On the streets of Dumfriesshire with Oliver Mundell, the only local candidate
Oliver is the only candidate from the major parties to have grown up in the constituency, so he knows the issues well. He was schooled in Moffat and knows the local issues because he is local.
Saturday began earlier than I would have liked, but a street stall in Dumfries was calling, so I was on the road right after my porridge. The drive from Edinburgh takes you through some striking scenery: snow-capped hills (you can tell its almost summer), fields of gambolling lambs, plenty of windmills. It seemed just like yesterday I drove the same road. As it happens it was a fortnight ago on my way to campaign with Fin Carson down in Galloway. This time it was Oliver Mundell and his team of trusty Tories who summoned me west.
Ben and I arrived in Dumfries High Street just as a small procession of SNP supporters and their candidate trooped by. They were slightly unchuffed because a disgruntled former SNP councillor had pitched her gazebo right next to the SNP operation, and her literature was festooned with claims of racism and bullying within the SNP party locally. Later we were joined by folks from RISE, who brought along a piper, which lent a jaunty air to proceedings. Labour were oddly absent.
Oliver is the only candidate from the major parties to have grown up in the constituency, so he knows the issues well. He was schooled in Moffat and knows the local issues because he is local. It would be remiss of me not to mention Oliver’s dad, who represents the near equivalent Westminster seat, and is Scotland’s voice in the cabinet. Mundell senior was keen to tell me that only the other week a voter had come up to him and said he had voted for his dad in the General Election! I think that may have been the highlight of the election for the Rt Hon David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland. Oliver smiled gently in the background as the tale was told. I fear he may have heard it before…
Oliver Mundell already has name recognition in the seat, but more important than that, he has a passion for the issues affecting the folks of Dumfriesshire. Top of the list on the doorstep: the SNP Government’s Named Person Scheme. As Oliver explained, people are vehemently opposed to Government intrusion into their family’s wellbeing. However, he was also concerned that spreading child protection resources so thin runs the risk of failing the vulnerable children most in need. In this he is right behind Ruth Davidson, who has made opposition to the Named Person scheme a Scottish Conservative manifesto commitment.
Oliver was also very much aware of the challenges facing local farmers. As he pointed out, you won’t find a single farmer with an SNP poster in their field, for good reason.
Later, Oliver’s assessment of the concerns of Dumfriesshire voters was confirmed in spades as we chapped the doors. At heart local voters want to believe that their concerns are heard and acted upon, and not ignored by the centralising SNP agenda. That is why Dumfriesshire needs Oliver Mundell. He is the right man for the job!