After years on the margins, I have finally decided to get out of the trenches, onto the battlefield and stand as a candidate for Dundee City West. Earlier this month, a new political party called Restore Scotland was launched, which backs independence for Scotland from the United Kingdom and the European Union. Last week, I signed up as a member and submitted my nomination papers and I would like to offer three reasons why Dundee City West needs a new elected representative.
The first is because the people of Dundee have experienced a traumatic year. Lives and livelihoods have been lost and our local representative, Joe Fitzpatrick, has delivered an Oscar-winning performance as the Invisible Man. Last year, Panelbase fingered Dundee as the one local authority where support for independence is over 65% but the SNP is doing more to damage the ascent of independence and their prospectus involves replacing one political union with another. Let us be clear, the pandemic is priority number one but the two issues are linked because who would want to re-join the EU after their shambolic handling of the vaccine rollout?
The second reason is 72 lives were lost in Dundee – and 1,264 across Scotland – in 2019 in large part due to a failed drugs policy he implemented. He also pioneered the Drug Deaths Task Force which he populated with professionals – precisely the people who have failed to drive down drug deaths in Scotland. As someone who has experience of substance misuse, I believe we must include the voices of those who have entered, experienced and exited addiction in our policy-making process. Who can better identify the challenges but also provide solutions than those who have unravelled the coil of addiction?
The third reason I am standing is until recently our elected representative was also the Minister for Public Health and pocketed a salary of £94,821 excluding expenses. Over half a million of taxpayer’s money was spent on Alex Salmond but almost £1 million was spent on Mr Fitzpatrick, his office and his staff during the last parliamentary session. Have you seen a million pounds worth of benefit from this man? Moreover, how can a person paid over three times the annual salary of the average Dundonian understand the challenges faced by the people of a city which, like many others, has been decimated by the pandemic?
What would I do differently? Three words – Rebuild, Recover and Reinvest.
Firstly, we need to rebuild and, for that, we need out of lockdown. Dundee needs its voice amplified and championed and needs an advocate for true independence.
Secondly, Dundee needs to recover and we must prioritise those who have entered, experienced and exited addiction in the creation of a credible drugs policy.
Thirdly, I would reinvest 40% of an MSPs salary – a minimum of £25,600 – back into grassroots projects supporting people in the constituency and across Dundee.
On 6 May, I will vote to Restore Scotland.