We’re officially one week in to the long campaign for the Scottish Parliament election on the 5th of May. Each week I’ll be writing a wee diary of the places I’ve been, folk I’ve met, things I’ve done and things I’ve learnt. Here goes week one…
- Best bit: East Lothian Greens meeting on Saturday, discussing citizens income
- Worst bit: Having to choose between lots of brilliant people applying to work for the campaign
- Folk of note: Philip Revell; Yvonne McLellan and Jen Broadhurst; and my mum
- Miles travelled: 420
- Things I learned: Folk in rural areas are more likely to have a broadband connection than those in urban areas but generally download much less and use much less; Alaska have something a bit like a citizens income but they also have no income tax.
Week one has been a lot of prep – making sure the new campaign team are all set up for our biggest campaign ever. Lots of trips to Edinburgh to meet with the team and interview some really fantastic candidates to join the team. I’m really lucky to have two brilliant women about to start on a job-share basis as my regional campaign support officers for the South. Yvonne McLellan and Jen Broadhurst are really great folk who’ve been instrumental in building the Ayrshire branch into a super effective force in the region. They start next week and I can’t wait.
I’m getting to grips with my portfolio – infrastructure and investment – which builds on a lot of what I’ve done through my work over the last few years. Covering transport and roads, water, telecommunications, european funds and lots more, it’s a big brief. But I started with three areas that I’m particularly passionate about – public transport, broadband and energy efficiency – to draft an article which will hopefully hit papers in the next few days.
Saturday was a great meeting with the East Lothian Greens focusing on citizens income, its pros and cons and common issues raised about its implementation. The members here in Dunbar are a really great bunch – principled, intelligent, funny and really keen to get out on the campaign trail. Plus their co conveners helped to demolish the over abundance of cheese we had in our fridge afterwards!
Today I went down to just outside Biggar to see my mum (and Dad’s goats and a very lovely cat belonging to Robin McAlpine next door).
She was flooded out of her house over New Year as the Tweed burst its banks and made its way into her ground floor. The photo below was taken from the first floor of her wee cottage. The river is normally beyond the trees and the wee fence posts in the foreground are the edge of the car parking off the road which backs onto a huge field.
It’s been pretty devastating as the repair work could take months and in the meantime, she can’t be in the house so is staying at my dad’s for a bit while he’s away. Like hundreds of others across the South, she’s just tried to apply for the £1500 promised by the Scottish Government for flood victims but the local council seemed to have no idea the money existed or how to apply for it. Which seems pretty shambolic to say the least.
Tonight I attended a reception at Parliament with the Existing Homes Alliance Scotland on the topic of energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Having worked in the area for several years, it’s an issue I feel really passionate about and one where the Scottish Government, while having the best of intentions, simply haven’t done enough to tackle the scandal of cold damp homes.
At the reception I bumped into Philip Revell from Sustaining Dunbar. He told me about some of the great work they’ve been doing in the town and encouraged me to join up – so I have! Philip also mentioned the need to better connect similar projects across the South. Maybe it’s something I can help with…
Over and out!