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  • Writer's pictureLee Mills

"I couldn't shake the feeling that I didn’t fit in" - SNP's activist of the year on getting involved

It’s roughly four months since one of the proudest moments of my life.

Never did I image I would receive the Party’s prestigious Activist of the Year Award for 2020!

It’s seven years since I boarded the Mega Bus with my late father, Albert Mitchell to attend a march and rally against the bedroom tax in Stirling, not realizing that this would only be the beginning of political life for me.

When my dad passed away on 30 December 2014 I made a commitment at his funeral, that I would not stop campaigning until Scotland won back its Independence. I have strived for that every day since.

I first became active with the Scottish National Party because I realized that this Party was Scotland’s best hope – and what a daunting, slightly nerve wracking experience I found it.

I couldn't shake the feeling that I didn’t fit in, especially before attending meetings or chapping doors. Of course that was down to me and I now realise how wrong I was.

My advice to anyone – young or not so young – who is thing about joining us is… DO IT! You will not regret it. Being an active campaigner has given me so many skills, helping me to overcome my insecurities and the shyness I had.

The feeling of having achieved something you get when you return home after a day of campaigning is fantastic. That you have just alleviated an elector’s fears or reservations about Independence and got the SNP message of hope across is so satisfying.

I know that our branches work hard to make each and every new member welcome – so important on their journey within the Party.

In the run up to another referendum we need our members and activists equipped with the skills and knowledge to feel confident in promoting the case for Independence.

My experience in this has been only positive. So much so that the skills I gained gave me the confidence to co-found Dundee Thegither, a charity that provides food and essentials to vulnerable folk in Dundee. Community engagement is also one of the best ways of promoting the Party’s vision of a better, independent Scotland.

Throughout the moths of pandemic restrictions, my Dundee West colleague Heather McLean and I have been keeping members involved by inviting parliamentarians to attend monthly Q&A sessions via Zoom.

Michael Russell, Kate Forbes, Philippa Whitford, Shona Robison, Stewart Hosie, Joe Fitzpatrick are amongst those to have taken part in what has proved to be a good way to involve more people than may actually be able to attend physical branch meetings.

The SNP is made up of a diverse, intelligent, optimistic membership and ensures every voice matters and differences of opinion are respected, as we debate and resolve matters in a democratic respectful manner, at branch and constituency associations across the land.

These are the proper forums for discussion and disagreement where there is some. Posting controversial opinions on social media before or after internal discussions opens us up to ill-informed criticism and misrepresentation for those lined up against us.

We should all strive to accommodate disagreement and remain firmly united to win Independence.

These past months have been difficult for my family. We received the unfortunate news that my mother is suffering from lung cancer, and on her return from her diagnosis, she said, ‘This can’t beat me, we have to win our Independence.’

My mother’s determination inspires me to work even harder to win Independence.

At present our leadership and Government run the country as though we are independent. We lead SNP the polls and Independence is now the majority view of our electorate.

Remain focused and we win in May. Remain focused and we win a referendum. It’s that simple.

Meantime my trophy has pride of place in the hoose!

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