Tacking into the Squall with Stuart McMillan


With only 48 days until the Scottish Elections, I’m going to be extremely busy.


That doesn’t mean a dearth of activity on the site – it means, in fact, the opposite.


I started this blog long before I joined the SNP, but to be frank, how could you tell? Scottish independence is part of my family history, from the recent to the ancient. As the political arm of the Scottish Independence movement, the SNP was always the natural choice for me. Considerations on economics, society and whatnot are all conditional on what the people of England choose. Hence how we have a Scottish government that opposes austerity, Trident, the House of Lords, and so much more… yet we remain in a state governed by those who support them.

This campaign is very different from the General Election campaign. Then, we were electing ambassadors, champions, to represent and fight for Scotland in a hostile parliament: a host of heroes who would enter the mouth of Westminster, amongst those who represented everything we abhor the very most, and ensure that the people of Scotland would not be their pawns and playthings. This time, we are electing our parliament. These are the people we elect to carry out our sovereign will over those aspects of our lives that mean so much – our health, homes, education, care, law, justice, culture, transport, tourism, – and any of the other powers our champions in Westminster carry back home like the Stones of Democratic Destiny. Our Westminster MPs are the expeditionary force we send south to reclaim what belongs to the people of Scotland: our Holyrood MSPs are the caretakers of our will.

Stuart McMillan has been an MSP for West Scotland since the epochal 2007 election. Both times, he contested the Greenock & Inverclyde constituency, and each time he built upon his vote share and numbers.

Scottish Parliament election, 2007: Greenock and Inverclyde
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Duncan McNeil 10,035 43.4 2.7
SNP Stuart McMillan 7,011 30.3 15.4
Liberal Democrats Ross Finnie 3,893 16.8 -11.2
Conservative Charles Ferguson 2,166 9.4 2.8
Majority 3,024 13.1
Turnout 23,105 51.8 0.1
Scottish Parliament election, 2011: Greenock and Inverclyde
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Duncan McNeil 12,387 43.9 -0.2
SNP Stuart McMillan 11,876 42.1 +13.6
Conservative Graeme Andrew Brooks 2,011 7.1 -4.1
Liberal Democrats Ross Finnie 1,934 6.9 -9.4
Majority 511 1.8
Turnout 28,203 49.3 -729
Labour hold Swing 6.9 %

Isn’t it amazing to compare how the SNP have done from 2007 to now?

The Mixed Member Proportional Representation System meant that, while Stuart did not gain enough votes for the constituency, he nonetheless gained a list seat on the strength of SNP support in the West of Scotland – not least in Greenock & Inverclyde itself. Greenock & Inverclyde were thus in a very interesting situation: they were represented by a member of the party of government and the main opposition, who previously served as the party of government himself.

When I was composing the Devo Files, it sometimes occurred to me to suppose: what if every MP elected in 2010 was SNP, instead of only 6? Putting aside the usurpation of Nick Clegg’s party as the third largest party of the UK (thus possibly cancelling the coalition), what if we could compare how votes would have changed if we had more SNP MPs? All those votes with Scottish MPs massively voting against devolution would suddenly become Scottish MPs massively voting in favour of devolution; there’s no telling how it could have affected atrocities like the Bedroom Tax and the Health & Social Care Act. Alas, such flights of fancy are only useful as musings.


It’s different with Holyrood. Thanks to MMPR, we can directly look at which of our MSPs voted for or against – or abstained – any given issue, and particularly how it would change if the SNP were not the party of government. We can also see how different things might have been were the SNP a majority in 2007 – or a minority in 2011. We don’t need to imagine it. And it can be quite illuminating, as we shall learn in future posts.

But it is not enough to make predictions or foster expectations to get Stuart into the job – because he has already been doing this job for 9 years. In addition to being a West Scotland MSP, he chairs the Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism. Inverclyde is a wonderful place of superlative natural beauty – it’s the background to this very blog – and is practically synonymous with ships thanks to our history of shipbuilding. Why not tourism? Stuart was part of the Ferguson’s Taskforce which saw the shipyard survive – the alternative was to see the last of Inverclyde’s historic shipyards, of which there were dozens, close.

I could go on, and I will go on, in the upcoming days – because in case you hadn’t surmised, Scottish independence is a big deal for me. It has been the primary motivator for the last four years of my life. I chapped doors, leafleted, and delivered for a Yes vote. I researched, printed out reams of analyses and facts and figures and graphs, and manned the Yes Inverclyde shop many days. I stood at the polling station for 20 hours, greeting the people of my hometown as they marched to the most important vote they would make in their lives. Then I went and did it all over again last year. And guess what? I’m doing it all over again this year too. And so is Stuart.

I set up this blog to comment on politics and other issues which I wanted to keep separate from other blogs. Since then, it has evolved into an active campaigning platform, from information & opinions on independence, to the Devo Files and comments on press & media. The natural evolution of the blog, then, is to support the political arm of the independence movement – and our local hero. I aim to have a post up every day if I can – even if it’s a simple link or comment – just to highlight what we already have in Stuart. Stuart has been doing a fantastic job representing his constituents, furthering causes, and promoting Scottish independence.

The job’s not done yet. The good ship S.N.P. Greenock & Inverclyde is making the same journey as every other independence supporting vessel in our nation. Stuart is the skipper, and we have to be ready for the stormy seas ahead.

Let’s make it so.

Then, as now.

Stuart’s website

Stuart’s Twitter

Stuart’s Facebook page and profile

Stuart’s fundraiser  (15 days left!)

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