I HAVE decided to put myself forward for the new Westminster constituency of Stirling and Strathallan – if the SNP members will have me – in what will be the most populous Westminster seat in Scotland.

Last night I wrote to the seven SNP branches in the new seat asking for their support in the nomination process. The SNP, quite rightly, have no tradition of incumbency so there’s a process to go through yet which I take very seriously.

In the SNP the members are in charge and all of us play our parts only for as long as we have the confidence of the collective to do so. But I relish the prospect of taking the fight to the opposition at the next Westminster election, whenever it is.

It has been a bumpy few months for the SNP and so the wider Yes movement. But I have to say, having joined the party in 1996 and been on the frontline as a parliamentarian since 2004, we’ve been through worse and we’ll get through this.

The SNP are a team game, and we share in each other’s successes and support each other in the rougher times.

I win, you win; you win, I win

The best source of support and encouragement for any SNP member or Yes activist is us, SNP members or Yes activists.

And we’re not short of opponents. We face a uniquely hostile environment where everything we do is subject to intense scrutiny (as indeed it should be) at times bordering on the obsessive, but the UK Government burning through £37 billion-odd of public money in a couple of days is dismissed as a bagatelle.

A UK Government that appoints cronies and toadies into the stinking House of Lords or breaks its own rules on integrity and probity on a regular basis and it is all just passed off as the way it is.

Well the people of Scotland aren’t daft, and we need to take our message of hope to every street in Scotland. The SNP are the only party offering real change, the transformative change that will come with independence.

The National:

Scotland’s best future is independence in Europe, making our own decisions at home and forging common purpose with the global A-Team that is the European Union, 500 million people working together towards the challenges we face.

I fear for where the UK is going. Populism is rising, usually with a xenophobic tinge to it.

Economic hardship is biting hard and that anger is rising. Standards in public life are declining before our eyes, and things that would have been resignation matters just five years ago are toughed out and bluffed away.

Worse, the righteous anger with the status quo that was misdirected into the Leave campaign remains salient. Voting Leave didn’t make things better – it has demonstrably made things worse – but now the EU can’t be blamed. So where will this anger attach itself to?

This is going to be an ugly, shrill campaign and the people of Scotland need to know that there is a party that cares about what they care about, shares their, our, values and has the answers to the problems we’re all facing.

A phrase I think will be a regular feature in the campaign will be that “we do things differently in Scotland”.

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In Scotland, nobody is above the law – meanwhile, plenty of Westminster MPs give every impression they honestly believe that rules are for other people. We view public services differently, we view the EU differently, we view our place in the world differently.

And that is why we need to take the fight not just to this rotten Tory government but the whole rotten Westminster system which Labour is so invested in too.

The communities I have the privilege of currently representing in Stirling are fed-up with a broken politics which don’t deliver for them.

A confession, which I’ve made before – I used to be Labour

Like so many Scots, it was just what you did and who you were. I volunteered a day a week for the local Labour MP when I was at law school in Nottingham in the 90s, and despite having just joined the SNP the year before, enthusiastically voted Labour in 1997 when I was a lawyer in London.

But not this Labour Party.

Now is not 1996 and this is not the Labour Party I voted for then (and not since). We’re having a different debate in Scotland and this Toom Tabard party has nothing to offer Scots.

On the big issues underpinning the debate in Scotland: our right to choose independence (or not) and membership of the EU, the once proud Labour Party is wilfully posted missing because they’ve written us off in order to try to win Middle England.

The National:

They know, and it is an arithmetic fact, they don’t need Scotland to win, they need Middle England. So the SNP have an opportunity, if we get the campaign right. I think the UK polls will narrow, and a hung parliament is a distinct possibility.

The SNP, going into this campaign with independence in Europe at its heart and a concrete list of demands of a minority Labour administration, will maximise Scotland’s position to negotiate with a Labour administration.

The reason energy bills across Stirling and Scotland are sky-high is that we lack the powers to regulate energy in Scotland, and the UK has delivered a broken system.

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The reason food price inflation is so bad (and wait till October) is because we were dragged out of the EU against our democratic will – and getting the UK back into the EU Single Market will fix this.

The reason why so many folk now see their opportunities to live, work, study or retire across the EU limited is because our freedom of movement, in and out, was taken away and we want it back.

And we want it clear and unambiguous: the current devolution settlement is inadequate, we need the right to choose independence and Section 30 should be devolved to our Parliament in Edinburgh immediately, giving us the tools to choose a different, better path.

These are tough times but we’re up to it, I’m up to it, and want to take our positive case for independence in Europe to the people of Stirling and Strathallan, and Scotland.