It’s the end of 2015 and it seems a good point to review our acheivements here at City of Stirling branch. With our membership both in the party and in the branch at an all time high we were well placed to get out the starting blocks fast and campaigning for the 2015 Westminster Elections with our candidate Steven Paterson. Our Branch were out with other members of our Constituency Association in January with snow on the ground to get Steven’s name and face in front of the local electorate making sure they knew a vote for the SNP would get Scotland’s voice heard in Wesminster. Steven was formally adopted as our candidate at a reception at the Smith Gallery in February by which time we had covered considerable ground in the constituency already!
In March we started an ambitious Crowdfunder to raise £3000 in a very short period but our supporters thoughout the constituency came up with the goods…. or more correctly the cash and we exceeded our target. With the Labour Party commiting to an austerity budget that mirrored that of the Tories it was more important than ever not just for Scotland but the UK that the SNP returned as many MP’s as possible to protect the poor and vulnerable from savage cuts.
Following an enormously successful Spring Conference in Glasgow, Alex Salmond visited the constituency on his book tour with his book of diaries from the referendum campaign, The Dream Shall Never Die, just before we posted our humourous entry for April Fools day stating Alex was to return as party leader.
We followed this with a visit to Stirling city centre by Nicola Sturgeon, on a high publicity visit for the Westminster Campaign, when lots of our branch turned out to welcome her . At the same time our branch was flat out leafletting households, canvassing voters and making sure our vote would be out on the 7th May. In late April we reported on the desperate tactics being employed by leader of the Tory/Labour council coalition, Johanna Boyd who was standing for Labours Branch office in Scotland who devoid of meaningful policies to differentiate themselves from their Unionist buddies the Tories to literally beg for votes. As if to keep digging a hole for herself Councillor Boyd went on to reap the whirlwind when she expressed views on detention of asylum seekers that left us to wonder had she been on a UKIP policy building weekend.
By now we were on the run in to the election day and our candidate Steven was on a BBC TV tea time debate with other candidates in the Stirling Constituency. After Thursday’s election we emerged into the 8th of May with the fantastic news of a massive swing here in Stirling to the SNP but also throughout Scotland where we returned 56 of the 59 MP’s in the land. Our members had an opportunity to let their hair down with a celebration of Steven winning here before he set of to start work in Westminster.
Our Westminster 2015 Campaign
In June the branch was visited by Humza Yousaf then later in the month Nicola Sturgeon was once again in Stirling speaking at the SNP Trades Union Group which we were able to report on first. With the General Election just out the way we were making ready for the 2016 Scottish Government campaign where we nominated Bruce Crawford as our candidate.
Around May/ June we started keeping a note of links to “the 56’s” Maiden Speeches which became a massive hit with not only our branch members but throughout the country. Our page is now the go to place if you want to find one of these speeches. It also became apparent that the SNP were the only credible opposition to the Tory government as Labour were in disarray, and rudderless, and were living up to their GE2015 campaign moniker of the Red Tories. In July when the branch usually has a Summer break, enthusiasm was so high we kept the meetings going and in fact the turnout grew!
As Westminster went into Summer recess we had a visit to the branch by Jamie Szymkowiak of the 1 in 5 campaign which is trying to make politics more accessible to the disabled. Our branch signed up to the campaign and are proud to show the 1 in 5 logo on our website. We also became affiliated to Scottish CND in July/August. Again we are now proud to show the logo on the website.
Guests of Stirling Branch in 2015
Over the Summer Steven Paterson had resigned his Council seat which triggered a Council By-Election so campaigning got underway with our candidate Gerry McLaughlan and once again our branch team turned out in the Stirling East area to campaign on his behalf. Gerry held the seat for the SNP with a big swing in first votes, but despite this there were sour grapes from some of the local Labour team who demanded a recount despite the result not being “that” tight, the result was never in doubt. The plea was rejected by the returning officer. At the end of October we sent a number of members to the annual conference, in Aberdeen and all returned with great reactions to the event. We have also had some great presentations at our branch meetings in this latter half of the year, with talks on Fracking, GIRFEC and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
We have also commenced our work in getting our MSP Bruce Crawford re-elected to Holyrood in May 2016 and that will be the focus of our efforts right from the off in January. But thats not to say we can’t have fun on the way and we have our rescheduled Race Night on 6th February as well as the Robert the Bruce Branch dinner on 5th March to look forward to.
So after a busy year your Branch executive, support teams and all our representatives in Council, Westminster and Scottish Parliament would like to wish you and your families the very best of seasons greetings and we hope you all have a great New Year.
Saor Alba Gu Brath!