Galloway for the Day
Whenever British MEPs foregather, and talk turns to constituencies, every member claims to have the best seat in the UK. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? However, Scotland is hard to beat.
Whenever British MEPs foregather, and talk turns to constituencies, every member claims to have the best seat in the UK. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? However, Scotland is hard to beat. We have more mountains (282 Munroes), more universities (5 in the global 200), more whiskies (120 distilleries and counting), more gins, more square miles of National Parks, more unique foods recognized by the EU (from Stornoway Black Pudding to Shetland Lamb) than any other constituency in Great Britain & Northern Ireland. I could go on but run the risk of sounding like a tea towel.
Scotland is certainly the largest single constituency in the whole EU. Colleagues in London can cross their patch in a few hours on the underground. The sheer scale of my turf was brought home just the other day. I began my weekend in Lerwick (not even the top bit of my constituency, but close) and ended it in Stranraer, in the far southwest of Scotland. (I may have to have a word with my team about travel arrangements…). From the land of the waist-high tree (and precious few of them) and the diminutive Shetland pony, to the cow-tastic rolling dairy-lands of Galloway, all within 24 hours.
I was in southwest to campaign for Finlay Carson, candidate for Dumfries and Galloway. Fin and I beat the streets of Creetown together during the referendum, and we ranged from Drummore on the Mull of Galloway through Castle Douglas to Dumfries during the general election. Finlay is a local councillor , chairman of the Castle Douglas Burns Club, Chair of the Stewarty Area Committee, Chair of the Castle Douglas Common Good Fund. Finlay and his brother diversified the family farming into a company providing IT services to rural businesses. That would seem to cover much of what Galloway needs in the Scottish Parliament.
There is also one serious qualification that should not be underestimated: Finlay actually lives in the constituency. The SNP candidate lives in Lanarkshire. She stood in Galloway in 2011 and has coveted the seat since, but at no point thought about putting down roots in the Galloway. Galloway has been in the safe hands of Alex Fergusson since he wrestled it from the SNP back in 2003, so perhaps it would have been a foolhardy investment. Fergie, is standing down this time, his commitment to Galloway is undimmed. I didn’t get a chance to catch up, he was too busy criss-crossing the constituency hammering in ‘Vote Finlay Carson’ field posters.
I joined Finlay in Stranraer, a town slowly coming to terms with the loss of its ferry service to Cairnryan along the coast but that is looking forward to its newly renovated town centre. To say it was chilly would be an understatement. The sun may have been shining upon our Tory stall in the High Street, but it made Shetland seem positively balmy. Thankfully the response on the doors was warming.
Keep your eyes on Galloway. Finlay Carson is a fine successor to Alex Fergusson. If anyone can keep the seat blue, its Finlay.