ALLOW me to take you on a wee journey through the unique and remarkable region of the North East of Scotland, with a particular focus on my beloved constituency of Banffshire and Buchan Coast. As the MSP for the region, I am committed to representing the aspirations of the North East and ensuring that the SNP and the wider indy movement understand our desires and work towards achieving them. We have a responsibility to present a relatable case for Scottish independence to all, and to emphasise the need for policy that resonates with the people of our regions.

Nestled in the North East of Scotland, Banffshire and Buchan Coast holds a treasure trove of amazing qualities that make it truly special – with its rugged coastal beauty, charming fishing villages and rich historical heritage, it captivates the hearts of all who visit. Picture-perfect sandy beaches stretch along the coastline, inviting visitors to enjoy peaceful walks or indulge in thrilling water sports.

The area’s fishing traditions, showcased in bustling harbours and lively fish markets, reflect a deep-rooted cultural heritage that continues to thrive. From the dramatic cliffs of the Moray Firth to the enchanting castles that dot the landscape, Banffshire and Buchan Coast offers a magical blend of natural wonders and historical landmarks that never cease to inspire awe.

The North East of Scotland has long been recognised as a hub for energy, with the oil and gas sector anchoring our economy and providing employment opportunities for generations. However, we are also witnessing the winds of change, as renewable energy takes flight in our offshore wind farms.

We have seen fantastic leaps forward with SNP policy and Scottish Government focusing on our energy sectors, such as the £500 million which has been dedicated to a just transition to net zero, but independence would grant us the autonomy to be limitless in shaping energy policies that reflect our region’s unique strengths, enabling us to harness our natural resources to the fullest, with borrowing powers to back it up.

But it is not just our energy sector that sets us apart, as the North East boasts a rich fishing heritage, with coastal communities thriving on the abundance of the North Sea. From bustling fish markets to hardworking trawlers and shipbuilders, our region’s fishing sector has faced its fair share of challenges.

We must be alert though to the continual politicising of the industry and of the contentions within it. To ensure a sustainable fisheries future we must look to policy which doesn’t look to eradicate it! We are an island, and it makes sense we would have fish as a staple protein in our diets. Policy that includes food security in balance with environmental protections is paramount.

Agriculture is another cornerstone of our region’s identity. The fertile farmlands of the North East yield bountiful crops, and our livestock farming traditions run deep. With independence, we could be unimpeded and not fiscally controlled by the UK Government.

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Our farmers and producers deserve a voice that reflects their aspirations and safeguards their interests. I have been working on pre-legislative scrutiny within my remit on the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee and it is clear we have a lot to balance, but there’s a real challenge in fiscal support as we have lost European Union funding, and receive now only a small portion with no clear long-term funding plan in sight.

Agriculture demands planning years in advance for the best possible outcomes – independence would deliver that certainty we don’t have right now from the UK Government.

The North East is about the people who call this region home, with a strong sense of community, and our voices should be heard in shaping the decisions that affect our lives. Scottish independence offers us an opportunity to have more direct representation, where our concerns and aspirations are given the attention they deserve. We can ensure that the North East’s interests are at the forefront of policy discussions, leading to targeted investment in areas such as infrastructure, improved connectivity and enhanced public services.

The SNP and wider indy movement understanding and reflecting the desires of the North East is essential, not just for us to thrive now, but for trust in our governance to ensure support for independence. We must strive for policies that align with the aspirations of our region, or we risk losing the support that we have worked tirelessly to earn.

The North East has historically shown diversity in its political preferences, with even support for the Conservative Party – Banff and Buchan’s Westminster seat was once held by Alex Salmond, but its current MP is a Conservative. However, our success as a Yes movement lies in our ability to engage and resonate with the entirety of Scotland, embracing its diverse voices. We cannot leave the North East behind in discussions, it is going to be vital in a thriving independent Scotland.

We must ensure that we recognise and promote the unique aspects of the North East, cultivating a sense of inclusivity and shared prosperity. This means actively engaging with the industries that define our region, understanding their challenges and championing their causes. It means forging partnerships between government, academia and businesses to drive innovation and economic growth. 

We need a holistic approach that empowers our communities, supports our industries and nurtures our environment. This can sound counter-intuitive when we try to prioritise which one we want to drive most, usually pitting fiscal health, human health and environmental health against each other, but we can do all of this with a wellbeing economy model driving us.

I believe that independence for Scotland holds the promise of unlocking our region’s potential. It is our opportunity to shape our own destiny, to design policies that reflect our unique circumstances and to build a prosperous future for all. Let us work together to ensure that the indy movement not only seeks independence for Scotland but also listens and responds to the aspirations of the North East. By doing so, we can forge a brighter, more inclusive future for our region and all of Scotland.