“Fair chuffed for you.” A text from Mum following the election result last Friday morning.
I’m incredibly proud to have run for election in my home county. 1,245 people across East Lothian voted for me – a 2.1 per cent share of the total vote, up from 1.8 per cent in 2010. The Conservatives seemed pleased with their increased number of votes, but their share actually fell.
I was pleased to get close to overtaking the Libdems, and delighted to beat Ukip. At the count in Haddington I congratulated George Kerevan and told him to use his new status as MP for East Lothian wisely! I’ll be watching his actions like a hawk. I also thanked Fiona O'Donnell for her work over the past five years and wish her well with whatever comes next.
I really enjoyed the campaign, the public debates and the hundreds of emails! In the space of a few weeks leading up to the vote I replied to over 300 contacts from voters on everything from Trident to immigration policy, animal welfare to transport spending.
The campaign and the result are a great platform for Greens in East Lothian to build on. Next year we have a Scottish Parliament election to contest, and given the fairer voting system for 56 of the 129 MSPs we can expect the “Green Surge” to turn into more Green MSPs. In 2003 we got 7 MSPs with 6 per cent of the regional vote; opinion polling over the past year has put us pretty consistently on 10 per cent. And given the ongoing demise of Labour in Scotland, there’s a real chance for the Scottish Greens to become the progressive opposition party at Holyrood. Of course, a year’s a long time in politics and there’s a lot of hard work to do.
Not only do we have a growing membership, good opinion polling and a highly popular figurehead in Patrick Harvie, we have lead candidates in place already. East Lothian is divided between two of Holyrood’s eight regions: Musselburgh sits within Lothian region while the rest of the county sits within South of Scotland region. As a Musselburgher I look forward to campaigning for the lead candidates for Lothian region – that’s the current MSP Alison Johnstone and the renowned land reform and local government writer Andy Wightman. In South region our party list is headed by Sarah Beattie-Smith and our East Lothian branch co-convener Eurig Scandrett, a strong campaigner on Palestine and Bhopal who also brings his experience as a university union rep and chair of Friends of the Earth Scotland.
In the meantime I intend to continue campaigning on the local issues I’ve been raising here in Musselburgh for the past few years. We still have problems with traffic congestion and air pollution in the town centre, we still need to see Levenhall Links restored and handed back to the community, and I still want to see East Lothian get a fair share for funding from any city region deal, and for that funding to be used on sustainable infrastructure and local jobs.
I’m also still involved in the local cycle and rail forums and will continue to push for better cycling links through Musselburgh and better rail services. If I could just get Scotrail to fix the ticket machine at Musselburgh station I’d be “fair chuffed”!