Thursday, 15 July 2021

Change in the team at the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust

 

Change in the team at the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust

THE Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) has announced Ruth Kerr has moved to the new role of Communications Manager with the charity.

Ruth joined GWT as a volunteer in 2009 and in 2011 established their first social media presence with Facebook. She began working in a freelance capacity for GWT in 2019. Today the charity is active across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

A keeper’s daughter originally from Dumfries & Galloway, she also lived on estates in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders with her family. CEO Helen Benson says ‘We are delighted Ruth has agreed to become our Communications Manager. She has worked tirelessly for us for many years as a volunteer and social media manager and always delivers a first class service, liaising with other organisations and producing imaginative and excellent material in a most professional and knowledgeable manner.  Her background as a Keeper’s daughter and in community engagement give her an insight and sensitivity which is invaluable to GWT’.

Ruth’s work to date has mainly focussed on managing some of the charity’s social media accounts, and in 2019 she was responsible for planning much of the Raising the Game Survey which ran 2019 – 2020. She compiled and reported the results in 2020, with the Scottish Government citing some of the findings in their own 2020 research into the employment rights of gamekeepers [1]. The Raising the Game findings have helped inform GWT’s ongoing support and work with gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their families.

Her new role will see her producing GWT media releases and newsletters, as well as continuing to manage social media accounts.

When she’s not working for GWT, Ruth works freelance in the museums and heritage sector, producing learning and engagement programmes and exhibition content. She’s also a trained Forest School Leader and volunteers weekly with a charity helping deliver Forest School opportunities.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust launch the Sir John Scott Bursary

 

Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust launch the Sir John Scott Bursary

THIS initiative will see £5000 supporting new research to assist the charity’s work. The successful recipient will have a personal connection to a gamekeeping profession and be interested in furthering the knowledge of an aspect of social or health care in the context of rural life. Their work will have a focus on those involved in gamekeeping professions: gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies.

 

Applicants for the bursary could be part-time in one of the gamekeeping professions, or have been employed in one in the past, or have a close family connection to a gamekeeper, giving them personal experience of the lifestyle and livelihoods of those involved. Their research interest could be health and wellbeing, social care, isolation, housing, financial issues, or care in later life, with a focus on and application to gamekeeping professions.

 

The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) provides a variety of services for gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their dependants. Sir John Scott, GWT’s Honorary President, says “GWT is currently active in supporting around 600 gamekeepers and their families each year. Research such as this enables us to continue our work, learning about and addressing the key challenges which face our community.”

 

Helen MJ Benson, GWT’s Chief Executive, says “We’re excited about this new venture, which will be helping us ensure we provide the right kind of support now and into the future. It’s a great opportunity for someone with an understanding of our lifestyle and livelihood to deliver really meaningful research which will benefit so many. We’ll be providing a mentor/supervisor for the successful candidate. We’re looking forward to seeing applications – the Trust seeks people with special qualities and we’re never disappointed”.

 

The application process opens 1 August 2021 and candidates should include a brief CV along with a breakdown of their research proposal, their reasons for this area of study, and the goals they hope to achieve. As well as a personal connection to gamekeeping, candidates must be aged between 22 and 66 years. There is no requirement for academic qualifications, though research experience may be an asset. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the full criteria for eligibility and how to apply at  www.thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com

 

Notes for Editors

GWT was established in 1992 to support gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their dependants past and present.

An overview of GWT’s work in support, finance, housing and employment with these professions can be found at www.thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com

Thursday, 24 June 2021

SNP/GREEN JOBS FEARS RAISED IN CROSS-SECTOR LETTER TO FIRST MINISTER

A cross sector coalition representing nearly 100 000 Scottish workers has written to the First Minister seeking job reassurances amid concerns over a mooted SNP/Green coalition.

Representatives in sheep farming, game, river fisheries and coastal fishery sectors sent a letter to Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.

They state that they have no evidence to trust that the Scottish Greens will safeguard jobs in their communities as part of any ‘Just Transition’ to Net Zero carbon emissions.

The 13 signatory bodies directly represent 6750 members in Scotland, all of whom operate in rural and coastal sectors sustaining 93 800 jobs.

Their plea to the First Minister comes on the day after The Scotsman newspaper highlighted concerns amongst the Green Party’s own membership about any deal with the SNP. ***

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the National Sheep Association Scotland https://www.nationalsheep.org.uk/nsa-scotland/, The Game Farmers Association https://www.gfa.org.uk and 7 regional moorland groups https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEYjj25uYXg0cVpRlf6fXfQ all signed the letter.

A statement of support has also been pledged by the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance https://www.cifascot.com

Signatories fear that any arrangement which offers the Green Party significant policy influence could lead to major job cuts, further erosion of community and greater social inequality.

The National Farmers Union in Scotland has also expressed its own concern regarding an SNP/Green pact, with farming supporting 67 000 Sottish jobs.

“We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so-called ‘Just Transition’,” the joint letter stated.

“Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic. 

“Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.

“Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit. There are also worries about the direction of future international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on the future of agriculture support payments.”

Signatories to the letter stated that they recognised the national endeavour of tackling climate change and believe they can offer much to the cause.

However, policies outlined in the Green manifesto at the recent election https://greens.scot/ourfuture, they said, would leave

‘major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.’

Some of the principal concerns highlighted by the groups were fears over future food security, with productive land being swallowed up for large scale tree planting programmes potentially ‘in the wrong places’.

There are concerns over punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and uncertainty around future agricultural payments as farming comes to terms with Brexit and worries over international trade deals.

“It’s vital for us to highlight the importance of Scotland's sheep sector as a part of the solution to meet climate change targets set out by the Scottish Government especially at a time when UK government trade deals are putting our sector under serious threat,” said Jen Craig, National Sheep Association Scotland Chair.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said removing skilled workers in the game sector, which the Greens committed to doing in their manifesto commitment to end ‘blood sports’, would be ‘self-defeating’.

He believes gamekeepers, deer managers and ghillies have much to offer regarding climate and biodiversity and that Green policies would cause ‘untold harms’.

“We hope Scottish Government factor this into its thinking in any partnership discussions,” he said.


                                                                       ******



The full letter and signatories can be found below.


Dear First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP,


We write jointly to you with an urgent request that you prioritise safeguarding the employment of land, river and coastal workers in Scotland as you progress partnership discussions with the Scottish Green Party.


Our respective groups represent many thousands of workers who have given service, knowledge and skills to the cause and betterment of Scotland, and their communities, for centuries. 


We respect your right to hold discussions with the Scottish Green Party or any other party, we understand and support the national priorities of addressing climate change and we feel our respective memberships offer much to the country in this joint endeavour.


We will not be able to participate fully, however, while major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.


The Scottish Green Party have made public their opposition to sectors that they deem do not fit their vision of a Scotland tackling climate change. Therefore, the prospect of a party, with so little public voting support, potentially holding significant influence over key decisions affecting so many workers’ livelihoods is causing considerable cross-sector concern and many questions.


We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so- called ‘Just Transition’. No concrete solutions have been offered, to date, for the people at the sharp end who are making a living in rural and coastal Scotland but could potentially stand to lose much if Green policies are delivered. We also understand the concerns amongst workers in the oil and gas sectors whom we have also communicated with.


The Scottish Greens’ election manifesto commitments will tear some sectors, such as game and angling, apart. They have not endeavoured to engage with workers in all sectors or heard the steps signatories have already taken to help Scotland on its climate journey and what these organisations can do in the months and years ahead.


There are considerable concerns regarding future national food security and the planting of millions of trees in the wrong places, seemingly with inadequate oversight. This will impact upon opportunities for future generations of farmers whilst changing Scotland’s landscapes and biodiversity forever. There are major worries regarding punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and further erosion of livelihoods in coastal communities.


Our collective view is that, if afforded too much influence, the Scottish Greens’ policy priorities will devastate already fragile communities, instigate a major job cuts programme, worsen social inequality and the mental health of workers who already feel under persistent pressure from the extent and direction of environmental aspirations which are often driven, sometimes with little consultation, by powerful NGOs.


Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic. Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.

Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit. There are also worries about the direction of international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on agriculture support payments.


We ask you to provide solemn assurances to signatory parties that Scottish Government will not sacrifice our members’ livelihoods and futures in any power sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens and that you will protect their interests and what their vocation means to them, their families and the cultural heritage of Scotland.


We ask also that you instruct your Ministers to engage with any signatory parties, who have to yet been involved in climate/biodiversity discussions, to hear their views and consider what they can deliver to Scotland on the journey to Net Zero, whilst still continuing to prop up the economies and communities in which they serve.


We wish you all the very best in the coming Parliament and look forward to hearing from you in due course.


Yours Sincerely.


Signed:


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association

National Sheep Association, NSA Scotland

*Statement in support pledged from coastal fishery members of Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance

SGA Fishing Group

The Game Farmers Association (UK)

Scottish Field Trials Association https://www.scottishfieldtrialsassociation.co.uk

Angus Glens Moorland Group

Grampian Moorland Group

Southern Uplands Moorland Group

Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group

Loch Ness Rural Communities

Speyside Moorland Group

Tomatin Moorland Group



These members work in sectors which jointly support 93, 800 jobs in Scotland and represent 6750 members in Scotland.


  • The policies of the Scottish Greens will remove our members from the countryside and turn the lights out in the glen houses. In turn, they will deprive Scotland of the very skilled, practical land managers it will need to deliver climate and biodiversity aims. Their policies are self-defeating, will cause untold harms and we hope Scottish Government factor this into its thinking in any partnership discussions. Alex Hogg, MBE, Chairman, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.


  • It’s vital for us to highlight the importance of Scotland's sheep sector as a part of the solution to meet climate change targets set out by the Scottish Government especially at a time when UK government trade deals are putting our sector under serious threat. Jen Craig, NSA Scotland Chair.


  • Ghillies and people working on our rivers are coping with the challenges of declining salmon numbers, which has an impact on angler bookings. At the same time, they are investing so much time improving river habitats and in conservation to help salmon. Losing this skill and privately funded resource because the Greens don’t like what they term ‘bloodsports’ would be a major loss for Scotland. Robert White, SGA Fishing Group.


  • Our members are deeply concerned that the Scottish Greens are given too much sway over major decisions. Keeping the boots-on-the-ground people who can deliver is more vital than ever as the country tries to rebuild from Covid-19. The people the Greens would want to remove give so much to the land, the economy and to community wellbeing in remote Scotland. Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator, Scotland’s 7 regional moorland groups.


  • There is a clear and present danger to Fieldsports in general. Fieldsports bring many benefits to the rural community and it is very important that Fieldsports continue to be enjoyed by many people throughout the whole country. The Greens would ban Fieldsports if they have their way - we cannot allow that to happen. The Scottish Field Trials Association.


  • The Game Farmers Association represents the Game Farming sector across the whole of the UK and has a strong membership in Scotland. Our membership is wholly dependent on game shooting and any threat to Scotland’s sporting sector is a threat to our members. We will be resolute in our support of Scotland’s proud sporting heritage and the defence of our members’ interests. The value of shooting to Scotland’s economy and beautiful rural landscape should not be underestimated, it goes far beyond the money spent on the shooting itself. 
  • George Davis, Chairman, The Game Farmers Association.

Some Further Reading: Concern at Ayrshire tree planting scheme: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/scottish-daily-mail/20210605/282119229471888

Aquaculture concerns at SNP/Green pact:


Chris Packham hits out at wrong trees in wrong places.

***Green Party members urge party not to deal with SNP

Former SNP Health Secretary wary of SNP/Green deal.



TIME TO NOMINATE FOR THE 2021 SGA AWARDS

 Have you nominated candidates yet for the 2021 SGA Awards? If not, it's time to do so. Full details in the article below. You can send nominations to info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk or call them in on 01738 587 515. 


Friday, 28 May 2021

RURAL PROTESTS LIKELY OVER GREEN COALITION


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) says the prospect of Scottish Government entering into a formal coalition with the Greens will lead to protests among rural workers.

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Wednesday that talks will begin with the Greens which could see some of their MSPs given Ministerial positions in the Government.


The leader of Scotland’s gamekeeping body believes that prospect will place over 13, 000 jobs at risk and will see angry workers and families taking to the streets.


Green Co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie vowed in their election manifesto to end what they term ‘bloodsports’.


Shooting and angling supports 13, 100 jobs in Scotland and brings hundreds of millions of pounds into remote rural communities annually.


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg, MBE, says rural workers in these sectors will not stand by and watch their livelihoods ripped apart by a Government coalition with the Greens.

"a misguided class war"

He says rural workers will be the key to achieving climate and biodiversity gains and has urged Nicola Sturgeon to protect these vital jobs when entering talks.


“Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie’s clinical cull of jobs, using emotive labelling, is not about biodiversity and climate, it is a misguided class war that will actually sacrifice over 13, 000 rural workers and their families. 


“Putting a significant part of Scotland’s land and river working community on the dole, rather than engaging them, is a massive climate mistake and we hope, in the first 100 days of government, that the First Minister is not about to throw Scotland’s rural workforce under a bus.


"When deer are being left to rot in state forests at tax payer expense, the Greens are nowhere to be seen. They just demand the killing be escalated. 


“Scottish Gamekeepers Association members have managed a million deer in the last decade, more than anyone else. Yet if you take out a client while doing so, manage the deer properly, create a permanent community job, bring in tourist income and help Scotland become a Good Food Nation, that is a blood sport in the Greens’ eyes.  


“Yet both will save trees and protected habitat. It’s nonsensical labelling.”


Alex Hogg says the Greens' attack on 'bloodsports' will not win the class war, it will put workers on the dole.

He added: "The Greens will laud conservationists spending over £7m of tax payers’ money to eradicate stoats on Orkney to conserve other wildlife. Yet when a gamekeeper uses the same traps, in a more skilled way, to manage stoats on the mainland, protecting all ground nesting species (some red listed) that is labelled a bloodsport. 


“Instead of buying Green policies from Lorna and Patrick, the Scottish Government should listen to upland scientists working in the field today.


“If you plant trees on moorland, you gain some biodiversity and lose it elsewhere. There is no guarantee you will store more carbon. Recent science, in fact, shows you may store less. (1)

"no oversight over whether it will save carbon or not"

“Yet absentees and corporates are already getting rich buying and ploughing up organic moorland soils, on the largesse of tax payer subsidies, and there is no Scottish Government or Green Party oversight over whether it will actually save any carbon or not. 


“Rewetting peatlands is another thing where more research needs doing. Scientists are beginning to understand that wet bogs release methane which is far more damaging in warming terms than carbon, yet tax payer money is again being shelled out on rushed solutions which need much more understanding. (2)


“Rural workers, who actually manage land, rivers and habitats will stand for this no longer.”


References: 

  1. https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/in-the-scottish-moorlands-plots-planted-with-trees-stored-less-carbon-than-untouched-lands-study/

(2) https://www.sei.org/publications/review-of-iucn-uk-peatland-burning-position-statement/


Jobs in shooting and angling in Scotland.


Sources: Number of FTE Shooting Jobs in Scotland: http://www.shootingfacts.co.uk/pdf/The-Value-of-Shooting-2014.pdf

Number of FTE jobs in wild fisheries in Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/research-and-analysis/2017/03/value-of-the-wild-fisheries-sector-analysis/documents/value-of-the-wild-fisheries-sector/value-of-the-wild-fisheries-sector/govscot%3Adocument/value-wild-fisheries.pdf



Wednesday, 26 May 2021

RURAL WORKERS' JOBS WARNING OVER GOVT GREEN ALLIANCE

Commenting on the news today that Scottish Government is to enter into discussions with the Scottish Greens about a coalition at Holyrood, 

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg, MBE, said: “Issues such as the Constitution are of no concern to us. However, we made it clear before the election and we are making it clear now, the Scottish Greens have made it an aspiration to abolish our members’ jobs. As their representatives, we cannot stand back and allow that to silently happen.

“Lorna Slater reiterated last week in Parliament the Greens’ desire to end what they call ‘bloodsports’ in Scotland. These legitimate activities sustain 13 100 jobs in remote Scotland and deliver millions of pounds worth of free conservation for the Scottish public, from deer management to salmon conservation and preserving moorland habitats.

“Scotland will not meet climate targets without rural workers helping to deliver them on the ground. You don’t help the planet by putting thousands of families on the dole.

“We urge Scottish Government to take rural workers' jobs into account in any decision over a Green coalition- they will need these people to meet their targets in the weeks and months ahead.”

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

#SP21 MAY ELECTION: Aberdeen South and North Kincardine overview

SGA members have made us aware they would like to know more about the Election on May 6th and candidates they can vote for. 

We have been providing overview information on several seats (relevant to members) prior to the Election #SP21. (see other overviews on our website news pages) https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk


Please note: The SGA is not affiliated to any political party. The information is intended only as a helpful guide, offered from the perspective of members' interests, as requested.


People should vote according to personal choice. However, we will give advice for circumstances in which people would wish to vote solely for the purposes of protecting their profession.


In looking at seats, we have provided an analysis based on what candidates have done for rural workers in Holyrood (track record) or, if not yet elected, looked at standpoints on issues to gauge where they might sit in relation to workers on river and land.


Overview: Aberdeen South and North Kincardine



What Choices will you have on the ballot paper?


On May 6th, voters will get the opportunity to vote for which person they want as their Constituency MSP in Aberdeen South and North Kincardine. This person will be an individual representing a party (White coloured paper).

Voters will also get the opportunity to vote for a Party in the Regional List (Peach coloured paper) for North East Scotland.


For the Constituency vote (white paper), the person with the highest number of votes becomes the Constituency MSP. In the regional list (peach paper) a total of 7 MSPs are selected to represent the North East Scotland region.


This allocation is worked out around the share of the party vote on the peach paper. If a party has already won the Constituency seat, they will win less regional list seats in that region. The system is designed this way to avoid any one party dominating.


About Aberdeen South and North Kincardine


The white paper contest in this constituency seat could end up a tense and close contest, although the SNP will want to retain a seat won by Maureen Watt in 2016 by 2755 votes from the Conservatives' Ross Thomson.


It will be all change in terms of candidates for the leading contestants in this seat, with Audrey Nicoll (SNP) and Liam Kerr (Conservatives) in the running this time around.


Something which may give the Conservatives some gain of hope on the white paper is the recent upswing in their support in this seat in recent times (see below). 



That said, the SNP have also gained over the past 10 years and, although they may not openly declare it, the Conservatives will have one eye on fortunes on the peach paper (regional list for North East Scotland) should Liam Kerr come up short on the white paper contest.


Audrey Nicoll (SNP) will be new to SGA members. A professional, she has spent many years in the public sector. She also has broad experience when it comes to the oil and gas sector in the North East.






Liam Kerr is well known to SGA members and has spoken up on key rural issues in debates and on Bills at Holyrood. He has submitted motions of support for community work undertaken by rural workers and attended the first Gamekeepers march at Edzell. Most recently, he posted a supportive film on the occasion of the Rural Workers' Protest, #RWP21: (see below) https://twitter.com/LiamKerrASNK/status/1372577920988934159?s=20 

Voters will have a bigger choice of parties on the peach paper including some new parties which could have a significant bearing on the final election result eg: Alex Salmond is running for his new pro-independence Alba party on the regional list in this region and will have earmarked this area as a potential springboard for his party. See their manifesto, here: https://www.albaparty.org/where_we_stand


In the interests of maximising their interests, both the SNP and the Conservatives will want to mobilise all their support at the polling station in favour a vote for their candidate on both the white paper and their party on the peach paper.


One issue which may have an impact on SGA members' voting intention in Aberdeen South and North Kincardine is the point, below.

"One worry SGA members have been contacting our office about is whether a vote for SNP means they get the Greens as part of the deal. " SGA Chairman, Alex Hogg.

The Green Party recently published its manifesto which pledges to end, what it terms, bloodsports’ including shooting and angling. They will ban driven grouse shooting, reintroduce species and incentivise the removal of sheep from the hills. 


For those seeking to vote in terms of their employment, specifically, the Green manifesto represents the likely loss of over 13 000 rural workers’ jobs. See their manifesto, here: https://greens.scot/ourfuture


Should the SNP fail to win an outright majority at this election (which current polling shows is on a knife-edge) they may again choose to join with the Greens in order to form a majority. Given the Greens’ unhidden desire to end the employment interests of sections of the rural workforce, SGA members should make themselves aware of the dangers in this possibility.


Give this, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seeking reassurances for rural workers that any potential SNP/Green pact will not mean Scottish Government adopting the Green manifesto pledges, mentioned above, which will be so damaging for rural workers and their families. You can read the Chairmans letter, here. This afternoon, the SGA was very grateful to receive a reply from the SNP campaign team in Inverness to say that they appreciate, as a party, the skills and knowledge of rural workers and SGA members.


https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/2021/04/open-letter-to-first-minister-rural.html




On whether an SNP/Green pact might comes to pass, leader of the Greens, Patrick Harvie, was quoted in the Scotsman newspaper on April 30 saying, that 'most of our members would be willing to have the conversation' after the Election. (below)



To find all candidates standing in Aberdeen South and North Kincardine plus North East Scotland region- (and all the other Scottish constituencies)- see: https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/politics/6918475/scottish-election-full-candidate-list-standing-my-area/


Most importantly, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg is urging all members to go out and use their vote tomorrow. See the video message, here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC2vF1Y4pZw




*This seat analysis, which fulfils a requirement of our members to provide voting information on their behalf, has been produced by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, a Company limited by guarantee, Company number SC386843.


 



#SP21 MAY ELECTION: Caithness, Sutherland and Ross overview

SGA members have made us aware they would like to know more about the Election on May 6th and candidates they can vote for. 

We have been providing overview information on several seats (relevant to members) prior to the Election #SP21. (see other overviews on our website news pages) https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk


Please note: The SGA is not affiliated to any political party. The information is intended only as a helpful guide, offered from the perspective of members' interests, as requested.


People should vote according to personal choice. However, we will give advice for circumstances in which people would wish to vote solely for the purposes of protecting their profession.


In looking at seats, we have provided an analysis based on what candidates have done for rural workers in Holyrood (track record) or, if not yet elected, looked at standpoints on issues to gauge where they might sit in relation to workers on river and land.


Overview: Caithness, Sutherland and Ross



What Choices will you have on the ballot paper?


On May 6th, voters will get the opportunity to vote for which person they want as their Constituency MSP in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. This person will be an individual representing a party (White coloured paper).

Voters will also get the opportunity to vote for a Party in the Regional List (Peach coloured paper) for Highlands and Islands.


For the Constituency vote (white paper), the person with the highest number of votes becomes the Constituency MSP. In the regional list (peach paper) a total of 7 MSPs are selected to represent the North East Scotland region.


This allocation is worked out around the share of the party vote on the peach paper. If a party has already won the Constituency seat, they will win less regional list seats in that region. The system is designed this way to avoid any one party dominating.


About Caithness, Sutherland and Ross


The white paper contest in this constituency seat has been earmarked by election pollsters as one to watch. 


Gail Ross won the seat for SNP in 2016 with a 3913 advantage over Lib Dem, Jamie Stone.

With Gail Ross not standing this time, the mantle falls to Maree Todd to lead the SNP charge whilst Molly Nolan will be looking to swing the final vote in favour of the Lib Dems, who maintain good support in parts of North Scotland and the islands. This is a 2-way contest on the white ballot paper but, intriguingly, becomes a 3-way fight between SNP, Conservatives and Lib Dems on the regional list (peach paper, see 2016 peach paper results below).





Maree Todd (SNP) has engaged with local SGA members. Her predecessor in the seat, Gail Ross, recently supported the SGA Fishing Group's petition regarding a salmon stocking consultation. Her election briefings promote tree planting, peatland restoration and greater community ownership.



Molly Nolan will be new to SGA members. However, her support for the Rural Workers' Protest, #RWP21, and placing rural workers at the heart of policy was warmly received. Article in the Ross-shire Journal, here: https://www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk/news/rural-workers-online-demo-calls-on-scottish-government-to-l-232207/ which also contained Molly Nolan's short film.


On the peach paper (regional list for Highlands and Islands), voters will have a large choice, with no fewer than 15 different parties as well as 2 independents, Hazel Mansfield and Andy Wightman, to choose from.

Clearly, voters of SNP, Conservatives and the Lib Dems will want to see all their supporters at the polling station on Thursday and will be encouraging them to give both votes to their candidates in the white paper and their party on the peach paper.

One issue which may have an impact on SGA members' voting intention in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross is the point, below.

"One worry SGA members have been contacting our office about is whether a vote for SNP means they get the Greens as part of the deal. " SGA Chairman, Alex Hogg.

The Green Party recently published its manifesto which pledges to end, what it terms, bloodsports’ including shooting and angling. They will ban driven grouse shooting, reintroduce species and incentivise the removal of sheep from the hills. 


For those seeking to vote in terms of their employment, specifically, the Green manifesto represents the likely loss of over 13 000 rural workers’ jobs. See their manifesto, here: https://greens.scot/ourfuture


Should the SNP fail to win an outright majority at this election (which current polling shows is on a knife-edge) they may again choose to join with the Greens in order to form a majority. Given the Greens’ unhidden desire to end the employment interests of sections of the rural workforce, SGA members should make themselves aware of the dangers in this possibility.


Give this, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seeking reassurances for rural workers that any potential SNP/Green pact will not mean Scottish Government adopting the Green manifesto pledges, mentioned above, which will be so damaging for rural workers and their families. You can read the Chairmans letter, here. This afternoon, the SGA was grateful to receive a reply from the SNP campaign team in Inverness to say that they appreciate, as a party, the skills and knowledge of rural workers and SGA members.


https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/2021/04/open-letter-to-first-minister-rural.html




On whether an SNP/Green pact might comes to pass, leader of the Greens, Patrick Harvie, was quoted in the Scotsman newspaper on April 30 saying, that 'most of our members would be willing to have the conversation' after the Election. (below)



To find all candidates standing in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross plus Highlands and Islands region- (and all the other Scottish constituencies)- see: https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/politics/6918475/scottish-election-full-candidate-list-standing-my-area/


Most importantly, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg is urging all members to go out and use their vote tomorrow. See the video message, here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC2vF1Y4pZw




*This seat analysis, which fulfils a requirement of our members to provide voting information on their behalf, has been produced by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, a Company limited by guarantee, Company number SC386843.