A varied speech to remember for new MP

Opening of new SNP election office at 59 Townhead, Kirkintilloch
Opening of new SNP election office at 59 Townhead, Kirkintilloch

Thomas Muir, the Romans, Maggie Thatcher and Kirkintilloch phone boxes all made it into the maiden speech of East Dunbartonshire’s newest MP.

John Nicolson paid tribute to politicians from all parties who have been elected before him, and to the wise, thoughtful electorate who have chosen them.

He said: “It was not just the Romans who found the locals difficult to woo. More recently, my MP predecessors have often been reminded of just how tough the locals can be.

“My immediate predecessor, Jo Swinson, held this seat for 10 years, arriving as the baby of the House, before — famously and rightly — bringing her baby to the House. She was, as many Members will know, tenacious.

“The lesson is clear: East Dunbartonshire voters are not sentimental when it comes to political defenestration. I am acutely aware of the lessons of that history.

“Many think of East Dunbartonshire as a prosperous place, and it certainly has many advantages. It is the constituency with the longest life expectancy in the country, and it is also a constituency with excellent state schools, which may explain the large number of graduates.”

He also detailed the benefits of a good education, and the opportunities provided for free in Scotland, adding: “I take immense pride in the fact that my party has championed free tuition north of the border. For me, it was immensely depressing to see some of my contemporaries — on both the Conservative and the Labour Benches, sadly — who had themselves benefited from free education voting to pull the ladder up and away from future generations. Unfettered access to education and training is, for me, the mark of an improving, ever more civilised society. It is also, of course, the key to social mobility.”

He praised the work of local-born father of democracy Thomas Muir, and criticised East Dunbartonshire Council for not guaranteeing the future of his former home, Huntershill House.

And he added that he, and his fellow SNP MPs will watch with interested to see if David Cameron delivers to Scotland what he has promised. Visit our website to read Mr Nicolson’s maiden speech in full.