(The following is a party political broadcast not paid for by the SNP)
In the coming months, I’m going to be looking at all the candidates for the 2015 General Election and pointing out more or less why I think any vote for someone other than a pro-independence party is not only a waste of time, but actively damaging to the needs and desires of the people of Scotland. First on the list, of course, will be my local MP, Iain McKenzie. As with my post on Braden Davy, this isn’t about personal attacks or smears on their personalities – simply a collection of their votes, comments and actions which, in my mind, prove their ineligibility as representatives of the people of Scotland. Mr McKenzie could be the nicest person in the world – I know he’s been nothing but cordial with me in my interactions with him – but it’s the job that matters.
At the same time, it would be pretty damning to vote for a candidate based on who they’re not. What kind of confidence does it inspire if the only reason to vote for someone is “well, they aren’t New Labour, so that’s something?” None. So Inverclyde needs someone they can rely on to fight their case in Westminster, who isn’t going to abstain on votes that directly affect them, and who will not be part of the Establishment. Fortunately for the 80,000 of Inverclyde, we have that individual: his name is Ronnie Cowan.
The people of Inverclyde certainly weren’t wanting for prospective candidates to represent them in Westminster: the Yes campaign has been blessed with some of the hardest working and most enthusiastic campaigners at that wee shop in Cathcart Street. Few worked nearly as hard as Ronnie: day in, day out, for two and a half years, he worked and campaigned with Yes. In the last few months of the campaign, he could be found at the shop. Manning the till; organising deliveries and leaflet drops; planning the next action; answering questions; folding newspapers. All this with a full-time job, too.
Whenever I think of the Yes Inverclyde shop, I think of Ronnie. I think of the time he, Stuart MacMillan and I fixed the overhead lighting for Nicola Sturgeon’s visit. I remember how he memorised so many facts, figures and percentages for Scotland’s contributions to the UK, EU and world, and could rattle them off in the middle of a conversation with an undecided – who rarely left undecided after talking with him! I don’t think I ever remember him saying he was too tired, or too low, or in a bad mood: he was always up for canvassing or leafleting or campaigning, without fail. He led by example, always eager to work, facilitating and cajoling the rest of us. It was exceedingly difficult to say no to Ronnie.
Ronnie was never a flag-waving, torch-bearing sort: he was always a fairly serious and practical individual when it came to campaigning. And yet, he harnessed a community – a community that, never forget, was predicted to only get a 20% Yes result, but ended up at 49.9% Yes – to make it the 5th highest of all 32 Scottish constituencies. Ronnie would be the last person to take credit for leading the Yes Inverclyde campaign, but in truth, there’s nobody in Inverclyde for whom that title is most deserved.
Ronnie wouldn’t be going to Westminster to make his fortune. He wouldn’t be going to forge new lucrative and powerful connections. He wouldn’t be going for the fame and influence. He would only be going because he needed to go – because the people of Inverclyde need him to go. And if we can help turn Inverclyde from a No-hoper to within 86 votes of a Yes, imagine what we could do with a mere 5,000 vote deficit between the SNP and New Labour.
We need someone to fight for what we in Inverclyde need. Iain McKenzie isn’t going to do that. Ronnie Cowan is.
And my proposal for Ronnie Cowan for Inverclyde theme: