Angela Crawley MP: An open letter to members of the SNP

SNP MP for Lanark and Hamilton East Angela Crawley explains why she hopes to be elected as the party's national women and equalities convener

AS I launch my bid to become the national women and equalities convener, I know without doubt the huge importance that this role can have in shaping the Scottish National Party now and in the future.

In Scotland, as the party of government, we are already shaping the kind of society that we aspire to live in, and yet there is more work to do. When I made the decision to join the SNP in my teens, it was not the obvious choice. 

Then, we were not in government, and as a politics student the obvious route for those who wanted a political career was to join the Labour party. Ironically, I had no desire to become a politician.

My experience has allowed me to understand the difficulties that come with poverty as I witnessed them first-hand.

My parents, both Labour voters and trade union reps in their workplace, taught me the values of hard work, making my voice heard, and standing up for what you believe in. 

As a young, LGBT woman, I looked at the local politics of central Scotland, dominated by uninspired Labour stalwarts, with little or no vision for how to improve things. 

However, there seemed to me an alternative route: the area in which I grew up, a housing scheme in Hamilton, is where political greats like Winnie Ewing and Margo McDonald hailed their success. I consider it a privilege and honour to follow in their footsteps and represent my area in the House of Commons.

My experience has allowed me to understand the difficulties that come with poverty as I witnessed them first-hand. I was blessed with a family who have supported, encouraged and inspired me and that experience has enriched my ability to represent my area. 

I have never allowed where I have come from to be a barrier to my success. However, my story as an MP – or former councillor – is not common.

Read more – Jamie Szymkowiak: Why the SNP needs a women’s convener

Politics can still seem off limits to many people in society. In fact, the reality is that people where I grew up rarely enter elected politics – not because they did not have the ability to be a great politician, but because class divides society into the haves and have nots. 

Politics can be expensive. I know that those who have undertaken candidacy have struggled financially, because the cost of running an election can be too expensive for some, and for many people simply unaffordable or unimaginable.

For too many people, the choice between heating or eating, whilst facing the brunt of austerity, limits their ability to engage with the institutions of power. Instead, they are often at the mercy of Tory governments, with their voices going unheard. 

Class division is becoming more and more entrenched. While the most powerful rightwing government in decades continues to make decisions affecting all of our lives, the effect will be that only the rich get richer, and everyone else will be left behind.

My point: inequality costs everyone in society.

I’d like to ensure that all young people growing up today know that politics is one way to make the kind of change you want to see in the world.

I know the challenges that inequality presents for everyone in society, and the barriers that can get in the way of being active in politics.

Now you know me a little better, here is my pitch: I am proud to have received the backing of my branch to seek election to the office of SNP’s national women and equalities convener. Women and equalities is an everyday part of my life. It’s not simply a role I fulfil, it’s my passion.

As the SNP spokesperson at Westminster, I have sat on the first House of Commons women and equalities select committee and have served as the women’s officer in my branch and equalities officer of the SNP’s youth-wing for years.

I know the challenges that inequality presents for everyone in society, and the barriers that can get in the way of being active in politics. My friend and fellow nominee, Tasmina has worked relentlessly, as have other members of the SNP’s national executive committee (NED), in making the SNP the most progressive party for Scotland. However with my experience, I can see where we need to go to really make a push towards an equal society.

If elected as the SNP’s national women and equalities convener, I will do everything I can to empower all candidates, I will use my knowledge of winning elections at local government and national level to assist the efforts of the NEC in getting ready for next year’s elections and provide guidance and support to all members where required.

I recognise the challenges members of our party can face, whether it is a disability, health, or income issue when it comes to becoming actively engaged in politics. 

My colleague and fellow nominee in this election, Jamie, has campaigned successfully through the 1 in 5 campaign, to ensure that considerations are made for those who experience a disability or health condition, raising awareness of the challenges that people face when becoming active in politics.

If elected, I will work closely with all of my colleagues to ensure that all of the voices within our party are heard and that processes are installed and steps taken to address your concerns.

I am delighted that our party has strong sectorial groups that ensure disabled, LGBT, BAME, and women are supported to achieve their full potential, and have influence within our party. This work must continue. 

If elected, I will work closely with all of my colleagues to ensure that all of the voices within our party are heard and that processes are installed and steps taken to address your concerns.

In Scotland we have an incredible landscape and beautiful geography, however this presents challenges when catering to all of our members across the country, we must consider the different challenges faced by rural and urban members in accessing in attending conferences, national council and events.

I will ensure that I am available to host training workshops across the country and will ensure that there is a designated annual equalities conferences that takes accounts of these factors. Our events must be as accessible as possible, engaging and exciting. If I am elected Women & Equalities Convener, I will put removing any barriers or inequalities that exist at the heart of my agenda.

That includes considering the processes and systems required to ensure that there is parity of esteem for all candidates, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, ability or background, to ensure that all members have access to the forums for internal decision making. 

I am keen to listen, engage, and to understand what matters to each of you as members.

I will continue to support all of the efforts taken by members on the NEC to offer regular, accessible, free training opportunities for everyone.

There is always more work to do, to address the systemic inequalities, and disadvantages that people face in their every day lives. I am keen to listen, engage, and to understand what matters to each of you as members. Whether elected as the convener or not, I will never shy away from the task of making this country a better place for everyone.

We have come on leaps and bounds since this post was created, but there are still challenges ahead. If elected, I will continue to work every day to create a party and a society, that is more equal, more representative and fairer for everyone.

For me the Scottish National Party is a party for everyone, no matter where you come from, or where we are going. Our humanity will unite us in looking towards a brighter and better future together.

Picture courtesy of YouTube

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