The Student in conversation with Tommy Sheppard, SNP candidate for Edinburgh East

SNP’s Tommy Sheppard, the current MP for Edinburgh East, spoke to The Student about the upcoming general election and the various issues at play.

The SNP official party website states that ‘Scotland’s future is on the line’, which Sheppard agrees with.

“I can’t remember the stakes of an election being higher…On one hand, we could have a hard-right conservative government which will use Brexit as a vehicle to reorganise the economy and separate the UK from Europe, which would be such a major change in the history of the UK.

“If that happens, I believe that then that government will also not just deny any aspiration of Scotland to have self-government, but probably roll back on some of the gains that have been achieved.

“On the other hand, there’s an opportunity to reject all of that and whilst the big themes are prevalent, there’s a parallel debate going on in Scotland about whether or not we should have the right to choose how to govern ourselves.”

The topic then turned to Brexit and Sheppard’s views regarding Scotland’s place in the EU.

“I’m a firm believer in Scottish self-government,” He states. “I think that the people here should be able to determine their own priorities, control their own resources, and I think if we were able to do that we would have a much fairer, more inclusive and equal country than we do today.

“However, I don’t think anyone in the SNP regards that as being a matter of separating ourselves and putting a fence around us. We want to be able to govern ourselves in order to be much more involved in the world.”

When discussing the possibility of a second referendum on Scottish independence, Sheppard explains why this could be beneficial and how things may have changed since the 2014 referendum.

“It’s not just that the people’s opinions have changed, but the promise of the anti-independence campaign was that if we stayed in the UK, Scotland would be listened to and we would stay in the European Union. Neither of these turned out to be true.”

Asked about what the SNP’s response would be if Brexit goes ahead as planned, Sheppard says that they would “want to have a referendum in Scotland as to whether or not we want to go along with that or whether people here would prefer to choose a different path which would lead to us becoming a sovereign self-governing independent European country.”

The discussion then turned to voting legislation in Scotland, which allows sixteen and seventeen- year-olds, of all nationalities who reside in Scotland, to vote.

“…we have legislated it to make it the law that sixteen and seventeen year olds can vote and anyone normally resident in Scotland can also vote, irrespective of their nationality or what passport they have.” Sheppard states.

“I want to see that happen for the rest of the UK as well, whether Scotland remains part of it or not…we believe that being Scottish is not about what music you like or if you like tartan. Being Scottish is about living here and being committed to making your future here, and everyone is welcome to come to Scotland…they are welcome, and they should be able to have an equal say in our future.”

Finally, when Sheppard is asked if he had anything specific to share with the students of Edinburgh University, he responds:

“…we are still asking for the devolution of some extra powers to the Scottish government to be allowed to act on.

“We’re asking for immigration to be devolved because Scotland’s need for immigration is much greater than in any other part of the UK and we are absolutely appalled in the way in which immigrants are treated in this country, and we would like to have a more equitable system.

“We also want control over drug policy…so that we can remove the stigma and allow healthy interventions to treat what is a health crisis of epidemic proportions.”


Image: Chris McAndrew via Wikimedia

By Ece Kucuk

Ece Kucuk served as President of The Student in 2021/22 and is currently a regular contributor to the paper. She was previously Head Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor, she has also been a writer at The Student for over two years. She is going into her Fourth Year of a Master of Arts with Honours in English Language and Literature and plans to do her Postgraduate in Education and Child Development. She has written for every section of the paper as well as written for The Rattlecap and other publications. Some of her favourite works include her reflection on being the child of an immigrant, her piece on introducing ice hockey, as well as her interview with children’s author Mariam James.