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Our Weekend

With Easter weekend marking 40 days until the Scottish Parliamentary Election, our SNP Youth teams were hard at work across the country.


On Thursday evening, SNP Youth Lothian members met Mhairi Black MP at the Granton Youth Centre to discuss our campaign and the centre’s youth work.


Youth members then spent a sunny Good Friday campaigning for Derek MacKay in Renfrew North and East.

Our Youth teams were supported by Derek, local MP Gavin Newlands MP and local activists – thanks for having us!

Some of our teams:


On Saturday, we met youth members in the West of Scotland to discuss policy, campaigning, and to elect a Regional Executive Council. Congratulations again to Gavin, Lauren, Lauren, Callum, Fionn and Daniel.


In the North East we were also hard at work with SNP Youth NE holding a campaign day with Mairi Evans in Stonehaven!


However, our weekend was not all campaigning – we hosted a live music event in Motherwell for local candidate Clare Adamson, we joined Derek Mackay at his Adoption Dinner and we had a large contingent at SNP Live in Stnnehaven where Youth member Saffron Dickson was speaking.

A big thanks to all our activists and to SNP Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie for helping out on drums in Motherwell!

Have a look at our Facebook and Twitter for more photos! And look out for our events this weekend!

BOTH VOTES SNP

As you will be aware, there is a Scottish Parliament election this year. On the 5th May you will go to the polling stations and have two votes to cast; one for your constituency and one for your region. The Scottish Parliament election uses the Additional Member System (AMS) to elect the 129 MSPs. The first 73 members are our constituency MSPs and they are elected by the First-Past-The-Post system.

The final 56 members are elected using the D’Hondt System. This system can seem a bit complicated, as there is a bit of maths involved. Basically, in order to elect our regional list members this method takes the total number of votes received by each party in the Region and puts the number through seven rounds of voting; one round for each list seat to be allocated. In each round, every party has its list vote divided by the number of seats it already has in the region – both constituency and list – plus 1. We call that number (total seats +1) the divisor. The +1 is necessary, as any party that did not win any constituency seats would be starting at 0. A number we know you cannot divide by. Therefore, the higher number of constituency seats a party receives, the higher number their votes are divided by. If the Scottish Parliament was elected wholly by FPTP and the May 2015 results were emulated, the SNP would have 123 SNP MSPs, with only 7 MSPs coming from other parties. (you can find more information on this at; http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/Education/16285.aspx )

It is the second vote that is currently causing issues with voters and they are questioning who to give that vote too. We want to make it clear that as a SNP supporter and/or member your second vote must go to the SNP.

SO WHY BOTH VOTES SNP?

Simple arithmetic!
If we use the 2011 election results and consider current polling, the idea that ‘RISE’ in particular can make any gains in this election is fanciful. Take the example of Central Scotland, the SNP took six constituency seats in 2011, and got three on the list. This means that by the time their final seat was won, their vote of 108,261 had been divided by nine, making 12,029 votes. To take a single list seat, that’s the target (12,029) the fringe parties would have to beat. The Green vote in 2011 was 5,634, so they would need to record a 109% increase in their vote to achieve this. The Scottish Socialist Party, which is now effectively ‘RISE’ only received 820 votes, they would ned an increase of 1437% in vote share and finally Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity got 559, so they’d need to increase their vote by 2,107%. This picture highlighting the challenge facing the fringe parties is largely emulated across Scotland. Consequently, a sizable drop in the Labour vote and increase in the SNPs ‘second vote’ would allow the SNP to make net gains before the fringe parties get a look in. So thinking for one second lending your second vote to RISE or the Greens is going to help the cause for independence is just total nonsense. Only in a dream world would they see such a surge in their votes. Also, you must remember that the Greens in particular do not have Scottish Independence at the forefront of their agenda. (A more in depth analysis is available at: http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-eye-of-reality/ )

Tactical Voting
Largely for the reasons outlined above, Tactical Voting will not work for the ‘second vote’. Tactical voting only really works in a binary system where there is a clear choice between two parties. In the General Election, the SNP won 56 seats because a solid proportion of the electorate got behind the SNP, however, the Unionist vote split between all the Unionist parties. Had the Unionist vote got behind one party, the outcome for the SNP might have looked somewhat different. You don’t see the Tories telling their voters to lend their second vote to Labour or the Lib Dems so why should we be lending our second vote to RISE? Frankly it is a ridiculous idea.

Perceptions
If the SNP suffers a significant drop in their share of the ‘second vote’, think about the message that would send to Westminster. The headlines the next day would call out the beginning of the end for the independence movement. The majority of 2011, allowed us to hold our independence referendum. The only way to keep Scotland’s interests at the forefront of the political debate is by getting behind the SNP. Increasing our share of the ‘second vote’ would send a completely different message, reiterating that Westminster is on borrowed time. Remember the SNP is the only party that is large and resourced enough to take our movement towards independence forward and fight for Scotland’s best interests. Do you not want a party that can actually stand up for our country and continue to fight against Tory austerity? I can tell you now that RISE would never be able to do that if they got elected.

The Rules
Members of political parties are prohibited from the promotion of other parties. Indeed, the Labour Party removed several members for displaying any sign of sympathy towards the SNP and independence in the lead up to the referendum. Of course that makes complete sense, if you are a member and/or a supporter of the SNP both your votes should be for the SNP not another party.

A Cautionary Tale – Polls will be Polls
It is easy to forget, but going into the 2011 election the Scottish Labour Party were ahead of the SNP in the polls. The complacency and arrogance which came with relying on polls resulted in a humiliating electoral defeat whereby they lost some of their best candidates who they failed to secure for the Regional List. We should learn from this in the SNP and take nothing for granted.

So think carefully about who you give your second vote to on May 5th. If you believe in a Scotland that puts its people first then there is only one party to vote for… The SNP.

Colin Storrier
@independentscot

&

Alisha McMillan
@alishaann94

We Might Just: A Burns Night with Mhairi Black, MP

Anchor Bowling Club, Paisley, 12th February at approximately 20:00 hours

“Oh my god she’s over there – look! Christ, don’t aw look at the same time!” whispered a friend of mine, but I still couldn’t see Mhairi in a sea of faces.

So, after a feigned trip to the bar (honestly, we would have looked less conspicuous if we held copies of the Daily Record right up to our faces and peered out of eye-holes; however no copies of the *ehem* oh-so-neutral-red-hot-labour-paper were at hand) but there, in the entryway, stood Mhairi Black, MP.

Well, you could have knocked me over with the pamphlet that is the Liberal Democrat Manifesto. However, I had little time to marvel at the MP – I was breathing the same air as her!for the raffle was very much on the horizon and I’m sure I spotted a Smirnoff Ice on the prize table that needed winning.

As a collective, my band of cohorts had purchased something in the region of fifteen strips of raffle tickets, which were set out atop our table between beer mats and a small army of fruit-shoots. The prizes which had been rattled off so far were all alcohol, which I suppose is no bad thing, until, emerging from a polybag rose a glittering Signed Copy of Mhairi Black’s Maiden Speech. I suddenly became aware of how desperate our chances were: the hall was packed full of people, each table having their respective collection of raffle tickets.

“Nae way are we winning this,” I said to my pal.

“Ye never know,” she said, “we might just.

Needless to say I didn’t win the speech, and neither did any of my pals; it had gone to an older lady sitting up the back and everyone pretended to be happy for he, which I found very difficult; we all really wanted to win it, or at least I did, and I guarantee I wasn’t the only one thinking this, but for a second I was quite prepared to fight her for the speech in the car-park. I later learned she had a walking cane and felt very guilty for having thought such a thing; you see, unlike the Conservative Party, I have a little something called ‘compassion’, especially toward the less able.

Oh yes. I went there.

After the raffle, Mhairi took her rightful place at the microphone and owned it. It was like watching Aly Bain play the fiddle, or watching David Cameron impose the bedroom tax; like watching someone do something they adore doing, a real master of their craft. Hysterical anecdotes about Eton, wickedly funny reels of Westminster, and a clear and punchy message of hope and togetherness; a real sense of a shared struggle. I’m not exaggerating when I say you could literally hear a pin drop in the hall because everyone, even those who had had one too many fruit-shoots, and there were a fair few of them, was so utterly captivated by her and felt so motivated by her words. I don’t remember a lot of what she said because it was such a blur, but I remember this:

“This, these wee meetings right across Scotland, this is history in the making. People will look back on this and see how the spirit of the people won Independence.

And she was right as she so always is. Get out there! We’re in this fight together! Try persuading your UKIP grannie or your Lib-Dem uncle (if there exists such a thing) because, if Mhairi Black’s speech taught me one thing, that is how independence will be won.

And ye never know.

We might just.

 

Christopher Adam

Young and Desperate? I want you to fight my wars!

“Don’t join the Army.”

“Don’t do what? Don’t leave here? Don’t learn new skills?”

These are the words from the new recruitment advert from the British Army to recruit new members to its ranks. It depicts a conversation between two young people as they discuss their future prospects.

These conversations are not fictional or uncommon in Cameron’s Britain. I myself have talked friends out of joining the armed forces. With unemployment rife despite some improvements, many young people, especially those in working class communities like mine, have an uncertain future.

And with an uncertain future and minimal opportunities for young people comes poverty and desperation. Any prospect of leaving ‘here’ can seem appealing. It is these feelings that the MOD has often preyed on and sought to exploit.

This is just weeks after a leaked correspondence showed a UK Defence Minister, Julian Brazier, urging the Scottish Government to open cadet units in Scottish schools, prioritising the most deprived areas. A senior SNP spokesperson described the plans as a “cannon fodder scheme” – and rightfully so.

A few years ago, I was at a friend’s house. Sitting at his dining room table, I noticed a photo album on a nearby shelf. I began to thumb through it. It contained pictures of my friend’s father in the British Army during the Gulf War.

There were pictures of him and his regiment: their time in training; laughing with one another in their barracks; out on patrol. I allowed myself a smile. And then the charred bodies of Kurdish civilians massacred at the hands of Saddam Hussein.

There are a number of adverts from the MOD that are seductively employed to recruit people – youths in particular – to join the armed forces with promises of adventure and lifelong skills. Other adverts feature action packed cut scenes from new recruits learning their basics in boot camp; flying in a chinook helicopter; sailing on the bow of a destroyer; and piloting drones.

However, these are exactly that: cut scenes. They are cleverly selected snapshots of army life that do not portray the reality. What the MOD does not show you is the horrors of war: your dead brothers and sisters in arms or the disfigured civilians in the street.

But a soldier’s war does not end with the gunfire. Soldiers returning from the British Government’s wars can face lifelong battles.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can leave some soldiers permanently scarred from their service leading to a range of consequences including flashbacks, physical shaking, depression, and substance abuse. This can be enough for some servicemen and women to take their own lives due to the trauma they have experienced.

In August, 2014, the MOD released figures following the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars showing that cases of PTSD had risen by 19% and there was a 12% increase in mental disorders compared to the previous year.

And what was the MOD’s reasoning for the rise in these figures? The stigma of ex-servicemen seeking help had dropped. In the patriarchal armed services where values of masculinity are core, it can be assumed that the number of people coming forward for help is a small reflection of the bigger picture of the mental health issues that plague our returning soldiers.

The horrific scenes in the life of a soldier are conveniently left out of the MOD’s recruitment drives. They would rather glamourize war to entice fresh-faced recruits with no welfare safety net or opportunity, but with an uncertain future.

But one thing is certain. While we in the UK pay the price of war with taxes; civilians abroad and our soldiers pay the price with their lives and minds. And the war profiteers hold the receipts.

Rory Steel
Vice Convenor, SNP Youth
@RorySteel94

The Importance of Rent Controls

Back in October Nicola Sturgeon announced that the SNP would build 50,000 new homes in the next term of the Scottish Government if they are elected for a historic third term in May. In this current term, the SNP have achieved their target of 30,000 new homes.

At first, this huge number baffled me. Why did we need to build so many houses? Scotland, and the rest of the UK, is in a housing crisis, and it doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon if we don’t start making big changes.

I am still a student, and a young woman so I do know the struggles of renting a home. I am 22 and I moved out of my family home at 17, so I have a few years of experience. I currently live on my own in a little one bedroom flat in the south west of Edinburgh. It’s been about a year and half now since I moved in. Just before Christmas my rent was increased, with a month’s notice of it happening.

Like most students, I had to move away for university and rent a flat. My first year was spent in halls with 5 other girls I had never met before. Our flat was reasonable size wise, but it was so expensive. In my second year I moved in with three friends. Our flat was nice and spacious, but always so cold. I lived in that flat for almost a year, but I ended up having to move out. I decided that living on my own was the best option, but not the cheapest. My current flat is in a great location and was just renovated before I moved in so everything was brand new. I moved in May 2014, so at the time didn’t consider what it would be like during the winter months. As much as I love my flat and have put a lot of effort into making it homely, as soon as winter hits it is freezing. Each room has single glazed windows and I have two storage heaters. These cost a fortune to run and don’t even have any benefits because of the single glazed windows. Funnily enough as I write this I am wrapped up in a few layers with my electric blanket on. I am also getting sick again because I can’t keep warm in my own home.

Fuel poverty is still such a huge issue in this country, with so many families having to choose between heating or eating. 20% of private tenants live in fuel poverty, a figure far too high in such a rich country. In the UK just now there is no incentive for private landlords to help their tenants out of fuel poverty so the do nothing. However in countries like the Netherlands rent controls are linked to energy efficiency so in order to charge higher rents, the properties have to be of better quality. To me that just makes sense. Not only would these kind of controls benefit a huge part of society, it would be good for the environment.

It would also benefit our public services. If people were living in affordable homes that were energy efficient and affordable to keep warm then less people would be using the health service because of illnesses caused by living in cold and damp homes. It just seems logical. It would also decrease the amount of people claiming housing benefits, freeing up more money for the government to invest in our public services such as
education. Rent controls would also help to put an end to homelessness. People are being forced out of their homes because rents are being increased at high rates and people cannot keep up with their rent payments.

Rent controls would also be fairer on women. Just now the average pay gap between men and women is around 13% in Scotland, meaning already that high rents are a struggle for women. The inflexible tenancy contracts also make it extremely difficult for women to leave their homes if a relationship breaks down or they become victims of domestic violence. Rent controls would make tenancy agreements more flexible and safeguard the tenants if these situations were ever to arise.

Housing shouldn’t be an area which people can make huge profits without protecting the people. Every person should have the right to a safe and warm home. People should be able to rent a home without the worry of going into fuel poverty, having to turn to a food bank or risk becoming homeless.

Thankfully the SNP are working hard to protect the most vulnerable people in our society. In the face of Tory cuts, the Scottish budget is protecting our people. Council tax continues to be frozen, low-income workers are receiving pay rises and there will be record funding for our NHS. The Scottish government is investing over £100 million to tackle fuel poverty and investing £160 million to support 5,000 households buy their own home in 2016.

On top of all of this, the Scottish Parliament has begun its consideration on the ‘Private Housing Bill’. This will start to make changes to the private rented sector by making it more professionally managed and allow those renting their homes peace of mind that they are protected from “no fault” evictions and that their rents can only increase once in 12 months with at least 3 months notice. This bill is a great start to making changes in the private rent sector and hopefully we shall see more change to come.

For more information on the campaign and to sign up, visit; http://www.livingrent.org

Alisha McMillan
@alishaann94

 

Picture from David McKelvey

Hingin’ Aboot: On Why Registering to Vote is Important

After a long day of doing absolutely hee-haw in a field, two sheep are positively famished. They were just gearing up to tuck into some lovely grass when two big scary wolves startle them from behind.

Both the wolves said:

“We’re having you two sheep for dinner!”

In a panic and keen to make a compromise and live on, the first sheep said:

“How’s about this: we’ll vote on what to have for dinner!

I’ve solved the problem, thought the first sheep, both the vote of me and the vote of my pal – the second sheep – will cancel out the vote of the two wolves. We’re saved!

Also, the second sheep was thinking. It thought: Well, I’m not really that interested in politics and all the name calling and the like, y’know? And, yeah, I don’t know if I’m even registered!

Whilst the Second Sheep was hingin’ aboot – for the lack of a technical term – the wolves had waited long enough, and ate both the sheep.

Though the consequences of not being registered, and thus not voting, may not be as drastic as being eaten by a pair of wolves (although it may be closer to the truth concerning some Tory policies than they’d have you believe), it does bring up a whole platter of difficulties, both for the individual and the country as a whole, which could all be avoided.

In not voting, you forfeit your fundamental right to whinge. Think about it: you’ve got absolutely no right to moan about your taxes or your wages, your healthcare, education – you name it – if you didn’t have any say in them in the very first place. Politics touches every branch of your life and if you’re not registered, you cannot shape the future of neither you nor your country.

I mean, come on, it’s not difficult – your passage has been paid for; women and men fought tooth and nail, died even, to ensure your voice is heard and heard fairly. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or privileged, pretty or plain, if you’re from Paisley (m’on St. Mirin) or Pakistan – each voice is as important as the others.

And my personal favourite: if a country has an election where not a lot of people turnout, the government formed will be skewed. We’ve seen it in the past, and if you don’t register, we’ll see it again; and it isn’t fair on anybody!

So, I urge you to take up the challenge in registering to vote and, in doing so, exercising your priceless right to make room to build new steps of change for you, one another, this country and the world.

Sorry, are you still here?

Do not be the second sheep.

To quote Still Game for some political insight: He who hingeth aboot geteth hee-haw!

 

Christopher Adam

 

Photo from Audrey

West Coast Update

The SNP youth support in the West Coast of Scotland has been phenomenal in recent years. Young people have never been more involved in decisions affecting them and now that 16 and 17 year olds can vote, they have a bigger say in their futures. The Referendum on Scottish independence brought young people together and showed that young people are interested in their country’s future and how Scotland should go forward. Young people have been involved in lots of different campaigns for example the general election campaign and others such as LGBT rights campaigns and mental health campaigns that are more local. Local MSYP’S have been starting campaigns to raise awareness of different issues that can and do affect young people across Scotland.

After the referendum people thought that things would go back to the way they were but it was exactly the opposite, Young people became even more involved in their community and even got involved in the general election campaign and participation is continuing to grow every single day with more Young people coming forward to get involved in politics. In this way young people get to tell governments about issues that are important to them in their area. The launch of more local branches of the SNP youth means more young people can become involved. Ultimately this can only help Scotland and themselves in the wider world.

Fionn Mccole
SNP Youth

Picture from easylocum