Today the digital ballots are out, and SNP members across Scotland are invited to vote for the SNP Depute Leader. There are four candidates this time around, each with their own distinct merits and contributions to the role. While this particular hustings is being organised in Greenock’s Tontine Hotel, branches across the West of Scotland – Arran, Dumbarton, Dunoon, Eastwood, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, and more – are invited to attend.
Here’s a quick overview of the candidates, in alphabetical order, with some videos I felt showed the candidates at their best. To ensure fairness, I have dedicated exactly 100 words to each. Quite proud of that!
Councillor Christopher McEleny, a former Babcock International electrician, was the first to announce his candidacy, and is the Group Leader for the SNP on Inverclyde Council. While he does not have the nationwide media profile of the other candidates, he is certainly known locally. I’ve known Chris for a very long time: we grew up in the same area – our beloved Inverclyde – attended the same high school, and now he represents the SNP in my ward. We can expect him to approach the Depute Leadership with local government & councils in mind. He is a lifelong Morton fan.
Angus Robertson MP is the Westminster Group Leader for the SNP, one of the 7 current MPs who have represented the party in the UK Parliament before 2015’s unprecedented result. He has been the MP for Moray since 2001, became Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defense, and has led the House of Commons group since 2007: in addition, he has been appointed to the Privy Council, and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. Westminster, devolution, and constitutional change will undoubtedly be part of Mr Robertson’s prospectus for Depute Leadership. He is a metalhead, and is particularly fond of Metallica.
Tommy Sheppard MP started off, like many new SNP members, in the other party, but left in 2003 after 25 years due to much disagreement with its direction. He was born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland; educated at Aberdeen University; & worked in England as a Hackney London Borough Councillor. He joined the SNP following the Scottish Independence Referendum, where he became one of the 56 MPs elected in 2015, and was appointed to the SNP National Executive Committee. Mr Sheppard’s focus as Depute Leader is on membership involvement in campaigning. He isn’t a fan of fancy dress or animal impersonations.
Alyn Smith MEP started on the SNP staff at Holyrood. He contested Holyrood & Westminster in 2001 and 2003 respectively before being elected to the European Parliament in 2004: he became a full member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, then the Foreign Affairs Committee. He is Honorary President of the Young Scots for Independence, the Federation of Student Nationalists, a member of the SNP National Executive Committee, and Director for LGBTI Youth Scotland. Alyn will concentrate on Scotland’s relationship with the European Union, which could be crucial in a future independence referendum. Has perfected the People’s Eyebrow.