Wednesday, 7 April 2021

MAY ELECTION: Aberdeenshire West 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 will be providing information on several seats prior to the Election. 

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.


Overview: Aberdeenshire West


Choices on the ballot paper: 


On May 6th, voters will get the opportunity to vote for which person they want as their Constituency MSP. This person will be an individual representing a party or will be independent.

Voters will also get the opportunity to vote for a Party in the Regional List.


For the Constituency vote, the person with the highest number of votes becomes the Constituency MSP. In the regional list, a total of 7 MSPs are selected. This is allocated around the share of the vote. If a party has already won a Constituency seat, they will win less regional list seats. The system is designed this way to avoid any one party dominating.



One of the key seats in this election will be Aberdeenshire West - one of the most marginal seats in Scotland and a 2 horse race between the Conservatives and SNP when it comes to the constituency vote.


The constituency seat is currently held by Alexander Burnett, Conservative, who held a 900 vote majority over SNP’s Dennis Robertson after the 2016 Holyrood election.


This time, the SNP candidate is Aberdonian Fergus Mutch, a former SNP Communications Director. Mutch, in his early 30s, ran for the Westminster seat, losing narrowly to Andrew Bowie (Conservative) and led the SNP’s ‘rejoin the EU’ campaign.


The SNP will have targeted this seat as a priority to win back while the Conservatives will want to hold the seat in a region they have recently done well in (also holding 4 regional list seats).


Alexander Burnett, again the Conservative candidate in the constituency seat, operates an estate in the area, with interests in farming, sporting and forestry. During his time at Holyrood, he has campaigned on tick-borne Lyme Disease and has spoken up for rural workers in his constituency in debates and bill readings and during his time on the ECCLR Committee. He recently endorsed the aims of the Rural Workers’ Protest, #RWP21 (see Twitter post below).



The extent of Fergus Mutch’s backing (SNP) of rural workers’ concerns is, presently, unknown given that he has no current record in Holyrood. This, of course, may change if he wins the seat.

He supported a motion at SNP conference for replanting of the Caledonian pine forest and wants to make Scotland a ‘prosperous nation through independence.’


Votes for other parties in the constituency vote are unlikely to impact the final outcome in this particular seat with all other contenders some distance behind (see 2016 election results, above). The Lib Dems, however, enjoy seeds of support in the area and will want to maintain a presence.


The regional list is different. (see regional vote share, 2016)



Voters will have a bigger choice of parties on the regional list 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. The anti-independence, pro-Union party, Alliance for Unity, will also run candidates.


With this seat being such a close contest, it is likely that those wanting to maximise their vote could opt for both votes going to their main candidate/party choice - in constituency AND regional list- in order to hedge their bets and get the representation they want.


For example, pro Conservative or even pro-Union supporters may vote for Alexander Burnett and may also vote Conservative in the regional list in case Fergus Mutch should claim the constituency seat back for SNP.

Similarly, pro SNP supporters may vote for Fergus Mutch in the Constituency vote and SNP in the regional list, in case the constituency seat remains with the Conservatives.


If voting purely to benefit your employment as a rural worker, rather than voting along personal conscience lines, a rule of thumb is that people should be wary of any vote for the Green Party on the regional list, in any area, even if it was a decision taken to potentially boost a pro-independence aspiration (there are other pro-independence options on the ballot paper, chiefly Alex Salmond’s Alba Party).


The Scottish Green Party have inflicted damage to sections of the rural workforce and are outward when it comes to advocating policies that will harm rural employment. 

Vociferously opposed to the shooting community, they want to end grouse shooting and ban the use of hounds for fox management, see: https://greens.scot/news/scottish-greens-vow-to-end-fox-hunting-for-good They want to further restrict muirburn. 


Green MSP Alison Johnstone was the architect of the move to place mountain hares on Schedule 5, an ill-advised policy attached to a passing bill at Stage 3 during a pandemic which had no Parliamentary debate and no scrutiny by the Bill’s lead Committee. Andy Wightman, when working as a Green MSP, was behind the suspension of muirburn during lockdown, in contrary to advice given to SGA from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and NatureScot.

The Scottish Greens have acted as an unofficial Parliamentary delivery arm of the group, Revive, who want to end grouse shooting and place families on the dole; even to the point of parroting false factsfrom Revive on election material. See: https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/2021/03/sga-complain-to-electoral-commission.html  The Scottish Greens want new Green jobs but are blind to the fact that those who will have to deliver climate mitigations, on the ground, are the very people they are trying to make unemployed.



How do I find the polling station?: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/elections/scottish-parliament-election/