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".

Saturday 21 February 2009

Vote Aileen McLeod for SNP MEP candidate statement

Like our other European election candidates I have written a statement to all party members setting out why I want to be elected as an SNP MEP in this June’s European elections. My statement says:

It Matters
There’s turmoil in the world’s economy and Scotland is not immune, we’ll be bruised like any other country and we have to know why the European election matters. What Scotland does in Europe matters – cooperation across the EU will help Scotland recover when we have the chance. The European Parliament matters.

Making Europe work for Scotland
Scotland can be better and can have better international relations. Scotland needs MEPs who will make sure that Europe works for Scotland and that Europe works in Scotland. Alyn Smith and Ian Hudghton have been doing that and I hope to join them so we can do even more. With the performance of our Scottish Government, the high reputation of our MEPs, and the good, hard campaigning of our activists, we can win three seats.

From Dr Winnie Ewing through the tenures of Dr Allan Macartney and Professor Neil MacCormick to our two current MEPs we have done well in Europe. Our commitment to getting the best for Scotland is embedded in our work with our European partners.

Knowing how it works
The European institutions often seem complicated. The team we have in Brussels knows its way around and we’ve worked hard to bring European benefits to Scotland. We’ve brought Commissioners to Scotland and taken campaigners to Brussels – we work across the spectrum to deliver benefits for Scotland. We can make Europe work for Scotland.

The Future
We have to prepare Europe for Scotland’s Independence – we already have friends, but we must make sure Europe knows where Scotland is coming from and where we want Scotland to be going. We have to work with our European partners, and fight Scotland’s corner, taking Scotland’s cause forward and making Europe work for Scotland.

A Little About Me
Grew up in East Kilbride and now live in Lanark and Brussels.

MA Hons European Community Studies and German – (Edinburgh University 1993), Erasmus year – Germany; Robert Schuman Scholarship- European Parliament Office, London; EuroInfo Centre Ltd., Glasgow (1999 - 2001), Jean Monnet Centre of European Excellence – Glasgow University; PhD (2004) on UK media and European Parliament; Senior Research Specialist, Europe - Scottish Parliament research department (2001-04); Head of Policy for Alyn Smith MEP in Brussels and Edinburgh (2004-present) – advising and developing party policy on EU issues; Campaigned across Scotland.

What can we win?
I’m confident that our two sitting MEPs will be returned to Parliament, but we can win three with some hard work. I hope to be that third MEP, join our current Members and serve Scotland and the cause of Independence in Europe.

Vote Aileen McLeod.

European election candidate hustings

The hustings to rank the SNP’s candidates for the European elections this June got underway today with our first one in Eden Court theatre in Inverness this afternoon. Although this is the first time I have stood for election, it was great to be there and to get the chance to speak with members and answer their questions. We have an excellent array of candidates and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to meeting with as many of our members as possible up and down the country over the next couple of days.

Photo: Here's me outside Eden Court Theatre
after the hustings

The postal ballots have gone out and these are to be returned by midday on 10 March using the enclosed pre-paid envelope to the Electoral Reform Society. If you would like to hear and meet the candidates we will be at the following locations:

21 February: The MacLean Room, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness 13h00

22 February: Function Room, Huntly Arms Hotel, Aboyne 12h00

22 February: Green Hotel, Kinross 17h00

28 February: County Hall, County Buildings, Ayr, 11h00

28 February: Town Hall, Johnstone 16h00

28 February: Cornerstone House, South Road, Cumbernauld 19h00

1 March: Arts Centre, Dalkeith 14h00

1 March: Partick Burgh Hall, Glasgow 18h00

Monday 16 February 2009

New front opens on Scotland's offshore wind

Alex Salmond opened the doors today to Seaenergy renewables based in Aberdeen following the announcement today by the Crown Estate that SeaEnergy has been given the green light to explore and develop the Beatrice offshore wind farm site in the Moray Firth and the Inch Cape for offshore wind. If operating at maximum capacity, these sites would have the potential to generate a massive 6GW of offshore windpower. This equates to Scotland's peak electricity consumption.

The Crown Estate announced a number of other exclusive agreements for companies to survey areas of the seabed to develop offshore wind and other types of marine renewables. The shores around the Highlands and Islands are laden with enormous green energy potential just waiting to be tapped into. The oil fabrication yard at Nigg could become a hub for the engineering and construction of renewable energy developments (deep water offshore wind turbines, tidal and wave turbines), putting it right at the cutting edge of such developments and making it not only good for the local economy but for Scotland as a whole also. The Scottish Government has already revealed that there could be 16,000 Scottish jobs in green energy by 2020 by progressing its action across energy generation, energy efficiency and transport, tackling climate change and at the same time saving people and businesses alike money.

I am delighted at the news today. With Jim Murphy in Edinburgh selling his soul to the nuclear lobbyists in his grand plan to convince Scots of their need for a nuclear future, today's announcement underlines the extent to which Scotland's energy companies are leading the way in the development of clean, green energy and the boost this will bring to Scotland's economy by way of increased investment, more jobs and opportunities.

I had the chance to spend some time with SeaEnergy last August when I was up at their offices in the outskirts of Aberdeen to meet with the team and find out what the company was seeking to do in terms of helping Scotland to take full advantage of the massive offshore wind potential that is sitting out in the Moray Firth in particular.

I've already put in a call to congratulate them and look forward to having the chance to meet with them soon to discuss their plans.

Friday 9 January 2009


If you have ever wondered what UKIP do in the EP then the photos from my office might explain:

Saturday 3 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I'm up in Port Appin, Argyll for the weekend with some friends of ours before heading back to Brussels next week and if you've never been to Port Appin, it is worth a visit. We were up here last New Year for a week and this time we are up to see our friends get married on the shores of Loch Linnhe. For me its a great place to gather my thoughts before the onslaught of Brussels begins again, not least with the European election campaign ahead of us.

We were staying in the Pierhouse hotel - a great place if you love seafood. The scenery up here is stunning with Castle Stalker sitting out there on Loch Linnhe and the Morvern mountains behind. Today we went across to the island of Lismore and had a walk round the island. There is a great community spirit there and if you fancy a trip across there you could try and time it so that you are there for Lismore's own Homecoming celebrations which it is planning to mark from 8 - 14 August, and apparently there is the chance to enjoy a glass of Lismore malt whisky at its opening reception.

Photo above: Looking across to the Morvern mountains

Photo above: Port Appin

Photo above: With the "Lismore" boat across to the island of Lismore

Photo above: The island of Lismore

Photo above: Looking across from Lismore to Morvern

Photo above: Still on Lismore with Port Appin behind me

Photo above: Winter sky from the beach at Lismore

Friday 19 December 2008

Montenegro applies to join the EU

Montenegro's Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovi, was in Paris this week to submit an application from Montenegro to join the EU. The Prime Minister met with the President-in-Office of the European Council, Nicolas Sarkozy, to whom Montenegro's EU application was submitted. This will be sent to the European Commission which will then assess whether Montenegro meets the conditions of membership and make its recommendation to the Council as to whether or not Montenegro should become a candidate country. It is then for the European Council to vote unanimously on the Commission's recommendation and in doing so open formal negotiations.

Having achieved its independence on 3 June 2006 and now two and a half years later has lodged an application to join the EU. I wish Montenegro well in its application and look forward to the day when an Independent Scotland joins Montenegro at the top table not only in Brussels but also in the UN in New York and in other international organisations and is able to have its own distinctive voice, take its own decisions and work together with the international community in addressing such key global challenges as international development, climate change, economic governance.

I've met with the Montenegrin Ambassador to the EU on a number of occasions in Brussels to find out how Montenegro is faring since achieving its independence and have also helped Montenegro mark its national day on 13 July by holding out a hand of friendship from Scotland