Update: The campaign was unpaused on 31st October
Selection contests are opportunities for parties to have important debates about the future and to get the best people in place to deliver on that. For a party which has been in power for 13 years they are important opportunities for renewal.
When agreeing to stand in Cunninghame North against a longterm incumbent, I knew the task was a huge one. I spent time assessing the lay of the land and received enough support from across the constituency to think it was achievable.
I also looked carefully at the selection rulebook. The race is prohibitive for anyone taking on an incumbent. Candidates can only send the ‘selectorate’ two emails and attend hustings. We aren’t otherwise able to contact the membership. Office bearers in branches and the constituency must maintain organisational neutrality and can’t publicly endorse candidates. Despite this, I thought it was still worth pursuing – on the basis of the published rules.
I’m therefore sad to report that the rules are not being followed by everyone taking part in the contest. Office bearers in one of our largest branches last week circulated a motion to all their members in support of the incumbent MSP. This contravenes rules 8.5, 9.2 and 9.3 about using member data, using party meetings, and the role of office bearers.
This behaviour harks back to the bad old days of internal branch stitch-ups. We thought this kind of thing was in the past when the democracy of One Member, One Vote was brought in.
We could dismiss this motion as a relic of a bygone age, and an act of desperation. The truth is though that we don’t know the effect of this propaganda. It is unfair if candidates do not have equal airtime and access to party email lists.
It’s also disrespectful to the people who have resigned positions within their branches in order to be able to publicly support my campaign.
I lodged a complaint with SNP headquarters about this exactly one week ago. My message and followups have not been acknowledged.
This puts me in a difficult situation. There is a very short timeframe to this selection contest. This motion is also very likely a harbinger of more cheating. This is not frivolous and in Scotland we still believe that election rules matter.
As a result, I am suspending my campaign until the party decides whether or not it will implement its rules. If it acts in good time, I will resume the campaign. If it does not, it will have to accept a tainted result.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. I know this is not the spirit of the positive future-facing campaign we’ve been running, but I hope you will agree that there is no alternative to making a stand for fairness.