As he announces he will contest the Gordon seat at the general election in May, former first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond writes exclusively for the Press and Journal about his decision and his plans to “rumble up” the UK Parliament.
The north-east of Scotland has been my political home since I entered representative politics. There was never the slightest possibility of me standing anywhere else but in this wonderful part of the country
The north-east has led the way before in Scottish politics – it can do so again next May.
In announcing my candidacy for Gordon I make one thing abundantly clear.
I am a constituency MP first and foremost as I always have been. The next few years offer both challenges and opportunities for our part of Scotland.
After years of neglect under successive Tory and Labour-Liberal administrations, the bulk of transport expenditure in Scotland will be concentrated in the north-east over the next few years.
The arrival of the AWPR may be a generation late, but it is now happening and the biggest benefit will be to the communities to the north and east of Aberdeen. Similarly we will see great progress on the Aberdeen-Inverness rail line, which will also offer substantial opportunities.
More locally we should see delivered the new Inveramsay Bridge and the relief road around Inverurie.
For many years we have had a health service which performed above the Scottish average and it is a tribute to the commitment of our local staff that the recent serious breakdown of relationships between senior management and some consultants was not allowed to impact on patient care.
Now we have a new management team to take the service forward everyone should get behind the staff. Fortunately, for the first time in a generation, our health service will be properly and fairly funded with its due share of Scottish resources.
Under Labour and the Liberals under the Arbuthnot formula Grampian received 9.1% of total Scottish spend. This is moving to the correct level of 9.6% and this will allow new facilities and resources to back up the new management, and ease staff shortages.
Gordon has the lowest unemployment of any constituency in Scotland but we still have plenty of local people who are on the hard receiving end of the austerity poultices of the Tories and Liberals.
That is why we have food banks in both Inverurie and Ellon. With the temporary fall in the price of oil, then jobs will come under pressure, which makes it all the more important that we support our traditional rural industries of food, farming and tourism.
As I was considering whether to put my hat in the ring for Gordon my mind was finally made up by the breathtaking display of arrogance by Chancellor George Osborne in last week’s Autumn Statement.
He announced an oil fund for the north-east of England before they have even produced a single barrel of oil!
In contrast, we have produce 40 billion barrels over a period of 40 years, poured 300,000 million pounds into the London Treasury and have not received a red cent in an oil fund.
So much for the attitude of the Tories and Liberals to Scotland’s oil.
Just as George Osborne and (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) Danny Alexander were quick to tax when prices were high in 2011 so they have been slow to help now that prices are low. It is that sort of double standards which have finished first the Tories and now the Liberals in Scotland.
I take nothing for granted in fighting any election. The Liberals are a busted flush locally because of the Westminster coalition, which is why they are being wiped out in local elections.
However, the Tory party are always tough competition in Aberdeenshire and the SNP will be pulling out all the stops to defeat them once again.
With the enthusiasm that is evident across Scotland to insist on progress for our country both Yes and No voters are determined to rumble up the Palace of Westminster and demand the power to change Scotland for the better and for good.
There is so much commitment at grassroots level that it would be wrong to stand on the sidelines. Thus I have declared my candidacy in a situation where there is a greater chance than ever before of Scotland wielding real power in the London parliament.
The SNP and our allies are determined to ensure progressive change, to secure the power that Scotland was promised and to win a better deal for our country.