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BRANCH NEWS

October Meeting – Kincardine

Our guest speaker was Councillor Samantha Steele who represents Rosyth on Fife Council.  She reported on a Campaign debrief session held in Stirling where John Swinney, Pete Wishart and Stephen Gethins campaign teams were attending.  There followed a discussion on our strategy for the next 12 months.

September AGM – Kincardine

Appointment of Branch Officers for 2018.   You can see who your branch officers are on the Branch Executive page on this website.

August Branch Meeting – Torryburn

Various items of branch business were discussed:  branch policy approved for presenting and approving resolutions, HQ using new format for choosing resolutions for Conference, breakout session to identify speakers for 2018, update on changes taking place in Constituency Association.

July Branch Meeting – Carnock

Carnock

Our guest speaker for the evening was Tommy Sheppard MP.   SNP spokesperson on House of Lords, Scotland and Cabinet Office.

The discussion for the evening was on the recent Westminster campaign, what went well, where could we improve and the feedback given to Party HQ.  This was a stimulating discussions and Tommy listened carefully to our experiences of the campaign.

June Branch Meeting – Charlestown

Charlestown

Our guest speaker at this meeting was Paul Kavanagh aka the Wee Ginger Dug.  Paul is a blogger and a columnist for The National Newspaper.  He gave a very entertaining talk.   We had an excellent turnout and raised a substantial sum towards our funds.

We also assisted The National newspaper with their Dunfermline Roadshow.   The Editor of The National, Calum Baird, spoke prior to Paul Kavanagh.   An excellent article on Dunfermline appeared in The National the following day.

April and May Branch Meetings.

The April meeting focused on our Fife Council Campaign.  The branch was updated on campaign activity and progress.     The May meeting focused on our General Election Campaign and an update was given to the branch.

March Branch Meeting Report, Torryburn

Another excellent turn out this month and thanks to all of our members who came along.   Our speaker this month was Fife Councillor, John Beare who gave us a detailed presentation on the Single Transferable Voting system which is the system used in Council Elections.   John also gave us an outline of the campaign strategy for his ward which was very helpful.   John was accompanied and assisted by a council candidate for another ward in Fife, Derek Gray.  Good luck Derek.

Our two candidates for Ward 1 are Kate Stewart and Willie Gavin.  We wish them every success in the campaign and we as a team will be working hard to support them in their efforts.    Our two candidates for Ward 5, which represents Limekilns, Charlestown and Crombie, are Sharon Wilson and Samantha Steele.  Good luck ladies and we are here to support you.

Our Membership Secretary gave us an update on our welcome packs and our Treasurer gave her financial report.   The accounts for the year were approved.  A brief presentation was given on the Westminster government’s austerity measures on our disabled folk outlining the details you do not read in the press.  Political Education group to take an issue on austerity measures forward with the aim of raising a resolution for the next conference.

February Branch Meeting Report, Kincardine 

Our MP, Douglas Chapman, attended this meeting where he updated us on his activities in Westminster and in the constituency.   We had a very interesting Q&A session covering local and national issues.   Click here  to read more.

17 November Branch Meeting Report, Blairhall

We were delighted to have Brian Goodall, SNP Group leader on Fife Council and Shirley-Anne Somerville, our MSP speaking at this meeting.   Click here for details on what was discussed.

15 September Branch AGM, Charlestown

The main business of this meeting was the election of our Branch Officers.  The new branch officers can be found on the Branch Executive page.

21 July Branch Meeting Report, CairneyhillCairneyhill manse

Fife Liaison Committee (FLC) – an amendment was made to the previous branch decision on membership to this committee.   The committee members are Kate Stewart, Derek Glen and Chris Hanlon.

Derek Glen gave an update on the two meetings held by the FLC and it is now expected that there will be 3 councillors required instead of 4 for our area.  The FLC are looking for 2 SNP candidates.   Peter Grant MP is the chair of the FLC and the election of other office bearers has been completed.

A group is to be set up to start creating the manifesto, led by Councillor Karen Marjoram.   If anyone has any local issues they would like to see included they should direct these to D Glen, K Stewart or C Hanlon.

National Committees
Rob Thompson was nominated for the Appeals Committee.  Chris Hanlon was nominated for SOAC.    An amendment to Resolution 22 will be made and then forwarded to SOAC for inclusion in the October Conference agenda.   Branch members wishing to represent the branch as a delegate should advice the secretary by 10 September.

Branch AGM
All office bearers will stand down in September and anyone wishing to become an office bearer should be nominated and seconded at the September AGM.   A chairman for the meeting is being sought and possible names were put forward.

Constituency Association
Discussion took place regarding the CA request for additional funding which was approved in principle.

EU Referendum
Discussion took place regarding a letter from HQ in regard to an EU levy.

Deputy Leadership Campaign
It was agreed that the CA should arrange a hustings for the Dunfermline constituency.

Boundary Changes
Boundary changes are expected before next year.   Where some wards may be moving from WFCV to Rosyth, members could decide to either stay in the WFCV SNP branch or move to Rosyth SNP branch.

The next branch meeting will be on 18 August in Kincardine Community Centre.

16 June Branch Meeting Report, Charlestown

Charlestown sutlery
Charlestown

Fife Liaison Committee – the branch can have three delegates for this committee and a vote was taken on four members of the branch who had been nominated.  Following the vote Kate Stewart, Derek Glen and Rob Thompson were appointed.

Fife 2017 Council Elections – Vetting of candidates will commence shortly and online applications forms are available.

October Conference – resolutions need to be in by 1 July.   Two proposals were agreed by the branch namely:  a) resolutions should be formulated over time which would allow engagement and discussion by branch members and this should be a regular branch agenda item; b) speakers could be based on the relevant topic of the resolutions to inform the branch discussion.

There was a suggestion of proposing a National Information Officer at Conference but this was not approved by the branch.    Closer communication and networking between regions is essential and suggestions are to be put forward to the Constituency Association.

Branch AGM 15 September – it is encouraged to nominate new office bearers to allow new blood into the Executive Committee and all nominations welcome.

19 May Branch Meeting Report, KincardineKincardine

Fife Liaison Group – C Hanlon and K Stewart meeting with Fife Liaison Group to learn the procedures and processes for councillors candidate selection.

The Trade Union Group would be pleased to appoint a representative to come and speak at one of our branch meetings.   K Stewart and J Smith to send invite and arrange date for speaker.

SMAUG – There have been no further meetings with SMAUG but pressure will be maintained to ensure moratorium remains but outright ban is still their objective.

Shirley-Anne Somerville – our MSP and Junior Cabinet Minister – thanked all who were involved in her successful campaign.   She is establishing a constituency office in Dunfermline and will be recruiting staff shortly.   She would ensure that any opportunities offered by the closure of Longannet Power Station would be taken up and also ensure that the owners were held to their responsibilities to the community and the environment.   She would keep the branch up to date on developments. She is delighted to be part of John Swinney’s Education team.

Our Organiser undertook to look into our postal vote numbers once the electoral return was received.


21 April Branch Meeting Report, Torryburn

Torryburn
Torryburn

Communications
A Web Editor and Facebook Editor were formally approved.

National Council
It was confirmed that the suggested anti-bullying protocol will be addressed by the NEC.   There was some discussion about the lack of clarity on the procedures for such resolutions to be processed via SOAC or NEC.  It was also observed that feedback to the branch raising the resolution would be good practice and should be part of the process.    

Trade Union Group
R. Dennis advised that an email has been received regarding the creation of regional groups to improve communication. The STUC Annual Congress is in Caird Hall, Dundee on 18-20 April. The STUC May Day rally is on 1 May meeting at the Robert Burns statue in George Square at 11am. Brief discussion regarding Unite supporting Labour, their unfair leaflets towards the SNP and challenging Len McCluskey. The TUG will send members to talk to the branch if the branch wants that.

SMAUG
It was noted that the SNP manifesto has taken up a stronger position on fracking and said it must be “proved to be safe”, otherwise it will not be allowed to proceed.

Training Officer
D. Glen advised polling agents are required. There is a planning/briefing session on 3 May at the Woodmill in Dunfermline at 7.15pm. D. Glen will email about this next week.

Election Campaign
A brief update on campaign activities to date and a programme of events up to election day.

AOCB
A couple of Wee Black Books from Wings Over Scotland has been purchased with information for canvassing, detailing what has happened since the referendum, similar to the Wee Blue Book during the referendum.  A copy is available on our website.

Representatives of the West Fife Forum met with Fife Planning.  The WFF raised the issues of a West Fife railway system, social/health service integration, affordable housing and independent shops/pubs closing down in the villages. The WFF is looking for more influence locally and is able to multiply the effect of community councils.

Date of Next Meeting
May in Kincardine Community Centre, 7pm.


17th March Branch Meeting Report –  Saline

Saline

The Secretary acknowledged his admiration for G Hanlon who spoke for the first time at the Spring Conference and who received a standing ovation.    The Conference Agenda was largely non-confrontational with one speaker criticising SOAC and the process used for compiling the agenda.   An offline meeting was held between various branch members and Patrick Grady, National Secretary,  together with Julie Hepburn, a SOAC member.    Julie offered to provide guidance on drafting resolutions and the branch accepted her help.   There is a possibility of reviving the National and possibly Regional Assemblies to take greater account of membership in policy formation.

Cllr. Ian Chisholm is calling for Council candidates for next year and training will be provided for potential candidates.

Cllr. Kate Stewart was not in attendance at the meeting but an update of her activites were reported mainly in relation with the health issues raised due to the ash lagoons, involvement in Longannet and meeting with young carers.

A number of potential speakers for future meetings were highlighted and these will be advertised nearer the time of each meeting.

A resolution on Fair Treatment was agreed to be presented to the National Council following a review by Julie Hepburn on wording and presentation.

An update was given on the Campaign efforts to date and also plans for Get Out The Vote.   It was noted that the canvassing team were doing an excellent job.  Ian Mackay gave a presentation on the data from our canvassing returns.


18th February Branch Meeting Report
Blairhall

A presentation was given by Jennie Smith on the subject of Inequalities in Education with particular emphasis on early years education, school starting age and the Scandinavian model of education.    The full text of Jennie’s presentation is on our Articles  section.   Jennie suggested reading a recent article by Common Weal on the Common Space website.

The Convener confirmed that resolutions had been put forward for the Spring Conference for consideration by SOAC.

Our organiser gave an update on the current canvassing campaign where a number of people mentioned they were generally unsure of the EU and immigration.

The Secretary advised that the Fife Liaison Committee is reconvening for the council elections and the branch needs to elect two members to attend the AGM/OGM.

Our Branch Deputy Convener, Fiona Thompson, had the following
articleFiona published in the Independence Magazine and has kindly agreed that it be included here.

 

“Creating the new West Fife and Coastal Villages Branch was a question of geography and arithmetic says Branch Deputy Convener, Fiona Thompson”.

Beating a new path for the Party

Dunfermline and West Fife SNP Branch grew quickly post referendum.  At our first meeting over 100 new members squeezed into a room that normally housed 20.  We recognised immediately the challenge we faced and as a direct result decided to form new branches.

Yes campaigning in the referendum had flourished on new local friendship groups, many members of which then joined the SNP.   Hence, the first step of the hiving off the West Fife and Coastal Villages (WFCV) was natural and organic.

This new branch covers a large geographic area to the west of the Dunfermline conurbation; it runs along the inner Forth from Limekilns to Kincardine and stretches north to the edge of the Ochils at Steelend and Saline.  As I type membership stands a 380 but we expect to grow this further.

Due to the proximity of the Westminster campaign a period of purdah was self-imposed by our constituency branch and WFCV ran the campaign as a “shadow” branch.  We were able to achieve this through the generous assistance of Headquarters and Ian McCann in particular.

Ian gave us clear pointers as to how to hit the ground running once the election was over and so our new branch conceived in the aftermath of the referendum was born in the midst of a SNP landslide on May 8.

Forming branches is nothing new of course.  One of our older members Alan Robertson who joined the Party in 1960, told me ‘there always used to be a separate Kincardine branch.  However, numbers dwindled and branches amalgamated.  It’s great to see us growing again’.

Chris Hanlon our new Media and Communications Officer summed up the general feeling ‘I feel forming a new branch invigorated the campaign.  By giving new members like myself direct influence in our democratic process and older members a greater sense of ownership we were all spurred on to try a little bit harder.’

Trying a little bit harder is certainly something our new branch has already proven it does well.  In the recent election campaign canvassing was a declared priority by our candidate, National Organiser, Douglas Chapman.

Thanks to the Party’s Activate system we know that our ward (WFCV) achieved 62 per cent of canvassing in a constituency consisting of eight wards – not bad for a new team – especially as many assisted in Dunfermline South where a council by-election was also a constituency priority.

Constituency Data Co-ordinator and Analyst Ian MacKay helped us all understand the Activate system a bit better.  This had a direct effect on canvassing both in terms of quantity and quality.   Our share of the SNP vote was predicted as 49 per cent.  We achieved 50.3 per cent, well within the margin of error.

Political geography is key – our new branch makes up Ward 1 in the Dunfermline and West Fife Westminster constituency (eight wards) one of four constituencies in Fife that has a total of 31 wards.

The physical geography of a branch varies hugely, urban branches being much more concentrated than rural ones.   We targeted our efforts around six village groupings each led by a designated group leader who co-ordinated local leafleting and canvassing.   Each group could call on others for help which was especially effective for targeted canvassing efforts late in the campaign.

Becoming a branch founder member brings a sense of responsibility.  Branches need to reflect their hinterland where pressing issues tend to be local.  Members are happy to be involved when they feel their input can have a direct effect on policy.  Experts are not always in ivory towers but often on the ground close to an issue source.  The SNP has always felt that is link to local communities is fundamental to developing policy, so the local aspect is essential.

The size of SNP branches varies hugely across Scotland (or should that be the world?).  However, experience seems to indicate that in branches of more than 400 members it’s harder to keep the active membership to total membership ratio high.

To properly engage with everyone branches and meetings should be manageable, open, friendly and accessible.   For this reason our meetings move around the largest of our 18 villages where we can accommodate anticipated numbers.   We’re still testing the water but Torryburn, Oakley, Cairneyhill, Saline and Kincardine have all hosted meetings where roughly 10 percent or more of our total membership attended.

We also intend to build a reputation for having a good social side to our activities.  To date a family Burns Supper, post-election party and family BBQ have helped members get to know each other.  Interest is high and good guest speakers at our meetings will be a regular feature – Lesley Riddoch is booked for June.

The more young people know about issues and politics the more likely they will become members of the Party – hence one of our junior members is our schools representative.

To summarise I’d say establishing a new branch is an ongoing process.  Inertia though at first very real, as status quo is comfortable, quickly evaporates.  The feeling within this vibrant and flourishing Party is uplifting and, given such a truly amazing Westminster election and with Holyrood ahead the birth and growth of many more new branches is highly likely.

Go for it and good luck to all.”