Monday, 2 March 2009

Hustings speech

We had the last of our hustings yesterday evening in Partick Burgh Hall in Glasgow and much as it has been hard work I've relished every moment of it. If you weren't able to catch us below is a copy of the speech I have been making up and down the country:

"I’m Dr Aileen McLeod. I’m here today because I want to be returned as an SNP MEP in this June’s Euro-elections.

For almost five years now I’ve worked in the EP as Head of Policy for Alyn Smith. In that time I have come to understand how the EP works, and, more importantly how we – SNP MEPs – can best make the EU work in the interests of the people of Scotland.

I want to be elected as an MEP because I want to put my experience and knowledge to work for the party and for the people of Scotland. European policy affects their lives. As an MEP my job is to ensure that EU rules and regulations reflect our national interests – the interests of the SNP Government and the interests of the people of Scotland.

Ultimately that can only fully be done by being an independent member of the EU and taking our place at Europe’s top table. In the coming campaign I want to take that message to the people of Scotland. For them to realise that the SNP is on their side in Europe.

And to tell them that Only the SNP can speak for Scotland because the SNP speaks only for Scotland.

The SNP has made a difference in Europe. Since May 2007 more and more MEPs have come to realise that Scotland is not one of Europe’s regions. They recognise that Scotland is a member state in waiting.

The SNP is rightly proud of the contribution its MEPs have made in the past. Dr Winnie Ewing, Dr Allan Macartney and Professor Neil MacCormick left a rich legacy of achievements. Ian and Alyn have built on these. And I want to take that legacy forward. I believe I can. I know how this European Parliament works. I know how to use the Parliament, and our position in it, to shape European Union policies.

EU policy is about more than the European Parliament. It is about tapping into the Commission and the delegations of member states that share our policy goals. It is about using networks of influence and building coalitions of support around our objectives. It is hard work. It is about defending our corner and pushing SNP policies. That is what I have been doing since I’ve been in Brussels. That is the work I now want to take forward as an MEP.

From my perspective Europe can be an opportunity for Scotland; but we have to work hard to maximise the opportunities.

Just look at the headline policies that the EU will legislate on in the near future:

  • Energy policy
  • Climate change policy
  • Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the CFP
  • Re-regulation of the banking and financial services sector.

Each policy will affect Scotland in a significant way. Scotland’s voice has to be heard in the Brussels corridors of power, in the European Parliament.

We have to make sure that the EU legislation reflects Scotland’s interests where necessary. And we have to be ready to make our case. That is the attitude other countries take, and this is the job that I will relish as an MEP.

Scotland is well placed to gain from many EU policies.

We are Europe’s centre of renewable energy – we can export green technology as well as green energy; we have one of the EU’s largest financial services sectors – a sector that has been a victim of mismanagement by the London Government; we have a farming sector keen to be at the heart of discussions about the future of the CAP; and we have the world’s most ambitious Government when it comes to tackling the causes of global climate change as is now recognised by the EU.

Of course there are downsides – we only have to look at the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy – but as an independent Member State with a veto that would never happen again. Only as an independent country can we make sure that never happens again.

I want to see an Independent Scotland in the EU as a constructive member, but one that is not prepared to be pushed around.

As an MEP I want to listen to the Party at home and make sure that I represent all our interests in Brussels. I want to hear from our Branches, our CAs, our local councillors, our local MSPs and local MPs about their issues and concerns regarding EU policy and legislation. When I'm in Brussels I'm not dealing with foreign affairs issues, I'm dealing with domestic issues. I'm just dealing with them in a different place.

I want to make Europe work better in Scotland and that means that as MEPs we need to listen to our membership.

In conclusion, I have the experience, the expertise, the commitment, the passion and the know-how to make Europe work for Scotland, and to make an Independent Scotland work in Europe. What I need now is your support to let me get on with the job".

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