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PRIDE Glasgow

PRIDE is a celebration of how far we’ve come, and a reminder of how far we still need to go. The days of furtive and toxic secrecy and oppression, of narrow hate and small-mindedness are drawing to an end. Nations have taken stride after stride, enacted policy after policy and it has been a long, painful and frustrating process but now we are getting close. Only now, centuries down the line is our small and beautiful country finally nearing true equality; we have quite possibly the most progressive government in human history and boast a majority of our party leaders being LGBT.

The struggle, however, continues. In these modern times scores of people are being harassed and marginalised, brutalised, dejected, rejected, loathed and abused. Still nations force their LGBT+ citizens to live on the edge of death, to be denied the right to marry, have children, to live as men and women and all the glorious things that lay between, and all too often, deny them their right to live.

Our PRIDE festival we celebrated only days ago was an act of defiance against every injustice any one of us has suffered. I understand ours is a society of overwhelming peace and equality, but all too often the worst can happen to most vulnerable people, even here. But of this party, this nation and this monumental movement of love and colour and hope I am garishly, obscenely and inordinately proud and implore you too, reader, to take PRIDE.

Christopher Adam

Independència: Homage to Catalonia

 

Living on an island in the corner of the continent can often make us Scots feel a bit detached from the rest of Europe. Separated by the North Sea, we can at times feel that we are somehow different, both politically and culturally, from our European cousins.

Earlier this month, I attended Acampada Jove (“Young Camping”) with our Convener, Rhiannon Spear, as the SNP Youth delegates. We found during our visit that despite being distant from our European cousins, we are closer than we think.

Acampada Jove is a three day music festival held in Montblanc – a small medieval town in mid-Catalonia with a big character. The festival is organised by JERC, the youth wing of Esquerra Republicana – Catalonia’s left-wing nationalist party

Just like young Scots, the young Catalans were energised by independence and were extremely engaged with not only their domestic politics, but also international politics. A number of them had been to Scotland during our referendum and were able to hold their own in lengthy discussions on the most intricate subjects of Scottish politics.

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International delegates at Acampada Jove

We also met left wing nationalists from across Europe, including well-established movements such as those in Basque and Galicia; but also from fledgling movements like those in Venice who are struggling against their right wing nationalist counterparts to change the discourse and attitudes.

There were many parallels to be drawn between Scotland and Catalonia. We both have strong independence movements. We both struggle against a Government which does not have our best interests at heart and is elected by other parts of the country. Our independence movement is one of the left. And we wish for our autonomous and sovereign nations’ right to be restored within a connected and cooperative Europe.

However, we do differ in a number of ways.

Culture was extremely prevalent in the Catalan independence movement. In Scotland, we try to do all we can to try to avoid any form of cultural difference or expression. This has base in the ‘Scottish cringe’ – the embarrassment of distinct elements of Scottish culture – and an obsession with purely civic nationalism out of fear of being labelled a flag-waving nationalist.

The Catalans expressed their own cultural identity in a number of ways, from Anti-Fascist symbols of the Civil War; chanting and singing; and even obvious cultural elements like using Catalan even though Spanish is a more widespread language globally.

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The Dimonis performing during Acampada Jove

Traditional customs such as the ‘Dimonis’ (demons) who dress as devils and manically chase people with fireworks on the end of the pole, or seeing human towers pop up everywhere in a crowd of 8,000 people, were at the heart of the festival.

Although there has to be a political case for any major constitutional decision, I was jealous of the Catalans’ cultural expression and the pride they took in doing so. During the indyref, you may see the odd pocket of ceilidh dancers in George Square. Or the lone man in a kilt. In Catalonia, cultural identity was inescapable.

We need to shake off the fear of being Scots and celebrate our rich heritage. This does not need to detract from the civic nationalist case for independence or who we deem a Scot. Comments from Alyn Smith MEP exemplify the model for Scottish nationalism and the Scottish identity:

“If you live in Scotland, you’re Scottish. It’s not about where you’re from, but where we’re going together.”

In terms of organisation, JERC were highly organised. Even with only a few thousand youth members, JERC had their own office in Barcelona which was the base of their operations. Acampada Jove itself was in its 21st year!

Independence as a movement in Scotland has only came to the forefront in the past fifteen years. Whereas in Catalonia, it has been a cause for which many have died for.

In the SNP Youth, we are just getting started. With around 12,000 members, we have seen what is possible with only a fraction of that number. Inspired by the Catalans’ passion, we want to be bolder and more active. We hope to drive the SNP Youth to the forefront of the party raising the big issues to ensure that what we care about is on the agenda and that the independent Scotland we want is realised.

Although we can feel different from our European cousins just across the North Sea and also south of the border, we can learn and work with one another in a European Union of autonomous nations – essential for combating the greatest issues of our time: climate change, the democratisation of Europe and international justice.

There is no doubt that a common trait of both Scottish and Catalan nationalism is the strong passion for empowerment within a connected Europe of small, autonomous nations. We recognise the need for a national revolution across the world to better meet the needs of citizens while still fostering international cooperation. Stefano, the Venetian delegate, put it best:

“Modern, centralised states are too big for their citizens, yet too small for the world.”

Throughout our visit we were thanked numerous times by Catalans for putting independence on the European agenda. For many, Scotland is viewed as the vanguard nation in the struggle for self-determination. However, we must make sure that we all move forward together.

Organising with other delegates from EFA (European Free Alliance) and opening our international links can only strengthen our will, capabilities and determination, and bring us together, differences and all, in solidarity across Europe for our independence.

Experience: Being Elected as a Young SNP Councillor

On 6th May, Angus Millar was elected as – as far as he knows – the youngest SNP Councillor in Scotland. We asked him to tell us about his experience.

 

Becoming an SNP councillor was a surreal experience – one which happened almost in a daze.

Partly, that was down to the quickness with which everything had happened – the unexpected announcement of a by-election, the rapid candidate selection process and the fast-paced election campaign. Mostly, however, it can be attributed to the fact that, having stayed up all through Thursday night for the Holyrood election count, I still hadn’t had any sleep by the time my own election was confirmed at around 12.30pm on the Friday.

I am now an SNP councillor for Anderston/City on Glasgow City Council. It still sounds very strange to say that – and even weirder to have council employees insist on calling me “Councillor Millar”.

But I am very grateful to the council staff and my SNP colleagues who have supported me in undertaking my new responsibilities, from attending full council sessions and sitting on scrutiny committees, to engaging with local organisations like community councils and assisting constituents with issues they face.

I am also incredibly grateful to the voters who put their faith in me and the SNP to represent them and drive forward progress in the local area.

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Angus and team getting out the vote in Anderston/City on the 5th May

Local government is not necessarily as high-profile as parliamentary politics, but it is where many of the most important decisions that impact on people’s day-to-day lives are made. It is a great honour to have been given the opportunity to help bring about change for the benefit of people and communities in Anderston/City and across Glasgow.

The SNP’s passion for tackling inequalities, boosting prosperity and empowering communities is at the heart of everything our councillors do – and these are the principles which will underpin the bold plans we’ll campaign on in next year’s council elections. So, too, must we strive to make our politics at all levels more representative of the varied groups and communities our politicians represent.

Angus’ first tweet as an SNP Councillor

Particularly key to this is engaging young people. A majority of residents in the ward I represent in central Glasgow are under 30, and yet we know that young people are less likely to vote or engage with local democracy. As a result, young people’s views are too often not considered or deprioritised.

That urgently needs to change – and that means actively reaching out to youth groups, student communities, young workers and others to seek their priorities and ideas of how to change things for the better. That’s something I’ll aim to do frequently in my new role, and I am determined to help make the voices of young people heard.

We also need more young people getting actively involved in politics and becoming representatives themselves. I am currently (I believe) Scotland’s youngest councillor, but I hope next May many more young people put themselves forward for election to stand up for their communities and to provide fresh voices for our generation.

SNP Youth has an important role to play here, and I know that the youth wing’s National Executive Committee, as well as myself, would be more than happy to talk to any young SNP members thinking of putting themselves forward for the council elections, and to help advise on the process of standing to be an SNP candidate.

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Angus’ leaflet for te Anderston/City by-election

In order to truly engage young people in our democracy, it is absolutely vital that our representatives include those with actual experience of being a young person in modern Scotland. It is also important that we build on the SNP’s progress in increasing the representation of women and minority groups, and that we field a wide range of candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences next year.

Scotland’s councillors are in a unique position to effect change by fighting for better local services and improving people’s lives in tangible ways. In doing so, we must engage closely with the communities we represent, and aim to ensure that our representatives reflect our society as a whole.

While I’m still getting to grips with being a councillor, and I’m sure it will take me a while longer to properly settle in, I look forward to standing up for my ward and for young people across Glasgow.

I hope that at next year’s local government elections, the SNP can put forward a vibrant and representative range of candidates to serve all of Scotland’s communities – including many new young voices to speak up in council chambers across the country.

Angus Millar, 

SNP Youth member and Councillor for Anderston/City

 

Giving 16 and 17 Year Olds the Vote – Will Westminster now learn from Holyrood?

 

Throughout the EU referendum campaign, it was clear to see that the majority of young people were overwhelmingly in favour of Britain remaining in the EU. It has been estimated that 75% of 18-24 year olds voted to remain in Thursday’s vote. However, in spite of being granted the vote in the Scottish Parliament elections and the Scottish independence referendum, 16 and 17 year olds were not allowed to have their voice heard within the EU referendum.

A recent poll conducted by the Student Room just a day after the EU vote, found that 82% of 16 and 17 year olds would have voted to remain in the EU. With 1.46 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK, and a difference of 1.2 million votes between the remain and the leave sides, it is clear that the outcome could have been different had they been granted the right to vote.

Last year an amendment to grant 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in the EU referendum was put forward to amend the European Union Referendum Bill by the House of Lords. This amendment was debated and overruled in the House of Commons. MP’s voted against 16 and 17 year olds being given the vote with 303 against and 253 in favour.

One of the arguments MP’s used to oppose this amendment included the idea that young people themselves don’t fully agree with this motion and don’t necessarily feel they should have the right to vote. This is absurd. The Scottish referendum campaign seen just under 110,000 16 and 17 year olds register to vote and an estimated 75% turnout within this age group. This shows that there is an appetite amongst this age range to get involved in politics and vote on the issues that will affect their future.

As we saw in the Scottish parliament elections and the Scottish independence referendum, giving young people the vote politically empowered and inspired them to be more actively involved in politics as they could finally vote on the issues that mattered to them. With institutions such as Youth Parliaments and active youth groups in many political parties it is clear that many young people do have an active interest in politics. The rise of social media and access to news and current affairs at the touch of a button means young people now, more than ever, have the ability to engage in politics.

Another argument put forward was the cost that would be involved. Again, this is laughable when you consider the cost that is now going to be involved in exiting the EU. MP’s also stated that they did not want it to be seen that they were trying to fix the outcome of the referendum by changing the voting age. The Scottish Government were not accused of trying to fix any vote by lowering the voting age and so it is questionable why this would be the case for this particular referendum. 16 year olds are deemed responsible enough to work, pay tax, marry, and have children. It is ludicrous to believe that people would assume that granting them suffrage would be an attempt to sway an outcome one way or another, especially in a decision as important as the EU referendum, where it will be young people who will have to deal with the consequences of Brexit for the longest period of time. Therefore, it is clear that the MP’s who voted against this amendment did not consider all of the facts when making their decision on this issue and did not consider the future of these young voters when making their decision.

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The result of Thursday’s vote in which 17-18 year olds were excluded: Scotland voted to remain in the EU

It is not uncommon for debates on lowering the voter age to take a warped approach when debating this issue and ridiculous comparisons have been put forward between the right to vote and the inability to hold a bus license or purchase sparklers as relevant reasons not to grant them the vote. In opposition to this why should 16 and 17-year-old tax payers not be allowed to vote on how their tax is spent? It is a matter of principle. Tory MP’s who voted in disagreement with this amendment included the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell. Ridiculously, all of these MP’s were in the Remain Camp. Instead of focusing on partisan principles perhaps a more open minded approach should have been considered when voting on this amendment. This was a constitutional question that was voted for on Thursday and the decision not to grant the vote to 16 and 17 year olds has taken away a demographic of youthful excitement and interest that could have effectively swung voters to remain. You only need to look as far as the positive Remain campaign put forward by SNP Youth to see that Scotland’s young people are still fully engaged since our own Independence Referendum. The UK government has lost a vital opportunity to engage a whole new generation, UK-wide, by ignoring their interest rather than encouraging them.

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Many SNP Youth members were unable to vote in the EU Referendum because of the exclusion of 16-17 year olds.

Young people will now have to bear the burden of an ageing voting population yet again. It is us, young people, who will have to deal with this decision in the future. I find it absolutely ludicrous that 16-17 year olds did not have the empowerment of the vote in a referendum that the people of Scotland did not even asked for. The only reassurances I can take from Thursday night is the confidence I have in the SNP Scottish government to empower 16-17 year olds with the vote in any future elections or referendums the Scottish government decide to “put on the table”.

 

Natalie Don,

SNP Youth Political Education Officer

@NatalieDon89

 

 

Stronger for Scotland

It was June 23rd when the UK voted to leave the EU.

It came as a shock to many when the results started to filter showing that working class England had broken overwhelmingly for the leave vote.

Watching the news you could be forgiving for thinking that we in Scotland were perfectly happy to accept being dragged out of the EU as Tory lords, MPs and other leave campaigners managed to talk through the night without addressing the simple fact that Scotland as an entire country embraced membership of the EU.

The comfortable remain win that had been predicted by pretty much the entire political establishment failed to materialise, panic seized the investors and companies with billions being wiped out and with the pound reaches lows not seen since 1980s.

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Unlike the investors and companies however we cannot let panic determine our response to the situation that has presented itself, we must not be the rabbit caught in the headlights of the oncoming truck.

Instead we must take ownership of this situation though it is not one of our making and we must as a party plot a course to ensure that the Scottish people are not dragged out of the EU against their expressed democratic will.

And while some in our party have urged caution we must not shy away from our willingness to hold a second independence referendum to ensure our membership of the EU if that is what is required. Proceed with caution but proceed we must.

Our beautiful outward looking country must now be treated as an equal partner in a family of nations as we have been promised, or else we must seek to leave the UK before irreparable damage is done to our interests.

Our Summer Independence push has therefore taken on a whole new level of importance and urgency. While the risks of reopening the independence debate may be unknown, the risks of perpetual unshackled Tory Government are known and very real.

So this Summer we must do all we can to reach out to no voters and welcome those that change their minds with open arms because this is a fight that is much larger than party politics, it is about the established interests of the Scottish people.

I would also appeal to the other parties both within and outwith the Scottish Parliament to unite behind the Scottish Government while they fight for Scotland’s corner.

And as SNP members, fight we must. Our campaign slogan during the last two elections was “Stronger for Scotland”. It is time to show the people of Scotland once again that we mean business, we have work to do.

Alex Kerr, 

SNP Youth Glasgow Convenor

 

#SNPYouthIn: Studying Abroad through Erasmus

A key benefit of being part of the European Union is the ease with which we can move and travel between EU Member States. For students like myself one of the main ways of taking advantage of this is through the Erasmus programme, which allows us to spend between three and twelve months of our degrees studying at a university in another EU nation.

I’m a 19 year old law student at the University of Glasgow, and next year I’ll be spending my third year studying at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Like most young people I love to travel, and I’ve always wanted to study abroad. I knew it would give me the opportunity not only to live in an entirely new location, but also to study there – experiencing a different university culture, including new learning styles and subjects that I wouldn’t be able to study at home. My university offered a vast range of locations, 22 English-speaking Erasmus exchanges and a further selection of non-Erasmus locations from the USA to Australia, and New Zealand to Hong Kong. The choice was extremely daunting, but after some consideration, I decided that an Erasmus exchange was the best option for me.

One of the main reasons I chose to do so was the funding that would be available to me in taking that route. The support offered through the Erasmus programme is part of what makes it so unique and accessible. It takes into account the fact that every EU nation has different costs of living, which won’t necessarily be manageable for everyone. Although you would still be entitled to funding from SAAS regardless of where you studied, students studying through Erasmus in EU nations with higher costs of living can expect to receive a grant of around €300 per month, and those choosing countries with lower costs of living will receive around €250. Furthermore, the Erasmus scheme also offers an additional €100 monthly supplement to those eligible for the various higher education widening participation premiums, making living and studying abroad within the EU far more affordable and opening up the opportunity to those who perhaps never thought it possible.

By contrast, studying abroad outwith the Erasmus programme can often be a significantly more expensive affair, with many additional costs to consider such as student visas – as well as the cost of travelling to obtain one – and health insurance within the host nation. Beyond SAAS, there is no guarantee of additional funding to help meet these costs, as well as any additional costs of living the students may encounter in their host country. Likewise, the administrative burden of studying
abroad outwith Erasmus is much greater. For instance, students studying in countries like the USA and Australia often need to demonstrate that they have a set amount of money in a bank account before they can proceed, and they will certainly need a visa.

Each year, around 10,300 UK students make use of the Erasmus programme, with a disproportionate number of them – over 1,800 – coming from Scottish universities. It gives young people a fantastic opportunity to live and study somewhere new, to experience a different culture and broaden their horizons, all whilst making the choice to study abroad more affordable and accessible to all. On Thursday 23rd June I’ll be voting to Remain in the European Union, and to protect our access to Erasmus.

Justine McCluskey
@JustineHMcC

Photo from daarwasik

Why I am Proud to be a Nationalist

This month, SNP Youth Glasgow’s Convenor Alex Kerr attended South Tyrol’s national day and talked independence with delegates from around the world. This is his experience.

“The desire to see independence for your country is the most natural thing in the world and we are far from alone in it’s pursuit.”

When I was invited to attend South Tyrol’s national day as a member of a Scottish delegation I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’d been invited fairly last minute so hadn’t found out much more other than that the Tyroleans had asked us to come along to celebrate their national day with them.

For a wee bit of background, Tirol was split into two after the end of World War 1 and the Southern half was parcelled off to Italy. Nowadays there is a campaign called “Iatz!”(Now! In English) which is campaigning for Tyrolean independence from Italy.

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Poster for ITAZ campaign

Scotland wasn’t the only country to send a delegation to Tyrol. We had the chance to meet some amazing people who were involved in the struggle for their own countries independence, from Catalonia and Basque to Flanders and Venice.

While the Tyrolleans and the visiting countries may not have agreed on all policies, there was one overarching desire they all shared, they all shared the desire to see their countries independent and they all believed in the right of self-determination. That those who live and work in a country should make the decisions that affect the country.

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International delegates leading the march in Bruneckwith 

It shows that what we were saying in the Yes campaign was true. The desire to see independence for your country is the most natural thing in the world and we are far from alone in it’s pursuit.

Not only that, the coming together of so many brilliant activists to show solidarity with another movement and peoples across a whole continent shows that the desire for independence is not the mythical inward-looking regressive nationalism espoused by champions of the status quo but rather civic and outward looking. It was clear in the conversations and it was clear in all the speeches, as nationalists we are not seeking to cut ourselves of from the world, we are seeking to join “the family of nations” in our own right.

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Flags draped from roof at Tyrol national celebrations

On this note I’d like to thank the wonderful folk at the International Commission for European Citizens, a committee where all these independence seeking countries come together to advance their common goal, who helped organise the International precence and have campaigned tirelessly for independence since their formation.

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The Scottish delegation come bearing gifts of Alex Salmonds autobiography, SNP pens, Tablet, Fudge and, even Tunnocks!

SNP Youth gave me some of our swanky new boards and the privilege of kick starting the campaign to stay in Europe. The EU like much else in our world is far from perfect but it has also in a large part been a force for good, for example allowing small independent democracies to flourish and have a huge say under its institutions. It has also played no small part in fostering the culture of peace and co-operation we’ve seen between our European nations since its founding.

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Our newest international supporter from Sud Tirol!

That is why I’m proud to call myself a Nationalist, internationalist and a Citizen of Europe.

Alex Kerr, 

Convenor, SNP Youth Glasgow

@AlexKerr3