Tag Archive | Chris Stephens

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 

On A Cold Monday Night I Cry Tears For A Principled Friend

Hey Readers

As I write this post my emotions are and it’s fair to say it all over place. Tears have have been trickling down my face and make no mistake they didn’t come from watching a weepy movie or a soap.These tears came from a Facebook post I wish had never had to read, they came from a Facebook post I wish the author never had to write.
This however was not my choice to make as the author is a principled young woman and felt she had no other choice to make but to resign from the Scottish National Party.

I know this was not a decision she has taken lightly and having campaigned with her in the run up to the independence referendum I know how much of an asset she was to the party. Be under no illusion with her resignation from the party the SNP have lost one of our most articulate and compassionate voices. Fortunately for the broader independence movement her commitment to our cause remains as strong as ever.

This is the one crumb of comfort I can take from what was a devastating post to read. This would have been difficult news to read at the best of times but it is particularly hard for me coming as it did the day after my party’s very enjoyable equalities conference. At this conference I met many party members from all over Scotland who shared my determination to make sure equalities remain at the SNP vision for a better , fairer more inclusive society. This is a vision I know my friend shares, but she no longer believes that the party in its current position can truly deliver.

I have to say I share some of her reservations but as yet I haven’t reached that breaking point where I would finally give up my membership card. Yes there are times when its been hard and believe me I’ve suffered my fair share of disappointments both personally and politically. There are however many fantastic activists some of whom have gone on to represent the party as elected members and some of whom who surely will who have sustained me with their friendship and personal loyalty during the dark days. I’m sure it will come as a shock to nobody when I name Chris Stephens MP, Alison Thewliss MP, and Stewart MacDonald MP, amongst those to whom I am most grateful for being there when I needed some advice or just friendship and to know that my work was valued and appreciated.

Within my own branch I feel I have to give special mentions to the brilliant Steven Tierney, our excellent branch secretary Laura Doherty, Linda Pike, Jennifer Fairgrieve ,her mum Maureen Fairgrieve, our convenor Alex Kerr, and the magnificent force of nature who has been office manager for our last two successful election campaigns the one and only Alexis Deans, and I couldn’t leave out our amazing branch organiser the wonderful Jennifer Layden. It is for these people and many more throughout both our party and our country that I keep fighting and though not all of them will share my socialist beliefs we share one common vision that unites us above all others and that is that only with independence can we take the steps we need to build a better Scotland for those who will inherit our country.

To me independence is not and can never be a vanity project with foundations built on sand. It has to be focused on creating a better society or there is no point to it. This is not about flags and banners it is about creating a nation with which we can all identify and the SNP alone cannot achieve that on our own. Yes we have a significant role to play in winning the victory we need, but to do as some have done and claim we are the only way forward is wreckless, irresponsible, and potentially damaging to our cause. As one of my favourite journalists Gerry Hassen said in a recent article the SNP have got us this far but they can’t win independence on their own and even as an SNP member I believe he is right to make this claim.

By stating this Hassen is acknowledging the fact that due to the tribal nature of Scottish politics there are some people who support independence that the SNP even at their best will never be able to reach. Now whilst this may be bad news for the SNP it is in the opinion of this blogger good news for the broader independence movement which needs people outside the SNP and needs members in all parties and none and by all parties I mean those parties who campaigned for better together in 2014.

Tonight I read a facebook post which broke my heart on reading it and make no mistake I cried real tears when I read that one of my party’s most talented young activists has decided she no longer had a place in the SNP family. But then the lightbulb came back on and I thought of those committed yes supporters who whilst not being members of my party and in some cases actually loathing it contributed so much to the yes campaign last time. So heartbroken as I may be on a personal level I realise that this move by a principled intelligent young woman may actually be a good one both for her and the cause she will always hold close to her heart.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

The Day Our People Found Their Voice Was Scotland’s Beautiful Thursday

Hey everyone It is now a week since the General Election and the tartan tsumani that was the election of 56 MP’s to Westminster. As I had said in my pre election post on this blog I expected the party to do well, after all the polls had been predicting we would for at least a year but as many SNP supporters and members know there is no day like polling day for having your dreams cruelly shattered.

At least that’s the way it used to be but this year I sensed there was something different in the air and something wasn’t just optimism it was genuine belief. A belief we could do something we had never done before we could go in to the traditional Labour Party heartlands and win at a UK election.

I think there were four factors at play which helped us in this fight. The first and probably primary amongst them was the fact that the independence referendum had galvanised Scotland in a way the likes of which had never been in my lifetime. Secondly voters did not see Jim Murphy or indeed Ed Milliband as leadership material and did not believe they could win. There was also the fact that Nicola Sturgeon played a brilliant campaign which no unionist was able to match coming across to voters as a genuine but capable woman who was prepared to reach out to the forces of progressive politics throughout the United Kingdom. And last but by means least the fact that the Labour Party campaigned with The Conservatives for three years during the referendum buries once and for all that these parties are in any way different.

When faced with these facts the Labour Party adopted a campaign style which can only be described as shambolic. It would seem to me at least that they knew what was going to happen and had neither the will nor the ability to stop it. From the first declaration when the SNP’s Alan Brown gained Kilmarnock from Cathy Jamieson the writing was on the wall for a party which had become both arrogant and complacent to a Scottish vote they regarded with haughty disdain.

It was all smiles from the Western Isles when the next declaration came through and the likable charmer that is Angus Brendan McNeill held the seat he first won in 2005 when he gained it from Labour’s Callum MacDonald and brought it back to the SNP family for the first time since 1987 Labour had on the retirement of SNP stalwart Donald Stewart.

If this result wasn’t entirely unexpected then the next one most certainly wasn’t at least not in my opinion. The political commentators may not have expected this result but I had been expecting it for months as I had been very positive reports from friends in the constituency. This marked the defeat of the first of Labour’s big beasts as Paisley And Renfrewshire South returned the youngest MP in Scotland and in Britain as 20 year old student Mhairi Black gained the seat for the SNP from the man who was Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander.

To his great credit Douglas gave one of the most dignified concession speeches of the night and his congratulations to Mhairi came from a heart of a man who accepted his defeat with good grace and was a credit to the colours he wore.

You know there are certain people of my acquaintance who say that Mhairi is too young to be an MP as she hasn’t been properly tested yet. Quite what planet these people are living on I really don’t know as I believe this campaign in which she had take on one of Labour’s most formidable fighters and a man who has been at the top table of British politics and would have been there again had his party won the election has tested her in ways unimaginable to me or many others and she has passed those tests with flying colours.

Personally, I think anyone who doubts the calibre of this amazingly talented young woman must have graduated not from university but the Craig Brown school of optimism. Craig Brown for those of you who don’t follow the fortunes of the Scotland National football team was once our manager and was so over cautious at giving youth a chance that the in joke amongst Scotland fans was that when giving a 27 year old their debut he would describe them as a promising youngster. Now I don’t know about you, but I prefer the attitude of Scotland’s greatest ever manager Jock Stein who held fast to the view that if you were good enough you were old enough and Mhairi is certainly good enough.

The next result was Dundee West. As Dundee had given the highest yes vote in last September’s independence referendum this was a seat I fully expected us to win. This was one of our top target seats in 2010 and that occasion despite a great campaign it was held by Labour’s Jim McGovern with a majority of over 7,000. Realising the tide of public opinion was against his party Mr McGovern dramatically resigned as candidate during the campaign and it was a fitting reward for Chris Law that he turned a Labour majority of 7,000 to an SNP majority of 17,000.

This result was followed by West Dunbartonshire where Labour’s Gemma Doyle was dramatically unseated by SNP candidate Martin Monaghan in a seat even I, and I’m optimistic by nature wasn’t sure we could win. Though the area like Dundee the area had voted yes in September. On hearing this result I began to realise that I had over estimated the support for all opposition parties and particularly Labour.

One by one the seats to started to fall and I was reminded of that classic Paul Weller song Walls Come Tumbling Down. Falkirk West, Ochil And South Perthshire and Glenrothes early gains for great candidates and John McNally, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, and Peter Grant whose swing was one of the biggest of the night in a seat I had hoped but not expected to come to the banner will make brilliant representatives and give their areas a voice which for so many years has remained unheard

East Kilbride so long a Labour stronghold had been gained in the 2011 Scottish Election by Linda Fabianni so it is fair to say I was expecting victory for Dr Lisa Cameron and she didn’t disappoint ending the parliamentary career of Labour’s Michael McCann. In Midlothian the SNP council leader Owen Thomson gained a seat which I thought would be a Labour hold. I had based my belief on the fact the Labour candidate Kenny Young had won a council by-election against the tide last November so I therefore believed he may be able to do the same again by playing the local card against a man who as council leader has had to make some very tough decisions. Fortunately however this was not the case and Midlothian was another addition to the list of SNP gains.

The next result really pleased me and I was delighted when I heard Dundee East had been retained by our Depute Leader Stewart Hosie whose sterling work for our party and our country was rewarded with an increased majority. This is a seat which like the Western Isles has a long standing tradition of voting for the party but Stewart Hosie is a man who will never take that tradition for granted and that is why this dedicated nationalist just keeps on winning. Like Alex Salmond who went on to win Gordon later on the night, despite Liberal Democrat predictions he would lose to Christine Jardine this is a man who knows the only way to make a seat safe is to do the job you were elected to do and represent the people of your constituency. That is exactly what he has done since his election in 2005 and why he was re-elected to serve them again.

The results at this stage indicated that Labour were on course for a disastrous night in Scotland but it was the next three seats which turned that disaster into their greatest ever nightmare when Margaret Ferrier gained Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Roger Mullin gained Gordon Brown’s old seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and party leader Jim Murphy lost his East Renfrewshire seat to Kirsten Oswald. Of these results I had only expected potential gain and that was Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. As for Rutherglen And Hamilton West and East Renfrewshire I had said that Labour were to lose these seats they would be in meltdown and now I was beginning to realise how accurate that comment actually was.

Another seat I put in the hard to win category was Motherwell And Wishaw but as was the case with the case with the rest of Scotland this was yet another SNP Gain with Marion Fellows defeating the sitting MP Frank Roy. This declaration came at the time when Glasgow was getting ready to declare and this was the city Labour even a bad night could not afford to lose. However they did lose and lose spectacularly failing to hold a single seat in the city which was once the beating heart of Red Clydeside. One by one the dominoes fell starting in my own seat of Glasgow East where Natalie criused home defeating the outgoing Labour MP Margaret Curran by more than 10,000 votes This it has be to said was personal highlight on a night where there were so many it was almost impossible to choose. This was my seat, my conmstitutency the place where i campaigned and to see our magnificent Glasgow East campaign rewarded for all our hard work was a truly fantastic feeling. Natalie’s success was quickly followed by a stunning success in the seat even our most optimistic supporters said she couldn’t as she unseated Willie Bain in the seat we even told ourselves we wouldn’t take with one of the largest swings of the night to claim Glasgow North East. Indeed not only did Anne win the seat she gained the biggest majority in Glasgow in the process.

There were fantastic wins for Chris Stephens in Glasgow South West where he crushed unionist hardliner Ian Davidson, Stewart McDonald in the neighbouring seat of Glasgow South where he unseated the equally hard-line Tom Harris and Alison Thewliss who defeated former Deputy Leader of Labour in Scotland Anas Sarwar. The route was completed when Patrick Grady gained Glasgow North And Carol Monaghan claimed the scalp of John Robertson the man who succeded the late Donald Dewar in the part of Glasgow which was formerly Anniesland and is now known as Glasgow North West.
So Glasgow had given the Labour Party the red card and replaced the red hand of the past with the bright yellow jersey of the future

It was a similar story in North Lanarkshire with Airdrie And Shotts, Coatbridge Chryston And Bellshill and Cunbernauld Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East all changing their political colours. These results meant the end of the road for Labour veteran Tom Clarke who lost Coatbridge to Phil Boswell and not a moment too soon in my opinion, and Greg McClymont who was widely tipped as one of Labour’s rising stars and whose chance I am sure will come again if he gives it a decade or so.

I have to say I really enjoyed the victory of Angela Crawlwey in Lanark And Hamilton East where she ended the political career of the woeful Jimmy Hood. This gives me particular pleasure as this was a man so blinded by prejudice that he said he would vote against Independence even if Scotland could prove it would be the richest country on earth. This to me was stupidity beyond belief and unworthy an elected representative and it more than likely playerd a significant part in his downfall.

I also was happy for Hannah Bardell who won Livingston the seat her mother contested in 2010 and Tommy Sheppard the man who co-founded The Stand Comedy Club and is a former member of the Labour Party’s Scottish Executive who became SNP MP for Edinburgh Eastern in the wee small hours of Friday morning.

The unionist parties did gain some very small crumbs of comfort winning one seat each. Alasdair Carmichael holding on to Orkney And Shetland for the Liberal Democrats David Mundell keeping his place as Scotland’s only Conservative winning Clydesdale Ettrickdale And Dumfrieshie for the 3rd time and Ian Murray holding on in Edinburgh Southern in a seat which saw the SNP rise from fourth place to second. Well to paraphrase the classic Meatloaf song I say to them ‘Don’t be sad cause 3 out 59 ain’t bad. Indeed to paraphrase another line from the same song ‘Unionists can talk all night but that ain’t getting them nowhere. This is especially true whem you listen to embittered Labour candidates such as Tom Harris who had the audicity to blame the voters for not listening to Labour who in his words were winning the arguments on the doorsteps. This is completely delusional and shows just how out of touch his party really are with the ordinary Scottish voter. Indeed I would go as far as to say that the trouble for the Labour Party was the voters were actually listening and they didn’t like what they were hearing one little bit.

With Eilidh Whiteford retaining Banff and Buchan, Angus Robertson holding Moray. Mike Weir keeping Angus in the SNP family, despite my fears of a potential Tory tactical vote and Pete Wishart doubling his majority and reclaiming Perth and North Perthshire the SNP retained all of the six seats which they held in the last parliament.

As the rest of the Scottish results came in it was clear this was going to be a landslide for the SNP who took both seats in Aberdeen from the Labour Party and won seats I wouldn’t even have thought were possible at the beginning of the evening. These included North Ayrshire And Arran where SNP candidate Patricia Gibson got an early birthday present defeating Labour’s only real socialist at Westminster Katy Clarke. Irvine And Central Ayrshire where Doctor Philpa Whiteford ended the career of long serving Labour MP Brian Donahoe and Ayr where Cori Wilson gained the seat from Labour’s Sandra Osborne.

Whilst the Liberal Democrats may not have had as far to fall as the Labour Party they still fell from a significent height and lost some real political big hitters in the process. The wee small hours of Friday morning saw the end of the road for former Scottish Secetary Michael Moore who lost his Roxburgh Selkirk And Berwickshire seat to Callum Kerr in the last Scottish seat to be declared. Mr Moore would be joining former party leader Charles Kennedy whose 32 year career was brought to an end by the voters of Ross, Syke, And Lochabar who elected the SNP’s Ian Blackford to take his place, and Danny Alexander who lost out to the SNP leader of Highland council Drew Hendry and paid the price for being George Osborne’s Scottish voice at the treasury.

On a personal level I have to admit to having a degree of sympathy for Jo Swinson who lost to John Nicholson in East Dunbartonshire and perhaps more than any other defeated MP I can say I’m truly sorry to lose her from parliament. The work she has done on behalf of women and girls has been important and it is in future generations we will see what I am sure will be known as the Swinson legacy.

So with the Scottish election all wrapped up it was I have to say a great night for my party. As for the results in England And Wales that is a matter for the people of those nations to decide and they decided that as a whole they wanted a Conservative government. Whilst this is a disappointment to me on a personal level I fully support their right to make that decision even if I disagree with it profoundly. Like Scotland there were some big name causalities who will no longer be walking the corridors of power, the most noticable being Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls and two leading Liberal Democrats in Simon Hughes, and Vince Cable.

So, many big beasts have been removed from both Scottish and Brittish politics but I have a very clear message for those Labour supporters and believe me I’ve met them already who would attempt to claim that the SNP success cost them the election. This is a message they need to hear whether they like it or not. You see I deal in facts the fact is their numbers don’t add up. Even if Labour had retained every one of the seats they lost even if they had won every seat in Scotland the fact is Scotland would still have a Conservative government. So you see voting SNP didn’t get Scotland a Tory government voting no to our independence did.

This is a fact from which there is no escape and no hiding place. This result proved that the people of Scotland are angry but believe me this is no protest vote this is the voice of an angry nation a nation which feels badly let down by the failures of unionist politicians many of whom cared more about self interest and their place on the expenses express than they did for people they were elected to represent. So with this in mind I would say that though I am confident I will see independence in my lifetime that for as long as Scotland remains in the UK we have to vote SNP to make sure we are not ignored.

Make no mistake this is not the same Scotland as it was at the time of the last Westminster election in 2010 or even in the early part of 2012 before the referendum was called. You see something happened to Scotland during the referendum that hadn’t happened before. We began to talk about politics and from that we gained our confidence. After being told for centuries what we couldn’t do last Thursday showed what we could and to me and I suspect many others it proved beyond all doubt that the day our people found their voice was Scotland’s beautiful Thursday.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

On The Night We Changed The Colour Of Scotland’s Political Map I Gained Some Honourable Friends

Hey everyone With the election over it’s time to confess not only that I celebrated my party’s stunning success in changing the political map of Scotland but also why the SNP success story that was Scotland 2015 meant so much to me. You see this election was the election when the political became personal and after 27 years of campaigning twenty two as a party supporter and the last five as a party member, this was the election which without doubt has given me the most satisfaction and not just because of the tartan tsunami which resulted in 56 SNP Members duly elected to the Westminster Parliament.

Though that statistic both surprised and delighted me, the reason for my happiness is this when Chris Stephens, won Glasgow South West, from Ian Daavidson, When Stewart McDonald took the neigbouring seat of Glasgow South from Tom Harris when Alison Thewliss removed one of Labour’s biggest beasts in Anas Sarwar by gaining Glasgow Central, when Anne McLaughlin won Glasgow North East, the seat even i didn’t believe we could win until just after 8 P.M when i heard it was game on and she would beat Willie Bain and most of all when my new MP Natalie McGarry triumphed in Glasgow East she unseated Margaret Curran I was not only celebrating victories for my party i was celebrating victories for my friends.

Yes I really do mean friends. Those named have been there for me in darker days than now they know my hopes and aspirations and in the case of Chris and Natalie they also know my fears. It was this group and a few selected others who were there for me when I almost lost my flatmate to depression in both 2011 and 2012. Thankfully she is still here and like me she cheered on every SNP victory as they came in though the Glasgow results got the biggest cheers of the night from her apart from her original home seat of Rutherglen And Hamilton West

Natrually the biggest cheer of the evening came when Natalie McGarry became our local MP defeating Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran by more than 10,000 votes. This was the campaign I was involved in so it was only natural that Janette who had voted for Natalie would be pleased with the result in our local area. God knows she knows how hard our magnificent SNP family campaigned to make it happen and elect a woman who will always stand for the principles of equality, and fairness.

On a more personal note i am very protective of our new member of parliament who is one of best friends in the party and knew how to make the most effective use of my talents and skills to her maximum advantage. Natalie like the others mentioned in this post knows both of my strengths and my weaknesses and realised along with our brilliant office manager Alexis Deans where they could best be deployed in a campaign which was never going to be easy. Yes folks Natalie knew that canvassing would not be good for me not because i couldn’t get the message across to voters but because she knew that my writing speed would slow me down due to a physical impairment i have had since childhood.

It was because of this Natalie wanted me to work on street stalls which i was more than happy to do. I was also given the what some would call the less than glamorous but i would call very necessary job of stacking leaflets in to bundles for highly effective leafleting teams and assigned the task of on working on publicity material for her with regards to a personal profile and her candidate statement. This to me was the job from heaven especially when you consider that i am both a blogger and a poet so you can imagine how honoured i was to take it on. This was a task i could undertake at home from the comfort of my own living room and when you consider my flatmate has mental health issues this was an intelligent and constructive use of both my time and my talent. Indeed i would go as far as to say that i felt more valued in this campaign than any other i have ever been involved in and by the time i did my polling place duty at St Michael’s school in Parkhead which by the was a great choice of school for a Celtic fan i felt i had did my bit for my candidate, my party, and my cause, and most importantly of all my friend.

Another victory which also received a rather noticeable cheer from Janette was that of Chris Stephens in Glasgow South West saying to me I know how much this one will mean to you. Believe me she isn’t wrong, Chris Stephens is a man who cares deeply about humanity and It is fitting he was elected on a night when we the Labour Party were all but obliterated from the Scottish political landscape for not caring or being seen to care enough. So i say to the voters of Glasgow South West they have chosen well and have elected a man who will fight every hour of every day on their behalf.

As a comrade and friend Chris has been there for me during some very difficult times and on more than one occasion has given me the support i have needed to cope with my flatmate’s depression. That to me is the mark of the man and it is also why he has not only my respect but my friendship and perhaps most importantly of all my trust and believe me i know who i can trust and who i can’t and Chris Stephens is a man I would trust with my life.

One man i can certainly trust is the newly elected is the newly elected member for Glasgow South Stewart McDonald This victory for one of our youngest candidates was in a my view a brilliant result for the people of a constituency which contains areas of affluence and poverty within a few streets of each other and Stewart will be able to speak to both communities with the passion for a fairer society which drove him to get involved in politics and join the Scottish National Party. Stewart believes as i do that the true wealth of a nation lies with people and wants a better more equal Scotland than the Westminster will ever be able or indeed motivated to provide for our people or our country

As part of that drive for a more equal society It was Stewart who organised the biggest LGBTI political conference that Scotland has ever seen. It speaks volumes for the calibre of the man that the day was an outstanding success and and received very favourable reports in the press and media. This is a man who not only takes his politics seriously this is a man on a mission for a better Scotland. A Scotland he is determined to play his part in creating.

Just next door to Stewart’s constituency lies that of Glasgow Central where local councillor Alison Thewliss stood against and beat the Labour’s Anas Sarwar. This was the man many had tipped to become successor to Jim Murphy should the results be as bad as they feared. This indeed did turn out to be the case but somehow i think the idea of a millionnaire leading anything other than a conga in the Bullingdon Club made many true Labour voters more than slightly afraid as they asked the question what does a millionaire know about poverty and concluded in the words of Paul Daniels that the answer was not a lot. So the voters of Glasgow Central decided to place their trust in a young mother of two children under the age of five Someone i’ve known since April 2007 she attended a disability related hustings at my then workplace as the election agent for our candidate for Glasgow Shettleston at that year’s Scottish Elections. Like the other new Members of Parliament mentioned in this post the friendship i forged with Alison on that spring day will i know endure for the rest of my life thanks to common bonds which unite us. These are not not just a shared party membership card but a shared vision of a better Scotland forged on the principles of fairness, equality, and social justice where our country enjoys the same rights and freedoms as any other nations including the right to make our own choices and decisions and responsibilities which that comes with such power.

Knowing Alison for as long as i have I was delighted at her victory and I know just how hard she will work for each and every one of her constituents. I do that this victory was tempered by my only note of sadness on an otherwise brilliant night. You see one of my closest friends was stranding for the Liberal Democrats in that seat and believe me when i say that Chris Young is one of the good guys on this planet and i have to say that i was genuinely saddened by the fact he didn’t manage to save his deposit gaining only 612 votes. However and let this be said loudly and clearly the dignity with which Chris conducted himself in what was a very difficult night for his party should be a lesson to certain members of other parties on how to behave decently in defeat. Trust me it is a lesson they would be very advised to learn and quickly. Blaming the voters is i think you will find not the way to go about winning them back.

With regards to our candidates in Glasgow North and North West Patrick Grady and Carol Monaghan i don’t quite know them as well as i do the rest of our Glasgow MP’S though i have met them both and heard some really good things about them for people in their local areas. i First came across Patrick during his student days at the University Of Strathclyde where he was an active member of SNP students and later went on to become student President of our esteemed Alma Mata Yes i could tell he was destined for great things even then. As For Carol i think our paths crossed a few times during the independence referendum and i know her to be a hard worker who will n common with all of our magnificent Glasgow MP’s fight with all she has for her constituents no matter how they voted on Thursday.

I do have to say that I expected Patrick to win Glasgow North and had high hopes that Carol could do likewise. There was however one victory even I wasn’t expecting at least not until very late on polling when I had heard as i said earlier in this post that it was game on for one of the biggest shocks of thew night and that the woman who has given me the nickname the strident missile could be in line to defeat Willie Bain in what was supposed to Labour’s safest seat in Glasgow and in Scotland and that woman is Anne McLuaghlin.

When i first joined the party it was Anne and the others in this mentioned in this who made me feel welcome, included, and valued as a new member even though i had been campaigning for the party for over two decades. I remember Anne saying to me that she was delighted i had finally joined the SNP family and claimed the place that was always rightfully mine. One little known fact about our new Member of Parliament for Glasgow is that she is a keen supporter of Spoken Word poetry and has with others including her partner Graham Campbell organised many fantastic events of this kind at the African-Caribbean Centre which for those who don’t know is located in Osborne Street in the heart the city centre. As i often said to Anne i prefer to call this street Swinney Street as i believe it should be named after someone who can actually count.

This was a particularly pleasing result as there is nothing which makes happier than achieving something which people say can’t be done. Well remember the medical profession wrote me off as a child and said i wouldn’t reach my first birthday and yet here i am five decades later much to the annoyance of the unionists still living, still, breathing, and still kicking ass,and let’s be honest it’s usually theirs. So you can see why i was so happy at this result. Like me Anne McLaughlin is a fighter who doesn’t know who to quit and it’s only fitting that Thursday night brought her the reward she so deserved for all her efforts over the years. As for the strident missile joke that happened at one of the spoken word nights when on introducing me Anne said that ‘An Independent Scotland would ne more than capable of defending itself as we could replace the trident missile with the strident missile and then called me up to read.

Make no mistake I really enjoyed Thursday’s result and trust me we earned it. Like no election before this one was personal and I mean that in the most positive way possible. Believe me when I say I am very proud of all our candidates who helped change the colour of our political map. I have to say however and I speak very much from the heart that I am proudest of all of those who stood with me in far darker days than now the people I can really call my honourable friends.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

When The People Have Spoken The Time May Be Right To Think The Unthinkable Speak The Unspeakable And Listen To What We Have Said

Hey everyone With voting taking place in the most evenly contested UK general election of my lifetime I think it is time to make my predictions as to where what the result may be and what impact they may have on the overall political geography of Scotland and how the outcome may effects the make up the next parliament and who governs the UK for the next five years.

My only concrete prediction is that though I want the SNP to win all 59 seats I don’t think that is going to happen.Scots are at least in my opinion far too socially and culturally conservative to allow such a radical change all at once. So I see the SNP emerging at the largest party after the votes are counted though I also think that Conservatives could have their best night in Scotland since the Pre-Blair era.

That said I think the SNP are in for a very good night and we (Yes I am a party member) will be celebrating major gains particularly in the west of Scotland where I predict the end of the road for three of Labour’s big beasts. Firstly I think Mhairi Black will take out Douglas Alexander in Paisley and Renfrewshire South, I also believe Natalie McGarry will send Margaret Curran homewards to think again in Glasgow East and that leader of the SNP trade union group Chris Stephens will be celebrating a victory over Labour’s most hard-line unionist Ian Davidson who will be bayonetting nobody as this time he will be the wounded one.

I would also expect Stewart McDonald to win Glasgow South Patrick Grady to take Glasgow North and possibly Carol Monaghan to gain Glasgow North West. As for Alison Thewliss it is possible she can win Glasgow Central but beating Anas Sarwar will be a tougher ask than some think and Labour’s Willie Bain is widely expected to hold on in Glasgow North East against the SNP candidate Ann McLaughlin.

I also believe there will be SNP gains for Angela Crawley in Lanark and Hamilton East, Lisa Cameron in East Kilbride Lesmahagow And Strathaven Neil Gray in Airdrie And Shotts Phil Boswell in Coatbridge,and Stuart MacDonald in Cumbernauld Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. However East Dunbartonshire may provide a grain of comfort for the Liberal Democrats with Jo Swinson holding on against the SNP’s John Nicholson though if it does happen it may need to go to a recount.

Contrary to popular belief I don’t expect the Lib Dems to be completely wiped out and if she does survive I can see Jo being joined by Alastair Carmichael who will retain Orkney and Shetland and Charles Kennedy who may survive in Ross Syke, And Lochaber.  It has to be said that Christine Jardine was making optimistic noises about holding on to Gordon and defeating former First Minister Alex Salmond. Personally I think this could be slightly misplaced though I wouldn’t discount it completely. I will however ask the unthinkable question at least from a nationalist perspective, could a defeat for Mr Salmond strengthen the hand of both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP as a whole? You may be surprised that I believe the answer to that question may actually be yes as it would force the unionist parties to stop demonising the SNP as Salmond’s party or a one man band. That said however I do expect Alex Salmond to win Gordon but it may not quite be the shoo in some commentators think

Staying in the north east I would expect The SNP to gain Aberdeen North and possibly the city’s other seat making it a double for the party. though the traditionally more affluent South which I expect Labour to hold will be a far tougher task . I also expect Mr Salmond’s successor in Banff and Buchan Eilidh Whiteford to hold on to her seat with a degree of comfort and Angus Robertson to hold Moray despite spirited challenges from both the Conservative candidate and Labour’s Sean Morton. Angus though could be tricky and if the SNP are going to lose any seat they currently hold this could be the one. I say this as I suspect a section of both Labour and Liberal Democrats supporters will vote tactically for the Conservatives to defeat the sitting MP Mike Weir. This would be a terrible result for Angus but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

The neighbouring seat of Perth and North Perthshire also looks interesting but I think that sitting MP Pete Wishart will hold the seat for the SNP despite a fierce Conservative challenge. Just to the North East of this lies Scotland’s premier yes city Dundee and I believe that Dundee will not only retain that title. it will also be a Labour free zone with Chris Law joining Stewart Hosie by winning Dundee West and his party’s depute leader retaining the Eastern part of the city.

Just to the south east of Dundee lies the Kingdom of Fife and this could be an area which provides Labour with some comfort on what will probably be a very challenging night for them I can see them holding Dunfermline West and maybe Glenrothes though Gordon Brown’s former seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath looks like a potential gain for the SNP if Labour fail to get the vote out. As for the Lib Dem seat of North East Fife It looks like a potential gain for the SNP though I wouldn’t put my mortgage on it

Kincardine And West Aberdeenshire was once a Tory stronghold and in a very interesting three way fight I think it may go back to its former colours. Stirling was also a former Tory seat but I doubt it will be ready for another Michael Forsyth any time soon and I think the SNP will probably win in a tight two horse race with Labour. The fact that the former Labour MP for Stirling and independent MSP for Falkirk West Dennis Canavan is publicly endorsing both SNP candidates should see them pick up both Falkirk West and Falkirk East and Linlithgow I would also expect Hannah Bardell to gain Livingston, and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik to win in the neighbouring Ochil And South Perthshire making it a good night for the SNP in what we have come to know as Mid-Scotland

To west of Perthshire lies the sprawling hinterland of Argyle and Bute. I think this will be a very close call between Liberal Democrat Alan Reid and SNP candidate and local boy Brendan O’Hara who I think may just edge it given the current political winds for the Liberal Democrats are somewhat less than favourable.

Just down the coast in Greenock I would expect Labour’s Iain McKenzie to just about hold on to what should be one of Labour’s safest seats in Scotland. Personally I think that this is a bit like Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Jim Murphy’s seat of East Renfrewshire and Willie Bain’s Glasgow North East seat. If Labour lose this one they won’t be in trouble they’ll be in meltdown. One seat which I think is going to be hard to win will be Motherwell and Wishaw. I would put this one in the difficult bracket just as I would Midlothian where I would make Labour’s Kenny Young favourite to beat the SNP’s candidate Owen Thompson. I would also say that  Gemma Doyle  is marginal favourite to hold West Dunbartonshire though if Clydebank votes in the same way as it did in the referendum the seat could fall to SNP candidate Martin Monaghan.

Getting back to coastal seats North Ayrshire And Arran provides a really intriguing battle between Labour’s anti-trident left winger Katy Clark against the SNP’s Patricia Gibson. Clark is widely tipped to lose but not by me in fact I tip her to hold on for the very reason she can hold on to her party card and say I really don’t like Jim Murphy and that may be enough to get her re-elected. The same tactic could see Cathy Jamieson returned to parliament though with a much reduced majority. Ayrshire Central however will be a very different story and I believe that story will be of an SNP gain and though it will be close I also expect an SNP gain in Ayr, Cumnock, Carrick. I think. Russell Brown will lose his Dumfries and Galloway seat to the Tories who will also hold on to David Mundell in Clydesdale Ettrickdale and Tweedale despite a fantastic challenge from the SNP’s candidate Emma Harper. The Conservatives could also gain Michael Moore’s seat of Roxburgh Selkirk with and Berwickshire their popular local candidate John Pentland.

Moving on to Edinburgh and the Lothians I predict victory for the SNP candidates Michelle Thomson in Edinburgh West, Joanna Cherry Edinburgh South West and Tommy Sheppard in Edinburgh East, Neil Hay in Edinburgh Southern, though Deirdre Brock may not make it through in Edinburgh North And Leith please god I hope I’m wrong especially since I have heard really good things about her but believe me this will be a tough ask as the Chisholm factor (Malcolm Chisholm is the local MSP could work in favour of Labour.

In East Lothian Labour can rely on the votes of an older generation many of whom are still scarred by the impact of the job loses of the miners strike in the 1980’s. The same can also be said  of Midlothian where as i have already said I tip Labour’s Kenny Young to hold off the SNP challenger Owen Thompson in another interesting fight. I only hope if he is elected he will be better mannered than his predecessor David Hamilton and show more a wee bit more respect to our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

When you talk of Nicola Sturgeon it seems inevitably these days at least in the eyes of the press and media that you must also talk of Jim Murphy so I will and my prediction will not make comfortable reading for the self appointed saviour of the union as I hold rather different views on to those expressed in the Daily Record and BBC. Though he should hold on to his seat in East Renfrewshire I think he may struggle more than he would like and if Kirsten Oswald and her campaign team have managed to convince enough Liberal Democrat and Tory voters that there will be no second referendum till at least 2020 then I think he could be gone. i for one will shed no tears if this does indeed prove to be the case.

The neighbouring seat of Renfrewshire North will not attract anywhere the same amount of publicity as Murphy on whom many eyes will be focused. Nor will it get the same media coverage as its other neigbouring seat where Douglas Alexander will be facing young Mhairi Black so the demise of Labour’s Jim Sheridan will i suspect go largely unnoticed as he loses his to the SNP candidate Gavin Newlands thus making Paisley a Labour free zone.

As we travel north I expect SNP gains from the Liberal Democrats in Caithness And Sutherland and IN Inverness, Nairn, Baddenoch, and Strathspey where i expect the leader of Highland Council Drew Henry to defeat the former chief secetary to the treasury Danny Alexander. This is a result which if i am correct will give me particular pleasure as Alexander was a thorn in the side of Scotland for the last five years. in his role as number two to George Osborne.

Crossing the water to the Western Isles i would expect the SNP’s Angus Brendan McNeill to comfortably see off any challenge from Labour but with my round up of the Scottish seats completed i can say that if i’m proved  correct Scotland will have its most diversely coloured political map for a generation.Personally, however i would prefer a map with even more yellow than i’m predicting.

As for how this will impact on the UK i’m not sure though i would like to see strong showings from Plaid Cymru in Wales and the Green party all over Britain. I think Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett deserve a fitting reward for impressing the voters in the leadership debate. I also hope that tonight will be the end of the road for UKIP and a certain Nigel Farage. As to who will form the next government well that i don’t know but i will say that despite denials to contrary a good result result for the SNP would be a very favourable result for The Labour Party and Ed Milliband who i think would be installed as Prime Minister sometime early next week especially if results in England and Wales go his way. Indeed i would go as far as to that if Ed wants to be an anti austerity Prime Minister the defeat and indeed demise of certain Labour MP’s such the Ultra Blairites Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander may actually suit him more than he can possibly say in the heat of an election campaign. It does however remain to be seen what impact if any the comments of the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron about what the London press are calling the Sturgeon effect will have and whether it will drive enough swithering voters to the Conservative fold in order to give his party a chance of winning a majority.

Personally i don’t believe it will and i speak from a position of strength on this matter. As a Geography and Politics honours graduate from the University Of Strathclyde i have always taken a keen interest on how electoral geography shapes our political landscape. I was also taught by some of the best lecturers in Scotland on this subject including Malcolm Dickson, Prosser Jack Brand, James Mitchell and the legend that is the voice of electoral behaviour Professor John Curtice though by the time i arrived the man was doing guest lectures rather than teaching students. i did however attend every guest lecture i was able to as i wanted to learn from the best

So there you have it my thoughts on what may or may not happen in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning after the voters are counted. There may be shock results and it may be time to think the unthinkable but somehow i think Scotland may emerge with a stronger voice than we’ve had for many years. Today, the people will speak by tomorrow evening we have a much clearer picture of what they have actually told us. It will then be up to politicians of all colours to listen to what we have said.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Weve Been On The Road To God Knows Where The Story Of Three Years In Tartan Tights.

Hey everyone Today marks the third anniversary of my entry into blogging. Yes it really does seem like yesterday that tartan tights was born but times really does fly when a girl’s having fun. During the last three years I have tackled a lot of different issues and I hope I have done so with honesty and integrity. No matter whether they be poetic, political, or just general musings on my life, I Hope you have found at least some of them to be interesting and informative.

Who knows! you may even have found some of them to be entertaining or possibly educational in some way about a subject which you may have wanted to learn about but were too afraid to ask the questions which needed asking. I certainly hope this is the case and will try as hard as I can to keep tartan tights as fresh as I can.

Perhaps some of you could tell me what your favourite posts are and what it is about them you enjoyed most. This is important in the respect that it lets me know what works and maybe what doesn’t.

I know during the early stages of my blog and indeed right up till the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum this was the topic which I thought tended to dominate my postings. However to be fair, it also dominated the Scottish political landscape during this period to such an extent I often wondered in what direction I could take tartan tights in a post referendum Scotland. Well to quote the lyrics to that well song of freedom ‘we’re on the one road maybe the long road but it’s the road to god knows where’. And that dear readers is the journey we’ve been taking together ever since the day I started tartan tights and certainly summed my thoughts about where to go next in the aftermath of the referendum.

Needless to say I eventually found my answer. This does not mean there will be no more posts on the topic, believe me there will be. Independence will always remain a live issue for this blogger until the day and hour it’s achieved. It is though fair to say that those posts have become a lot less frequent as is only right and proper given the circumstances. Therefore I have focused more social and community issues and the political posts I have written tend to be on topics which though written by an SNP member can attract some cross party support. Indeed one of my most recent was in support of the Liberal Democrats campaign against my government’s plan to introduce a national super database and by writing this post I honoured a promise made to Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie.

Other issues covered in an eventful first three years range from foodbanks to faith from transgender issues to trident. I hope the fact I try to cover a wide range of issues provides variety and in a world which is too dull too often.

In many ways blogging is a skill like writing poetry or playing a musical instrument. The more practice you put in to it the better you get and the better you get the more people want to read your musings. With this mind I would like to thank some fellow bloggers who have assisted me and helped me develop in the course of my journey so far. Needless to say I start with Kate Higgins whose blog A BurdzEyeView inspired me to get started on this journey. I also have to thank the lovely Caron Lindsay at Caron’s Musings for providing strength, support, and encouragement especially in the early stages of my adventures. Ellen Arnison at In A Bun Dance, Angeline Dickson Brunnel at Daft Mama, Jodie Louise Young at A Little Bit Young, Laura Pearson-Smith At A Life With Frills, Paul Kavanagh at the highly entertaining Wee Ginger Dug, Graham Stewart at Political Tourist, and Lisa Marie Ferla at Last Year’s Girl have also helped me more than they know. Indeed Paul gave me my first guest post last year when he asked me to write a post explaining why as a transwoman I was voting yes in the independence referendum. Also, I can’t forget, Damo Bullen at The Mumble for whom I have currently written two posts and will hopefully write many more and the teams at both Bella Caledonia and National Collective who have provoked thoughts which have motivated me to write more late night poetry than they will ever actually realise.

A blog however would be nothing without its readers and I know I have a core of regular and semi regular devotees who take the time to read my latest whitterings. Most of these readers come from the cultural and political communities with the names of Andy Fleming, Bob Leslie, Catherine Baird, Chris Stephens, Caron Lindsay, Daniel Hunter, Etta Dunn, Graham Stewart, Heather Caldwell, Jim Carruth Jim Monaghan, John McGlade, Jenni Pascoe, Lisa Marie Ferla, Laura Doherty, Marc R Sherland, Margaret McCabe, Paddy Callaghan, Sophie Bridger,Sophia Blackwell, and Stephen Watt, probably the most prominent. Though to be fair, there are others and they are far too many to mention.

There is however one issue which I would like to raise with my readers and since it is on positive feedback it is I think appropriate that I raise it in a positive way. So bearing that in mind I would ask if you have anything to say on a particular post could you please post it on the comments page for the site rather than on another platform such as facebook as it’s better for my blog traffic. That said I’ve had a really enjoyable first three years and hope you have enjoyed the journey with me so far. I have a funny feeling we’ve a long way still to travel.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X