Wednesday 28 April 2021

#SP21 MAY ELECTION: Perthshire North 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 overview information on several seats prior to the Election #SP21. 

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 or, if not yet elected, looked at their standpoints on issues to gauge where they might stand in relation to workers on river and land.

Overview: Perthshire North

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. This person will be an individual representing a party or will be independent. (White coloured paper).

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

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.

About Perthshire North:

Perthshire North contains a significant number of SGA members and is what is being termed a double marginal seat.

For the constituency vote (white paper), it is a 2-horse race between SNP’s John Swinney and Murdo Fraser of the Conservatives.

In 2016, John Swinney took the seat by 3336 votes from Murdo Fraser but there was a 12.5% swing towards the Conservatives and a 12.3% swing away from SNP compared to 2011. 

This suggests this seat will be hotly contested again. Both contenders will want to ensure their supporters turn out on May 6th as even a swing of 5% or more could see the seat change hands.

In Holyrood, John Swinney has been supportive of key SGA objectives such as the Bill which reversed the ban on tail shortening of working dogs and, going back to the beginning of the Parliament, was receptive to the SGA’s message on why a ban on fox hunting would have negative consequences. Local SGA members have found Mr Swinney to be receptive to their needs as constituency MSP and even-handed in dealings with them. He meets with constituents when asked, will visit and takes up issues on their behalf.

Murdo Fraser has also been supportive of key SGA objectives. Most recently, he posted a supportive message for the Rural Workers’ Protest, #RWP21, acknowledging the roles that gamekeepers, stalkers, river ghillies, shepherds and farmers play in Scotland’s countryside. He has spoken on numerous occasions in Holyrood in support of rural workers and businesses in the countryside and meets land managers across the region to glean their perspectives. In short, Perthshire North is well served by politicians who will meet and work with SGA members.

Given the closeness of the seat, those seeking to maximise an SNP vote may choose to give both votes (white paper and peach paper) to SNP candidates. Similarly, those looking to maximise a Conservative vote may do likewise on both papers.  

The peach paper will contain greater choices, with several party candidates vying for a seat as a regional list MSP for the Mid Scotland and Fife region (in which Perthshire North lies). 

The Scottish Green Party’s list choices will include Mark Ruskell. 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:

Should the SNP fail to win an outright majority at this election   ( which polling shows is possible ) they may again choose to repeat what they did in the last Parliament and 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.

SGA Chairman Alex Hogg has written 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 Chairman’s letter, here. We await a response from the First Minister.

Some SGA members may want to vote in order to maximise a pro-Independence opportunity.

In that scenario, it is possible some might vote SNP on the white paper and Greens on the peach paper. Polling suggests this is likely to be a voting strategy adopted by a percentage of pro-Independence supporters. 

There are, however, other pro-Independence choices on the peach paper. Alex Salmond’s new pro-Independence Alba Party will field candidates on the peach paper. Their regional list candidates include Eva Comrie and Neale Hanvey.

Other new entrants on the peach paper will be Jamie Blackett and George Galloway’s pro-Union, All for Unity party. Jamie Blackett was invited, amongst others, to join the SGA hustings and comes from a land management background. All for Unity sent supportive messages to the Rural Workers’ Protest and their manifesto contains a number of commitments on land management, which members can make themselves aware of, here:

*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.