Why the SNP are now the Scottish Inter-National Party

Photo taken before the COVID pandemic.

Not only is the forthcoming Holyrood election the most important since the beginning of devolution, but for the first time there is a real chance of electing a more representative Parliament.

Not only are there more women standing than ever before, but the range of candidates with an international background is unprecedented.

Scotland’s most popular party, the SNP, is running almost as many female as male candidates and has a slate of potential MSPs from across the world or whose families came to Scotland in recent decades.

The SNP can rightly claim to be the Scottish Inter-National Party, underscoring the internationalist credentials and ambitions of the independence movement.

In Glasgow, the SNP regional list is headed by human rights activist Roza Salih, one of the famed Glasgow Girls, who originally hails from Southern Kurdistan. She is joined on the same list by fellow former refugee Abdul Bostani from Afghanistan.

In Central Scotland, the SNP list is headed by Cumbernauld North SNP councillor Danish Ashraf whose family is originally from the Sindh province of Pakistan, while in the West of Scotland the regional list is topped by Erskine and Inchinnan SNP councillor Michelle Campbell, whose grandparents came to Scotland from Uganda.

There is also an African connection in the North East of Scotland where the SNP list is led by the Nigerian-Scot Fatima Joji from Westhill in Aberdeen, who would be the first black Muslim ever returned to the Scottish Parliament.

Fatima is joined on the North East list by Nadia El-Nakla from Dundee whose father’s family is Palestinian and has family in Gaza.

On the same list is Christian Allard, originally from rural French Burgundy, who has been in Scotland for 35 years and already served as an SNP councillor, MSP and MEP.

Another French SNP candidate is Sarah Fanet who is on the Highlands and Islands list together with Qasim Hanif, an SNP member for more than 16 years, and from a wider family of ground-breaking prominent Scots-Asian SNP members.

In Lothian, the regional list is headed by Graham Campbell – a trailblazing SNP councillor of African-Caribbean background who has done much to promote awareness of Scotland’s shameful past role in the slave trade.

SNP international list candidates are joined by many running in constituency contests, including Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf in Glasgow Pollok. His mother and father both came to Scotland as young children, with their parents from Pakistan. His paternal grandfather worked in the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank and maternal grandfather worked as a conductor on the buses.

In Glasgow Kelvin, the SNP candidate Kaukab Stewart was born in Pakistan and lived in England, before coming to Scotland.

In Dumbarton, Toni Giugliano comes from an Italian-Scottish family that made their home in Helensburgh and later Balloch. He himself was born in Italy and has Italian as his first language.

Still in the West of Scotland, the SNP candidate in Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, Elena Whitham, grew up in Canada, while Siobhian Brown in nearby Ayr grew up in Australia.

In the South of Scotland Paul Wheelhouse, the SNP candidate in Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, was born in Northern Ireland – while Shona Robison in Dundee East was born in England.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who is standing in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch spent much of her childhood in India, while Edinburgh South SNP candidate Catriona MacDonald grew up in China where she learnt Chinese.

I myself am the son of a refugee who came to these shores from Germany at the end of the Second World War. I grew up in Edinburgh as a German speaker and am proud to be the SNP candidate in Edinburgh Central.

My local constituency party has a significant international membership, from all the Home Nations, the United States, France, Germany, Portugal, Poland and many other countries besides.

In Edinburgh Central itself, there are more than 7200 European Union and international voters – all of whom are eligible to vote in the election.

There are tens of thousands of people in Edinburgh from other countries, the largest numbers from Poland, India, Ireland, China, the USA, Germany, Pakistan, Australia, France and Spain.

According to the 2011 census, Scotland is home to 16,964 Irish citizens, 99,569 citizens of other EU countries, 56,156 of Commonwealth countries and 59,450 citizens of other countries – most of whom are eligible to vote on May 6.

The Scottish independence movement is outward-looking and internationalist, a fact reflected in the international background of so many SNP candidates for the May 6 election.

For the first time all residents in Scotland: domestic, Commonwealth, European Union and from the wider world, are eligible to vote in elections to Holyrood.

Let’s encourage them all to register and use both of their votes for the Scottish Inter-National Party.