Tag Archive | Angus Robertson

After The Votes Were Counted The Result Was A Night Of Mixed Emotions

This will not be an easy post to write nor indeed should it be. As I look back on the events of last Thursday evening it is I hope with a cool head that I review the results of the UK General Election and in particular what it means for the politics of Scotland. 

Having won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in the election of  2015 it is I think fair to say that for the SNP this was always going to be a difficult night and I say that openly and with a Scottish National Party card in my purse. The fact this was a snap election called by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to get a mandate for her hard Brexit strategy seemed to wrong foot my party who just didn’t seem prepared for it or the fight it was going to bring. After all the only elections we were supposed to be fighting this year were of the local council variety. 

Talking of the council elections these should have given the SNP a warning of just how dirty  all the unionist parties were prepared to fight. The fact that there were all sorts of tactical voting arrangements in place to defeat SNP candidates should have sent a flashing amber light straight to SNP headquarters and the fact that it didn’t seem to do this is something I find very alarming indeed. All through the council election campaign all three leaders of the pro UK parties were talking of nothing else but the threat of  a second divisive independence referendum and a willing press and media allowed them the space to do so. 

It is my  opinion that the SNP were far too civilised on this issue and we should have went for the throat in a much more assertive manner with all of our pro union opponents and we should have went for Ruth Davidson in particular far harder than  we did and not let her get away with her outrageous and disgraceful behaviour against our democratically elected First Minister.  Ever since last year’s Scottish election Davidson has been acting as if she had won that election, and not the SNP. This should have been held up to ridicule and Davidson should have been forced to defend her Conservative policies rather than get away Brit free with  her one issue campaign on defending  her precious union. 

Now whilst this may be perceived as bias by those concerned I am more concerned  about our apparent lack of fight in meeting this ridiculous claim head on and forcing the unionists on to the back foot.  This must be at least to some extent responsible for our loses on Thursday night as more than any other  party SNP voters need to be inspired by a campaign that motivates them to vote and to me at least that didn’t happen this time 

The matter of tactical voting wasn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as it should have been by the SNP and it  wasn’t just unionists who were  doing it. There were in my opinion three groups of yes voters who exercised their own version of independence and  anyone who says this didn’t happen is denying reality. These groups were left leaning yes voters who voted Labour for Jeremy Corbyn and his vision of a fairer society, Yexit voters in rural areas especially but not exclusively in the North of Scotland , this was a group of voters who voted yes for independence in 2014 but voted to leave the European Union, and the stay at home voters who will always vote SNP when they go out to vote  but who if they feel the party has let them down or are not doing enough in key areas and have not been engaged by the manifesto or contacted by local activists  may exercise their democratic right to withhold their vote and there is no doubt that all three of these factors played against the party on this occasion.

 This however, could have been migitgated at local level if we had been a bit bolder in holding the unionist parties feet to the fire and challenging them on the authenticity and indeed sincerity of their views. For example we should have sought to make much more of the internal Labour Party fued between Jeremy Corbyn and his Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale and highlighted the fact that far from being  Corbynistas the vast majority of the Scottish candidates had more in common with Kez than they did with Jez. 

Whilst I’m not sure it would have prevented any of our loses to Labour with the possible exception of Glasgow North East, I do believe that such tactics might have firmed up our majorities in a significant number of the seats we managed to hold thus making it easier to defend them at the next election. Instead of that it may well be the case though I hope it isn’t, that we have to go in to that election with the kind of fire fighting strategy aimed at avoiding a whole swathe of loses to Labour in what used to be their heartland seats.  It is my opinion that should this be the case the SNP will be looking at a return of between 18 -23 seats maximum and on a really bad night we could go down as low as 8-12. However if as I think we should, we take a more assertive line against our opponents I see no reason why we can’t win between 44-48 seats at the  next election. 

I believe we have to go down this road as I think there are dangers in playing too nice. Let’s face it we campaigned as the nice party in this election and it didn’t work and to be honest I don’t see it working in  future .  You can call me alarmist if you like, but I prefer realistic. You see I learned from the best my like lecturer in electoral behaviour Malcolm Dickson who did the System Three polls for the Herald and our resident professor who at that time gave guest lectures which I always made sure to attend. I am of course talking about the voice of elections in Scotland John Curtice who I’m sure would be happy to see one of his former students exercising such caution in their forecasting 

If  my caution is justified and born of out of both experience and I hope reason, my party’s caution was to some extent dictated by the fact that this was a Westminster election and the fact that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn produced by their recent standards a radical manifesto which captured the imagination of voters throughout the UK and had I not been a member of the SNP and been so emotionally committed to my party and our ultimate aim of independence I could easily have been one of the yes voters who could have loaned my vote to Labour Party to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister.

The other key reasons for my party’s caution was the fact that having won an unrealistically high number of seats it was always going to be a night when the unionist voters would indulge themselves in a wee bit of tactical voting to get rid of some of our most talented and high profile MP’s whilst the media predicted the end of the road for our Westminster leader Angus Robertson who lost his Moray seat to the Conservatives, Callum Kerr and Richard Arkless who were the victims of a Conservative clean sweep in the Border constituencies Kirsteen Oswald whose East Renfrewshire seat once the safest Tory seat in Scotland returned to its natural home for the first time since the days of Alan Stewart, Stuart Donaldson in Kincardine And West Aberdeenshire and Pete Wishart who ironically enough fulfilled my  prediction and held on in Perth and North Perthshire. They didn’t pick up on others which were definitely on my vulnerable list such as Angus , Stirling, Ochil And South Perthshire,  and potentially Alex Salmond’s Gordon constituency  though I thought this was likely to be a Liberal Democrat gain rather than a Tory one.  

I have to say that the more the campaign went the more concerned I became for the SNP candidates who were fighting a difficult election on an agenda over which they had little control. At the beginning of the campaign I rather optimistically predicted that the Conservatives would get no more  than six seats and may even be lucky to get that. It is however fair to say that as the campaign progressed I began to see the direction of travel and it wasn’t travelling in our direction and even as a lifetime optimist I started to think the scale of our loses could be and in all probability would be far heavier than I first thought. Indeed on the morning of the election I forecast to a friend that my prediction for my party was between 38-44 seats, a far cry from the 48-52 seats most of my friends and even some sections of the press believed we would win. 

All things consideredthis  election was not a good one for the SNP or at least not on the surface , but if I take a closer look at it from a more personal perspective I think it could be discribed as a night of mixed emotions for me and my party. Yes we lost some serious big hitters from our ranks but  make no mistake we are a party with plenty of talent in our ranks and I hope that honourable members such as Alison Thewliss,  Chris Stephens,  Joanna Cherry , Lisa Cameron,  Mhairi Black ,  Stephen  Gethins , Stewart MacDonald , Tommy Sheppard and others will be given the chance to shine in this parliament and by doing so demonstrate the wealth of highly skilled representatives we have at our disposal.  
It is I think fair to say  that despite our  loses most of which were inevitable for a party in the mid term of a third term Scottish Government, and in an election when UK politics has been more polarised  than at any time since the 1980’s the SNP still won the Scottish part of this election. I believe to do this in the face of an unprecedented and vicious press and media onslaught represents a truly remarkable achievement from which we should take quiet satisfaction. You see by removing what they see as our most talented MP’s the Conservatives may actually have accidentally strengthened our hand as with no Angus or Alex to cast in the role of the bogeyman it will be so much harder for them cast us as a two man team now than was previously the case. 

Looking back on the  events of the night I have to say that after the votes were counted it was a night of mixed emotions.  From a personal  perspective I had as good an election as was going to be possible given the circumstances as  I watched with pride the return of several of my closest  political allies to serve as their constituency  MPs and my reputation for fairness and accuracy   as a political  pundit was vindicated by my early morning election day prediction being uncomfortably close to the truth 

Meanwhile with regards to the gains  made by the pro UK parties I will await with interest the verdict on the new Labour and Tory intake and how many of them will actually be up to the job. I suggest that it may not be quite as many as they think and once they have to talk on  issues other than their obsessive hatred of the SNP and independence they may  be found out for what they are and the SNP stand  best  placed to benefit from such a scenario.

 At the beginning of this campaign all the unionist leaders in Scotland said they wanted to send Nicola Sturgeon a message, and to a certain extent they got their wish. It is my opinion however, that sometimes people should be careful what they wish for as they may actually get it and find to their horror that it might  not be as good as they think.  

Till next time 

Gayle X

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The Tartan Tights Awards 2016 

Hey Readers. It’s later than its ever been due to the fact I’ve had a very busy January but make no mistake it’s  that time of year again. Yes it’s the time when I hand out the honours  that everyone wants to win and welcome you to the fifth annual tartantights awards These awards celebrate the people who have made the past year such a memorable one for me so let’s get this show on the road and get this party started.

As tradition dictates I start this ceremony by naming my politican of the year. By any standards 2016 was a phenomenal year for the SNP and several of their brightest stars, showed why they are so highly thought of both in political circles and increasingly by the general public. Among those I considered for this awards were First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and two of the the party’s brightest Westminster stars Chris Stephens, and Stewart MacDonald, I also gave careful consideration to the co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party Partick Harvie before eventually making my choice. On doing so, I selected a woman who has shown a commitment to fighting for Scottish Independence but also campaigning for the rights of women everywhere and who played a significant part in the abolition of the tampon tax. It is this passion for equality and fairness which brought her in to politics and I’m proud to say that our winner of this award is someone I have known and trusted for 10 years as a councillor for Glasgow Carlton and since May 2015 as MP for Glasgow Central. My tartantights politician of the year for 2016 is Alison Thewliss.

Next up is my young politician of the year and my choice is someone who has proven that you don’t need to be a member of a member of a political party to do politics properly. Our winner is someone who isn’t afraid to say the word socialism and if necessary write it out loud in blood red letters.and  who since resigning from the SNP in October  has if it’s possible been even more active than ever before and is as committed as she’s always been to the fairer more equal Scotland she believes in. My young politician of the year is Saffron Dickson.

My vision of Scotland award goes to the politician or member of the public who by their actions has made Scotland a fairer and more inclusive place to live. This year my choice is a woman who organised her party’s first all day equalities conference and by doing so gave both a platform and a voice to members of the BME, Disabled, and LGBTIQ  members which can only be beneficial to the party’s aim of creating a more diverse and inclusive Scotland which encompasses and embraces all of the people who make our country home. My Vision Of Scotland award goes to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik.

Moving on it’s time for my Unsung Hero/Heroine Award This award is given to the man or woman who represents their party without fuss and quietly and effectively gets on with the jobs that need done.This year it goes to a man without whose considerable presence the Shettleston SNP would not be the fighting force of winners we have become. Not only did he  serve as convenor for a number of years he also until recently organised that well known cultural institution that is the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper.My unsung hero for 2016 is Lachie McNeil.

From unsung heroes I move on to future stars as I name my One To Watch. This award is for someone who though they may not be known to the wider public at the moment I have no doubt will become so due to their undoubted talent Among those who merit a mention are Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton  Green MSP Andy Wightman, and SNP councillor Rosa Zambonnini but our winner made history when at the age of just 21 he gained a  seat for the Green Party  on the West Of Scotland list and became the youngest member ever to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. So it gives me great pleasure to say that my tartantights one to watch award goes to Ross Grier.

My penultimate political award is for the politician who has made the greatest impact in the last twelve months  There were a number of candidates for this award, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon , The Green Party’s Patrick Harvie , Mhairi Black, and her SNP colleges Chris Stephens,and Stewart MacDonald all had excellent years but in the end I decided to give this award to someone who has provided leadership to the SNP group Westminster and the only real credible opposition to the most vicious UK government in decades   Our winner  was rewarded by the membership of his party by  being elected as Depute Leader of the SNP at the autumn conference.The winner, of the Impact Award  is Angus Robertson.

My last award in this section is i think  the most appropriate way to conclud it as I name my best political blogger of the year. For the last two, years this has been won by the most yappy blog on the blogosphere namely Paul Kavanagh and the wee ginger dug. This year however there is new winner which has taken blogging to the next level This innovative multi media outlet uses both traditional blogs as well as the occasional video blog or vlog to bring you the stories that other mainstream tend not to cover. It is for this groundbreaking way of making news accessible that my politicial blogger of the year goes to Angela, Haggerty and the team at the Common Space.

Having given out my political prizes it’s now time to focus on the community  awards and where better to start than the blogging community. Only two years this section had only one award but tonight it has three. These are, Scottish Blogger of the Year, International Blogger of the year, and for the first time the new award of Vlogger of the year. So as you can see I have a lot to get through so let’s crack on with the Scottish Blogger of the year. This is always a very hotly contested catagory and this year was no different with Colours And Carousels , Frankly Ms Shankly, G Is For Gingers, and  Last Year’s Girl all given serious consideration but I have to say that for, writing the best post Brexit post I’ve seen so far and several other posts which have made me both think and smile simultaneously my winner of the Scottish Blogger of the year award is Lucie L Dhog for Tetris And Cheesecakes

Now I move on from national to international and when it came to  my choice of  International  Blogger of the year though there were plenty of quality candidates such as Mini Mouse Chic ,  The Curvaceous Vegan , last year’s winner Dungarees And Donuts, Petticoats And Patriarchy , and The Real Supermum all of which are brilliant, there was one blog which stood head and shoulders above all contenders purely because of the amount of times it made me get all emotional so my international blogger of the year goes to Samantha Smethurst for the brilliant Little Fickle.

Now it’s time for a new award and I  brought in Vlogger of the Year in recognition of the amount of bloggers who regularly or occasionally post video blogs. Regular video bloggers include Beauty Creep , Blog About Nothing, Colours And Carousels,  Princess Attitude, and Jessica Lauren Hatcher. All of these  vloggers produce enjoyable and entertaining content which can on occasion be both informative and educational so selecting a winner from such a talented shortlist was not easy. In the end however I selected a vlogger who proved that oops moments can and do happen you’re  watching YouTube videos and they happen because she is so hillirious with her tales on what it means to be Scottish and female in the early 21st century. So just in case you hadn’t guessed by now  the first ever tartantights Vlogger of the Year is Beauty Creep.

Now, it’s time to name my Activist of the Year and this year this award goes to a fellow poet who just like last year’s winner Dorkface Blog starred a social movement but this one came about by accident when she was asked by the incoming director of the Scottish Poetry Library to create a piece of poetry based art. This led to our winner coming up with the idea of Fierce Words which was originally open to all poets who wanted to attend the event and were willing to hold up a word which made us proud of who we are,  but since only female poets turned up on the day it then became women with fierce words and now known  at least by some of us as fierce women. This incredible and and awe inspirational day showed the power of women at our brilliant best, It was a day on which existing friendships were enhanced and new ones made. I know that I’ve made friends because of that day that I simply couldn’t imagine not being in my life and I’m not the only one who feels that way about an event that changed lives by empowering women of words and created the fiercest tribe I can ever remember in all my years of being involved in the history of  Scottish spoken word poetry. My Activist of the Year is that one woman force of nature Lesley Traynor.

My Young Activist of the Year is someone who is passionate about poetry and equality. This is someone who is focused on creating a better world and will stop at nothing to achieve it. I first met our winner at a spoken word event for Rise Women’s Network and since then we have become close friends I think it’s the fact we’re both ranting, raving , radicals which has created this strong bond of sisterhood , however it might be the fact that we’re just a couple of  chatty wee rebels with opinions on everything which has forged our friendship. I know that the crowd at Castlemilk Against Austerity are very grateful for all the work she does for them and believe me Scotland needs a lot more active citizens like our Young Activist of the Year the amazing Keira MacLean.

From community I now move on to culture and I start with poetry and poets. Well having been on the spoken word scene for almost quarter of a century and around it for even longer it’s something I think I might just know a wee bit about.  As I start this section I do so my award for the Best Poetry Performance of the Year.

As always I’ve had no shortage of quality performances to choose from Iona Lee and her magical performance to win the 2016 Scottish Slam Championship, and Molly McLachlan for her amazing debut at September’s  Words And Music, were however the most outstanding in a year filled  with wonderful poetic  jewels and selecting a winner between them was extremely difficult.  On one hand I thought Iona because she performed brilliantly in a real pressure cooker of a situation and on the other I thought Molly because this was the first time words and music had been truly electrified since moving home from Sammy Dow’s to The Tin Hut but in the end I plumped for Iona if only because I believed that her star quality shone on the night she won the title of Scottish Slam Champion and for that alone she deserved to win another so my choice of the Best Poetry Performance of 2016 is Iona Lee.
My next award is for Best Show of the Fringe and in a year when I attended 40 shows I’m actually surprised how easy this decision really was. It was easy not because of the lack of quality in the shows as many of them were absolutely brilliant but because of the variety it offered. You see in the space of one magical hour on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon this show took the audience on journey,through Gaelic Songs, Poems in English about the struggles of Scots women and Welsh princesses not to mention a  physical exercise routine that would put many fitness coaches to shame. It is for those reasons and  many others that the award for Best Show Of The Fringe goes to Home Words by Katharine MacFarlane. (see picture below ) 

Staying in Edinburgh I move on to the most original show at the fringe and in this one Dan Simpson can consider himself very unlucky as can Alain English. Both produced shows of the highest quality which in any other year would have won but this year they were up against a comedy robot called F R A N C  who was invented to produce the perfect comedy routine. Unfortunately a bit like Donald Trump, F R A N C developed an ego which got out of control and the consequences were truly  catastrophic whilst also being hillirious and that’s why the winner of the Most Original Show of the Fringe goes to the creator of  this groundbreaking show John McGlade.

For my next award the focus whilst still focused on entertainment switches to something more Scottish for the Sandy Hutchinson Memorial Award. This award is given to the poet, or musician, that I believe has done most to promote the use of the Scots language in their work and this year I give this award to a man who uses his guid  Scots tongue in his work with both power and authenticity. My choice for the Sandy Hutchinson Memorial Award for 2016 is Jim Ewing.

From celebrating Scottish culture i move on to comedy and before you ask this does not involve either Kezia Dugdale , or Ruth Davidson and their performances at First Minister’s Questions. This involves real  comedians you know who actually know how to make us laugh Last year this award was won by The Graduettes so finding a show as funny as that was not easy.  However I did eventually find a show which was on that level by an American comedian who now lives in Yorkshire by the name of Chella Quint  This bold and talkative funny woman proved that you can find humour in almost every topic as her one woman show on periods Adventures In Menstruation  had woman of all ages in fits of the giggles every night for three  weeks as it played to packed houses every night at the Edinburgh Fringe. Well  any show which challenges stereotypes and negative advertising around this every day reality has to be  commended.  This is especially true when you start your show with a game of twister , end it with a song , and encourage your audience to purchase unique period themed jewelry, and  that’s why my award for the Best Live Comedy Show of 2016 goes to Chella Quint.
Having talked comedy I move on to inclusion and give my award for the Most Inclusive Show of the year. This show has already won one award as it was my choice for Best Show Of The Fringe so you won’t be surprised that it’s another victory for Home Words by Katharine MacFarlane. My reasons for choosing this  show  for a second award were hinted at earlier as Katharine performed stories, songs , and  poems from a variety of tongues and did so in different languages. It was however the fact that she took audience participation to a new whole new level  as she had all the women in the audience participating in the traditional Scottish art of Waulking which is so exhausting that after working at that process for eight hours a day they wouldn’t need to go the gym . Trust me I was exhausted after 10 minutes so how our foremothers could manage it for eight hours  is completely beyond me .

Talking of strong women it’s time to name my Equality Champion for 2016 .  This year i have chosen a bright  articulate young women for whom I once wrote a poem  i will introduce the winner of this award by saying that the title of her poem is Her Father’s Smile. It is i think fair to say she not only has her father  smile,  she also has his principals and those of her mother. A passionate supporter of the LGBTIQ community and a keen advocate for a fairer more equal society. My Equality Champion for 2016 is Roisin Caird.

Now we move to what some political journalists would call my soundbyte of the year.  Personally I prefer to call it my Quote Of The Year and this year’s winner comes from Felicity Clifford who said ‘Growing old is compulsory , growing up is optional ‘.  That woman speaks my truth and in doing so is  a totally deserved winner of my 2016 Quote Of  The Year.

From quotes I now move to the music, yes I know I’m beginning to sound like Madonna and your point is what?  Anyway, it’s time to name my musician of the year and in  a year where i made more than a few new musical discoveries Daryl Sperry, and Caitlin Buchanan spring readily to mind, this was a very difficult call. However, in the end I had to call it and i did for the only musician outside the the traditional music community who could ask me to come to a show in Edinburgh during the fringe when I have poetry and comedy events to attend and get me to actually do so. I think those of you from the Blue Chair may know who I’m about to name but for those of you who haven’t guessed my tartantights Musician of the Year is Josephine Sillars.

My Song of the Year was another tough calls between to two fantastic choices  One which gave me. goosebumps and the other which makes sing along every time I hear it. The songs are The Tallest Tree by Caitlin Buchanan (pictured below)  and Problems With Power by Josephine Sillars. I must admit choosing between two such different songs was an extremely difficult task but in the end I went for the one which gave me goosebumps so my Song Of The Year is The Tallest Tree by the mesmerising Caitlin Buchanan.

Next up is my Event of the Year and any other year this would have been won by Jackie The Musical which provided me with a brilliant showstopping walk down memory lane as i re-lived my teenage years as a 1970’s Jackie Girl. Last year however something happened in  Glasgow which eclipsed even that  and that was the Homeless World Cup where the most talented homeless footballers of both sexes battled it out for the honour of being Homeless World Cup winners. At the end of a fantastic week of football both titles were won by Mexico but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. In this World Cup at least it really was all about taking part and being the best you could be and that’s why my Event of the Year for 2016 is The Homeless World Cup. 

As any performer will tell you, we all need venues to play at otherwise we would all be reading our poems and singing our songs with only the bedroom mirror for company.  It was with great sadness that Words and Music lost our traditional home that we’d had for 25 years as Sammy Dow’s which had changed its name and owners in July 2015 decided they no longer wanted a cultural event they had hosted for quarter of century. This was a real body blow for Words And Music but it was the way it was done  which really annoyed me as  I only found out the event had been cancelled less than 24 hours before the February event was due to take place.  Fortunately however we are resolute bunch at Words And Music and thanks to the efforts of the son in law of our founding mother Pamela Duncan we had found a new venue by the beginning of May at the Pollok Ex Servicemen’s Club which become known to us as the Tin Hut  and though it meant a change of night from first Monday of the month to the first Tuesday  we were able to get the show back on the road by June and have been made very welcome in our new home. So my Venue of the Year for 2016 is The Tin Hut.

From venues I move on to my Discovery Of The Year and in a year when  I made loads of new contacts and some new friends this was one of the closest calls of all. Among those considered were Caitlin Buchanan, Catriona Knapman, Iona Lee, Janet Crawford, Malaika Kegode, and. Michelle Fisher. As you can see all are strong women with powerful and intelligent voices, this is in almost total contrast to performance scene I first appeared on more than 20 years ago when the idea of so many female poets and musicians would to some  particularly those of the kid on leftie persuasion would  been enough to frighten the horses So if this talented team were the one who got honourable mentions I’m sure you’re wondering who is my discovery of the year.

Well I’ll introduce her by saying that at this time last year I was just getting to know her and a number of other younger poets at our then weekly open mic nights at the Blue Chair but by spring she had claimed me as her poetry mother and even introduced me to her own mum with the immortal line muma meet poetry muma. Trust me, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of any introduction in my life, and as I think many of you will have guessed my Discovery of the Year is the one and only Molly McLachlan.

From discovery of the year I now move on to Comeback of the Year. Normally, this award  would be given to someone who has been away from the poetry or music stages for a few years and has decided to make a welcome return. This year however , it  has been made in slightly different circumstances. You see though this year’s winner, was never a long term absentee from our scene he suffered a stroke in the late spring/ early summer of 2015 and we wondered if a stalwart of our community would ever take the stage. Initially his recovery was slow but eventually he began to make greater progress and it’s great to see him back attending and performing at events just as he always did. My Comeback of the Year award for 2016 is Derek Read.

Now from entertainment we move on to sport and I don’t think it would take a brain surgeon to figure out my happiest sporting moment of the last twelve months. It came on a gorgeous sunny September Saturday as Rangers were welcomed back to Paradise after a four year abscene and as usual they believed they only needed turn up to win. By the end of the 90 minutes however it was a very different story as Celtic ran riot and made our oldest rivals wish they hadn’t bothered to turn up as we made sure they know their place by thrashing them 5-1.

My other sporting award is  my Team  of the Year award and that is also given to a team from the world of football. My winners are not only packed with talent they are also history makers as they became the first Scottish football team  to qualify for a major tournament for almost two decades and this summer will see them compete in the European Championships for the first time in their history . Now for those of you who thought the European Championships were last year and Scotland didn’t qualify I should explain that my Team of the Year are The Scotland Ladies Football Team.

My next award is my Lifetime  Achievement Award and following in the footsteps of talents such As Pamela Duncan, Roy Tuton, Alex Salmond, and Frank McArdle, is no easy task. It has to be said  however that this year’s winner fully deserves this award for being one of my earliest political influences and whose passion for a fairer and better Scotland got me out of my armchair and on to the campaign trail to fight to make that Scotland a reality. Our winner started his political career in The Labour Party before resigning on a matter of principal and after co-founding the short lived Scottish Labour Party eventually found his political home in the Scottish National Party where he eventually became Depute Leader and provided one of the party’s most iconic moments when in November 1988 he won the Govan By-Election overturning a Labour majority of over 19,000 to win by a majority of 3,554 and in the process force Devolution back on to. the political agenda for the first time since the rigged referendum of 1979. It is no secret that  the unionist parties especially Labour were panic stricken by a victory they weren’t expecting. In fact the very next morning they announced the setting up of the Scottish Constitutional Convention so it could be said that he did more for the cause of Scottish home rule in nine hours than the all the unionists in Scotland had managed in the previous nine years and for that alone he deserves recognition It is for that and many other reasons that my Lifetime Achievement award goes to a man who I still see as a political mentor the one and only Jim Sillars.

From lifetime achievements I now move on to celebrating the value of friendship with the I Think I Must Be Mad Award. This award is for the friend who has gone beyond the call of duty to support me and this year’s winner has certainly done that over a sustained period of time. It is however in the past year that her star has shone even brighter than ever before  An independent woman with a mind of her own not did she reach a landmark birthday last year this young fashion conscious woman styled me up to such an extent that is responsible for  over half the content of my current wardrobe. A keen reader of this blog and great supporter of my poetry her loyalty has been proven time after time and when she told me she was proud of me and proud of the woman I am, I had one of those moments which made me glad I wasn’t wearing any mascara as it would have ran even faster than Usian Bolt can run 100 Metres. The winner of this award is someone who doesn’t seek headlines but deserves recognition for the quiet difference she makes to my life. My I Think I Must Be Mad Award goes to Stacey McFarlane

 Now it’s time for the main awards of for my man and woman of the year as tradition dictates I’ll start with the men.  This is not because I’m putting them first because as  a woman I believe it is our right to have the last word unless of course you are Kezia Dugdale,  Ruth Davidson, or Theresa May. Joking aside 2016 has been a good year  for the men in my world and I had some outstanding candidates from which to make my choice. Amongst those considered for this award were  Alex Kerr, Peter Russell, Matt Pamesh,   Stewart MacDonald, and  Steven Tierney , but yet again my winner comes from the world of poetry and has with his friend Paul Wardrope achieved more in a year than some will in a lifetime.

It was towards the end of 2015 that he and Paul set the Extra Second event at the Blue Chair Cafe where poets and musicians would share their thoughts on the topical issues of the day. The idea behind Extra Second is that if we take an Extra to consider to consider the subject for discussion then we may approach it from a more thoughtful perspective. It says a lot about the type of event Extra Second is that the Blue Chair is filled to bursting every month and that such has been the success of the event that its monthly nights have expanded to both London and more recently Aberdeen where a Blue Chair regular and a member of the first ever Extra Second Cast Molly McLachlan has recently hosted the opening night of Extra Second in her native city. So it is with great pleasure that i announce that our youngest ever  man of the year is  Johnny Cypher.

After naming my man of the year there is only award left to give  and that is of course my Woman of the Year. Now for those of you who think picking my man of year was hard and trust me it was selecting my woman of the year was even more difficult especially when you consider the number of amazing women I am lucky enough to have in my life.  Honestly picking a winner from all those brilliant and talented women was  so tough i thought of taking the easy way out and letting our reigning woman of the year Cheryl McHugh win again. There was however major problem with that idea and that was that i realised if made this choice  Jamie-Lee who is Cheryl’s wee sister may actually kill me. So maybe the safe option may not be quite as safe as I thought.

Bearing this in mind i decided to think about potential winners and get down to the business of making of choice. First up was Stacey McFarlane  and believe me this choice was given very careful consideration. You see not only is Stacey best stylist on earth and selects outfits which show me at the best,  but she is also has the patience of a saint which you sometimes need when your dealing with me.

 Next on the shortlist is the amazing poetic talent Katharine MacFarlane. Believe me this is a poet whose work i admire and am proud to call a friend and for whom i predict a big poetic future.

The same can be said for Janet Crawford whose words of warmth, wit, and wisdom have brightened up many a dark night and let’s be honest 2016 was a year which gave us more than our  fair share of them and presented poets and humanity in general with a number of challenges and difficulties and it’s at times like this I am greatful to have friends like Janet to remind me that there are some really good people in this world.  

Our youngest contender Molly McLachlan is someone I was only just getting to know at this time last year,but she ended 2016 as one of the closest members of my spoken word family. A woman og outstanding talent we are destined to hear much more from Molly in 2017 and beyond and believe me this is a woman of substance with a voice worth listening to.

As for Lesley Traynor  this is a woman for whom I have run out of superlatives after she organised an event which has now turned into a movement which has given a voice to some of the best women writers in the country. The event which was held at the Scottish Poetry Library was one I was proud to be part of, and from which I have gained some amazing and inspiring friendships which only go prove that be it biological or chosen, there is no bond stronger than sistewotld.Now I’ve looked at the contenders it’s time to name the winner of my final award and let you know who I’ve chosen to be tartantights Woman of the Year. Like me, our winner resides in the East End of Glasgow. Like me , she supporters the best football club on the planet the famous Glasgow Celtic, and like me she values her heritage and has a passion for a fairer society.  That however is where the similarities end because to say  our winner has an amazing year would be the understatement to end them all. Her rise to fane in the world of spoken word has been nothing short of stratospheric. When I first got to know her not long after the independence referendum, you couldn’t have got her on a  stage, not even for Henrik Larsson. Now like Molly, she is one of the closest members of my spoken word family and has played stages I’ll never get on. Am I jealous? but I am proud as I reminded both her and Molly, when we along with other friends to McChuills  after the December Extra Second. As I joked with this dynamic duo who I kinda see as see poetry daughters she smiled and whispered you can pick them. This is true, I certainly can pick them,  especially when it comes to winners and that’s why my 2016 tartan tights Woman of the Year (pictured at Words And Music at The Tin Hut) is the brilliant Victoria McNulty

So there it is , we’ve finally reached the end of the tartantights awards ceremony for 2016  If you are among the winners congratulations because there was fierce competition every category. If you weren’t so lucky then remember that the road ahead will have many twists and turns and that 2017 could be the year when it’s your turn to shine. So remember the tartan tights awards are a bit like the lottery , Yes next time it really could be you. 

  In the meantime I wish you all you wish yourself and hope you get what you need in the measure that you need it and of course I hope you continue reading tartan tights.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

A Stand Up Guy Who Will Make Members Matter (Why I Voted For Tommy Sheppard As Depute Leader Of The SNP)

Hey Readers

Finally and much later than I should have I have cast my vote in yet another election. On this occasion however, I didn’t need to go to a polling station and instead I cast this particular vote from the comfort of my living room whilst enjoying my after dinner coffee and I did it using my mobile phone. I was able to do this as the ballot paper was sent to me by a personalised link from the Scottish National Party (SNP) of which I am a member and have been since April 2010 and a supporter for many years before that.

As I am sure you are aware if you are a regular reader of this blog I rather like the idea of participatory democracy and tend to vote at every available chance no matter what level of election it may be. This however was the most important vote I’ve cast since my yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum.

I make this claim by saying that though there have been two elections UK and Scottish and the European union referendum this vote was more important to me as it signals not only what kind of Scotland I want to see but what kind of party I want to be a member of. It was with this very much in mind that I voted for my choice as to who I want to be Nicola Sturgeon’s number two and Depute Leader of the SNP.

Let me say that though I had a very definite preference as to who I would be supporting I believe my party are very fortunate to have four outstanding candidates contesting this important post. In Angus Robertson, Alyn Smith, Chris McEleany , and Tommy Sheppard we have candidates who are blessed with a wide range of skills, knowledge, and expertise they can bring to the top table and whoever is successful will be a worthy successor to Stewart Hosie who resigned for personal reasons from the post earlier this year.

As for my vote I decided to give my first preference to Tommy Sheppard and I did so for a number of reasons. The first of these of reasons is that like myself Tommy Sheppard has a long and active history within the broader Labour and trade union movement. This is important to me because as someone on the left of the party who has always been committed principles of a socially just Scotland which is built upon the rocks of equality of opportunity , fairness, and community empowerment I want someone who reflects those values and Tommy’s commitment to giving branches a greater say in the decision making process speaks to my left wing political condition.

Another key reason I selected Tommy was the fact that Angus, and Alyn are already playing important roles within our existing leasership team. Angus is doing a brilliant job as leader of our Westminster group of MP’s where he has faced down former Prime Minister David Cameron and is now doing the same job on current incumbent Theresa May as he makes sure Scotland’s voice is both heard and respected as never before in the corridors of power at Westminster. As for Alyn this is a man who has grown in confidence and stature since first being elected to the European Parliament and is now recognised as the party’s main voice on European affairs. As a party I believe the SNP will be best served by supporting the existing leadership teamm rather than stretching it and adding an even greater degree of responsibility to one of its existing members. It is I believe important indeed essential to let both Angus and Alyn get on with their current jobs without adding to their already busy workload.

This same argument can also be used to explain why I didn’t vote for Chris McEleany. As a councillor facing re-election Chris has other concerns to prioritise particularly in the run up to and in the imeadiate aftermath of the local government elections in which the party hopes to perform well.Should we do as well as we hope we will it could be that Chris may be in a very senior post in local government and may not have the time to devote to the post that I as a party member believe it merits. This to me means that Tommy Sheppard though an elected MP would be able to carry out the duties of the post more effectively and indeed more efficiently than his rivals would be able to do.This would be especially true if his plan for regional officers at local level were to be implemented by the party.

Organisation aside another important reason I voted for Tommy is the fact that I think of all the candidates in this election he is the one best placed to reach out the hand of friendship and comradeship to those voters who at this stage in their political journey are SNP voters but reluctant SNP voters as disenfranchised by the Westminster parties they searched for a new political home. I make this point as Tommy himself has made that political journey and therefore say with greater authenticity than any other of his rivals I know how much you must be hurting I’ve been there and I feel your pain.

As a former member of the Labour Party Tommy like Jim Sillars before him brings a different kind of passion than those of us who and I include myself in this have been with SNP for all or at least the vast majority of our political lives. This I believe will be beneficial not only to the SNP but to the greater independence family as he will be to reach out to the undecided or the soft no voters we will need to win in any future independence referendum far more effectively than others who rightly or wrongly could be perceived by this demographic as traditional SNP establishment.

This to me gives Tommy Sheppard a clear advantage in this contest as he can reach a wider group of voters than his opponents but I am not voting for Tommy in spite of the fact he was a member of the Labour Party I am voting for him because he was a member of the Labour Party though the fact that he shares my long held belief that Scotland should be a Republic was also a significant factor in my decision.

The fact that Tommy Sheppard is a successful businessman having been part owner of the Stand Comedy Club is another reason for what is and I’m going to be upfront about this a very public and I hope passionate endorsement of my preferred candidate. You see I have greater personal knowledge of Tommy than I do of the candidates and that counts for a lot in a contest where we have a very able and talented field.

The knowledge I have was primarily gained in the period I refer to as my comedy years, when I in my pre transition years with only half a stockinged foot out in the world and often retreating to a closet which at least outside was as blue as a Scotland strip even though the inside contained more pink frills than Barbie’s wardrobe, received support and a few bookings from a man who encouraged me to develop my comedy, and my poetry and always be true to myself. It is true to say that those dark days have long disappeared in to the distance, but what hasn’t vanished is the memory of the support I got from a stand up guy in more challenging times than now so believe me this is personal and I am happy to declared it as such

Having attended his campaign launch at the Glasgow Centre For Contemporary Arts I was impressed by a candidate whose main focus was, is, and ever shall be making members matter. To Tommy Sheppard politics should driven by the communities to the establishment and not the other way round. This is a value I have always shared as my late gran who if she were alive today would without doubt be a Sheppard supporter often told me without you the activists there would be no leaders. Tommy Sheppard recognises this and speaks with clarity on his vision for my party and our country. It is a vision I share and I hope you will support.

You see good as things are for the SNP we have to realise we lost the independence referendum in 2014. There are many different reasons for this but one of the oft repeated reasons I hear from those soft no voters who we need to win over to cross the finish line and win the independence I believe our country needs is that the yes campaign in general and the SNP in particular spoke from to narrow a base. Tommy Sheppard is in my opinion a man who can help us change that and help us focus on the kind of Scotland we want to see for both ourselves and the generations who will follow us as inheritors of our nation.

So it is my opinion that at this time in our history we need a candidate who is not only committed to the idea of an independent Scotland, we need a candidate who is committed to listening to the voices of the members and making those voices matter. Tommy Sheppard is that candidate and the stand up guy I am proud to have given my support.

Yours For Scotland

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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