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). https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/latest-news/
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.
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 Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. 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 North East 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.
The white paper contest in this constituency seat has been earmarked by election pollsters as one to watch.
Gail Ross won the seat for SNP in 2016 with a 3913 advantage over Lib Dem, Jamie Stone.
With Gail Ross not standing this time, the mantle falls to Maree Todd to lead the SNP charge whilst Molly Nolan will be looking to swing the final vote in favour of the Lib Dems, who maintain good support in parts of North Scotland and the islands. This is a 2-way contest on the white ballot paper but, intriguingly, becomes a 3-way fight between SNP, Conservatives and Lib Dems on the regional list (peach paper, see 2016 peach paper results below).
Maree Todd (SNP) has engaged with local SGA members. Her predecessor in the seat, Gail Ross, recently supported the SGA Fishing Group's petition regarding a salmon stocking consultation. Her election briefings promote tree planting, peatland restoration and greater community ownership.
Molly Nolan will be new to SGA members. However, her support for the Rural Workers' Protest, #RWP21, and placing rural workers at the heart of policy was warmly received. Article in the Ross-shire Journal, here: https://www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk/news/rural-workers-online-demo-calls-on-scottish-government-to-l-232207/ which also contained Molly Nolan's short film.
On the peach paper (regional list for Highlands and Islands), voters will have a large choice, with no fewer than 15 different parties as well as 2 independents, Hazel Mansfield and Andy Wightman, to choose from.
Clearly, voters of SNP, Conservatives and the Lib Dems will want to see all their supporters at the polling station on Thursday and will be encouraging them to give both votes to their candidates in the white paper and their party on the peach paper.
One issue which may have an impact on SGA members' voting intention in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross is the point, below.
"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. " SGA Chairman, Alex Hogg.
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 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 Caithness, Sutherland and Ross 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.