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It’s the SNP for me

“I’ve told Jeremy that Labour is as dead as Monty Python’s parrot north of the border

DAVE BOWMAN turns the spotlight on English-born former Respect Party leader - and now proud SNP member - YVONNE RIDLEY, who moved to Scotland five years ago largely because of her desire to help in the fight for Independence.

Journalist, author, broadcaster and campaigner Yvonne is a socialist, feminist and committed trade unionist who was once voted the most recognisable woman in the Islamic world. The interview makes fascinating reading.

DAVE BOWMAN: You first achieved celebrity status, so to speak, when you were arrested and detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 while on an undercover reporting mission on behalf of the Sunday Express. That must have been a terrifying and traumatic experience, but it eventually had a positive impact on your life. So can you tell me what happened.

Inevitably the clash of cultures between some scary looking Pashtun men and a Geordie feminist provided an unexpected but rich vein of humour

YVONNE RIDLEY: Hidden beneath the all enveloping blue burka, I sneaked into Afghanistan and had been there for two days working on an undercover assignment for the Sunday Express. I was heading back towards the Pakistan border via a smuggling route since the checkpoint at Torkham, at the foot of the Khyber Pass, was closed.

I was making the final part of the journey on a donkey when it bolted and threw me off right at the feet of a Taliban soldier. He saw my camera but was far more interested in my two guides than me; he didn’t realise I was a Westerner and went for them. This gave me an opportunity to escape and so I joined another crowd of people during the confusion.

However, when I looked back I saw my guides in trouble and realised I couldn’t leave them behind. So I returned to the soldier, removed my burka and hoped that he would forget my guides and arrest me instead. My cunning plan failed and we were all arrested.

It was terrifying and traumatic but there were some wonderful lighter moments during lively exchanges with my captors. Inevitably the clash of cultures between some scary looking Pashtun men and a Geordie feminist provided an unexpected but rich vein of humour.

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