Brown claims victory on SNP selection rules - Rule change will allow all new members a vote in choosing candidates
The SNP is to change its rules on selecting candidates in what Depute Leader candidate Keith Brown says is a victory for the new members of the party. Brown called for the change as SNP membership grew after the referendum, saying that the new members had joined in good faith and deserved to have that faith reciprocated.
Mr Brown said:
"Somewhere approaching 60,000 members have joined the SNP since the referendum and each of them joined on the same basis as I did - we want independence and we want to make Scotland a better place. I get to vote to choose our candidates and I couldn't see any reason why new members shouldn't have that right.
"That's why I wrote to the Party's Convenor, Derek Mackay, to ask for the rules to be relaxed to allow all of the new members a say in choosing candidates. What kind of a welcome to the party would it have been for those members if the first thing they were told was that they wouldn't be allowed a say in who our candidates for Westminster are? I know that some people disagreed with me but I'm pleased to see that the National Executive Committee sees it my way.
"We've got a job to do to get on and win elections and we're going to need all of our members helping us with that. They're going to do the work; they deserve a say in who our candidates are. This shows that the SNP is open, welcoming and adaptable. We're moving forward while the other parties keep going over old ground and blaming each other for their failures. Scotland is moving forward and the SNP is leading the way."
Contact: Calum Cashley 0777 1551 581
Current SNP rules say that you have to be in the party for more than one year to vote in selection contests.
An extraordinary meeting of the SNP's National Council will be held immediately before SNP Conference in Perth to discuss a motion from the SNP National Executive Committee to suspend that rule and allow all members to vote in the forthcoming Westminster selections and following Holyrood selections. The issue was discussed at NEC as a result of the request made by Keith Brown.
The call from Keith Brown was set out in a news release last month pasted below
For Immediate Release, Monday 29th September 2014
Keith Brown calls for SNP rule change to let new members select Westminster candidates
Candidate for Depute Leader of the SNP Keith Brown has called for SNP selection rules to be changed to allow all of the recently joined members a say in the selection of candidates for next year’s UK General Election.
Mr Brown said:
"For good reasons the SNP rules say that you have to have been a member for at least 13 months before you get a say in who represents the party as candidates but we’ve got exceptional circumstances here and there should be an exception made.
“We’ve seen enormous numbers of people joining the SNP since the referendum; nearly 50,000 at the last count, they joined in good faith with a commitment to fulfilling the SNP’s long-term ambitions for Scotland. It would be less than welcoming if the party didn’t do everything we could to make sure that they have a say in the first round of selections after they have joined.
"We’re going to have to change party structures to give all of the new members a chance to make their contribution to the SNP in the longer term and we may as well start with this measure to allow them all a say in choosing our candidates for next year.
“I have written to Derek Mackay, the Business Convenor of the SNP, asking him to work through the rules and consider a one-off exception to the rules to give all of these new members a say. They’ve joined the party, they came to us with a determination to help make Scotland a better place, they’ve made their commitment, now we should make them welcome and make sure they can help select our candidates."
Contact: Calum Cashley 0777 1551 581
The text of the letter from Keith Brown to Derek Mackay is as follows –
I share your delight that so many people across Scotland have joined the SNP in recognition that we are the party best placed to deliver change in the aftermath of the referendum.
We are closing in on nearly 50,000 new members since the referendum, which is exceptional, and I believe that it is very important to engage with these new members as soon as possible and to keep them involved moving forward. In my own constituency, many new members have already attended meetings and it is very clear that there is a real willingness to become actively involved and quite rightly, focus has begun to turn towards next year’s Westminster elections. As you have already made clear in public, these new members are not currently entitled to a say in the selection of our candidates for that election, and I hope you will agree that this would not be the best welcome we could offer these new members.
Can I urge you to consider working through the rules and perhaps making a one-off exception to take account of the exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves where nearly two thirds of our membership will be new members at the time that our candidates for the UK General Election are selected? I appreciate that there will have to be a cut-off date for these new members but can I suggest that it could be the end of October, thereby offering the franchise to all of those new members who have already joined or whose application forms are in the post?
I hope we can find ways to ensure that our new members can be included in the selection process for Westminster candidates to harness the talent and energy of our new members and ensure that they feel involved and invested in the future of the SNP.
I would be glad to meet with you to discuss possible options.