Monday, 9 May 2011

Thank you from Alex Salmond

These past few days have been historic ones for our party and for our nation. Together, we have achieved something few thought possible - we have secured a majority in the Scottish Parliament.
In the run up to polling day I wrote to you asking for your help in the final few hours of the campaign. And you responded as never before. In so many ways, big and small, the party came together and we delivered a final push to victory the likes of which has never been seen before in Scottish politics.
I would like to thank you for your efforts. I have no doubt that the victory we achieved on Thursday could not have happened without the hard-work and dedication, the donations and door-knocking, the sheer enthusiasm and support you showed.
When Scotland called, you answered and together we changed our nation for good and for ever.
The scale of our success on Thursday was without precedent and that places a special responsibility on us all. As the party entrusted with leadership by the people of Scotland we must now be sure to repay that trust.
Our commitment during the campaign was to make Scotland better. And as we move forward into this next five years of government be assured that we will act always in the interests of our nation; we will seek always to advance Scotland's cause.
We will work as never before to create and protect jobs, to grow our economy, generate new opportunities for young Scots, and make our nation a fairer and more socially just society. We will secure new responsibilities for our parliament and trust the people of Scotland to decide our nation's future in an independence referendum.
And as we take forward this ambitious programme in government I know that our ministerial team and our MSPs will have SNP members and activists with us every step of the way. And I believe with all my heart that together we will achieve all these things and more, that we will make Scotland better.
I hope you, like me, have enjoyed these past few days. But Thursday was not our winning post. Now is a time to pause and to celebrate and then, tomorrow, our journey continues.
Yours for Scotland
Alex Salmond

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Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

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