Tuesday, 4 May 2021

#SP21 MAY ELECTION: East Lothian PLUS Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale 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: East Lothian




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 East Lothian. 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 South 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 South 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 East Lothian


This seat will be pivotal to the fortunes of Labour, SNP and the Conservatives, for differing reasons. 


The constituency seat (white paper) was won by former Labour leader Iain Gray in 2016  by only 1127 votes, from the SNP. However, with Mr Gray stepping down, the SNP's Paul McLennan will be looking to affect the 3% swing required to win this seat for SNP for the first time. The white paper contest looks likely to be between these contenders (Martin Whitfield is running for Labour), even although the Conservatives have gained ground in East Lothian over the past decade.


The Conservatives will be hoping Craig Hoy can better the 9045 votes polled by Rachael Hamilton at the 2016 Election. That said, their best hope of securing a positive outcome in East Lothian may come on the peach paper. Their main drive, therefore, could be to get their voters to turn out a strong Conservative vote on the peach paper for the South of Scotland list seats.


The Conservatives have been gaining ground in East Lothian but their best hopes look to be on the peach paper.

Overview: East Lothian


This seat is a 2 horse race between Christine Graham, who won this seat for SNP in 2011 and has retained it since, and Shona Haslam of the Conservatives.

Christine Graham secured a 5868 majority in 2016 and although the Conservatives have gained ground over the last 10 years, it would take a minor miracle for them to turn this part of South Scotland blue.

SNP supporters will be placing their white paper vote on Christine Graham but, as with a number of key seats, the biggest battle may come on the peach paper for the South of Scotland region.

Like East Lothian, the Conservatives' biggest hopes may come in the peach paper and they will be out to gain as many peach paper votes as possible, to convert to seats in South of Scotland.


On the peach paper (regional list) for South Scotland, voters will have no fewer than 16 parties to choose from. 


Amongst those will be pro-Union party, All for Unity, who will be hoping to muster support in this key region.  


All for Unity manifesto: https://www.alliance4unity.uk/manifesto/


Both Jamie Blackett and George Galloway are on the regional list in South Scotland.


Jamie Blackett is himself a land manager and is supportive of the SGA's work. Both he and George Galloway posted films in support of the Rural Workers' Protest, #RWP21, and Jamie Blackett attended the SGA Political hustings. See George Galloway's film, here: https://twitter.com/ScotGamekeepers/status/1372922136495583241?s=20


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. 


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 possible) 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 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 Chairmans letter, here. To date, we have not had a response from the First Minister. 


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 these 2 seats plus South 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/




*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.