Q&A with SNP depute leader candidate Alyn Smith MEP
Holyrood asked the four candidates for deputy leader of the SNP for their views on some key issues for the party
Alyn Smith MEP - Image credit: David N. Anderson
What sets you apart from the other candidates for depute leader?
Alyn Smith: The European question is the defining attribute of politics in these islands for the coming months and years, and by ranking me as depute we can prove to ourselves and the wider world that we are putting Europe front and centre of how the party does business. I also have a nationwide remit given I have no geographic constituency, and since 2004 have travelled the length and breadth of Scotland. There's not a constituency I haven't worked in nor a branch I haven't supported. My role is, for so long as I have one, to focus upon the European question at home, and to represent Scotland to our European friends in a way we did not fully do in 2014.
How do you keep all those members engaged and active?
AS: By doing what I always have been doing, regular updates, and making sure I act like I'm part of a team.
How do you strike the right balance between having policy debate within the party, but not having splits and division?
AS: I have proposed to reinvigorate National Assembly, a members-only event where we could chew over new policy, but not decide it. Done properly these will allow the party to reach out to the one in 33 of the population of Scotland who is a party member. We have expertise in spades on any subject, we should be creating the space to debate new ideas now. I believe a consensus then emerges, which the relevant spokespeople can then take through our traditional decision-making routes, National Council and conference.
Has the party shifted to the left since the indyref?
The SNP is often accused of focusing on independence at the expense of using the powers it already has in government. How would you answer that?
AS: I see no evidence of that. Plenty of unfounded smears and innuendo put about by our opponents, but no evidence.
What policy does the SNP not currently have that you would like to add?
AS: I'm content with party policy. If there was anything I would like to see added, I'll bring forward a motion about it, as I have done dozens of times over the years.
The SNP is seen as quite centralising in government. How would you ensure power is devolved down to a local level?
AS: I'd dispute that. The Community Empowerment work and the islands proposals are good starts, and work in progress.
Would you support calling another independence referendum within the next two years?
AS: I see nothing to be gained by tying my nor anyone else's hands at this stage when so much is in flux because of the UK Government's disastrous policies. My first and last priorities are what is best for Scotland and how to safeguard Scotland's national interest.
What do you see as the most likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations?
AS: I have long since given up the prophecy business, but 27 is in fact a bigger number than one.
Does Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the world need to change?
AS: Yes, I am more convinced than ever that Scotland's best interests will be served by speaking directly and working directly with the world, not via an increasingly shrill and bitter London government.
Who is your inspiration as a leader?
AS: Various folks.
What is your top leadership tip?
AS: Turn up on time, try not to trip over too much of the furniture.
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