SNP conference opportunity for Michael Yellowlees

Michael Yellolees

When the SNP conference closed in Perth earlier this month the last person on the platform wasn’t First Minister Alex Salmond or even his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon. Instead the honour fell to young Scottish singer-songwriter Michael Yellowlees.

The Dunkeld-born Edinburgh University student had been handpicked by SNP chiefs to bring proceedings to a close at Perth Concert Hall with his new single Scotland is Ours. John Landau once claimed to have seen the future of rock and roll in Bruce Springsteen and it was another, somewhat more unlikely, John who was responsible for plucking Yellowlees from obscurity.

The young musician’s road to Perth began at a party meeting. Yellowlees explained: “I am a member of the SNP and I was invited to perform Scotland is Ours at a local party meeting. Our MSP is [finance minister] John Swinney and he liked the song and spoke to me about the possibility of performing it at the conference.

“A few weeks later I received a phone call from the conference organiser asking if I would like to perform the song at the conference.”

Spurred on by this, Yellowlees recorded the song and had a cd version produced for sale at the event. He is also in the process of recording his debut album which he hopes to have ready for release in November. While Scotland is Ours is very much in the folk-rock tradition he describes his other material as: “eclectic, some folk, some more rocky tracks and others bluesy.”

His debut single may lyrically be unashamedly political but the story behind the track is a deeply personal one. The words were written as a tribute to Yellowlees grandfather, John Cullen, a lifelong supporter of Scottish independence, who died in April. Adding to the poignancy it was Yellowlees father Robbie who helped him finish writing the song.

Yellowlees said: “One afternoon my dad came round and he helped finish the lyrics with a few lines that really worked.”

He is aware that his appearance is great exposure for an artist who has spent much of the last few years honing his musical skills as a busker. He clearly hopes that it will lead to increased interest in his forthcoming album and subsequent tour.

As for the big moment itself Yellowlees admited that performing this particular song in Perth could prove cathartic for him. He said: “My granddad never missed a [SNP] conference and this is my first one so yes it will be emotional being there.”

With the 2014 independence referendum and Glasgow Commonwealth Games on the horizon there could be a market for the track with its tartan This Land is Your Land feel, a comparison the artist acknowledges. Michael Yellowlees may be a name we are hearing a lot of over the next few years.

Original here

Advertisements

Tartan tax

Alex Salmond and the late Donald Dewar in 1997

By Andy Mackie

John Swinney and the SNP government are set to come under attack today for letting Holyroods’ tax raising powers lapse.

The furore surrounding this has been intense and the SNP’s political adversaries have siezed upon the subject. However, getting past political bluster the decision in principle of refusing to pay £7m to maintain the ability to us e the tax raising powers is a sound one. Not least because none of the 4 major parties in Scotland have shown any inclination to use the powers.

Indeed 2 weeks ago when I wrote an article about the Scottish Green Partys’ proposal to use parliaments tax varying powers the responses I received from the major parties ranged from un enthusiastic to downright hostile. indeed the Lib Dems finance spokesman said: “The Green Party has no credibility at all. They have called for more and more expenditure but have not done as we did and identified the waste and bureaucracy that needs to be tackled. This should be the priority; not putting up taxes for low or medium earners to a grotesque amount as the Green Party are advocating.” Yet today the same Lib Dems who are part of the coalition government in Westminster are implementing swingeing cuts to jobs, public services and benefits are railing against a decision to not spend £7m to safeguard a power they have no intention of implementing.

This is not, however to let Swinney and the SNP off the hook. In his defence Swinney yesterday said that MSP’ could not be informed of every piece of information with parliament then MSP’s would need bigger briefcases. This is undoubtedly true but this was a rather large and fundamental piece of information. Furthermore it was on an issue that the SNP campaigned vigorously on back in 1997 and one which the public may well have been interested in.

It should also be noted that on November 10th, only two weeks ago, an SNP spokesperson had this to say on the tartan tax: “The SNP has no plans to implement the 3p tartan tax at present. We believe that it would have a negative effect on household budgets.” Surely the SNP press office knew that the tartan tax was not an option until at least 2013 at this point? Or was the reason they had no plans to implement it the fact that they, but not the Scottish public, knew it was not possible?