- Best bits: Three great hustings in the Borders and getting out in the sun winning votes from Kelso to Dumfries to Fenwick
- Worst bit: Coming to terms with the fact that there’s only a week left!
- Folk of note: Rob from Dumfries and Galloway College for being so welcoming; Debbie from Borders Carers Centre and Rutherfords’ micro pub and Susan Rae for raising a tonne of money for a great cause and managing to keep 100 sci-fi and fantasy fans happy at GeekFest!
- Miles travelled: 1,358
- Things I learned: There’s 25 million tonnes of coal in proposed and agreed sites for opencast mines in Scotland, yet last year just 1.3 million tonnes were dug out and the last 5 coal-fired power stations are due to close by 2025.
This monster week started in beautiful Gatehouse on the Solway coast at Danny and Lusi’s house. After breakfast (with singing), I headed homewards and got ready for a hustings in Duns. With 8 candidates, it was the biggest panel I’ve been part of and it was a really fun night. Set in the stunning parish church, we had questions on independence, wind power, tax policy and much more. You can see the Southern Reporter’s coverage of it here.
On Thursday morning I went through to Edinburgh for an early hustings with SCDI (8.30 start compensated with bacon rolls). I was the only woman on the panel – one assumes because it was about “serious man stuff” like economics and business (come ON other parties!). There was a beautiful moment where Magnus Linklater asked me from the chair whether my stance on GM crops wasn’t a bit anti-capitalist. I think he was rather taken aback when I said yes of course.
After the hustings I headed back to Dunbar for a photo call to celebrate John Muir Day. I met a group of local activists at John Muir Country Park to launch our policy on creating new national parks to protect our beautiful natural landscapes. While taking pics there was a *very* excited dog rampaging along the river underneath us. Ah doges.
After an afternoon of writing, the evening was spent at a hustings in Peebles in the Burgh Hall. I had a little time beforehand so decided to take the scenic route over the hills by Gorebridge and go for some really delicious dinner in Osso in Peebles where I was joined by local MP Callum Kerr. Callum’s dad was the head teacher at Peebles high when I was there – a nice reminder that Scotland really is a tiny wee village. The hustings covered energy, Trident and the controversy over the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
Friday started with a hustings in Borders College in Gala where we talked about student support and transition between work, unemployment and study and how to best support people to learn and work. Like the rest of my party, I’m backing NUS Scotland’s campaign to improve student support, particularly at FE. From Gala I went up to Peebles for my lunch where I filmed an interview with Joe Pike for ITV Borders.
After filming I headed home for tea and then back out to Edinburgh to help host the amazing Geekfest – a fundraising pub quiz with a twist.
Organised by the brilliant Susan Rae, the comic book, sci-fi and fantasy themed quiz had about 100 folk at it and raised hundreds of pounds to paint the Leith Walk Tardis Green, complete with Stewart Bremner murals, as well as raising money for the Holyrood campaign.
On Saturday I headed over to Glasgow for a morning with the Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance for a conference
focusing on restoration of opencast mines. I was shocked to hear the finance director of Hargreaves – the biggest firm involved in mining and now “restoration” – brazenly celebrating his company’s failed attempt to wriggle out of paying carbon taxes.
After the conference, I picked up Brenna and headed to Fenwick in Ayrshire for an afternoon of canvassing with a great team of fellow Greens. Fenwick was home to a weavers cooperative – revolutionary for its day. We had a pretty positive reception on the doorstep but a really worrying number of people still don’t know they have two votes.
On Sunday, Brenna and I met up with fab Borders Green stalwart Tim Clancey and leafleted the whole of Cardrona near Peebles.
On the way there, Tim had warned of sleet and snow but we managed to bring the sunshine and had a great morning. Of course the best bit was meeting all the doges (apart from a very irate Alsatian) and friendly cats.
After a great breakfast in Nashy’s cafe, we took a gorgeous route over the hills to Preston near Duns where we found brilliant Beth’s house by the VOTE GREEN poster in the window and picked up a heap of newsletters to leaflet Kelso with.
An afternoon in sunny Kelso followed, with a wee visit to Rutherford’s – the micro pub that I wrote about in the newsletter we were delivering. They won a great award recently and are up for another. Definitely worth a visit! After delivering a few hundred newsletters, we went over the Border and back again to drop in at Brenna’s mum’s house. There we had cuddles with Alfie doge and a very welcome cuppa, before heading to Eyemouth for fish n chips at Mackays.
Monday brought a trip to Dumfries to meet students at D&G College. I had some great conversations with students, including some business students putting on a fundraising gig for D&G SANDS and a group of guys who were really interested in talking about jobs and transition from fossil fuels. After an all too brief chat, I headed up through the hills past Moffat to Gala to meet with Debbie from the Borders Carers Centre.
In a beautiful karmic moment, it turns out she runs Rutherford’s in Kelso so was singing our praises for mentioning them in the newsletter! We had a great chat about what support carers need and particularly how her organisation helps them. Find out more about our policies on care here.
From Gala, Brenna and I went up to Innerleithen and bumped into an old school friend in the Traquair Arms and prepped for the hustings organised by the Tweeddale Action Group (TAG).
About 70-80 folk turned out on a gorgeous sunny evening for a really well organised hustings. You can see my answer to a question about TTIP here. My old English teacher Ian Jenkins was in the audience. He left teaching to become an MSP in the first Parliament so it meant a lot to me when he said I did really well in the hustings.
On Tuesday I was back down the road in Dumfries, this time with my pal Blu who I’ve known for half my life. We packed our bikes in the car (before a friendly cat tried to stow away with us) and headed down the road through snow and sleet.
In Dumfries the sun came out just in time for us to get some leafletting in with the wonderful D&G Greens before hopping on our bikes. We were meeting with Cycling Dumfries who are campaigning for better integrated cycle paths and routes to school and college across the town.
Sally from the group led the tour of the town with assorted politicians, pointing out all the places where things like developers pulling out of housing developments has an impact on the infrastructure and where the lack of ongoing funding for paths means they’re built and then not maintained. Check out our policies on active travel here.
That’s all for this week. And who knows if I’ll manage a diary next week! Over the final week of the campaign I’ve got a couple of hustings in Prestwick on Friday and Ayr on Monday; an action day in Kelso on Saturday, leafletting, door knocking and stall on Sunday and a giant tour of the South on Tuesday and Wednesday before the big day. Get in touch if you want to help out!
In the meantime, here’s all the doges and cats I’ve met this week 🙂