The Depute Leadership. I’ve been thinking about this one quite hard. In the SNP of today this is one of the key positions – depending what we want the Depute to do. I believe the it is basically arranging the workings of the Party while the Leader gets on with being FM.

One of the problems is that we are spoilt for choice. We have contenders who could grace any political party. Quite simply they level of talent on offer is tremendous. However, we have to make a choice.

First of all, I’m sorry, but I am not saying anything about Chris McEleny I simply know nothing about him, and there is precious little about him that I can access. He seems to be a fine hard working Councillor. The problem is that while once that may have been a positive advantage, today it is simply the lack of name recognition which is not going to help him.

Everyone who watched it was impressed by Alyn Smith’s speech in the European Parliament. With Dignity and passion, he put forward the claim of Scotland to stay in Europe. Alyn has told us that staying in Europe is an important part of our future and he has told us that he would see that being Depute Leader would help him to open doors in Europe, and yes, that is true and if he were to be running for Deputy Leader that could well be a vital job, a really high powered Party representative at Europe. But he isn’t. The job of Depute is working with the locals, with the Branches and the various constituency organisations. I know that Alyn did a great job going round Scotland at the time of the Referendum, and that by far the pest piece of Referendum literature was the Wee BLEU Book, and while we may be heading for another Referendum, the issue is the organisation of the party at its roots. To put it bluntly Alyn is far too useful where he is than he would be being Depute leader. Completely different jobs with different contribution to the life of the party.

In normal times Angus Robertson would be the obvious person. High profile at Westminster, and doing a brilliant job in proving leadership at Westminster, where the SNP is providing the effective opposition. He has even gained the grudging respect of the Political Establishment. But that is effectively a full time job. One can understand Angus offering to act as Depute and in normal time he would make a great job, but these are not normal times. The SNP has changed totally in the past few years. What was once a small group is now a mass movement. There are very real questions of just how do we go on. Those of us who attend Branch meetings notice subtle changes, these have the potential to be very positive, or to cause great problems. We know that there are those in the party who are already thinking of change to meet present realities.

It is into the situation that Tommy Sheppard has come. He is from a slightly different background to many who have been members of the SNP in the past, but I would argue that for the present job this diversity is a strength. He doesn’t necessarily think in what has been the traditional SNP box. He hasn’t the long standing connections to the Party which might mean comfort with the Status Quo. He is at Westminster, which means that he is just that wee bit removed from the day to day concerns of the people who are doing their politics at Holyrood and in local councils, but yet plugged into the problems which we in Scotland really face.

At the lowest level he runs a comedy club so running a political party as Depute should not be too taxing. Seriously, though we are in a new situation and it would be very easy to fall into simplistic ideas, one could think that as the SNP is bigger it should say the same things, just with a louder voice. I believe that of course we have the same core message, we should be in effect saying the same things about an independent Scotland which cherishes all its children equally.

We had had the Referendum and while there were different understandings of what a generation was, (or more prosaically how soon we could get away with another successful Referendum, it was clear that it was unlikely that Scotland would be having another Referendum on Independence any time soon.

The EU Referendum has changed all that. I am not sure that only a month or so after the Referendum that we are any more than beginning to think where we are, though Nicola in her brilliant speech has made it a lot clearer than it was

However, in these different circumstances we have to address different people in different ways. We can’t really know where an independent Scotland will go in so many ways. All we as the SNP can really do is to help in the delivery of that Independent Scotland and that it will be part of a team effort. I think that of all the candidates Tommy is the one most likely to be able to work in the new circumstances with its uncertainties and its challenges.

We already have an inspirational Leader, let her Depute get on in the Party with building it up.

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