My First Rally: A Photographic Blog

I’ve always been politically aware. But until recently I would have said I was politically cynical rather than politically active. I was convinced that voting was important, but I was equally convinced that it was a lesser of two evils scenario.

But recently, I’m less cynical. I’m more inspired. I genuinely believe that there are some politicians who are legitimately trying to make things better, to give the electorate a voice and who are willing to listen. Nicola Sturgeon is one of those politicians.

Nicola Sturgeon tirelessly posing with her supporters // photograph by Calum McMillan
Nicola Sturgeon tirelessly posing with her supporters // photograph by Calum McMillan

Her oratory skill, her charisma and her sincerity are inspiring. Her intelligence, wit and charm are seemingly almost boundless. Well…at least in comparison with her political opponents. She is a truly remarkable women, a shining example of what hard work and opportunities can achieve.

Scotland’s enlightened approach to further education allowed her to go on and study at The University of Glasgow, become a lawyer and eventually become the First Minister of Scotland. Her parents were an electrician and a dental nurse. It’s safe to assume that Eaton was never on the cards. Her current position isn’t born of privilege and who-knows-who, its born of talent and hard work.

Isn’t that what we’re meant to admire? Isn’t that how we’re meant to achieve? Trading is for tapes, not names.

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Every and any effort was made to catch a glimpse of the First Minister // photograph by Calum McMillan

You want an example of Sturgeon’s commitment and integrity? She joined the campaign for nuclear disarmament in the 1980s and remains committed to that through the SNP’s red line policy on Trident. On the other hand, Labour’s John Prescott campaigned to abolish The House of Lords in his early political career. He now sits there. As a baron.

Nicola Sturgeon taking selifes with SNP supporters // photograph by Calum McMillan

Though to be honest, the single most compelling thing about Sturgeon is something I observed today. During her visit to my home town of Greenock today, a visit defined by warm feelings and a real sense of hope,  she was accosted by a gentleman wanting to understand the SNP policy on an increased minimum wage. He seemed sceptical to say the least.

Sturgeon then stopped and talked to the gentleman. A genuine interaction and explained her position and tried to answer his questions.

A glimpse of the crowd // photograph by Calum McMillan
A glimpse of the crowd // photograph by Calum McMillan

Is it any wonder that crowds like this are forming at her SNP rally when there is no sickening and slick PR spin and prepared speeches?  Instead there is a politician meeting and interacting with her electorate. Whether that interaction is posing for selfies or engaging in personal debate is irrelevant. What matters is that it is totally genuine and sincere. Even the Spectator are commenting on this ground breaking approach.

This why Labour have lost the fight for hearts and minds in Scotland. Because they think they can reach them better from a soap box or through a lens than they can face to face.

The weight of campaigning taking its toll? // photograph by Calum McMillan
The weight of campaigning taking its toll? // photograph by Calum McMillan

In brief moments, like this, it’s all too apparent that the campaign is taking a toll on Sturgeon. But it should be. She, and her party, are fighting for what they believe in and a chance to influence genuine change. That should feel like a terrible weight on anyone’s shoulders. Her public resilience under that pressure is incredible and speaks volumes. I hope I can embody that kind of strength throughout my life.

Ronnie Cowan SNP candidate for Inverclyde // photograph by Calum McMillan
Ronnie Cowan SNP candidate for Inverclyde // photograph by Calum McMillan

If my local SNP candidate, Ronnie Cowan, embodies even a fraction of that sincerity and passion, which I believe he does, Inverclyde will be a much better place with his voice representing us in Westminster.

Clearly a lot of other folk think so too.

The crowd in Clyde Square // photograph by Calum McMillan

Except these three. But fair play to them for protesting the event and sharing their own views in a totally peaceful and good-natured manner.

The sole unionist presence // photograph by Calum McMillan

Politician’s like Nicola Sturgeon have turned from a political cynic into a political activist. That’s maybe not the kind of change the country is hoping for, but for me, its an immeasurable change. Today, I got the feeling I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

The future of Hope Over Fear // photograph by Calum McMillan



Voluntary sector digital comms guy, photographer & full time Henry Rollins wannabe. Often found in tartan suits. T: @CalumMcMillan2 / I: @abandonedhipster1

4 thoughts on “My First Rally: A Photographic Blog

  1. Although I appreciate it’s much sought after, the ability of a leader to speak for & to the people. I can’t help thinking that some pro Scottish sentiment is bordering on anti everything else. My country, our country is better for foreign dealings. There’s very few countries that we haven’t influenced. We are stronger for having been influenced. We need to be able to discuss, argue & decide what we think. I’m glad to see people getting involved but don’t try & stop others discussing their views. People should look at the many issues, not just chant three letters.


  2. Here is a woman who anybody in Scotland can walk up to, say hello and be assured a warm welcome. Unlike other leaders you are kept and a distance and made sure you know your place in the scheme of things. Our country is bursting to get out of the grip of an oppressive westminster elite and shine brighter than anything around us. We do not stop free speech or people voicing their views, as can be seen by the two lads holding the union flag, who may I add are awaiting to be sentenced after terrorizing a couple with fire bombing their home and to shoot them, they were allowed to show, speak and express their voice with no harm to them. For too long a country has suffered at the hands of an unelected elite and now we think we can do better, threats of annihilation are leveled at us.
    Nicola can walk the streets without being injured, molested or insulted. In contrast jim murphy is so despised in Scotland he needs a police escort, that speaks volumes about how Scotland feels about the old guard. I have attended a few of these rallies and the olny trouble came from two guy arguing about which bus to catch home and a copper who didn’t like people turning their backs on him as he walked through the crown. A stark contrast to unionist gatherings I’ve been to. Scotland will stand up and there is nothing the unionist movement can do about it.


  3. Some cracking photos of the town centre here Calum. Fingers crossed for Ronnie getting over the line, if anyone deserves to win it is certainly him for all the hard work he has put into the cause.


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