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 Moray. 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.
FFor 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 Moray could turn out to be one of the most fascinating battles of the Election.
Richard Lochhead landed the seat in 2016 with a 2875 majority for SNP but the subsequent Westminster polls in 2017 and 2019 both confirmed a rise in support for Conservatives in the area, with two victories. This, then, will be a key seat for both the SNP and the Conservatives and one where a swing is possible.
Effectively a two horse race in both white paper and peach paper (for Highlands and Islands region) both SNP and the Conservatives will be sending the same message to their supporters: both votes should go to them.
The image, below, shows the aforementioned shift in voting intention in Moray over recent years, making this a nail biter for both sides. Tim Eagle, a local councillor and agricultural assessor, will contest the white paper seat for the Conservatives.
What Choices will you have on the ballot paper?
Incumbent, Paisley-born, Richard Lochhead (SNP) has considerable rural experience from his time as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, where his emphasis was, primarily, on the fishing and farming sectors. He was in position as the SGA pushed to overturn the ban on tail shortening of working dogs, which eventually proved successful, although his personal position on that issue was difficult to fully ascertain. He passionately backed the Land Reform changes of 2016 which saw sporting rates introduced for shooting and deer forests. Following the Moray wildfire of 2019, he wrote to local gamekeepers offering thanks for their efforts in assisting the fire service. This was welcomed by local SGA members who initially felt his suspicion was placed upon them, from early statements in local media.
Tim Eagle (Conservative, below) is a councillor, a former Police officer and an agricultural assessor. As a newcomer to the candidacy, there is no immediate track record in terms of support for rural workers of land and river, to draw on. However, as a farm dweller and as someone working in the agricultural sector, he will know the challenges facing land workers today.
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.
One issue which may have an impact on SGA members' voting intention in Moray 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 Moray 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.