Chris Law’s general election victory in Dundee West ended Labour's 65-year hold on the constituency. DeHavilland interviewed Law in February and published a full transcript for subscribers. Read an excerpt below to find out more about one of the faces of the “SNP surge”.
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Why did you decide to stand for Parliament?
One of the issues that came up on the doorstep was people feeling they no longer trusted the archetypal Westminster politician. There was not a lot of information about the political process, so last year I set up 'The Spirit of Independence' national campaign.
I wrote to a lot of organisations, ensuring the inclusion of everybody in getting as much information as possible about the political process. After the vote in September it felt like the journey was ongoing.
Have you drawn on any aspects of your own background in a bid to communicate with voters?
I’ve been best-known for two key areas over the last 20 years. I used to run expeditions in the Himalayas, helping build trust and relationships. I believe very much in inclusion and having a constant dialogue.
I've also worked in financial services for the last 10 years. That taught me a lot about what was going on in the UK at a macro level and how it was affecting my clients. I found myself asking bigger questions such as “how is the economy run?” and “is austerity working?”
Was the ‘Better Together’ campaign correct to claim that independence was a threat to the Scottish financial services industry?
In my experience as a member of Business for Scotland [a campaign group focused on the economic case for independence] I found there was an awful lot of scaremongering going on. The kind of messages put out by large institutions were mixed half the time, and at other times half-truths.
For example, when Standard Life said it would be leaving and taking its service elsewhere, you have to remember that we have a skills base here in Edinburgh. When you leave a country, do you take your staff with you? How do you get the skills base? You could destroy a business in no time.
If you were elected to the UK Parliament, would you push for a second independence referendum?
I think the question of a second referendum is for the people of Scotland to decide. That is not something on the agenda this year. If there is a majority of support among Scottish MPs, that may send a message and the confidence to the people of Scotland that they may look for a referendum in the near future.
How are your own policy interests reflected in campaigning?
I have been a member of the Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament for some time. The amount of money targeted towards the renewal of Trident is abhorrent in this day and age.
We've had austerity for seven years and we're still seeing an increasing deficit. The effect on Dundee is reflected in the label “Sanction City” and the increasing use of food banks. It's something people can no longer tolerate and something I will be campaigning against.
If you could introduce any piece of legislation in Parliament, what issue would you chose to tackle?
A burning issue for me is the massive tax avoidance that takes place around the UK. Ever since the introduction of austerity, we seem to have had a gross neglect from all London parties towards tax avoidance. £100bn is estimated to be lost annually to the UK.
At the moment we are the world’s second largest tax haven but also the world’s third most unequal society.
Have you encountered any scepticism about politics and what have you done to combat it?
Yes and yes. That's one of the key reasons I set-up the Spirit of Independence.
I'm six and half feet tall with long hair. I do not own a suit and may never have one. I want people to engage in politics at a level that they want to engage at. For far too long politics has felt detached, removed or being done for someone else.
Chris Law featured in our PPC Briefing on Financial Services (published March 2015).
Chris Law’s full PeoplePoint biography and contact details are available to DeHavilland subscribers. Contact us to find out more.
Mike Indian is Political Consultant and a member of DeHavilland’s Content team, leading on infrastructure and Scottish affairs. He leads on DeHavilland's dynamic content, specifically videos and podcasts, and regularly appears in the media as a political commentator. A graduate of Lancaster University, he has worked as a freelance journalist.