Wednesday, 5 May 2021

#SP21 MAY ELECTION: Galloway and West Dumfries 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: Galloway and West Dumfries




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 Galloway and West Dumfries. 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 Galloway and West Dumfries


This is another highly marginal seat where one of the biggest factors in any win will be how well each contestant succeeds in getting their supporters out to vote. In the case of Galloway and West Dumfries (on the white paper), there are only 2 viable shows in town.


The seat is currently held by Finlay Carson for the Conservatives, who defeated SNP's Aileen McLeod by 1514 votes in 2016. Challenging him on the white paper, for SNP, will be Emma Harper. Margins are tight and it would only take a small swing for SNP to secure the seat, which will be a target.


Finlay Carson (Conservatives) has been a strong supporter of SGA members in the region during his time at Holyrood and has considerable experience of rural affairs, not least as a holder of a BSc in Agriculture. He has been the Conservatives' Deputy Spokesperson on Natural Environment and Rural Affairs and was Deputy Convener of the ECCLR Committee. He recently responded favourably to the key asks of the Rural Workers' Protest, #RWP21, and has pledged continuing work on this, if elected. 




Emma Harper was a degree registered nurse before becoming an MSP and was brought up on a dairy farm in Stranraer. She has been a member of both the Rural Economy and ECCLR Committees at Holyrood and her private members' Bill offering greater Protection of Livestock from out of control dogs was supported by SGA and won cross-party and cross-sector buy-in.










This promises to be a fair tussle and supporters of either candidate or party will be encouraged to get out to the polling station tomorrow.
On the peach paper (regional list) for South Scotland, voters will have no fewer than 16 parties to choose from. 

Given the slender majority both the Conservatives and SNP will be encouraging their supporters to give both of their votes to their candidate on the white paper and their party on the peach paper.

However, tactical voting may come into play in the South of Scotland regional ballot (peach paper).


Amongst the large choice of parties will be pro-Union newcomers, All for Unity, who will be hoping to muster support in this key region.  It is possible that those voting to oppose a referendum could opt for a cross beside them on the peach paper, if they feel a Conservative hold is secure enough on the white paper.


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


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


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, alongside others. 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 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 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 Galloway and West Dumfries 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/


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.