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Fish & chips and tactical votes

Jamie’s Election Diary

Back on the trail. and I arrive on the seafront in Troon just as George is mounting the soapbox. Getting out of my car is a blessed relief. My little car was only ever designed to be a run-around and I have been bent double for two and a half hours, all the while imagining Douglas Ross, Anas Sarwar and Nicola Sturgeon sitting on their battle buses, sipping coffee and checking their Twitter timelines. Still, there is something virtuous about being the underdog in this fight. When it’s my turn on the soapbox I talk about what has been on my mind while driving. The lack of posters for any party, even the SNP, on my way here raises questions. Are the people of Scotland not going to vote? Have they lost interest in politics? Or is it that they are resigned to the outcome?

The old parties have resigned themselves to contesting second place. Douglas Ross isn’t even standing in a constituency. All for Unity has at least charted a way to defeat the SNP – but are enough people listening? We’ll know on Friday. Afterwards, George congratulates me and says it was like listening to Lenin in Finland Square, continuing the enjoyable right-left banter that has become a leitmotiv through the campaign. I take it as compliment but make a mental note to compare his next speech to Oswald Mosley at the height of his powers.

***

Lunch at Wee Hurrie’s by the harbour has to be the best fish and chips in Scotland. We are joined by a friend of David Griffiths who has a Meatloaf tribute act called ‘Pete Loaf’. He shows us his act on his phone and he is excellent but, like so many performing artists, down on his luck after the lockdown, like our friend Robbie, the Elvis impersonator in Hawick, who had had to sell his costumes to keep going. These are the people let down by the SNP’s misappropriation of the Covid Business Relief Funds. I hope they get their just desserts on Thursday.

***

Every few minutes my phone rings with another friend asking for tactical voting advice. Usually they are from Dumfries and Galloway and the reply is simple: Lilac Tory, Orange All for Unity. It’s a scandal that, after 20 years, the Scottish electorate is so illiterate about how the d’Hondt voting system works. Of course the bigger parties have no intention of enlightening the proletariat and blithely campaign on slogans of Both Votes Tory or Both Votes SNP, knowing full well that lots of second votes will be wasted.  I hope that if nothing else, All for Unity has helped to make people more aware of how to make their second vote work better for them. And, if we do get in, we will try and bring about change to the electoral system to simplify it. 

***

Then it’s off to Govanhill via Kilmarnock. Outside St Bride’s Primary School, the brilliant and irrepressible Niall Fraser turns up with the electronic billboard and we have a candidates’ photo shoot in front of a Save Our Scotland poster. The result looks like a seventies album cover. It feels good to be campaigning on Nicola Sturgeon’s doorstep, though I don’t suppose she goes there very often.                                             

***

Back home there is time to catch up on social media. Linda Holt, our outstanding lead candidate in Fife has written a brilliant article in Think Scotland explaining why All for Unity was needed to fill the hole where the pro-UK opposition to nationalism has been for the last fourteen years.

For me as a writer, one of the most exciting things has been bouncing ideas off great political writers and thinkers like Linda, Effie Deans, Jill Stephenson, Mark Devlin and Tom Gallagher and developing the doctrine that underpins our movement. That will continue whatever happens at the polls this week. I am so grateful to them, to the very generous donors who have given us campaign funds and to all our supporters who have kept us going through moments of doubt and adversity.

The Alliance for Unity is now an effective campaigning force that will be ready to take on where ‘Better Together’ left off, if need be. After the Scottish Tories’ extraordinary announcement that another independence referendum will happen if they don’t prevent an SNP majority, that may be sooner rather than later. It is extraordinary to think that All for Unity is now the only party standing on a No Referendum platform.

***

Today, the last day of the campaign, we finish the soapbox tour outside Holyrood. George and I give our final speeches to camera for Youtube dubbed “Krankie Foes to Holyrood”. I’d love to see that headline on news stands this weekend. 

Jamie Blackett is leader of All for Unity (the Alliance for Unity). Follow him on Twitter @Jamie_Blackett.


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Written by Jamie Blackett

Jamie Blackett farms in Galloway and is the author of Red Rag to a Bull, Rural Life in an Urban Age (Quiller). Follow him on Twitter: @Jamie_Blackett

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