with Alex Salmond, First Minister and MSP for Aberdeenshire East

On the Euro Campaign Trail in Buchan

On Saturday I joined two of the SNP’s candidates in the upcoming European elections on the campaign trail in Fraserburgh and Strichen.

Ian Hudghton MEP has represented Scotland’s interests in Europe since his election to the European Parliament in 1998.

He serves on the Fisheries Committee and has been at the forefront of efforts to secure a positive outcome for Scotland’s fishing industry in Common Fisheries Policy reform. Fraserburgh – as the largest shellfish port in Europe – is a town that Ian knows very well indeed.

Speaking to local residents and those in the fishing industry last weekend, Ian reaffirmed the SNP’s strong record in Government and in Brussels in securing the best deal possible for Scotland’s fishing industry – including winning key concession on moving towards a more regionalised system of fisheries management and the pioneering of new management techniques such as real time closures.

A vote for the SNP on the May 22 will secure the best deal for Scotland’s fishing industry in the coming years, ensuring that the new CFP evolves in a way most beneficial to the needs of the industry and those who rely upon it.

Also out and about in the Broch was Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who is hoping to secure a third seat for the SNP in the European elections.

The most recent opinion polls would see the party take three out of a total of six Scottish seats in Europe.

Of course, Ireland with a far lower population than our own is better represented in Europe as an independent country – returning 12 MEPs to Brussels, and recently having held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Tasmina is a fantastic ambassador for modern Scotland and a progressive, inspiring candidate. She is the National Women’s Officer for the SNP, a partner in a firm of solicitors, a former star of Asian television, winner of both the Scottish Businesswoman of the Year and the Asian Woman of Achievement awards, recipient of an OBE for Services to Business and the Asian Community in Scotland and mother to four children.

She is a mark of the Scotland we seek to build for the future, in stark contrast to Westminster’s UKIP-driven agenda of fear and prejudice.

Speaking in the communities of Buchan at the weekend, Tasmina set out her priorities to campaign for the living wage if elected later this month.

Increasing the minimum levels that employees receive for a day’s work is a vital social policy, needed to improve the lives and living standards of many families across Scotland.

The SNP in Government has made significant progress in extending the living wage to every part of the public sector of which it has the powers to do so.

However, the European Commission has confirmed this week that EU regulations prevent the introduction of a living wage requirement in public sector procurement contracts.

The best way to drive forward a change in these rules is by voting for the SNP on May 22 – with more SNP representatives in Europe to put forward a strong case in negotiations on behalf of the people of Scotland.

And the living wage is but one amongst a number of important social priorities for the SNP in Europe.

We seek to extend the positive gains made in recent years by the Scottish Parliament across the rest of the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.

While the SNP will build on our positive progress, UKIP seeks to turn back the clock.

Farage promotes a deeply negative agenda which cannot go unchecked as he seeks to dominate the European debate. UKIP’s plan would see tuition fees introduced at £9,000 a head for people in Scotland, free personal care for the elderly abolished, prescription charges reintroduced and the NHS privatised through the back door. These are not Scotland’s priorities.

The SNP stands for progression, not regression. Only a vote for the SNP on May 22 will allow us to complete the journey we have started in Scotland and let us make our mark in Europe.