I HAVE rarely given and I have never sought personal endorsements for internal SNP elections. I believe that local selection contests are just that – local – and I respect the democratic decisions of local branches and constituency associations.

As convener of the SNP Scottish Parliament group, I have a perspective based on working with all of my MSP colleagues currently engaged in re-selection contests.

Whether as front or backbenchers, I can say that each of them within parliament has tirelessly worked for their constituents and made a positive contribution to our country.

And, while it is undoubtedly a huge privilege to be a parliamentarian in our national parliament, there is also a personal cost and I know that all of my colleagues have made sacrifices to serve their constituency, their party and their country.

Some of my colleagues and I have vastly different opinions on a range of issues, but Scotland’s national party should not be monolithic and ultimately it is how we work together to achieve independence that matters most to me.

At a time when many of our longest-serving colleagues are retiring, it is worth noting that my colleagues seeking re-selection have 163 years of elected public life between them. Such experience will be crucial in complementing the, hopefully many, new SNP parliamentarians that will be elected in 2021.

Some of my colleagues joined our cause in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, while others, like me, have been around much longer.

But without exception, I have been proud to serve with each and every one of them and I hope to have the honour of continuing to serve with these fellow travellers towards independence in the Scottish Parliament.

I wish everyone seeking to become an SNP candidate in next year’s election well. How we conduct ourselves in internal contests sends an important message to the public and we will all do well to remember that ultimately it is the people of Scotland who decide who represents them in Scotland’s parliament.