Tommy Sheppard for Deputy Leader

pic_51Tommy Sheppard MP has announced tonight his candidacy for the Deputy Leader of the SNP, joining Alyn Smith MEP, Angus Robertson MP as well as Christopher McEleny, leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council.

An experienced political activist, Sheppard is a relative newcomer to the SNP and represents both a figure from the left of the party and one of the hundred thousand new members. In a telling line he argues:

“We need to facilitate and lead a movement bigger than ourselves. We still have arguments to win. And they will be won by continually building alliances beyond the SNP.”

In a statement that suggests an implicit criticism of the top-down style of party organisation that has dominated for the last decade he says: “We need to prepare as many people as possible to play an active role in campaigns. I believe we need to refocus our basic unit – the party branch – to include much more political discussion and action.”

The announcement means that the campaign for Deputy Leader is likely to be more meaningful than in the past and will create a genuine, and arguably overdue debate about strategy for a second indy referendum.

There are three weeks till nominations close. You can follow him at @TommySheppard

Here’s the full statement:

“Over the past weeks I have been approached by a wide range of SNP members asking me to stand for the position of Depute Leader of our Party. After much thought I have decided to do so. Here’s why.

At this critical time in our nation’s history we have a window of opportunity, yet we still have much work to do in a short time. To be successful we need to use all of the talents of our party. I believe the job of Depute Leader is key to our success.

To achieve our goal of Independence our party needs to be even better at everything it does.

We’ve had some great election successes recently, but frankly our opponents have made it easy for us. We need to prepare for the challenges ahead, including IndyRef2 when it comes. That will be a far tougher test, and we need to be ready.

We need to revise how we do things, building on the massive increase in membership since 2014. Members are our biggest asset and we need structures that allow them to get more involved. They are central to our continuing success as a party and a movement.

We need to revise how we do things, building on the massive increase in membership since 2014. Members are our biggest asset and we need structures that allow them to get more involved. They are central to our continuing success as a party and a movement.

We need to prepare as many people as possible to play an active role in campaigns. I believe we need to refocus our basic unit – the party branch – to include much more political discussion and action. We need to spend money on professional organisers – at HQ and in a regional network – to support branch activities and members’ training. We need to bring together all our elected representatives – MPs, MSPs and Councillors – in coherent teams providing political leadership to our communities. We need to rethink how we make policy – involving as many members as possible in a continuous process.

To work, change must come from the bottom up via a swift but inclusive and comprehensive review. Working with other party officers and the NEC I’d like to lead that process, starting as soon as possible.

We have a superb leadership team in the SNP, each with a different role to play and collectively embodying a wealth of talent and experience. And the team is being tested at this crucial time, with so much going on around us, not least in providing the real opposition to the Tories at Westminster and protecting Scotland’s position in Europe. As Depute Leader I would complement and bolster an already strong team.

The Depute Leader needs to have a primary focus on swiftly and effectively developing our capability as a campaigning organisation, to better prepare the grassroots for the demands of politics in the digital era of the 21st century, allowing others the time to focus on the key jobs they are asked to do.

Finally, to win Independence we need to speak to all of our potential supporters. Those who have been working on this cause for decades, those like me who joined the party in the aftermath of the independence referendum, and those who are still to make the journey to Yes.

We need to facilitate and lead a movement bigger than ourselves. We still have arguments to win. And they will be won by continually building alliances beyond the SNP.

I still have a lot to learn: although active in Scottish politics for nearly 40 years, I’ve only been in the SNP since 2014. This means I can bring a new perspective to our leadership team. I don’t claim to represent new members, but I am fairly typical of those who have made a political journey in recent years, particularly from the Labour movement. I spent several years working in the Yes campaign building alliances with people across all parties and none. That’s a role we may need to revive, sooner rather than later, and as Depute Leader I would drive that forward.

I can bring a new perspective to our leadership team. I don’t claim to represent new members, but I am fairly typical of those who have made a political journey in recent years, particularly from the Labour movement. I spent several years working in the Yes campaign building alliances with people across all parties and none. That’s a role we may need to revive, sooner rather than later, and as Depute Leader I would drive that forward.

The discussion we will have on these key issues during this election will only strengthen the party, offering an exemplar of a healthy internal democracy in Scotland’s largest political organisation. And whoever wins will benefit from having the authority of the mandate an election offers.

I want to stress that I have every confidence in all the members of the current leadership of the party in their respective roles, and will continue to fully support all of the team no matter what the outcome of this election. That’s how we do things in the SNP.

My thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to stand. Your support is humbling and I confess I’m just a little daunted at the challenge. But I believe I am up to it. No person can achieve things by themselves. Winning independence for our country will need all our efforts. I hope that I can bring my skills and experience to the job and play a role inspiring and motivating our mass membership in the months and years ahead.”

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  1. bringiton says:

    Having known Tommy since the Yes campaign in Edinburgh South,I was hugely impressed with his moral fibre and ability to empathise with those who did not necessarily agree with our position.
    Tommy may not have the pedigree of some of the other candidates standing for the position but,to me,represents all that I would expect from a Scot (or Irish person even) committed to improving life in our country for everyone (immigrants included!).

    1. Scott Young says:

      Irish person !!!!!!

  2. Mhari morrison says:

    Meet tommy at conference to be frank not that impressed / really feel he is some what of an oppertunist not much to say on Iraq either prob because he was himself a new labour guy

    1. bringiton says:

      Tommy doesn’t need to be involved in politics,as the owner of the successful Stand comedy club,he was fully occupied prior to the 2014 referendum.
      Also,it was New Labour that resulted in him leaving that party.
      A thoroughly decent human being who genuinely wants to make a difference to people’s lives.

      1. Correct on all scores bringiton

  3. michel le petit talent says:

    “In a statement that suggests an implicit criticism of the top-down style of party organisation that has dominated for the last decade… ”

    With journalistic side-swipes of that calibre, you should find it easy to get work at the BBC when your next crowdfunder fails even more miserably than the last…

    ‘mon Tommy!

  4. Colin Mackay says:

    “We need to facilitate and lead a movement bigger than ourselves.” Exactly the words we need to hear from SNP leadership at this point. Hope he does become the deputy and the SNP membership realise what he is saying is extremely important.

  5. MBC says:

    Alyn Smith MEP would also be a good candidate. Especially during EU negotiations. Good to see SNP not short of good candidates.

  6. nick says:

    saw Tommy at the oxi vote outside eu consulate – not a new labourite to be seen quite frankly

  7. Asty Taylor says:

    Tommy Sheppard will make a great Deputy Leader of the SNP. He is a charismatic socialist visionary, and you can never have too many of those. He knows what the Yes movement needs, and that is grassroots effort and alliances. We will win the next independence vote. (Mark my words…)

  8. Alf Baird says:

    Tommy seems a refreshingly ‘different’ candidate with innovative ideas compared with the other two main (timeserver) candidates.

  9. Innes MacRobbie says:

    All the candidates declared are good, each with their own merits and appeal.

    Rather than publishing an article promoting one above the rest, I’d expect to see a rounded presentation with each candidate having the opportunity to put their case.

    Let’s show the Scottish people how a serious governing party conducts a leadership contest without recourse to lawyers, coups, secret meetings, secret votes, threats, back stabbing and all the other failings of the red and blue tories south of the border last week.

    1. Three weeks to go, we’ll cover each candidate – but the news here was Sheppard’s anouncement

  10. Grace Sutherland says:

    I agree. All the candidates are good each with their own merit and appeal. I won’t be too disappointed whoever gets it. However in Tommy’s favour he’s a really great communicator and charismatic. He connects with people’s emotions which is very important and his speeches are very persuasive and motivating. I think he can draw people in. To the person who just says ‘Irish’ – WTF is that? I thought Scotland was supposed to be outward looking and progressive? He lives in Scotland and represents his constituents very well in Edinburgh. We should be looking at who we think is best for the job -not where they were born. Tommy’s my man.

  11. Douglas says:

    I think Tommy is great, but I don’t want him to be deputy leader. We need him as the outspoken parlementarian, and being deputy leader will probably cramp his style.

    Alyn Smith is the guy, and Alyn has all the contacts in Europe which we need to capitalize on right now….

  12. David Allan says:

    “I believe we need to refocus our basic unit – the party branch – to include much more political discussion and action. We need to spend money on professional organisers – at HQ and in a regional network – to support branch activities and members’ training. We need to bring together all our elected representatives – MPs, MSPs and Councillors – in coherent teams providing political leadership to our communities. We need to rethink how we make policy – involving as many members as possible in a continuous process”.

    This is the SNP achilles heal,the crux of the SNP’s inability to retain politically minded members who have either left the party or have become dormant members frustrated that their branch activity fails to engage in the political process failing to debate issues and consequently failing to prepare a stream of well informed future talent.

    My own Branch experience is that cliques of well meaning individuals have often prevented or discouraged newer members from office bearer roles these new members being perceived as a threat to the Branch, rather than being accepted as a positive result of YES activity and warmly welcomed their new post Indy 1 ideas are not reflected in branch meetings or agendas. Active when electioneering yet stagnant in between.

    I believe Tommy recognises this serious flaw and knows that it impedes progress nationally to win wider support for the Independence cause. The SNP structures of old failed to win in 2014 there needs to be change and reform if Indy2 is to be won.

    Good Luck Tommy if I were still a member you would earn my vote for Deputy Leader.

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