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I was delighted to have an article in the October 2020 edition of iScot magazine entitled 'A vision for Scotland'. You can read the entire article here: A vision for Scotland
Here is a short section from it:
"The future is uncertain.
Even before the global pandemic, geo-political shifts, rapid developments in technology, the climate change emergency, labour market shifts and closer to home, Brexit were all threats that conspire to make leaders look for comfort in short term horizons. Our political system actively encourages short term thinking.
The question asked by J. Peter Scoblic in his paper ‘Learning from the future’ is, “how can we formulate strategy in the face of uncertainty?” He makes particular reference to what he calls “the tyranny of the present” where leadership must focus on survival in the face of threats yet may neglect strategic foresight particularly where the future lacks antecedents.
The Independence referendum of 2014 saw many discussions of what kind of Scotland people would like to see; the ‘what’. However, it also saw much debate about the ‘how’ in terms of economic resources and financial systems such as banking and currency. The debate since that point has remained mired in the ‘how’, or to put it another way, has been focused more on inputs (such as finance) and processes (such as government policies) than on outcomes (vision). As a result, in my view we have given insufficient focus to untapping our collective imagination.
People are too often passive observers and commentators rather than actors in creating a future that will serve their children and their grandchildren. Too often there is a failure to tap into the insights and imagination of our fellow citizens as we seek to change society for the better – and I believe every citizen of Scotland should have the opportunity to help shape our future in the development of a shared vision on the future of Scotland.
This is why I, and my business partner Roger Mullin of Momentous Change, are now developing a project to develop a shared vision of Scotland.
It will not be our vision – it will be the vision of many Scots whom we hope will be willing and able to participate.
The potential scope of the project is vast - yet the threats we face in society contain some repeating themes. I list just a few below:
Thank you to iScot for giving me permission to reproduce it.
Delighted to upload another endorsdement - this time from Irene Fotheringham of Braes branch:
“I contacted Michelle and we had a long conversation about issues with housebuilding. I was impressed with her breadth of knowledge about business and I doubt any other candidate can match that”.
Thank you Irene!
Endorsement from Graham McCabe, the owner of Automative Bodyshop in Grangemouth.
Many people will know Graham as having been a very active Yes supporter from Grangemouth - not least of all because of his ability to hang banners that get maximum attention!
I was delighted to meet him at his garage yesterday and talk about some of the issues he is starting to experience with the supply and costs of paint for car bodywork. He noted how costs have already increased from his European suppliers and he anticipates further rises after Brexit. Replicate this across the industry and it provides a small example of how we will all have to ultimately pay more for the priviledge of being dragged out of Europe against our will.
"I'm backing Michelle Thomson as candidate for Falkirk East. She's got energy and drive - something we need to put this consituency on the map. When #indyref2 happens I'm confident she'll provide strong leadership to the local campaign".
Also in the picture is Ross mcCabe. Thank you Graham!
We politicians are in the business of change – seismic, strategic, significant change for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. For all of us, part of that change is independence as well as the preparatory state-building activities leading up to it and considerable effort after it.
This is what I believe this next parliament and every independence-supporting parliamentarian in it should be seeking to deliver.
It’s a commonly held view that the Holyrood parliament elected in 2021 will be the one that delivers the next successful independence referendum – and this is certainly what I will be stretching every sinew for.
What are the skills and qualities that our MSPs need to be part of this parliament?
Think of it as a job application.
The idea candidate must demonstrate:
The ideal candidate may also have:
Some people believe that the single most important characteristic to lead us forward is an “acute knowledge of local issues”. That would suggest that acute local knowledge is more important than the list above including a demonstrable commitment to independence, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, leadership, strategic thinking etc.
This therefore would have debarred Alex Salmond, Winnie Ewing, Maggie Bain/Ewing, John Swinney – to name just a few of the giants upon whose shoulders the SNP was built.
We saw an entitlement culture develop with the Labour Party in Scotland. “It’s my turn” became the refrain.
I expect better. You expect better. An MSP role should not be awarded for time served.
I encourage you all to consider what excellence means for you in your SNP candidate.
I am not claiming to be excellent. Like anyone else, I have strengths and weaknesses.
But I will make no apology for striving for excellence and encouraging others to seek the highest calibre of candidate the SNP can muster in every single constituency.
We have a state to build and a future to create.
As we start to move through the process of selection, I was delighted that the first of a number of endorsements were given to me.
Firstly, from Craig MacInnes of Grangemouth who said:
“We are fortunate to have such a dedicated, experienced and hard-working campaigner as Michelle Thomson putting herself forward for selection as the SNP candidate for Falkirk East for next May’s Holyrood elections”
And then from Michael Hance of Bo’ness who said:
“In deciding who to back in the selection process for Falkirk East I have been more and more impressed with how active Michelle Thomson has been in outlining her priorities and with the efforts she has made to meet and talk to local members.
It has become clear to me that Michelle has the qualities that we need in this area to lead the campaign locally to win the next independence referendum. Her commitment to the independence movement was demonstrated clearly in 2014 and it will be a huge advantage to our campaign to have her here next time.
It’s also important to me that we have someone in Holyrood who will put Bo’ness, Grangemouth and the other constituencies of our community on the map.
Michelle is a figure of national importance. She is undoubtably the right person to win Falkirk East for the SNP and to take us forward to independence.
Thank you to both for these – and watch out for more endorsements this week.
I wrote an article why I thought wringing our hands and writing to the TSB was only a limited strategy to support our communities. Scotland is very badly served in banking and I suggested that we could set up a new mutual retail bank. This is the sort of policy I would want to progress in Holyrood – as politicians we must be in the business of change not acceptance. You can read the article here:
I also wrote an article about why I think the Yes campaign should be re-starting NOW. The key messages of independence transcend those of local policies. The Scottish people are sovereign – and part of that means that we have to take responsibility. As Kenyon Wright said “…we say yes – and we are the people”. You can read this article on my dedicated Facebook page MichelleThomsonSNP or on my website using the same link as above.
Some research published this week noted that 95 percent of business leaders questioned suggested they were confident their company would adapt if Scotland were to become independent. All good – but 72 per cent of the respondents thought it would not open up significant new opportunities. Again, I think it is too simple to celebrate the former point and ignore the later. What specific opportunities does independence bring for business in Scotland and elsewhere? With the critical economic levers that come with independence we can do so much more to support business growth in Scotland – not just in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) but in our manufacturing base. We can also attract more entrepreneurs. I personally would like to see much more being done to support our Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Watch this space for more!
We will know by the end of this week (09 October 2020) whether there are any other candidates for Falkirk East. Between 09/10/2020 and the formal CA hustings (earliest date is 27/10/2020) we can then arrange ‘meet the candidate events’ – but you don’t need to wait till then.
I am looking forward to my scheduled meetings across the constituency. You will note that I keep the content of these confidential and I am not yet posting up the standard politician photograph of ‘me and a.n. other’ – this is usually because this type of meeting is for the benefit of the politician (and so very useful in an election campaign) – but in a selection contest I regard it as extremely important that I build trust and respect in the way I meet and engage with people.
Local v national – that is the question. If you were really driving for independence (rather than simply perpetuating the status quo) and were going to recruit the best person to provide leadership, strategic vision to lead to an independent Scotland, what key criteria would you list. What priority would you give those criteria? I am going to be writing about that tomorrow - so get ready for another article that I hope will make people think.
PS – credit to Michael Hance for this lovely photograph of a wildflower meadow in Bo’ness.
TSB branch closures – and in particular Bo’ness and Grangemouth
Every so often, there is a flurry of dismay as bank after bank reviews its local branch network and finds much of it unviable.
The Trustee Savings Bank was originally a mutual organisation and was jointly owned by those saving and borrowing. Its earliest principles: to encourage saving by ordinary people and overseen by trustees led to a much wider movement across the UK.
A significant change occurred in 1986 when the group was floated on the London Stock Exchange as part of Margaret Thatcher’s encouragement towards share ownership. In reality, the vast majority of ‘ordinary’ people who bought shares then sold them and it was then folded into the Lloyds Bank in 1995 who in turn sold it in 2009.
TSB failed to invest sufficiently in technology for a long time and had a major issue when it tried to migrate to a new platform after a further takeover by the Sabadell group in 2015. This was followed quickly by a further IT glitch in 2019.
It therefore has an urgent need to make savings and has led to plans to close many branches not just the one in Bo’ness.
This is not to provide an excuse for them – I have written numerous articles about how our entire financial system exists to serve the banks and government as businesses and not our society. For example: see recently https://www.independentview.org/post/financial-choices
I am reflecting on the fact that the branch network itself is an out-of-date concept. The vast majority of people use online banking with the exception of the elderly such as my Father who will be 87 in a few weeks.
What does he use his branch for? He pays a visit as he gets to have a social chat with the tellers. He sometimes withdraws money, but he is capable of doing that via a ‘hole-in-the-wall’. If he needs to speak with someone, he will often use the telephone.
In other words – he can use a local post office that will provide the same function. He also sometimes goes into town for a coffee.
Local businesses who trade mostly in cash will want to use a local branch to deposit funds safely – but then let us look at how even traditionally cash-based businesses such as a taxi company are now predominately using card payments. Do we imagine for a minute that post-Covid will see a return to cash in the same way?
It is too simple to simply deplore bank branch closures, ask for a meeting with the local public affairs representative as the likelihood is that the closure will take place regardless. This minimal action of course must be done – but we also need to consider the wider issues.
We need to look at CAUSE and not just EFFECT. The cause is that the current banking system is run as a business where profit is the primary driver with some limited attempts to meet the needs of consumers. The EFFECT is that as a result they seek to close branches.
Rather, we need to be looking at how we have passively accepted the fact that our society exists to serve banks. We have a chronic issue with our financial system in the UK and the City of London is now known as one of the world’s major money laundering locations. The withdrawal from the European Union ensures that regulation will become considerably weaker.
I previously wrote about how we should set up a Scottish retail bank based on mutual concepts – where it exists to serve both its savers and investors. We have to accept that regulation will still be undertaken by the weak bodies put in place by the UK Government – but doing nothing to support our societies, our local small business that are the backbone of our communities is no longer acceptable. This is exactly the sort of idea I want to promote for the benefit of Scotland in our national parliament.
We also need to reimagine our places – the old concept of the high street has changed. I will be writing further about this as I undergo my campaign for selection.
We are in the business of change. We need people who can help develop national strategic policies that will serve us now and into independence.