Hey everyone. When I think of the kind of politician I want to represent me I want someone who inspires others by all they say and do.
I want someone who will be a champion of the community they represent. I want someone who sees politics not as a job but a vocation and on Saturday morning I was fortunate to attend opening of election rooms for just such a candidate the SNP candidate for Glasgow East Natalie McGarry.
Though I was only there for a
short time it was good to see such a great turnout. Those in attendance included local MSP John Mason, local councillors David Turner, and John McLaughlan, branch organiser Graham Packer, and branch secretary Laura Doherty. I also caught up with one of my closest friends in the party Steven Tierney, and recent recruit the ever so lovely Wayne MacKay who just happens to be the husband of one of my besties the one and only Leanne MacKay.
After the photo shoot with our special guest Elaine C Smith Natalie busied herself getting to know many of the new party members who have joined up since the referendum defeat last September as well as remembering to press the flesh with those party members she has known for many years. This tells me a lot about the candidate we have chosen to fight and win a seat which contains some of the most deprived areas in the developed world. This is a seat that needs a full time MP who will fight to improve the lives of those who live in this constituency and that’s what I believe we will get by electing Natalie McGarry to provide a stronger voice for Scotland and a stronger voice for Glasgow East.
When I speak of Natalie I speak not of someone for whom politics is a job or a career with a gold plated pension plan. I speak of someone for whom improving people’s lives is a vocation, a duty and someone rooted in the principals that have always guided her life.
Natalie grew up in intensely political family and learned early on the twin values of duty and service. Her mother Alice McGarry has served as a local councillor in her native Fife where she has represented Inverkeithing since 1986 and her aunt is Tricia Marwick who is the current presiding officer in the Scottish Parliament. Having grown up around politics it was no surprise that Natalie got involved and like her mum and her aunt she also became a member of the SNP.
A woman of substance and principal it is no surprise that Natalie McGarry is not only one of the rising stars of the SNP she is one of the brightest talents in the Scottish political village. A tenacious fighter with gentle but assertive style Natalie’s easy going manner will I am sure make her popular with the voters of Glasgow East whom she seeks to represent. It this naturally chatty yet professional manner which combines both the breezy with the businesslike which will be a key asset to wrest the seat from the Labour Party and the current MP Margaret Curran.
Ms Curran is a competent MP but her haughty air and abrasive personality demonstrates a degree of self importance which is a world away from the more inclusive approach of Natalie McGarry. Despite the fact our party are if the polls are to be believed heading for a great result on election night our candidate is not taking anything for granted and said that if she wins it will be because a lot of people will have put a lot of hard work in between now and polling day.
Though I have known Natalie for a number of years it is in last three or four years that she has finally come to prominence both within the SNP and to the wider public at large. A former chair of the party’s Glasgow Regional Association this naturally shy young women was able to command the respect of many of the party grandees by running the meetings in an inclusive but businesslike manner and demonstrating she had the ability to get the job done efficiently and effectively with the minimum degree of fuss. This gained her a deserved reputation not only as a very good organiser but also as a highly skilled communicator.
This reputation was further enhanced when she was amongst the founder members of the Women for Independence movement. I call it a movement because that it is what it has become. It may have started as an online community group to promote women’s voices during the referendum but it was obvious from early on that this was going to be so much more than a facebook group and that was due in no small part to the energy of a what was initially a small but committed group of activists. A group of which Natalie McGarry was a key member.
During the referendum Natalie McGarry travelled the length and breadth of Scotland to speak to groups of women who wanted to know why they should vote for Independence and what changes it would make to their lives. Natalie McGarry always presented her case across with passion, pride, principles, and purpose, explaining as she did so that women for independence was not just about winning independence for Scotland it was about working within communities to promote Independence for women within that Independent Scotland.
This meant promoting issues such as the abolition of trident not only because we opposed the use of potentially destructive nuclear weapons but also because we can use the money we would save by not renewing trident on more important things such as better child care provision. We could also address the inequalities caused by the gender pay gap and could bring in legislation to eradicate, and increasing the health service budget thus empowering us to train and retain more doctors and nurses and improve the quality of health care which would have the benefit of improving the quality of life for women in an independent Scotland in a way which wouldn’t be possible in a union where our devolved parliament only gets whatever pocket money Nanny Westminster feels in the mood to dish out.
In January 2014 Natalie a Fifer by birth was selected to fight in the Scottish parliament by-election for Cowdenbeath. This by-election caused by the untimely death of local MSP Helen Eadie was always going to be a tough ask in a seat where she was never expected to win and sure enough the Labour Party held on to seat with respected local councillor Alex Rowley succeeding his late colleague as MSP for the area.
Natalie however had fought a good campaign and emerged with great credit and her reputation greatly enhanced.
Encouraged by that campaign and the fact she has gained considerable respect from across the political divide due to her relentless energy and her tireless campaigning during the referendum Natalie decided to put herself forward as a candidate for the coming election. Now due to the way politics works many candidates from all parties will lodge candidate papers in a number of constituencies to maximise their chances of selection and there is no law nor should there be to stop them doing this. It speaks volumes for the integrity of Natalie McGarry that she decided to seek nomination in only one seat. I knew early on what seat it was going to be though I was sworn to secrecy and I promised not to say a word. This was a secret I found very easy to keep especially since I knew that the constituency was Glasgow East. This is the seat in which I happen to live and I know that Natalie will if given the chance be a brilliant MP.
Make no mistake my current MP Margaret Curran is no matter what I think of her politics a competent MP and an able political fighter who will not be easily beaten. It does have to said however that given the current political climate this seat even with an almost 12,000 majority (the official majority is 11,840) is very winnable for the SNP and I believe we can take it and send our Natalie to London to shake Westminster to its core. After all Natalie has already faced and beaten a team of very talented candidates to win the Glasgow East nomination, and when you’ve beaten the likes of Duncan Ross, Francine Whitmore and Maggie Lennon then suddenly, formidable though she is, Margaret Curran doesn’t seem so unbeatable any more. Don’t get me wrong, removing Ms Curran will not be easy but it is certainly achievable. It will be even more achievable when the voters realise that the key differences between the two main contenders to represent them and their interests are that Margaret Curran supporters austerity and wasting money on trident and whilst Natalie McGarry wants an end to austerity and the only weapon she ever has used or will ever use is the weapon of facts to prove her case.
As a fellow member of women for independence, and also as a transwoman I know when you are committed to a radical change as I was and had to be things can never be the same again. This was certainly the case in my personal life and it produced very beneficial effects, and I am happier now than I’ve ever been. I therefore suspect, when it blows through a nation the results can be very refreshing and to paraphrase the theme of international women’s day it’s time to make it happen.
It is, with the hope of genuine change that I will be casting my vote on the 7th of May and I’ll be casting it for a candidate I can trust to deliver a message to Westminster. By doing so, I will be also be delivering a stronger voice for Scotland and the people of Glasgow East.
Love And Best Wishes