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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
2011 Election Winner

Billy Wolfe’s Flag in the Wind

When I was selected to be the Candidate in the 2007 election one very important person supported my candidacy.

That person along with his wife Kate was Billy Wolfe. Billy and I had been acquainted years before on a bus to SNP Conference in Perth. He was involved in the trade union group and had come along to selection meeting in 2006 to lend his support and that of Kate too.

As you all know Billy passed away last year but left a lasting legacy of peace and integrity.

This brings me to election campaign 2011 again in the selection process Kate gave her unequivocal support. Kate had been very involved in another election in 1967 and she had experienced a great success when Dr Winifred Ewing was elected to Westminster as MP for Hamilton.

Now Hamilton is an iconic seat for the SNP and knew that the eyes of people within our party were on me to bring Hamilton back to the SNP

I had a small but well-motivated team and we set our campaign plan as one to win – a tall order I hear you say. Labour had held this seat of Hamilton at Westminster, Scottish and council levels for decades. It was going to take a lot to make that change. Well that change we did make!

At the beginning of that campaign I was leafleting in the village of Quarter where I was invited to a big high profile event in the evening. It was the Bingo in the Bowling club. On the heady heights of socialising it may seem, however I believe these events are very important for local communities to come together and maintain the strong bond that holds them together.

Now Kate and Billy have a flag pole in there front garden and Kate was adamant that she would put Billy’s flag back up for the election campaign. She asked someone from the bowling club to help her and right after the bingo we did just that. Kate proclaimed “You’re going to win now.” How correct she was! Kate raised the standard!

We had help from my friends the Strathleven Artizans too in the form of King Robert and my personal guard.

Strathleven Artizans

We had a bill board or two too….


During the next 5 weeks we worked to win and on the evening before polling day we had a good old fashioned car cavalcade and when we reached Quarter, Kate was out in her garden and we all slowed down to salute Billy’s Saltire. Kate had decorated the garden with McKelvie posters and lots of flags and balloons; it looked great.


Kate's Garden

With trepidation and excitement we entered into polling day. My team were re-invigorated and up for the day, which did seem a bit surreal considering how exhausted we all were. There was a feeling of a change of attitude in the constituency which ultimately led to expectation in my teams eyes. People wanted a better nation and they wanted to be part of it.

The Team

As the polls closed and we got ready to go to the count we gathered in my election agent Graeme’s house. There I thanked my team for their hard work, dedication and belief in our cause.

The count was buzzing, we started ballot box sampling and realised we were winning ballot box after ballot box. I kept saying to my team “keep Salm and carry on” a very clever headline in the Sun newspaper that day.

Well we had the Rutherglen result first and our candidate Jim McGuigan run it very close by that time we knew that East Kilbride was looking good for us too. Hot on the heels of the Rutherglen result came, the much awaited triumph for Linda Fabiani.

Linda and Christina Victorious

Linda, Aileen and Me

Aileen was next and the rest they say is history…I will make mention of my friend Clare Adamson who is now a regional MSP and I am delighted to have her on our team.

Linda, Clare and me.

I was so delighted for my pal; she had worked so hard for 12 years and this all paid off with a wonderful win. She will be a fantastic constituency MSP for East Kilbride.

The result for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse was in, we gathered around the returning officer to agree the spoiled papers and get an interim result. It was such an amazing feeling to see the numbers before me and I had to gather myself and my thoughts for the declaration. I remember the look of terror on Graeme’s face when he asked me where my speech was. I answered that “it was all in my head” I had waited a long time for this moment and I had rehearsed everything I would say. My team all waited eagerly for the announcement and to look down on their emotional but happy faces was brilliant. This was a real team effort they helped me gain such a great majority of 2213. My work starts now to ensure that all 12202 people who voted for me are confident that they made the correct decision. I will not let them down.

Graeme Horne is now officially the happiest election agent in Scotland.

Happy Agent.

One of the early calls I made was to someone who had set the trend, won against all the odds and supported me from the start. That call of course went to Dr Winifred Ewing she sounded delighted and told me she was “walking on air”. I dedicate this win to her and also to all the people who believed in me especially to one of many special people Jamie Williamson. Jamie was my political Da and if he was here today I think he would be over the moon. I think he would also approve of my nomination to be convenor of the Parliaments Europe and external Affairs committee. More on that another time….

So as I unpacked my office I came across a card sent to me by Kate & Billy Wolfe dated the 31st May 2007 wishing me many satisfying and happy experiences. Well Billy there’s nothing more satisfying than winning Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse and I have Kate and Billy to thank for that as they were the first signatures on my original nomination for the seat.

Billy’s flag is flying just that wee bit prouder today….

Mum, Lewis, Jack and Me

Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse

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