Monday, 5 April 2021

MAY ELECTION: Perthshire South and Kinross-shire 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 as a helpful guide, from the perspective of members' interests.
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: Perthshire South and Kinross-shire.

On May 6th, voters will get the opportunity to vote for which person they want to be 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 Perthshire South and Kinross-shire - a 2 horse race between SNP and the Conservatives when it comes to the constituency vote.


The constituency seat has been held for SNP by former Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, who is not running in this election.

Her place, as a candidate, has been taken by Jim Fairlie.

At the last election in 2016, Roseanna Cunningham’s majority was cut as Liz Smith made headway for the Conservatives. 

The final winning margin was 1422 votes. Both SNP and Conservatives will make winning this seat a high priority.


Liz Smith visiting SGA Chairman Alex Hogg and rural workers in the Scottish Borders, 2020.


Jim Fairlie, SNP, has not been an MSP before so it is difficult to analyse his record of support for rural workers. However, as a former hill farmer of 13 years and founder of Perth Farmers’ Market, he has an understanding of rural issues and has shown a willingness to meet local land workers. https://www.facebook.com/JimFairlieSNP/


SNP candidate Jim Fairlie


Liz Smith, Conservatives, was very supportive of rural workers in the last Parliament, most recently expressing admiration of the work of local gamekeepers, ghillies and farmers in the constituency through a video supporting the Rural Workers’ Protest #RWP21 See: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=802302387307514

She has spoken up during debates on rural issues at Holyrood and has also tabled Parliamentary questions on issues such as September deer culls in state forests- a major SGA concern.


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 regional list is different. 


Voters will have a bigger choice of parties on the regional list including some new parties which could have a bearing on the final election result eg: Alex Salmond’s pro-independence Alba party and the anti-independence, pro-Union party, Alliance for Unity, led by Jamie Blackett and George Galloway, who also expressed support for #RWP21 See: https://twitter.com/ScotGamekeepers/status/1372890573703643138?s=20


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 bets.


For example, pro SNP supporters may vote for Jim Fairlie in the Constituency vote and SNP in the regional list, in case the constituency seat goes to the Conservatives.

Similarly, pro Conservative or even pro-Union supporters may vote for Liz Smith and may also vote Conservative in the regional list in case SNP hold the constituency.

For example, it would only take a 2.5% swing to see the constituency seat go to the Conservatives and aways from SNP.


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 such as Alba).


The Scottish Green Party, who will have Mark Ruskell as a candidate on the regional list in this seat, 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, ban the use of hounds for fox management and further restrict muirburn. Green MSP Alison Johnstone was the architect of the move to place mountain hares on Schedule 5, an ill-advised policy which was attached to a passing bill at Stage 3 and had no Parliamentary debate and minimal scrutiny. Andy Wightman, when working as a Green MSP, was behind the suspension of muirburn during lockdown, against the advice of 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 ‘facts’ from 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.