I said when I was considering standing for the Depute Leadership of the SNP that I would take soundings from colleagues within the party and across the membership before making up my mind to have my name put forward. After listening very carefully to the response to my agenda I have decided that I do not believe that I have sufficient support within the party and I will not now be standing for the post of Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party. Making Scotland a better place to live and work and securing independence for my nation are the issues that determine my approach to politics and I will continue to offer everything I can to ensure that agenda is progressed.
My agenda was essentially based around five main items. First, to design a new independence offering that takes into account the political environment that Scotland now inhabits, and is sufficiently persuasive to convince our fellow Scots who have so far been unconvinced in the case for independence. Second, to try and find a way that unites Yes voters who voted either to remain or leave in the EU referendum. In that, I proposed a graduated approach for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU with checks and breaks factored in and put under democratic control. Third, was to make a proper, honest assessment of why we lost 21 MPs last year and design a political response that takes stock of the new challenges we face. Fourth, to get the party organisationally equipped to face future contests as a mass membership party. Lastly I proposed that the party has to be pragmatic in its approach to the timing of a further independence referendum. I firmly believe that a referendum should take place at the optimum time for success taking into account external features such as the increasing concerns around Brexit, and to proceed only when we have sufficient evidence that it could be won.
There are certain issues I could have perhaps ducked or de-emphasised in order to better assist me in any Depute Leader contest, but anyone who knows me knows that this is not something I would be prepared to do. I will always speak out on what I believe is in the best interests of my country.
This contest offers a wide ranging debate within the party where all issues that motivate and inspire us should be discussed honestly in the best traditions of the comradeship we enjoy in the SNP. I hope that others may be able to take up this agenda and perhaps present it more convincingly than I could and I will be asking candidates who do come forward their views on these issues.
I look forward to this contest with real interest and wish all those who feel they have the abilities to lead, all the best.