Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh 16th
School's out for the Summer
Its the start of the school holidays. Im
about a week into the month of Ramadan and the Scottish Parliament has
gone into recess for the summer. Maybe that classic Alice Cooper track
of 1972 is ringing in some peoples ears!
You might think I could breathe out a
little, even relax, but that couldnt be further from the truth.
SNP members have all, by now, received their
voting packs for the ranking of our six candidates in next years
This year, our members have the new option
of voting online handy for those who may be on holiday and a way of
helping save postage and printing costs for HQ.
The ballot papers went out on 8th July and
need to be returned by 29th July. That makes it a busy month for all six
candidates seeking a crucial placing on the list. The SNP has a good and
very fair system in place for the ranking. Every member has the option
of placing the six candidates in the order they see as best.
The Labour Party, on the other hand, remains
mired in confusion about its candidates.
All of our candidates, including me of
course, are busy seeking out opportunities to build their own profiles
and make sure MEMBERS are aware of what they each want to achieve for
the SNP, the Yes campaign and in Europe.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to feature
on an end-of-the-parliamentary-year debate about where the campaign for
independence is placed at the moment (http://tinyurl.com/BBC-Sunday-Politics-Scotland)
My apologies to American readers who wont be able to see this without a
Former Scottish Tory leader, Annabel Goldie
I was interviewed alongside the redoubtable
former leader of the Scottish Tories, Annabel Goldie, who was
predictably pressing the cause for Project Fear, previously known as
Better Together until it was discovered that the term Project Fear is
the one used by the in-house staff to describe its campaign strategy. I
was puzzled when Ms Goldie declared she hadnt heard the term.
Perhaps I was at an unfair advantage: I had
a vision AND A practical opportunity to explain why it would be so much
better for Scotland to be able to make decisions for itself rather than
be tied to the tail of a UK Government that has cost this nation dearly,
and for which Scots havent even voted.
Our First Minister, Alex Salmond, was
talking on Friday about the unions Scotland has with Europe, a defence
union with NATO, A currency union, the union of crowns, and a social
union with the rest of the UK. There is a sixth one that needs to go;
its the one that isnt working for Scotland the political union with
the Westminster Government.
As the First Minister explained to The
Guardian newspaper: (http://preview.tinyurl.com/social-union)
"We have a social union which is about much, much more than Westminster.
It's about family and emotional ties. We will not become a foreign
country, that's simply ridiculous. Does anyone think Ireland is a
foreign country? And as for the currency well, Scotland has as much of
a claim on the Bank of England as anyone else; it was a Scot who founded
it, after all."
I was actually born in London and my parents
still live there. I dont feel any threat of alienation at all from my
relatives and friends in England and that isnt going to alter with a
Our sense of connection with others isnt
broken up by national boundaries. Lots of us have friends and relatives
who are Canadian, American, Pakistani, Indian, French, Italian, Irish.
We have no sense of losing our relationships with any of them,
regardless of what country they happen to live in.
Lets look specifically at Europe. Okay, not
everyone speaks Estonian or Romanian, but many of us have at least some
French, Italian or Spanish and it probably would be a good idea if more
English speakers tried to learn a second language. I speak French and
have a degree in IT, but yes, experience tells me that in most of Europe
English is enough. Around two million people from the UK live in Spain
and only a small percentage speak the language.
Language doesnt need to be a barrier in
Europe. Neither does the nature or type of national government that is
in place. It is the absolute right of the citizens of any democratic
country to vote in the government those voters feel will best serve
them. We can do that in the Scottish Parliament. We cant do it in
Just as I feel absolutely comfortable with
Francois Hollande in France or with Enrico Letta in Italy, I will have
no objection to whatever government the people of England, Wales and
Northern Ireland choose to elect in Westminster once we have an
independent Scotland. I have absolutely no right to do so but I do
have a right to vote as an elector in my own country and to cast my vote
for the Party that has my absolute allegiance and only a yes vote will
ensure that we in Scotland will finally get the Governments we voted
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