Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss explains why she is supporting Julie Hepburn in the SNP depute leadership race

I HAVE been a long-term fan of Julie Hepburn, so I was very pleased to see her throw her hat into the ring for the SNP depute leader contest.

I believe that her ideas for the development of our party, for using our wide and deep talent pool of members, and for re-focusing the role of depute leader, should be given serious consideration by all members.

At the first SNP conferences I attended over a decade ago, Julie was a leading light, proposing serious and detailed policy resolutions in areas such as pensions.

More recently, she worked hard to move forward SNP policy on period poverty, bringing a resolution at National Council which helped to get the ball rolling and she has been working hard behind the scenes to secure support across the party.

Julie has always been generous with her time and her expertise, and has worked hard over many years to bring party members into policy development. She introduced the role of political education convener to encourage branches to take on the crucial task of educating members and drawing out the knowledge and expertise of our expanding membership to develop party policy.

Her network of political education officers has been key to expanding the policies and ideas of the SNP, with many branches going on to bring forward their own resolutions to conference for the first time.

Julie knows that we have a wealth of talent in the party, and I welcome the commitment in her pitch for depute leader to continue to find ways to develop and expand that talent.

She has been supportive of other women in the party, driving the gender equality strategy and the formation of the women’s officer role. She appreciates the barriers to getting women involved in politics, and I know she will do all she can to ensure that we do all we can to eliminate those barriers.

The SNP has changed and expanded beyond what any of us could have imagined; we absolutely must make the most of this ahead of a future referendum. Julie is right to say that the time to prepare the ground is now. Our party organisation and the capacity of branches and members needs attention. Significantly, Julie is able to dedicate the time to the task in hand. She understands that we need to train a new cohort, support and empower members, and make sure we have the skills to win when our opportunity comes.