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Please enjoy reading my blogs about areas of interest.

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MichelleThomsonSNP

@MichelleThomson

MichelleThomson

@Michelle.Thomson.indy

 

 

 

Graham garage 

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!

 

 

BEIS Select Committee   SNP logo

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:

  • Commitment to independence for Scotland
  • Strong leadership
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Political experience
  • Excellent media skills
  • Management skills
  • Policy experience
  • Highly developed relationship management skills
  • High energy levels

The ideal candidate may also have:

  • Good sectoral specialist knowledge be that in business, education, health, third sector etc
  • Local knowledge

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.

Surely not?

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.

Wildflower meadow Boness

Endorsements

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.

TSB

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:

http://www.michellethomson.scot/my-priorities

Yes campaign

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.

Business confidence

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!

Next steps in selection process

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.

Contact me on twitter (@MichelleThomson), Facebook (MichelleThomsonSNP) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will happily set up a call, zoom, or meeting (subject to Covid rules) to suit.

This week

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.

Finally

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

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.

Forward FE

It’s time for the Falkirk East Yes campaign to re-start.
 
Across Scotland, there is mutual wariness from elements of the SNP and the Yes movement; yet most agree that they fulfil a different, complimentary purpose.
 
The SNP remains the primary political route with its current support suggesting a majority in 2021.
Some elements of the Yes campaign are frustrated and point to the fact that an increase in SNP Holyrood seats does not necessarily translate into a renewed drive for independence.
 
The current electoral system where power devolved is power retained has been shown to be the sham it always was as Westminster rides roughshod over the Scottish Parliament with the internal market bill.
 
I would argue that we need both the SNP and the Yes campaign.
 
The SNP’s raison d’etre is independence and the betterment of Scotland. However, the winds of the electoral cycle frequently buffet these ideals. With Government comes responsibility including general policymaking.
 
The Yes campaign simply seeks independence. It can remove itself from the minutiae of today and campaign on simple yet constant ideals.
 
Think of the Martin Luther King "I have a dream" speech. He certainly didn’t say "I have the concept of additional borrowing powers where we can bring down our debt in a manageable way".
 
The grand themes of the 2014 Yes campaign were a constant and still resonate:
 
1. Democracy: we get the governments we vote for taking decisions for and behalf of Scotland
2. Fairness: we can make Scotland’s resources work better for everyone to create the sort of society we want to see
3. Confidence: we could be independent, and we should choose to create the future we want
 
The choice of two futures is still relevant and more than ever we should articulate a vision where we make our choices instead of having them foisted on us.
 
I am reminded of the ‘Forward Shop’ based in Stenhousemuir until 2 or 3 years ago. Not only was it a place where the ‘soft no’ voters could engage in conversation, it was also a community hub and strategically placed between Falkirk East and Falkirk West. I hear the baking was a real incentive to pay a visit and - that must have enticed regular visits from Martyn Day MP!
 
It’s time to create a new community hub; a place where independence supporters can meet with those who are uncertain. We can build relationships, inform, educate, hold events; be it political or even musical.
 
Remember how the Yes campaign stressed that trust was such an important factor in persuading people to vote yes? People are much more likely to be convinced by their friend, neighbour or relative speaking their language and making the argument relevant to their home place.
 
These convincer strategies work best where people feel 'engaged with' rather than 'talked at'.
 
This was always about our voices being heard: the rich, resonant, reflections of a nation moving forward.
 
I continue to be a regular speaker at the Edinburgh Yes hub even though I moved out of Edinburgh early in 2020.
 
There are multiple Yes events being undertaken and virtual hubs being re-established.
 
I have a greater sense of urgency than I have ever had to play my part in moving Scotland forward - in seeking selection for the SNP in Falkirk East and in participating in multiple Yes events.
 
We can and must do both.
 

Michelle Nicola

Firstly – please keep sharing this update to your contacts. Our inability to meet in large groups or via Zoom mean that it is vital we use social media as much as possible.  I NEED YOUR HELP TO DO THAT!

Secondly – thanks to those that have connected with me on Facebook.

What have I been up to?

I think I caused a bit of a stushie by writing my wee blog “The Truth about Hustings for Falkirk East” – if you haven’t seen it yet you can read it here:

https://michellethomson.scot/my-priorities

I understand that branches plan to hold ‘meet the candidate events’ as soon as a) all candidates known whether or not they have passed vetting (I was notified as having passed on 02/09/2020) and b) after 09/10/2020 when we will know if the NEC plan to place any other candidates in the constituency.

Therefore, between 10/10/2020 and 27/10/2020 there will be a slot for local branches.

I submitted my 350 words that will be sent out via the branch mailer to all members.

I can confirm that Falkirk East IS THE ONLY CONSTITUENCY IN WHICH I AM SEEKING SELECTION.

Last week I had meetings with members in Bo’ness, Blackness and several in Grangemouth.

I have to say I find them illuminating and humbling – I find the honesty of the local members is completely refreshing. I am getting clear sense of what your priorities are and what you are seeking from your MSP.

I shall also have to limit the chocolate biscuits – everyone I meet is of the impression that I must be fed with copious amounts of food – I understand a certain Martyn Day MP has set a precedent!

(The pizza in the Corbie Inn is magnificent though!).

I was the guest speaker of Independence Live hosted by Valerie Gauld and Marlene Halliday on their daytime show. You can hear what I have to say about Falkirk East and the rest here:

https://soundcloud.com/user-923360806/michelle-thomson-interviewed-on-indylive-radio

I also had a meeting with Dick Winchester. He is a member of the Scottish Government Energy Advisory Board and also writes for Energy Voice. We discussed INEOS and some of the challenges for the various businesses contained within the group. Decarbonisation of the site is of course important – but the question also needs to be asked to what extent it can genuinely move to more sustainable products.

The Internal Market Bill continues to cause huge concern – and thanks to SNP MPs Alison Thewliss and Neale Hanvey for highlighting that it could result fracking being authorised against the will of Scotland:

https://drillordrop.com/2020/09/17/internal-market-bill-risks-override-on-fracking-mps/

Thank you to the members of Tryst branch for your excellent questions – I understand my answers will be getting sent to you after 10/10/2020.

Finally – please advise me if there is any group that I should be a member on social media.

Winning candidate

“We are being told that we are not allowed to hold branch hustings” – said a branch member in a recent meeting I had.

Despite CA office-bearers best efforts, sometimes confusion in messages can occur. I therefore it would be useful for members in Tryst, Grangemouth, Bo’ness and Braes to be clear that this is absolutely not true.  

 SNP HQ has set out the process that should be followed. The process sets out the obligations on candidates and constituency associations.

What is true?

  • The hustings must be online.
  • There must be a minimum of one meeting organised by the constituency association.
  • This meeting must take place between Tuesday 27 October 2020 and Monday 02 November 2020.

However, there is nothing at all to stop local branches organising their own (online) ‘meet the candidate’ events.

Let us remind ourselves of the value of hustings. The definition is simply “a meeting at which candidates in an election address potential voters”. That is the meaning – but what is the value? The value is that you learn a great deal about a prospective candidate that you cannot glean in other ways such as written text.

There is quite simply nothing better than seeing ‘the cut of their jib’.

You fundamentally get a sense of the following:

  • To what extent does the candidate motivate and inspire you?
  • How experienced are they?
  • How knowledgeable are they?
  • How do they respond when they do not know – do they pretend to know or are they honest?
  • Their communication style: - Is it dry and factual? Do they use analogies to illustrate a point? Are the analogies meaningful to you? Do they have a sense of humour?
  • How prepared are they – in other words have they taken that basic courtesy of learning about what matters to you?
  • And perhaps the most important of all – could you trust them to speak for you?

I am a strong believer in the power of local democracy. Our branches MUST have the chance to meet their candidates. I understand that it will take some organisation to support local members who are less comfortable with technology – but this is what must be done if we are to hear the voices of local branch members.

I have no concerns about the time this will involve for me and consider it a fundamental matter of respect for you.  

I will today be writing to all the branch convenors to indicate my willingness to address a branch meeting. I, of course, understand that this courtesy will be extended to all other candidates – and rightly so.

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