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  • Writer's pictureJim Manclark

Martin Keatings for Presiding Officer

If there's one thing the peoples' action has taught me, it is that if you leave it to politicians, you'll be waiting 20 years for an answer and still not get one. Then if you try to get that answer for yourself, you'll end up being told it's not for the people to ask reasonable questions of law about their parliament that politicians have continuously failed to answer. Simultaneously, you'll be told that politicians love a good mandate - So that's what I am doing. Ultimately it is for parliamentarians to decide who becomes the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. In this election, we'll likely have SNP, ALBA and others. Our parliament is going to be a plethora of different viewpoints, and they are going to need a referee. As an independent, I joined AFI to try and give our case other options and alternatives. But I am and have always been independent. The current climate has created a catch 22 situation that many are aware of, so I have been forced into standing in this manner as an independent because there was no third option. However, if I am to do this, I need to try and put forward a positive benefit of electing an independent - and one big one is the fact that when someone becomes a presiding officer, they need to give up their party colours.

A pro-independence independent does not have to do that, and it creates a situation where none of the pro-independence parties has to give up their party colours. There's also some benefit for when the SNP put their bill to the floor for an independence referendum and the declaration of competency that follows, is made by a Presiding Officer, who through a year-long battle on this very matter has a detailed and intimate knowledge of all of the questions and opinions surrounding section 30 and referendums". I don't need to learn all the arguments because I have them in the bundle of over 4000 pages of documents.

What the Scottish Parliament needs is a person who can praise and metaphorically knock heads together in equal measure. So I am making my intentions clear from the outset. I'm standing on a mandate to become PO. The question, if I am elected, is whether parliamentarians will respect it. If people in Mid-Scotland and Fife vote for me, great! If they don't, then fair enough. But the one thing that cannot be said is that I did not try everything within my power to push forward with the case and push forward the debate about the routes to Scottish Independence.

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