Surprise Depute Leader candidate urges SNP to ‘get into training for Indyref2’

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A surprise new candidate has thrown her name into the hat for the role of SNP depute and has nailed her colours to the mast by calling for internal organisational change to get the party ready for a new independence referendum.

Julie Hepburn is the second contender to declare and is the first woman to enter either this year’s contest or the one held in 2016.

Julie Hepburn has put her name into the hat for the Depute Leader role

Julie Hepburn has put her name into the hat for the Depute Leader role

She also marks the first candidate not to have an elected role as MSP, MP, MEP or councillor.

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However, according to reports, the 38-year-old is well known among senior figures in the SNP having been employed previously as a case worker for Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Perth MP Pete Wishart.

And the surprise candidate, who joined the party in 2000, came out with a clear idea that will no doubt appeal to those keen to try and obtain an independence vote as soon as possible.

Surprise Depute leader contender Julie Hepburn has called for the SNP to get into training for Indyref 2

Surprise Depute leader contender Julie Hepburn has called for the SNP to get into training for Indyref 2

She urged changes in the party to strive for indpendence and called for the SNP to “get in training” for a possible new vote, but stated that the timing was ultimately up to the First Minister and her Cabinet.

Speaking to the National she said: “It’s important to note that whoever becomes depute leader will not be deciding unilaterally what the strategy is and when the decision will be,” she said.

“Ultimately it is a decision for the First Minister and the Scottish Government. They will draw on a huge range of opinion, including the party membership, the NEC and different folk around the country.

“Whoever is depute leader is not going to change that. I think the most important thing we can do now is listen until at such a point there is a clear opportunity for a new vote and there is demonstration that in the wider population there is demand for one.”

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She added: “There is no point in holding a referendum until there is an opportunity to win. We don’t need to be playing the match right now. The match is not on. We need to be doing the preparation and training. We should not be pushing our views, but listening to No voters, or as I like to say, those people who are yet to be persuaded.”

She said: “The depute post has previously been held by parliamentarians. So people have seen it in that way. But in fact there is no reason why it should be.

“It is an internal office bearer role to co-ordinate policy development and that’s what I want to do.

“We have a lot of very high profile, capable people who can stand in for the First Minister in terms of being the public face of the party, going on television and pushing our arguments. What I want to do is push through the internal reforms which are under way. We’ve got an ongoing constitutional review [of party structure]. There was a need for reform before 2014 but obviously after our massive membership surge it became more pressing.

“But after the series of elections this is really the first opportunity the party has had to step back and see what reforms we need.”