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 these on our website news pages).
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.
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 Inverness and Nairn. 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 Highlands and Islands.
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 Highlands and Islands 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 Inverness and Nairn
In terms of the constituency vote (white paper), this is one of the safer SNP seats in the country, despite a 5.8% swing from the SNP to Conservative at the last election in 2016.
In 2016, Fergus Ewing took the seat by 10 857 votes from Edward Mountain of the Conservatives. Both parties will expect to poll strongly again but the toughest battle may yet emerge in the regional list on the peach ballot paper (for the Highlands and Islands region).
Fergus Ewing (SNP), a Cabinet Minister- has, for many years, been a consistent supporter of all rural land workers, from farmers and crofters to deer managers, ghillies and people working in fieldsports. He is an advocate of strong rural businesses, equally, to the point where his support of the aquaculture industry may not please all SGA members. Having land workers’ backs in a largely rural constituency has helped him to one of the strongest majorities of all SNP politicians. This support, given publicly, often places him at odds with vocal opponents but is a sign of trust which constituents appreciate. Fergus backed the SGA on the Watson Bill and reversing tail shortening of working dogs.
Edward Mountain is a strong supporter of the work of the SGA and its members. He sponsored the evening event in Parliament, with rural vets, which helped the SGA convert support for its campaign to reverse the ban on tail shortening of working dogs. He enabled the SGA to have an educational stand at Holyrood to engage with MSPs on land management. Being a land manager himself, he is in a unique position in that he speaks on key rural decisions at Holyrood as someone with a rare gift- experience. He has spoken regularly in key debates, often as a lone voice, and attended the recent SGA Political hustings and posted a supportive film for the Rural Workers’ Protest, #RWP21. (see: https://twitter.com/1edmountain/status/1372893736066281476?s=20
In short, the leading choices on the white paper in the Inverness and Nairn constituency seat both have a track record of support for rural workers on river and land.
Both Mr Ewing's SNP and Mr Mountain's Conservatives are advocating that they, and their parties, be chosen by voters - on both the white and peach ballot papers.
Given the size of Fergus Ewing's majority, tactical voting may factor in voters' mindsets in this seat. If a party wins the constituency seat (white paper) they naturally pick up less seats on the regional list (peach paper), so some voters may opt to vote for one candidate and party on the white paper and another party entirely on the peach paper, to maximise their chances of getting the kind of representation they want.
Hypothetically, someone may vote for Fergus Ewing (SNP) on the white paper yet vote for Conservatives on the peach paper or vice versa; Edward Mountain on the white paper and SNP on the peach paper.
Similarly, pro-Independence or pro-Union voters may decide to vote tactically, with parties such as pro-Independence Alba Party and pro-Union All for Unity standing on the regional list.
Alba Party manifesto: https://www.albaparty.org/where_we_stand
All for Unity manifesto: https://www.alliance4unity.uk/manifesto/
On the aforementioned regional list (peach paper) for Highlands and Islands, voters will have much greater choice, with no fewer than 15 different parties as well as 2 independents, Hazel Mansfield and Andy Wightman, to choose from.
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 Chairman’s letter, here. To date, we have not had a response from the First Minister.
On whether an SNP/Green pact might comes to pass, leader of the Greens, Patrick Harvie, was quoted in the Scotsman newspaper today (April 30) saying, that 'most of our members would be willing to have the conversation' after the Election.
To find all candidates standing in Inverness and Nairn plus Highlands and Islands 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.