council group. Unfortunately that is not the case everywhere, and if selected by you and elected to Parliament, I intend to ensure that your voice as local members is not only heard, but acted upon.
As a regional Member of the Scottish Parliament, representing you, I have a number of promises I think are important to make to the membership.
The branches and CA can never be an afterthought or a box to tick. I’m just an ordinary member like all of you and I believe that our local democratic discussion structures are fundamental to making the right decisions for the SNP and for our communities.
- I will ensure that I attend the vast majority of Constituency Association (CA) and Constituency Branch (CB) meetings. It won’t always be possible as I may have to be in Parliament for a debate or vote, but when I’m unable to attend I’ll make sure I send a written update on my work in the Scottish Parliament and I will call your local Convener as soon as I can after your meeting to see if there were any questions raised or issues that I can assist with. If I have to miss a meeting, and there are issues that members want to be discussed, I will hold a members’ only meeting as soon as possible to allow us to talk to each other.
- Policies and Bills going through Parliament will be discussed at local CAs/CBs as appropriate and I will regularly seek the opinion of members through directly contact, such as making use of the email system and sending letters.
- I will make myself available for public SNP/Yes events. I am also happy to do my fair share of background campaigning work; I’m a black belt in folding flyers and stuffing envelopes!
- I will produce a regular members’ newsletter, probably every two months, informing members of the work I am doing as your regional MSP. Within this newsletter, there will be all the space Councillors want to promote their work to members; I’ll find a way to distribute the newsletter that allows me to filter it by Council area so the right information gets to the right people. I know that other MSPs/MPs do their own thing in this regard but I’d love to include articles from everyone who is able and willing, this includes local branches etc. We are a team, from the Membership, to Councillors, to Parliamentarians, and the better informed we all are about our work, the better and more joined up our campaigns and decisions will be.