Yer Man

Got home from holiday to find a phone message from an SNP candidate for deputy leader. Would I like to join the launch and may be do a bit of tweeting? I was suddenly confronted with making a choice when I’d told myself it was up to party members. Since I never joined, I mentally opted out – and grateful to do so. It’s a difficult field to choose from.

This isn’t Kezia or Murphy or Alex and…and whoever else was in for the Labour deputy job. (Do the Tories have a deputy?)* Is there a second-in-command, as it were, to Willie Rennie?

No, this looks life a right-enough tussle between three heavy hitters and one makeweight in a party where the deputy really can play a meaningful role. I will discount the Inverclyde councillor as he isn’t going to win but I commend his ambition.

If I had a vote would I give to Angus? I have to say he deserves heaps of credit for building a profile at Westminster for the whole movement by mastering and manipulating the old boys’ club by the Thames. He is second only to Sturgeon in the positive publicity he has generated often from quite unlikely places in the London political establishment and the commentariat, aided of course by the retreat from serious politics of Labour. But I buy the line that he is already an important part of the leadership apparatus and I’m not convinced adding another title would bring tangible benefits. I think deputy is a role which allows creative tension in order to prod and probe at the leader’s sensibilities…stops ‘em getting complacent. Nothing worse than supporters morphing into Yes men and shaving off the sharper edges of the boss.

So Alyn or Tommy?

There are few people in the party I have admired for so long as Alyn Smith whose wry take on the assumed certainties and predictable personalities among the SNP I share. One of my main regrets from the indyref is that the party didn’t listen early enough to his promptings on Europe and how it should be broatched to avoid the car crash that occured. He’s an enthusiast without being a bore and has settled easily into the Euro scene. He exudes the kind of confidence I expect from a European insider representing an independent member state rather than a devolved region. The highest praise I can offer is to say he reminds me of Allan Mccartney whose early death robbed the SNP of one of our most sane and intellectually sound envoys. You couldn’t ask for a better replacement.

The European angle is now as important as Westminster and it would do no harm to underline that point by making one of the most dynamic politicians – tasked with persuading other nations to Scotland’s side – second only to the First Minister.

And then there’s Tommy. In some ways he’s the most interesting because he represents the new breed who have enthused the party and swelled it with dynamism – and impatience. He grew tired of and fell out with Labour. He helped start a thriving business in comedy. He is a doer and an organiser who gives the impression of being unstoppable. I imagine him chafing under the SNP tight discipline at Westminster where there is a group of the new MPs turning restless. This is a good thing because the pressure for change and progress eventually nudges the tiller to the west. If you were looking for someone with the wit and the energy to challenge the status quo short of outright rebellion, you’d pick him.

It may be a Labour past but there is about him the sense of indignation that there such inequality so while the Chinese long view of the SNP old hands makes sense, the dig and drive of a Sheppard can be a constant spur to progress and development. Being deputy would open up to him opportunities for media outings in which he is persuasive and often compelling. And wouldn’t the sight of someone who only joined the party in 2014 rising to such a giddy perch act as an incentive to recent converts and those still tempted? Anyway he’d add a vivid splash of character and I’d vote for him. Not that it’s any of my business…

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55 thoughts on “Yer Man

  1. Agree entirely Derek and as I have a vote that’s how I will cast it!

  2. I was proud to nominate Tommy and to get 4 others in the Branch to do the same, basically for the reasons which you have given.

  3. He’s my choice too. He will be excellent!

  4. Couldn’t agree more its Tommy for me and he will get my vote

  5. welcome back and refreshed i hope ha ha anyway I agree with your view on the choice of deputy i watched Angus and Tommys pitch for the post that were both live streamed recently and Tommy i believe offers the next step forward he has a plan and a vision and was warmly welcomed by the audience and with his business experience he offers something outside politics and close to normal people , the other candidates Alyn Smith and Chris Mc Eleny I haven’t heard much of but look forward to listening to both before i cast my vote ,

  6. I do not have a vote nor would wish one – as I stand outside all political parties. However, I do concur with your analysis in regard to Mr Shepherd.

    Mr. McEleny may well get his chance in time.

    Mr Robertson should certainly be in charge at Westminster and Mr. Smith should be considered for a role whereby he can utilise his energies in Europe for Scotland’s future role in the EU.

    I believe people who want an independent Scotland would like to see all skilled and talented people, whether in the SNP or another Independence group, being used to the fullest extent to assure us of our exit from the Political Union of Great Britain

    • Further to my reply at 4.35pm yesterday, I have read Mr McEleny’s article in the National today and have to revise my assessment of the gentleman.

      In the event there is a change in the local council ruling parties in Scotland being of a more Independence orientation, it might be considered that he be put in charge, within the SNP Governemnt, to ensure that such new councils give the people what they voted for – thus giving the potential of 4 Deputy leaders offering major assistance in all major fields to Ms Sturgeon.

  7. Me too Derek but like you i don’t have a say. I wouldn’t baulk at any of them getting the post to be honest.

  8. Since I prefer not to join any particular political party I can’t vote and therefore my views probably don’t count for anything much. However since there is no harm in having a view I’d say that whilst I agree with pretty much all of what’s been said I think that it would be worthwhile looking at things from another angle.

    Angus is already doing a great job at WM and is likely to be needed to continue doing so for some time hence given the state of the other opposition parties so I’d hope that he may see the sense of staying focused on that front.

    Tommy has made some salient points about the need for the party to re-structure to take account of the increase in the membership. For my money there is a role there to be fulfilled anyway quite aside from the Deputy post in question and I think that the party would do well to formalise it and offer the post to him.

    For me Alyn Smith is the man for the Deputy position. The SNP will require to be far more “at one with” the EU and appointing Alyn as Deputy would surely be seen as a welcome sign by many in the EU that Scotland as an indpendant nation will hopefully be more of a positive contributor.

    If we do stay within the EU it is important that the electorate in Scotland become much more informed about the EU mechanisms and that the media start to report on what is going on with a much more even handed approach. Having someone of Alyn’s experience around at a higher level in the party structure would be a positive bonus.

  9. Alyn is straight as an arrow, if you email him, be sure of a speedy reply, realises that he gets paid to serve the people in hs country, and undoubtly proud and indignant about Scotland’s right to rule itself.
    I also like Tommy, same hard worker, and I can’t disagree with the previous commenter’s view about him.

  10. Tam Sheppard was not as funny as Labour numpties calling themselves socialists.

  11. In the old cowboy movies the sheriff would deputise any number for the posse.
    Would it not be possible to deputise the three serious candidates with different titles and responsibilities?
    Deputy for Westminster.
    Deputy for the EU.
    Deputy for the Party.
    It would give Sturgeon a strong triumvirate ( along with Swinney ), to lean on for advice and support as we move to indyref2.
    She has visibly aged in the last two years, and cannot carry the entire independence movement by herself.

  12. Sometimes you write something that helps me make up my mind. I do think there are 3 good candidates but I have already signed Tommy’s nomination and my vote is definitely going the same way.

  13. Personally, I’ll opt for Tommy, simply to reinforce the point that our brand new elected MPs, go way beyond just making up the numbers. Angus is more than capable of taking on this role, Alyn is also an excellent candidate, So while I plump for Tommy, if it turns out to be one of the other two, I won’t be in the slightest disappointed.

    • I’d be wary of voting for any candidate to reinforce a point of principle. Vote because you believe that person is the best candidate, not for any other reason.

      I have no reason at all to doubt that Tommy will stick with the SNP if bad times happen to lie around the corner, but he’s never been tested. We only have a very short period to judge him on. Of course that won’t always be the case and he’ll have other opportunities to secure top jobs in the future.

      But right now, we have two highly qualified candidates who have proven they will go through the fires of hell for the SNP, and hang in there even though success seems an age away. I’m not going to pass over these guys just to make a gesture about new members being welcome.

  14. I really don’t know who I’ll vote for.

  15. I’m swithering between Angus & Alyn, while Angus deserves it for his service to the party Alyn’s EU knowledge & experience would be very useful when #indyref2 kicks off. Many Yes voters I have spoken to are turned off by remaining in the EU but can’t actually explain beyond generalisations they got from the media.

  16. I intend to vote for Alyn. I know him personally, as he succeeded me as secretary of London branch in the 1990s. He was keen, committed, hardworking and enthusiastic then as now. He struggled with the rest of us back when the party had fewer than 10,000 members and three MPs.

    His performance as an MEP has been stellar, especially during and after the EU referendum. His wee bleu book could have won it for remain if it had been distributed throughout Britain. His specialist knowledge and expertise are particularly relevant right now. I believe he’s the right choice.

    Angus is also a longtime trouper of course, and every bit as capable as Alyn. However he already has a top job as Westminster leader. I favour adding Alyn to the top table rather than having Angus wear two hats. It’s not as if we’re short of talent.

    Tommy is too new for me. I get why he might appeal to new members. But although he’s done extremely well so far and is clearly headed for a senior party position some day, I don’t think that day is yet. I think he’s flying a kite to some extent at the moment and good on him, but I wouldn’t yet choose him over someone like Alyn who fought alongside me during the dark years of Thatcherism.

  17. Our branch is trying to arrange a hustings where all the candidates can address us because some members are still undecided. For me though its Alyn Smith, mainly because of his expertise in European matters, but also for the personal reason that he came to help us campaign during the 2015 General Election, and for me, seeing him at close hand, found him to be an excellent communicator. And of course like me, he is a Glaswegian.

  18. It shouldn’t be Alyn Smith. Via his conduct over TTIP he has proven himself to be actively anti-democratic (not just undemocratic).

    For what is a hugely secretive ‘deal’ he signed up to the secrecy to prevent the electorate from knowing what is going on. If he had true democratic principles as his guiding lights he would have said, “No I’m not going to deceive the electorate in that way, and I’ll whistle-blow at every turn about what is going on.” He didn’t do that, and by his deeds yea shall know him. Why would anyone want an anti-democrat as deputy leader.

    Angus is already leader in Westminster, and a good one, and I don’t think that stretching to deputy is a good idea. He is much better just focussed on what he is already doing well.

    Sheppard for me.

  19. I would be content with any one of the three candidates. The selection of Alyn Smith would be a pro-Europe signal – no bad thing, and elevates his status and authority in EU politics.

  20. While a country with a population in excess of 300 Million is only capable of producing Trump and Clinton as candidates for the most powerful leader in the World our little country of just over 5 Million produces candidates of the calibre of Robertson, Smith and Sheppard for the post of just Deputy Party Leader (no insult meant to the Inverclyde guy but I know little about him).

    That’s without even mentioning Sturgeon, Swinney, Eck and many others – we are indeed blessed to have so many excellent politicians in The SNP any one of which would be better at the job of POTUS than what is on offer to the US – and the same goes for Westminster and the UK government.

  21. I was going to go for Angus, but now I’m not so sure. Kinda like Tommy, but might go for Alyn due to the importance of EUrope.

    BY the way, it’s ‘broached’. 😗

  22. I like the idea of three Deputes! No reason why we should hold to “traditional” political tropes. They’re all excellent candidates, but like you, Derek, I’m not considering the councillor because I want someone in post who has been tried and tested under pressure. I respect and admire him for standing but I’d never heard of him before the Depute election was initiated.

    The remaining three all have serious, heavyweight skills.They’re leading a dignified, mutually-respectful campaign that you don’t see in the other main parties, which also says a lot about the respect the party has for the intelligence of the party membership – we don’t need to be harangued and torn about in this contest by media battles that appeal to the lowest common denominator. We can make up our own minds without the help of a sell-more-papers Mr Congeniality spat.

    I’m taking my time and going to the hustings. I can’t honestly say which of them I will choose as they all bring such value with them.

    • The idea of three deputies isn’t on the ballot paper as far as we know. Angus has the most experience at Westminster where we need to put the utmost pressure on a Tory administration with a small majority and no mandate to govern. It has to be Angus.

  23. I’m torn – such talent – oh the woes of the SNP. Going to a hustings tomorrow which will hopefully clarify things for me but you make good points – when Angus declared I was certain I’d back him. Then came the rest… Argh!

  24. I floated the tripartite approach to Depute a couple of weeks ago on facebook….sank without trace! I think its time has come though, but with a variation….
    Angus for WM matters
    Tommy for the YES campaign
    Alyn for Europe
    Chris for the Council election campaign.
    ……err…..that’s four……

  25. If IndyRef 2 proceeds, we are going to need steady hands at the SNP tiller, given the possibility of the anarchically exciting YES movement doing its thing.

    If it can’t be Hosie, then my vote will go to Robertson with his long steady track record. In fact the only time I’ve seen Smith perform was his appeal which received the standing ovation, but the background to this was the offence Brexit created in mainland Europe.

    I agree Sheppard would be a useful catalyst between the Party and the Yessers.

  26. So it looks like a consensus that all of them should be Deputy Leader. Isn’t that wonderful that so many people agree that all the contenders are wonderful. Scottish politics stands apart from the others in the fact that we have genuine committed (to the country & the people) politicians who all believe in social justice and the right for Scotland to chose it’s own destiny. This makes me feel so good and there is precious little in most modern politics that can do that.

  27. just a little final comment on the subject , may i suggest all mps & msps be given intensive media training before they open their mouths to a largely hostile media , example being recently Angus Robertson was widely reported on the BBC as saying ” we need to also show the down side of independence ” get a grip this is basic stuff Angus ,also Martin Docherty MP for west Dunbartonshire quoted on the BBC website as having serious doubts about RT opening an office in Edinburgh and warning about state sponsored propaganda by an outside media outlet , god help us dosent he get irony i mean the BBC , please someone tell them to think first .

  28. “Is there a second-in-command, as it were, to Willie Rennie?” Surely one of your drollest lines.

  29. I am also in a quandary about which candidate to vote for, however I am convinced that, unlike other UK parties, those who don’t win the vote will nevertheless give their whole-hearted support to the winner, and continue to fight for Scottish independence, with, or without a “deputy” title.

    • This was in the back of my mind too Anne – that the unsuccessful candidates would have since grudge, despite them already being in responsible positions. But like you i believe they have a bigger commitment to the cause of Indy. I wish them all well.

  30. I’m an SNP member from before the Referendum.

    I can tell you that I will not be voting for a candidat4e who makes it clear that his opinions are more important than those of the membership.

    Inverclyde please take note.

  31. Your take on the election did help me, but I think I had chosen anyway. I am an SNP member and will vote for Tommy, although it was a close call between him and Alyn. While I applaud Angus for his grip on the gaggle (?) of MPs and the unified front they show on Westminster I have always valued the diversity of thought of those unified in the SNP by the objective of independence but otherwise in disagreement on specific policy.

    I think I am only a member of the SNP until independence. After that I will have to review. I have never been a member of Labour and doubt I ever will be, but Tommy is the charismatic and compelling prop to Nicola that in my opinion we need to secure the win in Indyref 2. For what it is worth, that is my ‘take’ anyway.

    BTW to my shame I don’t know enough about Chris McEleny to mention him in my ramblings above. I almost chose to vote for him for that reason. Against a trio of extremely strong candidates – that put to shame similar elections in ‘major’ parties – up you pop and good on you for doing so. Maybe now is not quite your time, but well done and kudos to you.

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