NEWS FROM THE NORTH EAST

NORTH EAST CALLING……. By DOT JESSIMAN. It’s been a strange campaign fighting over the familiar territory here in the North East in such different circumstances.   For me and as it turns out many others, one minute stuck with 2 votes SNP.   Knowing this slogan was symptomatic of a Party for which hedging bets had replaced Indy drive.   KnowingContinue reading "NEWS FROM THE NORTH EAST"

NEWS FROM THE NORTH EAST

NORTH EAST CALLING……. By DOT JESSIMAN.

It’s been a strange campaign fighting over the familiar territory here in the North East in such different circumstances.   For me and as it turns out many others, one minute stuck with 2 votes SNP.   Knowing this slogan was symptomatic of a Party for which hedging bets had replaced Indy drive.   Knowing the arithmetic.   Not impressed with the four list options on offer if I did the unthinkable and voted other than SNP.    Then next, suddenly ALBA offering a way round the smart-arses who had designed the system to foil the SNP (I relish that bit!) led by a can-do leader of impeccable Indy-first credentials and unmatchable campaign skills.   So I joined.    So did 5000+ others  nationwide.  I don’t know the North East Figure but judging by the campaign teams, plenty – with a high proportion of activists well fired up .   

One month later where are we in the North East?   Well, we have our four candidates.   Top of the list the man himself Alex Salmond, Heather Maclean an experienced teacher from Dundee,  Cllr Brian Topping, 37  years a Councillor for his home town, Fraserburgh, where as we all know  There’s no Stopping Topping!,  and me Dot Jessiman 40+ years an SNP activist and ex-NEC member.   

We have a Manifesto asserting the overriding need for an immediate kick-start on independence if  Scotland is to retain the power to do a decent day job, alongside a long term planning strategy .  Indeed over  the whole range of policies the Manifesto distinguishes between things we can do now, we mean NOW, and longer term strategies.  

Against all the odds the time scale entailed the work is getting done.    We’ve produced  the leaflets  and the posters, etc.   So much for the tools,   How are they being used on the ground?       Well we’ve found the dedicated activists to use them and the posters are going up.    The fields and gardens are sprouting  a good crop of field posters.    The postal leaflets are with the Post Office.   The truly dedicated are decorating their cars and the  rest are putting up car stickers.   We even, a topical note, are wearing ALBA face masks.   The leaflets are going through the doors.  

Right from the start we seem to have hit a nerve.   Let’s hear from one of our first recruits now one of our area organisers, Fiona Macrae, ex SNP  who followed in her mother’s footsteps to serve 10 years as an SNP Councillor .  “We’ve had a great response, not only that, I’d say over half were women, it’s been so good to know that people are still fired up by the thought of indy, that they are willing to work together to get the message out!   I’ve had requests for field boards, window posters, offers of help, people asking where to donate money etc. etc. What a week!”;

Over the first part of the campaign it has, as I said , been a strange campaign.   The restrictions imposed by the pandemic have forbidden the emphasis on face to face contacts that the independence movement normally employs to counter a hostile media.    Perverse as always the NE weather which usually leaves door-steppers facing wind, rain and snow has produced days of brilliant sunshine as we hunch over the computers to contact our voters!   Experienced activists have been missing  the “feel “ you get on the doorsteps and stalls  which tell you how  you’re doing.      

But this is changing as we go into the last part of the campaign and the leafletters go out.   Despite the difficulties caused by the need to maintain distancing the response is very, very positive.    The  voters want to talk, always a good sign, and the thing they want to talk about is independence.    There is no doubt  that ALBA’s existence has highlighted the  way the system has ,until now , frustrated the intentions of indy supporters in the North East as they cast their list votes overwhelmingly in support of the SNP.   It is no exaggeration to say that quoting the figures from last time round  -137,086  SNP list votes for 0 SNP seats and 7 seats for assorted unionist MSPs – has a stunning effect.

Of course this comes as no surprise to the activists.   Several of the leafletters have commented that they are finding  the response so much more positive than  one would expect from the polling results so far. Quite apart from my inveterate distrust of the motivation behind polls I don’t find that at all surprising.      The North East has traditionally been an SNP stronghold.     The Constituency and Branch organisations are long-standing and packed with activists who understand the system all too well and whom it has been annoying for some time.     They are out there fighting the constituency seats with the full intention of rounding up the final  total of seats  to the full  10 thus worsening their Party’s position on the list.   I know from my many contacts as a grassroots representative on the NEC that many were  toying with finding a way of  removing the less than impressive unionists they were effectively “electing”.     Three unknown options and the Greens who, while allies on Indy,have other priorities was no solution.     

Hopefully,  this  silent majority will  keep their own counsel and just do it.     If just half do it the jackpot  will mean 14 indy seats,. 4 extra allies, in  the Parliament instead of 10 SNP and 7unionist MSPs.       They know better than most the prize would be  not just a reduced unionist presence at Holyrood but out here on the ground, with  less offices and less organisation as we turn our sights on an Independence Referendum and the fight for an independent Scotland. . My hunch is that they will go for it.

And my hunch is echoed by one activist.  “MOST of the people I’ve talked with, and I include myself here, were wondering if they would vote.  It may have been the first time in 45 years that I’d not cast a vote , and I’m very conscious of always voting, so with the SNP1 ALBA 2 choice people are now going to vote.  This means  that ALBA are actually galvanising the SNP vote and ultimately their vote results.   Its an exciting election once again”.  

Yes indeed.    From the North East with the supermajority in our sights -so say all of us.

My Comment

The above is typical of the upbeat reports now coming in from all over Scotland. Now that our activists have the leaflets and posters they are now in direct contact with the electorate and universally seem to be finding considerable goodwill and support for what we are trying to achieve. Much more of this and I will have to reset my mood to cautiously optimistic!

Less than two weeks to go, lets continue to build our campaign to the maximum possible then we will deserve all the good news when the votes are counted,

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland

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