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 (relevant to members) 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: Angus North and Mearns
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 (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. This is allocated around the party share of the vote. If a party has already won the Constituency seat, they will win less regional list seats. The system is designed this way to avoid any one party dominating.
About Angus North and Mearns
For the constituency vote (white paper), this double marginal seat will effectively be a 2-horse race between SNP’s Mairi Gougeon and Braden Davy of the Conservatives.
In 2016, Mairi Gougeon took the seat by 2472 votes from the late Alex Johnstone of the Conservatives, who was replaced by Bill Bowman following his untimely passing.
Both SNP and the Conservatives will see this as a key seat, given how tight the margins are. In the last election, there was a 10.41% swing from the SNP to the Conservatives and a further swing of that magnitude would see the seat go to them. However, SNP will be determined to retain the seat belonging to the recently appointed Minister for Public Health and Sport.
Mairi Gougeon, SNP, engaged with the SGA on a few occasions in her stint as Environment Minister. During her tenure, she announced Scottish Government’s intention to restrict fox control with dogs to 2, unless under licence. She supported the protection of mountain hares, despite being critical in the Parliament of the way the measure was introduced by the Greens with no possibility of legislative scrutiny. She announced the Scottish Government’s intention to licence grouse shoots in the new Parliament.
Braden Davy, Conservatives, has been an Angus councillor since 2017 and was a previous Assistant Director of Scotland’s Vote Leave campaign. He has worked as Communications Manager for Liam Kerr, who will be running again for Conservatives on the North East regionalist list (in which Angus North and Mearns lies). Mr Davy will be new to SGA members in the constituency although Mr Kerr has engaged well with local members and supported their efforts in the community.
Given the potential tightness of this seat, those seeking to maximise an SNP vote may choose to give both votes (white paper and peach paper) to SNP. Similarly, those looking to maximise a Conservative vote may do likewise on both white and peach papers. People in either of these camps will feel that this is probably a seat where tactical voting may pose too much of a risk.
The peach paper will contain greater choices for voters, with no fewer than 17 parties vying for a regional list berth in the North East region (in which Angus North and Mearns 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: 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 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 be on the peach paper. Their key list candidate in the North East region is former First Minister Mr Salmond himself, who is no stranger to the political scene north and south of the border https://www.albaparty.org/where_we_stand
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: https://www.alliance4unity.uk/manifesto/
Their principle list candidate in the North East is Dundonian Arthur Keith.
To find all candidates standing in Angus North and Mearns- and 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.