The SNP needs a real change in direction - and a more focussed approach to arguing the case for independence. We need to reach out to a much wider audience and stop relying on the Scottish Parliament as the sole focus of our campaigning. It is one of the most important tools we have but cannot be the be-all and end-all of the independence argument.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Party needs “policies designed for the future but rooted in the SNP’s radical tradition”

I want Scotland to be Independent, to rejoin the family of nations, to be normal again. It will never be enough for the SNP to rule in a devolved administration, and our leaders have to aim higher than the office of First Minister.

There is a job to be done in helping to deliver our country to freedom. Devolution isn’t the destination, merely the vehicle we use to reach Independence.

Throughout my campaign for the SNP leadership I have been entirely straight with the membership. There have been no deals, pacts or fixes and that is how I would lead the party.

In this manifesto I expand on my vision and strategy and go into detail on the issues I have been outlining in the early part of the campaign and how I want to see organisation of the party and the policy development work of the past four years continued and improved.

As leader I would seek to inspire the party to produce a policy platform that was based on an effective social justice agenda allied to boldly pragmatic wealth-creation initiatives: policies designed for the future but rooted in the SNP’s radical tradition.

NB My manifesto is available online at or follow the link in the title of this article

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

SNP Finances

The state of the SNP's finances has been making the news today.

Obviously we can’t continue these levels of debt and the debt is being reduced.

You have to remember that our party is not backed by the megabucks of big business or trade unions. Nor, therefore, are we in thrall to them either.

One of the best ways of improving our revenue stream is to have the party enthused and excited with campaigning and spreading the positive message of independence. That activity will attract new members and therefore new money.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Scottish Education

Today's Times Education Supplement carries a story about the views the various leadership candidates have regarding Scottish education.  My comments to the TES are reproduced here.
Some of what I said has particular relevance given today's reported row from North Lanarkshire about the 'shared campus' arrangements on offer from the local Council.  I believe strongly that we should be able to encourage true diversity in our education system instead of trying to insist that there only be one model for a school within the state system. 

"Scottish education is being failed by a lack of ambition.  We could, if we so desired, ensure that real choice was available within the state system.  Not just a continued support for Catholic schooling and for Gaelic medium education, but a recognition that the same ideal can be offered to other communities across Scotland where there is a substantial demand.  We should also highlight the importance of rural schools and ensure that they do not come under needless threat.

The education system needs to be less bureaucratic – providing more freedom within the system and a greater ability afforded to teachers to do the teaching that is needed rather than the form filling and box ticking which currently seems such a priority.

That is a development that I believe Scottish teachers would welcome.  As they would a reduction in class sizes.  Of course, in order to achieve that, there needs to be a real focus on training and recruitment of teachers, many of whom are taking the early retirement option rather than continue in a job which is no longer what they want to do. 

Much was promised by the McCrone agreement, but the delivery of that agreement has been hampered by the inability of local councils to ensure that it is implemented properly.  Problems at the probationary level continue.  This means that tackling the recruitment crisis is not easy – but unless we do, we will find that efforts to improve education in Scotland will be thwarted.

But improve we must.  There are still profoundly disturbing differences in attainment levels being reached by schools dependent on their socio-economic catchment area.  Such differences ought not to be tolerated in modern Scotland.  Clearly, tackling poverty levels will have a major effect on future education prospects – but we can't afford to write off the current generation of children trapped by circumstance of birth.

That means tackling the issue early in the education system – right at the level of pre-school education.  We should be adopting an integrated approach to early years' services, while recognising that children make more progress where staff are well qualified. 

It also means using the education system to better the prospects of the next generation by ensuring that in school at least they are provided with balanced school meals and opportunities to develop their health and well being.

By these means, we can help repair the damage done to our education system over the years and begin to restore confidence in a public service that was once a byword for excellence."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Runners and Riders

I have said from the start that the shape of this leadership campaign would not be known until nominations were closed. How right I was!

Through the twists and turns of speculation over who might or might not stand, my approach to this contest has been direct. I was the first to announce my candidacy, the first to lodge my nomination papers and I believe I will be in first place when the ballot papers are counted.

My decision to stand was my own and I seek no endorsement other than that of the party at large.

I firmly believe that I am the person best placed to unite the party and to take us forward, to secure independence for our country.

We have a new system of one member one vote in the SNP and I look forward to this contest in which it is the members who will decide.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Nomination forms lodged

My Leadership nomination papers were lodged at 2.30 this afternoon [Thursday].

I have been extremely encouraged by the levels of support I have been receiving from right across Scotland and I am looking forward to getting around the country during the campaign, meeting with members and debating the issues that matter to them.

Winning Independence for Scotland is what this party is all about.

We need to show that Independence brings equality - with Independence we can build the socially just society that we want to see instead of topping the tables for ill-health and child poverty.

We need to show that Independence is equality - with Independence Scotland can speak with its own voice in Europe and in the world as an equal instead of being a junior partner in an unbalanced union.

Scotland is a nation and the normal status for a nation is Independence. SNP members know where they want to go, it is my job to show them that I have the drive, the passion and the ability to lead the way.

Remember you can e-mail me on

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Hustings Around The Country

Many of these dates are still provisional and more requests are coming in all the time. Check with local organisations for details.

NB Some hustings will be members only, others will not. I will try to identify in each instance whether that will be the case.

I am also posting dates on which I have unbreakable constituency or other commitments but which might otherwise catch the eye of potential organisers. I am aware that some of you are trawling through this list looking for gaps in the schedule, but those gaps may actually be filled by other events!!

Thu 22/07/2004, 19:30 members only
SNP Club
North St Andrew’s St, Edinburgh

Sat 24/07/2004, time tbc members only
Edinburgh City Association
Apex European Hotel, Haymarket Tce.,

Mon 26/07/2004, 19:30 members only
Grampian Hotel, Perth

Tue 27/07/2004, 19:00 members only
West Lothian
Regal Community Theatre, 24-34 North Bridge St Bathgate

Wed 28/07/2004, 19:00 members, supporters and possible press
Edinburgh West
Barnton Hotel, Edinburgh

Thu 29/07/2004, 17.45-19.00
Constituency commitment, Perth

Saturday 31/07/2004,
Constituency commitment, Crieff

Sunday 01/08/2004, 15.00
Meeting: Renfrewshire

Mon 02/08/2004, 19:00 members only
Westerton Hotel, Main Street, Bridge of Allan

Tue 03/08/2004, 19:00 members, public and press welcome Argyll & Bute
Queens Hall, Dunoon

Wed 04/08/2004, 19:00
Northern Hotel, 1 Great Northern Road, Aberdeen

Thu 05/08/2004, 19.00
Falkirk Hustings
venue: The Dawson Centre

Fri 06/08/2004, 19:30 members only
Dumfries & Galloway
The Douglas Arms, Castle Douglas

Sat 07/08/2004,
Constituency commitment - daytime - Perth

Sun 08/08/2004, 14:00 members only
Glasgow Regional Association
Central Hotel, Glasgow

Mon 09/08/2004 19:00 members only
Podium Block, Tayside House, Dundee

Tue 10/08/2004, 19.00
Speaking at a Conference at Stirling University

Wed 11/08/2004,
Lanark/Hamilton East hustings
Shawlands Hotel, Larkhall

Thu 12/08/2004, 18:00 public (see Sunday Herald for tickets) - possibly to be televised by BBC
Sunday Herald Leadership Debate
Scottish Book Trust, High Street, Edinburgh

Fri 13/08/2004, 19:00 members and lapsed members, possible press
East Kilbride
Community Hall, 28 St. Leonards Square, East Kilbride

Sat 14/08/2004,
constituency commitments - daytime - Perth

Sun 15/08/2004, 15.00
Port Glasgow hustings

Mon 16/08/2004
BBC Newsnight Scotland 'Special' on Leadership Contest

Tue 17/08/2004, 12.00-13.00
Lesley Riddoch Show, Radio Scotland
being broadcast from NE Scotland

Wed 18/08/2007, 19.30
Aberdeenshire Hustings,

Thu 19/08/2004, 19:30 members only
North Tayside, Angus and Dundee
Letham Hotel, Letham, Angus

Fri 20/08/2004, 19:15
Royal Highland Hotel, Inverness

Friday, July 02, 2004


Welcome to my Campaign WebLog.

This is a year of challenge for the SNP – a challenge I am ready to take up.

I believe we have been getting the balance of our politics wrong, with too much focus on what happens in Holyrood and not enough on the debate in Scotland as a whole. In particular, we have taken our eye off the ball on the independence argument.

Similarly, we have tilted the party's political profile too far away from our traditional core vision of a socially just Scotland. That vision should be sharing the agenda with our economic case, but it hasn't happened over the last 5 years. Instead, we have allowed the social justice case to slip into the background and people no longer have a clear idea what it is we stand for.

Wealth creation is essential – but wealth must have a purpose. And that purpose is to ensure that we build the kind of Scotland where people do not struggle to find a home, where life expectancy does not drop to 3rd world levels, where poverty is no longer a blight on thousands of lives.

But the power to really put that wealth to work can only come with independence.

Independence is the key to Scotland's future. It cannot be allowed to become an abstract constitutional concept. Instead, we have to make the case for independence as the way out of Scotland's current malaise. It would allow us to bring equality and justice to all Scots and it would also allow us to argue for equality and justice in the rest of the world.

These are the themes I will develop as the leadership campaign unfolds.

Our party needs a leader who can make these arguments with authority, can be combative when necessary but work across all boundaries when that is necessary.

I believe I am that person.

If you want to contact me then please do so on: