A Passion for Winning

Pic: Alan Harvey

Pic: Alan Harvey

Former Sport for Yes leader Michael Stewart is one of three candidates in the running to be named the SNP’s Westminster candidate for Edinburgh West. Part of our #newvoices series

I started my footballing career at Manchester United, trying to break into what was then the best midfield in the world. That experience gave me the best grounding ever. I got to work alongside the best in the business and to appreciate just how much hard work, self belief and team work is needed to be a success. In any sphere of life.

I was reminded of many of those early life lessons during the referendum campaign. I’ve always been engaged and interested in politics and it was both a pleasure and a privilege to be able to get active by running Sport for Yes and getting involved in local campaigning in Edinburgh West area.

Sport for Yes was, I felt, a mini-version of all that we were trying to achieve during the referendum. To highlight the benefits to be gained from representing ourselves on the world stage, of the opportunities that would bring Scotland, of the changes that would result from taking charge of all our resources but also taking responsibility for ourselves.

And some of the best conversations I had during that campaign were held with people I met in Muirhouse and Drylaw. They knew exactly what the referendum was about and why they were voting Yes. People were engaged, thoughtful and enlightened. It was an absolute pleasure to play a small part in helping them exercise their right to vote – for some, for the first time ever.

All of that experience gained over the last two years led me to the conclusion that I couldn’t simply return to the sidelines and hope that others would take up the fight. I want to continue to play my part and I’m standing for the SNP candidacy for Edinburgh West because it’s where I’m from.

I care passionately about my country and my city, but most especially my home patch. The community in which I grew up, where I went to school, where I first got involved in football and where my mum and dad still live.

We might have finished fourth in the last Westminster election, but with the right candidate, message and campaign, the SNP can win this seat. We did it in 2011 after all. And we now have a remarkable base of SNP members and supporters to help do it. Their experience and enthusiasm make for a formidable team.

While Mike Crockart, the current MP, is a decent man who has stood up for his principles, he’s playing for the wrong team. The Lib Dems will be harshly judged in Edinburgh West – and elsewhere in Scotland – for propping up the Tories. And frankly, I don’t think Labour will ever be forgiven in neighbourhoods like Drumbrae, Carrick Knowe and Stenhouse – strong working class areas in my youth – for standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories during the referendum.

I believe this Westminster election is a seminal moment in Scotland’s history. We must persuade the thousands of Yes voters to continue supporting independence through the SNP. There are over 22,000 of them here in Edinburgh West. Even if only they or just three-quarters of them vote SNP in this election, we will win.

But that’s not enough for me. I believe that a team plays best when it is united. So we need to also encourage everyone who voted No because of the Vow made during that last heady week of the campaign, that voting SNP is the way to guarantee it being delivered.

This is a unique moment in the life of the SNP and the independence movement. We have a fantastic opportunity to make gains in seats and powers at Westminster. But to do that, we have to make sure we send a strong team of all the talents to Westminster. We need not just the usual politicians but people with a broader reach into the community and Scottish society.

I have had the privilege of representing both major football clubs in Edinburgh. I know how passionate their fans are: it’s because of that passion that they are now wanting to take a leading role in the welfare of their clubs. Fans know that people, communities, countries and yes, clubs work best when they take responsibility for themselves.

This theme is at the core of my beliefs. It is why I believe passionately in Independence for Scotland.

There was no bigger honour for me in my playing career than pulling on the blue of the Scotland jersey. I want to pull on that jersey again, to walk out with the rest of the SNP team onto the Westminster field and play to win.

Comments (37)

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  1. patmctavish says:

    Good Luck I hope you win!

  2. Albalha says:

    @bella Have you asked the other Edinburgh West candidates to contribute? Just curious to know if you’re selecting your personal favourites, as it were.

  3. david steel says:

    Good luck to michael – nice to see a yesser getting a good go – if the people in that constituency had any sense that’s who they should plump for as their candidate as he would stand a good chance – local lad done good with community at heart.

    As an aside – is there any place where we can see who the SNP nominees are for each constituency ?
    I am in Ochils and Perthshire and there are 8 SNP nominees – since it seems it is the no1 target seat needing only a small swing – we seem to have been inundated by “professional” politicians who see it as a sure thing if they get picked.
    I am pretty sure that some of them have put their hat into the ring in other constituencies and I want to know who and where before I cast my vote. I personally would rather see a local activist or prominent yesser than some of these special advisor or political assistant sorts.

    1. Albalha says:

      David, Are you across the other candidates in Edinburgh West? Re your area from what I understand there are councillors and strong Yes campaigners. Curious to know who you deem are the ‘professional’ politicians in Ochils and Perthshire?

      Personally, and I’m not an SNP member, I find coverage of nominees, online, in the press etc rather distasteful. However there’s no doubt SNP HQ has its favourites, so I shouldn’t be surprised. It should be up to local branches to decide, and for nominees to bid for their vote via members’ lists. Non SNP members have no say, that’s how it should be. Behind closed doors in essence. Sadly not the case.

      As I was saying to someone recently the pro independence elite bidding for a political jobs is now an ever decreasing circle.

      I can only hope branches pick the best candidates, not be browbeaten by party top brass.

      1. david steel says:

        There is a strong batch of locals also – but I would like to know who’s hedging their bets with other constituencies – to me if its a single nomination in their own area that proves they want to work for the local community. If they have signed up to 2 or 3 seats then that proves they just want to be a politician and who they represent comes second.
        I just like you hope that the grassroots bear that in mind and can see through some of the “politics” pardon the pun.

      2. IAB says:

        Re the pro-independence elite remark, my local SNP branch recently listened to presentations from several prospective candidates.

    2. Albalha says:

      David, I’m well aware of who is standing in your seat, at least 2 of them are in one or more seats, quite different players. I’m not sure I would judge simply on the more than one seat test. I know that some people have been courted by multiple branches and have had to call a halt: I know of one prominent Yes campaigner, not politically aligned before, who had approaches from 6 SNP branches, and is standing in two.

      We are in unprecedented times, the SNP is clearly struggling to cope, delayed announcement dates, nominees still not vetted, indeed I think M Stewart is in that category. So there has to be an understanding that this is fresh territory BUT I do agree there is no place for the hungry political careerist.

      Having said that I’m not sure you can knock anyone standing in more than one seat out for that, there are a fair few of them, including for example Kate Higgins.

      1. david steel says:

        point noted – hustings on Monday so will see what they all say. I put my faith in the good sense of the rest of the god knows how many that joined up like me after sept 18 to choose the right one.

  4. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Good luck to you Michael. Watched you play for well for Hibs. I’m sure you’ll perform as well for Scotland in Westminster if you’re successful with your nomination..

  5. kat hamilton says:

    very articulate and amiable guy. seems exactly the sort to enhance the snp and its broader appeal at the next election. hopefully the electorate will bypass the labour party and their cohorts, they are the past and independence the future. good luck michael…

  6. Hugo says:

    Good luck Michael. Hope it happens for you.

  7. Big Jock says:

    Delighted you are standing. I thought you had a great debate about the Scottish Olympic team of the future during the campaign. If you do get elected please continue to press for our own Olympic team. We saw that we were world class in Glasgow 2014 ,despite the doom and gloom merchants, who think we are nothing without team GB.

  8. arthur thomson says:

    Good luck Michael. If you are not selected this time I trust you will give one hundred percent support to the candidate who is. We so need strength in depth.

  9. Darien says:

    “to walk out with the rest of the SNP team onto the Westminster field ”

    That is the last thing any SNP candidate should aspire to. The raison detre of the party is to exit Westminster, not to join the place. Do I need to remind the SNP of that? 30+ SNP MP’s is a Scots majority and a mandate for independence. It is not a passport to 5 years unionist salary and pleading for crumbs off the unionist table.

    1. Renton says:

      I don’t think you do need to remind them of that, but also 30+MPs is not a mandate for independence 8 months after a referendum on the subject – regardless of long standing ‘convention’ around ‘winning’ the GE in Scotland, no one serious about independence can surely be thinking that. If we get enough Pro-Indy MPs into Westminster to win proper and full home rule, then I would think that is a good, important and necessary step in building a majority for independence a few years down the line.

    2. Willie Hogg says:

      If independence was in their manifesto then a majority of SNP MPs would be enough to secure independence. However, it is clear that, as it is too soon after the referendum, the SNP candidates are standing on a manifesto commitment to DevoMax and not independance. If they are successful in winning the support of pro DevoMax supporters (some70%) but get no change from Westminster, then they are set up to stand for independence in five years.

      1. Darien says:

        “it is too soon after the referendum”. Says who? Since when did a nation’s independence have a set timeframe? The SNP would be assured of 45%-plus if they stood on an independence ticket. What are they afraid of? And since when did the SNP stand for devomax? Sounds to me more like the SNP are trying to comfortably fit into the union establishment.

        The SNP can expect nothing from Westminster. Why should Westminster ‘give’ Scotland devomax? Mind you, not a bad salary and exp for 5 years if you can get it. But as far as Scotland is concerned 30+ SNP MP’s would be as well not bothering to take take their tartan seats and the unionist shilling. Independence needs is a wee bit courage. It will never be given.

  10. Paul Newton says:

    Sorry Darien but if you want to make a significant difference, it is important not to put the cart before the horse. I am Irish, and in the north of my country the UUP and later the DUP have played exactly this game for 50 years and it worked really well.

    The fact is the agendas are different.

    The UUP (and then DUP) agenda was to protect the interests of the norn iron establishment, to prolong the suppression of human and civil rights and to protect the *we are THE people* agenda.

    The SNP and YES agenda is to create a true democracy and to develop a fairer and prosperous country where all citizens and tax payers are treated well, encouraged to make thier voice heard and have the right to remove unfair or dictatorial governments.

    In other words to get the best for Scotland, rather than one section of Scotland.

    If you want to know about salary and crumbs you should ask some lad called Murphy

    1. Darien says:

      I agree the “YES agenda is to create a true democracy and to develop a fairer and prosperous country. However some might say the SNP agenda is to protect the interests of the Scottish establishment; the latter remains more or less intact after 7 years of SNP in office.

      Not sure what you mean by “it worked really well” in Northern Ireland?

    2. William Davidson says:

      I’m not sure how the D.U.P. and U.U.P. could have protected the interests of the Northern Ireland establishment, or prolonged the suppression of human and civil rights in Northern Ireland in the last 50 years, as, following the abolition of the old Stormont parliament and government in 1972, there was no such establishment to protect and virtually all the just demands of the Civil Rights movement were in place by then. N.I. was then run by a succession of alternating Tory and Labour governments up until the establishment of the power-sharing executive in 1998. Having lived there throughout that period the greatest threat to human and civil rights came from Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries, not from Unionist politicians who, even if they had believed they could turn back the clock, simply wouldn’t have been allowed to do so.

  11. Darien says:

    “to win proper and full home rule”

    What is proper home rule when its at hame? And how do you plan to achieve whatever that is? With 30+ against 500+? A hae ma doots.

    Every UK general election is an opportunity for Scotland to exit the joint venture UK state, always has been. Its called democracy UK style and that very same FPTP system has been used without a second thought to control Scotland.

  12. Big Jock says:

    The SNP strategists know that using the Westminster election as a mandate for independence. Would be too risky at present. They need to get the majority first and then work on the independence issue in the years following.

    1. Darien says:

      Jings, “too risky”. Well, that’s all right then. Lets wait some more years. SNP ‘strategists’ ken best. But do they ken better than the 45%?

      Face reality. 30+ MP’s against 500+ MP’s means the SNP ‘tartan seat’ bloc at Westminster will achieve nothing. On the other hand, securing a mandate for independence will achieve something.

  13. Clydebuilt says:

    +Good Luck Michael…..Heard you several times and always thought you’d make a fine politician.

    All the best

  14. oldbattle says:

    I’m going to a hustings tonight to use my voice and vote in selecting a candidate in the Lanark & East Hamilton constituency. Here are my five question that would seek to discover the most appropriate candidate to represent the SNP in my neck of the woods.
    Why should the SNP seek to have representatives in a UK parliament?
    How do you plan to defeat an incumbent with a substantial majority?
    Poverty is very evident in our constituency how can you help alleviate this scourge?
    What personal strengths do you bring to the task of winning?
    How do you see your role in empowering local communities in self-determining their future?
    What questions would you use?

    1. Darien says:

      “What questions would you use?”

      Just one. Would you, together with a majority of Scots MP’s declare our nation to be independent?

  15. David Allan says:

    Conditions that favour a new approach-

    The UK Economy slides ever closer toward bankruptcy. UK Debt still grows.
    The soft cuts to reduce the deficit have been delivered. Time for our own “Project Realism”.
    Another WE hung parliament looks likely. EVEL will dominate debate at WE.
    UKIP !
    Smith’s proposals will be exposed as weak and unworkable they will be diluted still further.
    The VOW – revealed as a cynical stunt to manipulate the Referendum outcome.
    Voter realisation that Brown’s oft shown Patriotic Scot tirade was the BBC’s final propaganda fling!
    A movement of over 100k SNP,Green and SSP Independence seasoned activists.
    Who could deny a 6% swing favouring Independence is achievable.
    We have a social media platform, The National, Bella ,Wings, Newsnet, An impressive Blogroll.
    A potential 20+ SNP WE MP’s from May 8th 2015.

    In 2016 there may never be a more suitable opportunity to present a radical Manifesto to the Scottish public. Presenting an informed position of member EU countries on support for Scotland’s continued membership. Presenting the Jim Sillars argument for a Scottish Pound (No more Sterlingisation offers). Making commitments on content of a future constitution. This all needs expert legal preparatory work that requires tough Political Players and Constitutional Lawyers prepared to challenge European Leaders and the Finance Sector and others ,committed to maintaining and supporting any sector who were threatened with extinction for daring to choose a different path for their country. Voters need a Manifesto White Paper able to present legally robust facts that dismiss the myths and scaremongering spread by Unionists.

    Scotland’s 2016 Holyrood Election is that opportunity. I don’t want a second referendum which if lost would be seen as the final Establishment blow to the Independence cause. Do people really believe that another positive will win over negative campaign will deliver a victory? is it realistic to think the BBC and MSM will act any differently?
    2016 Manifesto commitments recognising that a majority vote delivers the mandate to secure a negotiated Independence settlement.

    I choose to believe that a form of Internationally recognised diplomacy exists to enable Independence to be delivered by this route. Why does the SNP leadership stick rigidly to requiring a further referendum?

  16. Lochside says:

    First of all, Good Luck Michael. I’ve always been impressed by your courage and articulacy on t.v. You’re a great role model for Scots youth. Your candidacy statement is also sincere and chimes well with me. Local lad supporting local people is what you want from a political representative.

    Unfortunately Darien and others have ignored your qualities and reasons for standing. The metaphor of leading the Scottish team at Hampden was clear to me: the aim being to secure victory.
    However, like Darien, I do not want a bloc of SNP members getting lost in the chimera of Commons double speak on ‘Home Rule’.

    If elected you and your fellow nationalists must refuse to compromise or become a supine rump for the Labour party to kick into historical touch by fatuous and dangerous alliances. I believe that you are honest and that your aim is true. I do not think you are doing this for a five year jolly amongst the troughers at Westminster.

    Stick to your principles and if the people of Edinburgh West elect you, I’m sure you will reward them with a robust and resolute performance amongst the Unionists!

    1. David Allan says:

      Regrettably as Craig Murray now knows personal principles in the SNP must be cast aside, the party line must be adhered to by all MP’s !

      Who knows what our SNP group will be required to agree to,time will tell.

      Good luck to Michael in the Hustings and to all Yessers (who have been successsfully vetted). It’s up to new members to exercise their branch vote to ensure that some new influential voices are introduced to the Scottish Political landscape.

  17. oldbattle says:

    “If elected you and your fellow nationalists must refuse to compromise or become a supine rump for the Labour party to kick into historical touch by fatuous and dangerous alliances.”
    Should be sent to every SNP candidate for GE15.

  18. Darien says:

    Some folk here, even SNP members/candidates, forget that the raison detre of the SNP is to dissolve the UK joint venture parliament created in 1707. It is not to join that ‘club’ and take the unionist shilling. The latter will achieve precisely nothing for Scotland or our people. Independence requires courage – not a constituency office in Wester Hailes.

  19. Sure Scot says:

    SNP leader has ruled out proposing a quick second referendum. Oops sorry Salmond is not the leader any more – or is he?
    Salmond is now saying the main objective for the GE vote is to push for home rule.
    Looks like even the SNP are having second thoughts about independence. Maybe something to do with the oil price now below $50 a barrel.


    There won’t be any SNP Labour coalition either.


  20. David Allan says:

    The SNP gradualism approach which brought the 2011 victory and the subsequent 2014 Referendum served it’s purpose.

    The final delivery of independence requires a more robust stance if we are to achieve our aim. A new breed of Parliamentarians are required folk that have confidence and some backbone who are prepared to challenge the existence of the Union at every opportunity.

    If we simply elect SNP members with no passion or willingness to create an Independence profile at Westminster then we will achieve nothing. Sheep don’t win battles we need 20 plus Lions – In every Constituency there are Yesser nominees appearing at Hustings ,they may not have political experience I for one am prepared to ignore the careerist nominees in favour of those like Michael. I hope many will recognise that they possess the necessary skills to ensure effective representation.

    The YES Campaign was their training ground. There were many careerists who didn’t get beyond the warm-up. Michael and others like him deserve our support.

  21. Darien says:

    What Scotland needs is 30+ SNP MP’s to declare independence – the 45%+ will deliver that. The current SNP posturing on home rule is pointless. Perhaps these 30+ SNP MP’s should be given a place in a second chamber at Holyrood – with other places filled by people from ‘civic Scotland’?

    Forget the tartan seats Nicola – its time to tell Westminster where to go.

    1. David Allan says:

      Darien When we get beyond the WE I expect the following months to allow the SNP to harness all support from the broader Independence movement to provide answers to Europe and Currency situations areas where we had no winning arguments in 2014. These questions need to be adequately resolved to enable our fellow citizens to make a more informed choice when the next opportunity arises.

      Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other former colonies didn’t require Referendums. Having a future Devolved Federal government imo makes us similar to the Dominion/colonial status of these Countries. There must therefore be another internationally recognised diplomatic route to Independence.

      Achieving 30 of the 59 Westminster seats would be a springboard creating the momentum for a new attempt in 2016 via the Scottish Elections.

  22. Darien says:

    “Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other former colonies didn’t require Referendums.”

    Scotland is not a colony. Scotland is a joint venture partner nation in the UK state created in 1707. A Scots majority of 30+ SNP MP’s is sufficient to end the UK state.

  23. David Allan says:

    My point has not been fully understood ,as a devolved government we have more in common the these former Dominions and Colonies than is perhaps recognised. The terms of the Act of Union are hardly strengthened with every new power devolved to Scotland. I merely suggest that there may be an alternative to the SNP’s second referendum plan. A plan that would again leave us at the mercy of the MSM/BBC Establishment machine and a new wave of scaremongering. A second referendum loss would be a risk to far.

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