I’M running to be the SNP’s depute leader for a number of reasons. I’ve made this choice because I was asked by so many activists across the country. They’ve asked me to stand because of my proven track record of service to the party, my previous commitment to driving forward internal reforms, and my work in supporting others across the SNP.

However, most significantly for me, I want to use the skills, experience and networks I’ve built up over almost two decades in the SNP to help prepare us for another independence referendum and indeed future elections.

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September 19, 2014, was a bleak day for me. I had dedicated my adult life to campaigning for independence as a member of the SNP, and it had felt well within our grasp within those final weeks of the referendum campaign.

The despair I felt that day has faded, but it has turned into even greater resolve to make it happen.

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On that day in 2014, I received a few messages from friends who had voted No, offering their condolences. But I didn’t need their pity – I wasn’t queuing at a food bank or worrying if I had enough money for an electricity card to heat the house when the kids came in from school.

I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, but for those who would continue to suffer from the horrendous ideology and policies of the right-wing Tory Government at Westminster.

And what happened on September 19, 2014, also immediately restored my faith that it was only a matter of time until independence does happen. It was the day the SNP became a mass movement.

When the opportunity arises to ask people in Scotland if they want independence, we need to be ready as a party and a wider independence movement. That means using the existing structures and resources we currently have to help build solid campaign and policy foundations, as well as driving forward some long-overdue internal reforms.

There is some great work happening already across the country and from other national office bearers on the NEC.

Some of what needs to happen is simply a case of someone helping to join the dots, so I believe the depute leader should be highly focused on some practical, achievable goals, although I won’t promise the Earth, because it’s not within the gift of any depute leader to deliver the Earth.

I also want to make the point that the depute leader doesn’t have to be a high-profile parliamentarian to send on to Question Time. We are fortunate to have an abundance of those already. Furthermore, our leader and First Minister is already ably supported by John Swinney and Derek Mackay as political deputies in Holyrood and the party.

I look forward to fleshing out some of my ideas on policy development, campaigns and internal communications over the coming months and beyond. But above all, I want to listen and find ways to engage more members in our shared efforts to achieve independence and to reach out to the wider independence movement.

Right now, we also need to be listening to the reasons why people voted No last time – and to do so respectfully and without judgment. If we don’t use this time to have those conversations, then we have less chance of being able to persuade and reassure those who hold the future of our country in their hands.

No-one is more surprised than me that I’m currently in a contest to become the next depute leader of the SNP. It’s an enormous privilege to be given this opportunity, and so I want to make it count for our party and for our country.