Former Scottish Socialist MSP rallies activists at Cumbernauld Theatre #IndyRef discussion

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 14:33 on 12 August 2014.
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Former SSP MSP, Tommy Sheridan at Cumbernauld Theatre last night.                                                                                                                 Picture: Cumbernauld Media.

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FORMER Scottish Socialist Party MSP, Tommy Sheridan, returned to Cumbernauld yesterday evening (11th August 2014) to field questions over the issue of independence and to set out his soapbox on why he believes Scots should back a split from the United Kingdom.

Sheridan, 50, was previously a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow - but last night the fiery politician returned to Cumbernauld to make his pitch for a ‘Yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.

With only 37 days to go until polls open and Scottish voters answer the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ Mr Sheridan has returned to Cumbernauld hot on the heels of his recent campaign visit to Cambuslang, last Tuesday (5th August).

Yesterday evening’s visit by the former Socialist MSP was part of his ‘Hope over Fear’ tour – although the Cumbernauld date was arranged by Kildrum resident Liam Stevenson.

Addressing the two-hundred strong crowd, Mr Sheridan tackled issues such as privatisation, the National Health Service, the Royal Mail, nuclear weapons, currency, food-banks, the European Union and media bias. 

“How can we afford to maintain nuclear weapons when we can’t even afford to feed the weans,” Mr Sheridan said.

“How is it that we have food-banks cropping up everywhere – and the British Red Cross distributing food parcels, for the first time since the Second World War – yet we can afford to spend £100billion on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons and bombs that can kill weans,” he added.

In his closing remarks, the firebrand political campaigner said: “I want a Scotland where the opportunities are available to everyone”, before fielding questions from members of the audience.

Questions related to issues surrounding banking, currency, Europe, and the media – and, not least, the turnout of voters at elections. 

On currency, the ex-MSP said: “I believe that an independent Scottish currency – backed up by oil and gas – will be a strong currency around the globe.”

Asked about voter turnout, the incumbent joint convenor of the Solidarity party said he predicted an 80 per cent turnout across Scotland, adding: “There is a thirst among voters for this [referendum].” 

“I’m reluctant to blame people for not voting,” he added.

“People in their 30s, 40s and 50s look at politicians and see no difference between them – they see politicians as not being worth it; viewing the situation as the two bald men over the coals, and they disengage from that.”

And, on young voters – aged between 16 and 17 – the Glasgow-born campaigner said he thought “more 16 and 17 year olds know more about politics and what’s going on than most 40 and 50 year olds”.

Joined on the panel by Kildrum resident and event organiser, Liam Stevenson, Mr Sheridan spoke alongside special guests Michelle Rodger – a former national newspaper journalist – from Business for Scotland; and, Catriona Pagliari – a Consultant Breast Radiologist – representing the ‘NHS for Yes’ campaign group.

Speaking to Cumbernauld Media’s Scott Campbell after the public meeting had ended, Mr Sheridan said: “Tonight has been my 73rd meeting across Scotland and the average attendance over all of those meetings has been around 200 to 220 people; and, all in, we've spoken to around 13,000 people since the start of January, this year.”

“People tend to come with lots of questions, and sometimes uncertainties and doubts, but they leave with the answers to the questions they have - and they tend to walk a little bit taller when they leave the meeting, because they become 'Yes' voters,” he added.

“People are worried about the uncertainty of the future - I can understand but the certainty of a 'No' vote is more cuts, more poverty, more unemployment, and more inequality. The hope of a 'Yes' vote is a better, socially progressive Scotland that not only gets rid of nuclear weapons but that gets rid of low pay and gets rid of poverty -that's worth voting for.”

In describing the reception of the meeting as “warm”, Mr Sheridan described attendees as “very kind and very polite”, adding: “…it [the meeting] was overwhelmingly positive for 'Yes', but there were several people who came up at the end, and told me they came undecided but are leaving as 'Yes' voters - that's brilliant.”

Asked why he personally supported Scottish independence, Mr Sheridan told our reporter: “I'm a democrat - I believe that Scotland has the right to be a free, democratic country; and, I'm also a socialist - I believe that Scotland can start redistributing wealth and making life better for every living Scot”, before making a prediction that the result of the referendum will be “sixty-forty to 'Yes'.”

Scots will go to the polls on Thursday 18 September and answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
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