By Dillon Kennedy
The SYC (Scottish Young Conservatives) are the youth wing of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. The wider conservative party is currently evaluating its performance in the 2021 elections and considering how it will move forward in opposing the SNP. While internal party pressure groups have often doubtful impact on the direction of party policy and campaigning they are often important in engaging members and seeking representation.
There is a potential for internal organisations like this to get grass roosts interests raised and forwarded at a high level. Getting such views heard and recognised has been considered a fault of the conservative party for many years with members becoming increasingly divided over approaches to campaigns and policy and the grassroots feeling increasingly sidelined.
There are two candidates who have announced their intention to run for the chair of the SYC, John White Jnr and Emma Margaret Currie and i'm pleased to use this column as a get to know the candidates. We will first start with brief introductions to the candidates backgrounds.
“My name is John White. I’m 18 years old. I’m from the east end of Glasgow and currently studying Scots Law. I’m the eldest of three boys. I’m the founder of a foodbank and an activist for the Scottish Conservatives”
Emma Margaret Currie
“My name is Emma Margaret Currie, I’m 21 years old, from Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway and I have just completed my third year of studying English Language and Social and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. At the age of 12, I started volunteering with my former MSP, Alex Ferguson, so as to get more involved in what was going on in my region. It was during that time that I was inspired to become involved in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party, as I seen firsthand the strive and determination to fight back against the 2014 Independence Referendum. I wanted to get involved with the party’s resistance against the SNP on a national, and regional level, and to push to keep the borders blue.
Since then, I have become a lot more involved in the party, and have been presented with a wealth of opportunities and gained a lot of experience.
Currently, I am working as a Parliamentary Intern to The Rt. Hon. Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland. During the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election campaign, I worked as Pam Gosal MSP's Communications and Administration Assistant. In 2019, I worked for Finlay Carson MSP in his constituency office. I was the President of the University of Glasgow Conservative and Unionist Association from 2020-21, and during this time, I ensured strong growth within the membership and held several prominent events. I am currently the Regional Chair for West Scotland on the Scottish Young Conservatives Board, and in this role I have worked with the board to strengthen the SYC’s social media presence and created a network for west members. In addition, I am the current Youth Representative for the Dumfries and Galloway Conservative and Unionist Association.
Outside of party politics, I am passionate about pushing for rural voices to be heard and promoting my local area. This year, I founded the Glasgow University Rural Students Association to provide a support network for students from rural areas. I am also active in a number of community groups, and enjoying volunteering in the area.”
Q1 : What made you want to stand for the position SYC chair?
Emma : “I am standing as SYC National Chair, as I want to work to ensure that the SYC effectively represents its members – as we are the future of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. I believe that my experiences within the party have provided with the tools required to make this happen. At a young age, I was inspired to join the party after seeing the collective efforts of the party during the 2014 Independence Referendum, and so I believe that in order to inspire future generations of Scottish Young Conservatives it is vital that we maintain that momentum. Therefore, I want to work alongside members to create a strong youth wing to take on the SNP and fight back against their separatist agenda. In my eyes, the party is the main thing standing in the way of IndyRef2, which would be detrimental for our generation.”
John : “Young people like me want a fair chance in life. That’s what the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party offers. I want to work with both the youth of the party and senior politicians to showcase that.”
Q2 : What would you like to see happen if elected and what changes do you want to see implemented in the party?
Emma : “If elected, I pledge to ensure that all members are equally involved in SYC events, campaigning opportunities and consultation with the party. To do this, I would commence a recruitment drive to recruit new members from all walks of life, to ensure that no Scottish Young Conservatives are left out of events and opportunities. In addition, myself, and the rest of the board, would feedback the views of members to the party. Furthermore, I would push for more SYC events at Conferences, host events with prominent guests, and work with young elected members to organise ‘how to stand’ events and resources. I would also build on the SYC's current social media platforms, by sharing relevant posts daily. In doing this, the SYC would support all candidates in the run up to the 2022 Council Elections and be at the forefront of the campaign.”
John : “Young people like me often think the conservatives don't represent them. Coming from a council flat in the east end of Glasgow, receiving free school meals and living in an area with one of the highest rates of drugs and crime in the UK have all given me the experience needed to reach out to young people like myself. Reaching out to those young people is vital for the future of the Scottish Conservatives and the Union. If elected I'll also build and expand our digital presence and host a wide array of events for people from all backgrounds”.
Q3 How will they get young people’s voices effectively represented in a meaningful way within party politics rather than simply be dismissed?
Emma : “To ensure that young people’s voices are effectively represented in a meaningful way within party politics, I would expand on the party's youth-wing and ensure that the SYC effectively engages with all members, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, geographical location, or occupation. To do this, I would ensure that I was approachable to all members, and I would be open to any ideas and suggestions from members. In addition, I would hold an annual consultation meeting with the party to feedback the views of members to ensure that the future of the party is at the forefront of policy making and party decision-making.”
John : “I'll get young people's voices effectively represented within our party by, first and foremost, taking the time to consult and listen to their views. That's most important. I'll then move forward and engage with senior people in the party to relay those views and to ensure they are known”
I hope that this has given you an insight into the candidates currently running in this race and what they will do If elected as the chair of the Scottish Young Conservatives. They follow in the footsteps of many chairs before them. I wish them both the best of luck in this election and If you require further information on their campaigns it can be found at the links below.