THE role of Depute Leader has never been clearly defined and I believe that this election gives us the perfect opportunity to correct this.

I believe that the role of depute leader does not need to be a parliamentary role, it is far more important that the DL is someone who can connect with people and groups, both the grassroots membership of the party as well as the wider public as we move towards the next referendum.

The SNP has come a considerable distance in restructuring the party and the final step in the restructuring process is to examine the function of the branches and look at how we can make these more effective and ensure that their voices can be heard and acted on.

It is important that change is always made in consultation with party members. The First Minister continues to reiterate the importance of listening and connecting with members, voters or the public and this election gives us the ideal opportunity for just that. This is why it’s important that the DL is someone who knows the system and is capable of being the conduit between the members and the leadership, helping them to reshape functions of HQ as required.

People need someone they can relate to and they feel has shared their experiences and someone who shares their vision of a socially fair and equal independent Scotland. So often politicians can hold themselves in an unbelievably high esteem, but it would help to remember we are actually servants to those who gave us their vote and trust.

Now I recognise that some may say that the Depute Leader should come from the Westminster group, but while I appreciate the work being done by MPs, Scotland’s future is at Holyrood. If we are to become independent and show the rest of the world that we are self-sufficient, our message should always be Scotland’s Parliament and future lies here. There is no parity of importance between these two parliaments for me and I believe that should be clear throughout this process. This isn’t to rule out our hard working MPs or councillors, or in fact any member of this party from running; but for me it is important that the Depute has those close links with the centres of power in our Party, the Parliament and Party HQ.

Why me?

I’m an authentic working class voice in a middle class occupation. Too often I feel that the message we send out, a powerful message of policies which benefit the very people I represent, can be lost because of a perception that politics is “not for the likes of me”. I believe I have the ability to connect with people and to relate these messages both as a politician and as a person.

I believe we need to create that space where members are free to have real discussion. Our branch structure has to recognise the new reality of mass membership and needs the support to do so from HQ. I see that as a crucial role for the DL.

The SNP is currently looking at “how we do politics” and for me the best way to do politics is to ensure there is a place for everyone. We need to make sure our female members are able to participate and feel like they have equal opportunities and a platform to do so. I’ve worked with minority groups my whole political life, and it is time for me to take all the words of wisdom they’ve given me and put them into practice. It’s time for the next Depute Leader to put the members first, and when I say that I mean every member regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or economic background. I want to be their voice at the top table.

We need a Depute Leader who is capable of empathising with the struggles many people live with, and I can. I’ve been unemployed, I’ve had real financial difficulties, I’ve suffered from mental health issues; just like so many of those I see every week. I also share their vision of what is possible if we can only take control of our own destiny. It works for individuals and it will work for Scotland.

Every leadership role requires someone who has certain qualities, strength of character, integrity and of course loyalty to the people they represent. I once saw a quote which said “a leader becomes great, not because of their power, but their ability to empower others”. That is my aim if elected as Deputy Leader, “to empower others”.