Week 1 of my campaign was busy.
On Monday 31 August I launched my introductory video, there was an article in The National and I launched my website and Facebook pages.
I was delighted to receive an endorsement from Ivan McKee, the Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation. He said, “To win our nation’s independence we will need to be determined in the face of adversity and resilient to overcome the forces ranged against us. Michelle has demonstrated these qualities in spades. We need her on our Holyrood team.”
That was the public face of it. In private I had already had discussions with the branch/CA convenors and local councillors, the MPs Martyn Day and John McNally, and the MSP Michael Matheson.
I consider this approach to be the polite, appropriate and respectful thing to do – I have seen too many people launch their campaign on social media without reference to local members.
Local members are who it is all about. It is local members who wear out their shoe leather campaigning for elected representatives. It is local members who convince communities of the merits of independence.
I wrote to all the branch convenors and the constituency Convenor to confirm I was seeking selection. I hope this was circulated to all members – but in case it wasn’t I will be publishing an open letter.
I have already had contact from people asking questions. I would like to highlight a couple:
From Braes branch asking, “what is my view of independence?” As I confirm on my video – I will put independence front and centre of all that I do, as well as the betterment of Scotland.
From Grangemouth branch asking, “how will you manage the relationship with the various INEOS companies?”. We know that INEOS makes a huge contribution to Scotland’s economic output. It is also a major employer. However, the relationship with the Grangemouth community has not always been good. If selected (and then elected) I will be seeking community representation on the proposed new Grangemouth Future Industry Board.
From Bo’ness branch asking, “if I understand why they sometimes feel disconnected from the constituency?”. It is apparent to me that the name of the constituency is unhelpful. I would like to propose that the name is changed to Bo’ness, Grangemouth and the Braes (or some version of this) – but whatever it is that it should reflect the places within the constituency.
I also had a few meetings last week. The first was with Ross Martin, the former Chief Executive of Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) who is now an advisor to the Scottish Government on regional economies. He is passionate about how economic benefit can be spread beyond towns and cities.
I also met with Professor Iain Docherty of Stirling University who is an acknowledged expert in transport strategy. We discussed the issues with the (lack of) transport in the constituency and the proposals for a new train station in Grangemouth. A lack of effective transport infrastructure builds in wealth disparity which is a clear issue for much of the constituency.
I will be in the constituency regularly and will be posting days and times on my website/Facebook page.