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Nicky Marr: Inverness Courier Leadership Debate - You know what’s important, don’t keep it to yourself

By Nicky Marr

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Nicky Marr will mediate the Inverness Courier's SNP Leadership Debate
Nicky Marr will mediate the Inverness Courier's SNP Leadership Debate

Whatever your politics are, the next few weeks are important for all of us in Scotland, as the SNP chooses a successor to Nicola Sturgeon. That successor will become our sixth First Minister.

How they govern, and the issues their administration chooses to prioritise – health? education? transport? independence? - will impact us all. That’s the case whether we are in the ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘undecided’ camp when it comes to independence, and whatever we may think of the gender reform bill, the deposit return scheme, the broken promises to dual the A9, and the state of our Scottish NHS.

It’s frustrating that we don’t each get a say in who gets to hold the top job in Scottish politics. That is in the hands of the 100,000-or-so members of the SNP – a small fraction of the population. But nevertheless, this is something we should all be sitting up and paying attention to.

So I’m proud, really proud, that The Inverness Courier has secured a Scottish leadership debate, and that all three of the candidates will be attending in person.

And I am proud to have been asked to take on the role of moderator of that debate. In preparation, more than ever before, I will be living and breathing Scottish politics.

This debate will be held in Inverness next Friday, in front of a live audience, and will also be broadcast live – with free access to everyone on the Courier website.

Unlike the SNP hustings which are currently touring the country, this won’t be an ‘in-house’ event, moderated by the SNP, with questions from SNP members only.

The debate will be open – on a ‘first come, first served’ basis – to all Highland News and Media digital subscribers.

Unlike the debates which will be televised in the coming weeks, this debate will focus on the issues that matter most to the people of the Highlands and Moray.

And rather than close the doors to members of the press, an invitation has been extended to other journalists to attend, and to report freely on what’s said, and on what’s not said. These are issues that are too important to keep to ourselves.

As your impartial voice in the room, I will have free reign to ask the questions that you want to know the answers to. I already have a list of questions that’s longer than my arm – and considerably longer than I could get through in the allotted time – but this debate isn’t about me, it’s about you.

I’ll have 90 minutes in which to cross-examine the candidates, and, between now and then, I need to know what you’d like to hear their views on. Even if you don’t have a vote in the leadership election, hearing what your concerns are should give the successful candidate food for thought once they are in office. This debate shows that the voices of Scots outwith the central belt really do matter.

Click here to read more from Nicky Marr

If you’re reading this online, leave a comment or tweet with any question you’d like me to put to the leadership candidates. If you’d prefer to email, send your question, with your name and where you live, to debate@hnmedia.co.uk

Of course, the issue that unites all three leadership hopefuls is their desire for Scottish independence. That might be your priority too, so you might want me to ask how each candidates hopes to achieve it.

Whatever your views on independence, you might be concerned that too much of the Scottish Government’s time and money are spent on achieving the break-up of the union, and you’d prefer me to probe candidates on ‘the day job’ of running the country; properly staffing and resourcing hospitals, bolstering children’s education, investing in small businesses, and boosting the Scottish economy.

Maybe you are concerned about your heating bills, staff and skills shortages, and lack of affordable housing?

Living in the Highlands or Moray you know what’s important to you and your family, your business, and your community, so don’t keep it to yourself.

We’ll be in the room next Friday with Scotland’s next First Minister. Have your voice heard, and be part of the story.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

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