21 October 2014

Stewart Hosie: "Our New Scotland – The Next Step…"

Like many folk in the party, I remain undecided about which of the three candidates for Deputy Leader of the SNP I should support. How do their visions differ? What are they all about? Having a wee platform here, I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask all three to write me up to 1,000 words on the thinking behind their bids to replace Nicola Sturgeon. Newspapers only have so much space. On telly and on radio, one has next to no time to say anything at all. On blogs, we can afford to be a bit more leisurely and considered. On Monday, we heard from Transport Minister, Keith Brown MSP. Today, it is Dundee East MP, Stewart Hosie's turn, to make his pitch.

The Labour Party in Scotland is in meltdown.

That’s an unusual way to start an article, but as we approach the next challenge the SNP and the wider Independence movement faces - it is important - because that next challenge is the 2015 General Election.

This should not, in my view, be a re-run of the referendum. Instead it is the Scottish people’s opportunity to hold Westminster’s ‘feet to the fire’ and force them to fulfil their promises.

So remember what they told us. “We’re going to be, within a year or two, as close to a federal state as you can be.” (Gordon Brown, 14 August 2014). Which, sounds very similar to the pledge (or vow) made by the Prime Minister. “If we get a No vote …, that will trigger a major, unprecedented programme of devolution with additional powers for the Scottish Parliament.” (David Cameron, 15 September 2014)

But the proposals published so far by the UK parties neither meet the public demand for “devo-max” or the expectations raised during the referendum campaign. 

Their proposals would devolve barely 30% of Scotland’s revenue base, or to put that another way, less than half the funding requirements of the Scottish Parliament. These are not “extensive new powers”, that is not “federalism”. Rather those are extremely modest proposals and likely to disappoint not just the 1.6 million who voted Yes, but the large number of those who voted No in order to secure substantial new powers.

The only way to make unionism sit up and take heed – and to secure substantial new powers – is to elect the largest number of Independence supporting MPs to Westminster ever. While we may win seats from the Lib Dems, and they deserve to lose them, our primary opponents in most seats in Scotland are Labour. That is why their all too public collapse is important. That and the fact their devolution offering is even weaker than the Tories. So far, so self evident. The question is how do we win these seats?

In my view, it hinges on keeping the Yes Movement together to campaign for Independence supporting MPs and for more powers while at all times making the case for Independence. And in arguing for real maximum devolution (everything bar defence and foreign affairs), we would reach out not just to those who voted Yes, but 25% of those who voted No expecting substantial new powers for Scotland

I am certain that the best way to make sure Westminster delivers will be to return the largest ever number of Independence supporting MPs to Westminster. I’m equally certain that many of the wonderful, talented people who emerged through the Independence campaign will contest the next election. But The SNP will be the engine of the campaign and with over 80,000 members it will be a turbo charged one. However, the wider Independence movement can provide further fuel and momentum to that campaign. 

In practice that means looking at ways of working beyond party interests to maximise the participation of those who campaigned and voted for a better Scotland by offering them an opportunity to campaign and vote again for change at next year’s General Election. I have no doubt that the SNP can and will send the largest ever number of SNP MPs to Westminster at next year’s general election, but if we build a Yes Alliance, there is an opportunity to do even more than that.

What is clear is that whether we campaign on a joint platform of maximum powers for Scotland, or select candidates from the range of hugely talented people who emerged through the referendum campaign, the SNP should show the same willingness to work with individuals and organisations to make sure the largest number of Independence supporting MPs is delivered to Westminster next May. 

By turning the strong desire for change into votes for change next year the Scottish people can sweep aside the vested interests of the Westminster old guard. This will deliver the best chance of substantial new powers for Scotland.

It is for agreement as to how formal or informal such cooperation would be, but what a powerful alliance we could deliver to stand up for Scotland. Of course any broad campaign will require approval from not just the SNP but many of the other parties and organisations involved in Yes but it is important that we begin build that alliance now to deliver for Scotland.

2015 is just the next step for Scotland. There will be many, many miles to walk to Independence after that. But it is an important step in a very important year. I believe I have the skills and experience to help offer some leadership over this period, which is why I have put myself forward as a candidate for Depute Leader of the SNP.

All the hopes and dreams we have for a richer, fairer, greener, more socially just society need Scotland’s people to take the next step and demand more powers. Let’s make sure the Independence Movement is united and sure-footed as we campaign, together, to take this most important next step.

Stewart Hosie MP


  1. Great stuff, straight to the point. I like it. With all due respect to Keith Brown who is clearly good at his current job this is what we're looking for in a Deputy Leader!

  2. This is a very strong submission, and from what I've seen very much reflects what is being talked about in the wider YES movement. Having played a lot with electoral calculus (and scotlandvotes) it may well be that there are some seats that the SNP just can't win even with a 50% share of the vote. I don't think the SNP should not stand in these, but there is surely no harm in the ground activists asking people to consider the SNP, but also the Green candidate if appropriate, or the SSP. I repeat SSP, as there seems to be a bit of a reluctance in the SNP to mention them, even though they were pro-Indy as well. And then of course the redoutable maverick, Tommy Sheridan. I like mavericks.

    As for Smith, I totally approve of the SNP covering letter and the ScotGov submission. It defines Devo-Max and takes ownership of it. It is now for the other parties to justify - why - exactly - it shouldn't be delivered in full, and of course, solve the EVEL problem in exchange. There is the trap of course that powers "granted" could be bad for Scotland, resulting in cuts or dismissal of the Barnett to Scotland's detriment. I know the SNP are aware of this.

    Can I presume that the winning candidate will take notice of the "losing" candidates views and ideas as well as his / her own? I'll probably be at Dalry if I can get in, and might ask this question :-)

  3. If gorgeous George can win a seat in Bradford then Tommy S should be a shoo in in several Glasgow seats , let's give him a chance to depose a lumpen Labour expenses hound with no other distraction.
    Not got my card yet , so can't vote , but Stewart Hosie would be my choice as he will be a good foil to Nicola and he is in another place where hopefully we will need a lot more laison and discipline to maximise results.

  4. Yesindyref2 and Votefor - Tommy Sheridan is a total non-starter. Even ignoring the fact that at least 50% of the Yes side would refuse to campaign for him, there's the small matter of him being banned from standing for election.

    1. Ah, yes, that would be a small matter right enough!

    2. Doug - yes. Am amazed that some nationalists see Sherry as an asset. As far as the electorate are concerned, surely it would be like Unionists such as me being expected to welcome Eric Joyce on the platform.

      Colin Fox's SSP gets about 1% of the votes, Sherrys vehicle Solidarity gets even less, but more importantly Fox is seen as a decent guy - he won't benefit your 'wider Yes campaign' that Mr Hosie desires by very much but he won;t frighten the horses in the Mearns.

      Oh re Mr Hosie, a fair bit of repetition in this piece but an effective to-the-troops speech.

    3. Doug,

      In point of fact, there is no legal ban on Sheridan standing for office. The only restriction is when you are in prison - although this was widely misreported at the time, so you won't be alone in thinking this.

      But at the bottom line: I entirely agree with you. Think about it at an abstract level. If you or I dishonestly attempted to use the courts to gain a substantial sum of money, and in pursuit of that sum, we took the opportunity publicly to interrogate and accuse of lying folk we've had the most intimate relationships with - I think most folk would think you and I were monsters. And political cryptonite. Even if you and I could give a decent speech, and happened to share a view or two about the constitution. Sheridan's public rehabilitation - for which the BBC has a lot to answer for - is one of the more dismal aspects of the independence referendum campaign. He's repented nothing.

    4. Dagnammit, I knew I should have double-checked that first. That's the last time I trust the website I gleaned that little "fact" from...

      Interesting point about the BBC. Parallels with their role in the rise of UKIP really. Odd behaviour from a public broadcaster...

    5. LPW / DD
      I quite like Sheridan, warts and all. I was glad he made up part of the 1999 rainbow Parliament. I guess people accept him, or not.

      But comparisons to Eric Joyce and then John Prescott are apt. I suspect died in the wool Labour supporters don't expect perfection from their MP, and he could be a good stand against the likes of Jim Murphy.

  5. Glad to hear you're on board Stewart. :-)

  6. At this stage he is my favourite out of the 3 contenders. I agree with everything that he said here and he sounds to me like someone who will get results and move us forward.

  7. Stewart's impressive demolition of Lord Robertson swung it for me.

  8. Replies
    1. I've never yet barred anyone from commenting, douglas. (I wouldn't know how!) Must be a technical glitch.

  9. Apparently not.

    I am not completely convinced by a gradualist approach, others mileage may vary. However this does not delight me:

    2015 is just the next step for Scotland. There will be many, many miles to walk to Independence after that. But it is an important step in a very important year. I believe I have the skills and experience to help offer some leadership over this period, which is why I have put myself forward as a candidate for Depute Leader of the SNP.

    This are, potentially, a few yards to walk, not miles.

  10. @douglas clark

    I'm a gradualist, but not from choice. It's just the way the world is. I could be wrong, of course. If you have found a way to make Scotland independent later this evening, I'll back you up until your nose bleeds.