ON Monday October 14 2019, when I put a speaker’s card into the SNP conference to talk against resolution number 16, I had little idea that some of my words of warning would be so profoundly proven.

The resolution was titled “Selection Guidelines” and it seemed to be supporting gender balance and better representation of BAME candidates. However despite my campaigning for Joanna Cherry and managing a local council campaign for Councillor Cathy Fullerton in Edinburgh, I had severe reservations about using positive discrimination to help fix another form of discrimination.

In fact our branch had debated this resolution before conference and everyone at the meeting including the women were against this resolution. Some said that “the best candidate should be allowed to win the selection”. Another said “that they would not want to have been selected just because they were a woman”. The consensus was every woman just like any man should be selected by the branch members and not by a National Executive Committee.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Central battle continues as Philippa Whitford hits out at rule change

My track record speaks for itself, I have fully supported female candidates when they are the best candidate. I was surprised that out of about 3000 delegates at the last Aberdeen SNP conference, I was the only speaker to get up on the podium and speak against this resolution and warn that “this could have unintended consequences”.

I had no idea that the resolution could be hijacked and used to block a woman from standing. The people involved in this sorry affair should be ashamed of themselves and they must be held to account.

You see if like me you believe in a fairer society? As I do, it can only be delivered through a democratic process. Cutting out democracy at party branch level is not a smart move, it runs the risk that people who may not be the best candidate will use the rule change to further their own self interests or help their friends to get elected. It also runs the risk of local branch activists that deliver the party campaigns and help win the seats turning their backs as they have had little or no say in the selection process. So you could actually lose seats not win them. Alison Thewliss was one of the women who spoke for the resolution, but I bet she hadn’t thought that the resolution could be used to actually prevent a woman from standing?

Speaker after speaker made speeches on how the resolution would help fix the problem and get more woman elected. I even remember being on the receiving end of some dirty looks from SNP woman speakers, as if I was part of the problem. The saying that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” might be the words of warning for the next time this resolution comes up, which it undoubtedly will. Quick fixes are never the right choice no matter how superficially attractive they appear.

If we want a fairer gender balance then let’s start by using good practice and getting branches to encourage women to attend meetings, if misogyny occurs then enforce the party’s rules on conduct that’s why the party has them. You don’t fix discrimination by using discrimination.

David Henry

SNP member, Edinburgh

IN an excellent article on the state of Scottish media, Stuart Cosgrove deals with the thorny topic of independence supporters’ schadenfreude at the plight of Union-supporting newspapers and their journalists because of falling sales (The Twitter spat which highlights issues at the heart of the future of Scotland’s media, August 2).

He is right to point out that journalist job losses are to be deplored. It’s also true to say that these losses could affect journalists who support independence. However, due to prevailing owner/editorial policy, it’s extremely hard to

tell what the personal sympathies of these journalists might be as they’re given precious little opportunity to express them.

Also, sometimes the management in papers are their own worst enemies. At the time of the independence referendum, I wrote a letter to the then editor of The Scotsman expressing my opinion that plumping for one side or the other in a time of dropping sales, and thus alienating half the potential readership, was a commercially inept misjudgment. His response was to instruct his staff to refuse to publish any more letters from me. Not the most fearless piece of journalism I’ve experienced in a long career of media liaison.

The way journalists are pressured, either by implication or instruction is also all too evident, not so much in overtly stated ways, but nevertheless obvious from the paper’s balance or lack of it. This was glaringly obvious from coverage of a recent story giving positive news about the numbers of of school leavers going to colleges or university being at a record high. Relating to this, in a national newspaper, the following quote appeared. “However, the figures also showed that one in ten youngsters from Scotland’s most deprived areas were unemployed after leaving school”. It’s this kind of upending of the story in a ‘hunt the negative’ approach which leads to the lack of sympathy mentioned in Stuart’s article for some journalists whose jobs are at risk.

Douglas Turner


I FOUND Ian Stewart’s letter in last week’s Sunday National very interesting. He is absolutely right that the last thing we need in the run into the next referendum is ambiguity over the currency issue. On this issue we need to offer people a clear vision of the way forward and the SNP need to take responsibility for this now, not wait till after the Scottish Parliamentary elections next year.

Ian is quite clear, Scotland must have its own currency and central bank and these must be established without delay, on independence. I entirely agree with Ian on this. I come to this position from the point of view of an economist and looking at this issue in theory it seems obvious to me, but Ian, whom I know, because I lived near Uig in Skye for many years, has considerable practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge of this subject because he worked at a senior level for RBS for many years.

For Ian and me and many others who understand this issue clearly there is an obvious way forward and the SNP Government should be making that clear in developing the campaign, because by doing so they will be closing the door on the distortion and misrepresentation which will come for a new Project Fear campaign by the Unionists which will feed on ambiguity and uncertainty around this issue, just as it did last time.

Even the Growth Commission among much of its rambling inconsistences says that Scotland should have its own currency and central bank. So instead of leaving this issue wide open to ambiguity and uncertainty, the SNP must come out with a clear policy of adopting its own currency and central bank as soon as practical after political independence.

Andy Anderson


IN his article on August 4 (Keep faith in SNP and we can make indyref2 an unstoppable reality), Richard Thomson MP states that the SNP need list MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in order to govern.

This is not true. In order to govern the SNP need to max the number of constituency MSPs. However, If the SNP do really well in the constituency vote then they get few if any list MSPs. That’s the way AMS voting works.

If the SNP want more list MSPs they will have to perform badly in the constituency vote. That’s the way AMS works.

The SNP need to max its votes for constituency MSPs. It must do this. It must put all its effort into doing this.

However, when they achieve this almost all votes for SNP on regional list for MSPs will be wasted.

For example, in Glasgow in 2016 the SNP won all nine constituency MSP places. This meant, that although they got 110,000 regional list votes for regional list MSPs they got no regional list MSPs. That’s the way AMS voting works. In effect, the 110000 votes for the SNP on regional list resulted in four Labour and two Tories becoming list MSPs.

For the regional list vote the SNP needs to see sense and stand aside.

The process of registering the Alliance for Independence as a political party in Scotland is well under way with the Electoral Commission.

READ MORE: Kevin McKenna: This was a vendetta against Joanna Cherry

The Alliance for Independence will enter candidates on the regional list only. By doing so we can secure pro-indy MSPs on the list that the SNP could not and cannot get. Together the SNP and the Alliance for Independence can collect a staggering amount of MSPs and make a solid base from which to secure indyref2 and independence.

The Alliance for Independence will formally launch shortly meanwhile we are moving ahead, getting organised across Scotland, holding meetings virtually and where possible physically. Soon you will see the Alliance for Independence at marches and rallies and more and more on social and mainstream media.

We need to Max The Yes. We all should be working for what’s best for all in the independence movement and for Scotland.

Chris Sagan

Interim regional organiser for Glasgow and Rutherglen Alliance for Independence

I HAVE to agree with Emma Hendrie and Alex Kerr’s article (It is astounding that SNP MP is calling for huge crowd at indy rally, The National August 6) in response to Kenny MacAskill’s suggestion of “getting our boots on and marching again”. As much as I’m for getting the indy marches going again and I think the current SNP stance is woefully lacking in regards to any impetus, Kenny McAskill’s suggestion of getting out marching is deeply naive and dangerous.

Social distancing is not some magic, preventative measure, but in the end a statistical reduction in likelihood of contracting coronavirus from an infected individual it is a statistical game of chance – the greater the distance the less the chance. It is NOT a prevention! But there are other factors: length of proximity in time in close contact, how close that contact is, vulnerability of the individual, number of individuals in close proximity – and yes, being outdoors, even wind direction and strength.

Wearing face masks/coverings are little help in protecting you. Viruses are so minutely small they pass through masks (except PPE) as if the mask is not there. Hold the mask up to the light. Can you see the light through it? If you can then the virus can easily pass through. But it is some use in preventing you from passing it on to others as it will catch any discharge from your coughs or sneezes.

And so in wearing face masks people do reduce the chances of them passing coronavirus on to people by coughing or sneezing on them (and remember, you do not have to have symptoms to be carrying it, so even if you feel well you could be carrying it – so out of respect of others, try and reduce any chance of you potentially spreading it by wearing a mask. It’s not perfect but it does offer some reduced chance of spread.

Coronavirus uses “aerial dispersal” to be transmitted, ie through the air. So still even with a mask on you could be dispersing the virus. So, any idea of a march with social distancing and wearing face-coverings will be fine and safe is total nonsense. You are just risking further outbreaks (Aberdeen anyone?). It just takes one person to infect another and they go and visit their granny, or sit with pals having a drink even in a beer garden – and that is another outbreak!

We want to increase support for independence – not send those who do onto a march to potentially catch coronavirus and kill off our supporters!

Crìsdean Mac Fhearghais

Dùn Eideann