Barrie Cunning, Scottish Labour’s candidate in Ettrick Roxburgh & Berwickshire, invites you to his campaign launch tomorrow.
Two weeks ago I was selected to stand as the Labour candidate for my home constituency of Ettrick Roxburgh & Berwickshire, and what an enormous privilege and honour it is to represent our party in my area.
In the Borders, Labour has always been seen as the party with good intentions and policies that resonate well with the electorate. In practice many often vote tactically, and I’ve heard it first hand from people saying that they support labour but to vote labour is perceived as a wasted vote. That is changing.
In the Borders people don’t do party politics as it’s more about the candidate and what they will do for the area. In short, people don’t want someone who wants to be a politician to further advance their own career ambition, but rather someone who will be a champion for the area, whether it be talking to people about pot holes needing to be filled, garden refuse collection or a particular policy, people want someone who doesn’t distinguish between big and small issues but will just get on with the job and serve the people.
Having lived in the Borders for most of my life, I often feel that where Labour has gone wrong hasn’t been what we stood for or the passion of Labour members, but the way we communicated our message locally to potential Labour voters. In order to convert those would-be Labour voters to becoming actual Labour voters it is vital that we give them a reason to vote Labour. And it isn’t reason enough to just talk about the national issues as the first question people usually ask about anyone running is: what will you do for the local area? What makes you different to the other candidates and why should we vote for you?
People are looking for a local person to represent them at a national level, and I think that is why people in the Borders are now starting to look at Labour. In this election we have a local candidate who people can identify with and who writes for the local press and in the last 12 months we have had great campaigns such as the anti-trade union bill and tax credit cuts that have enabled us to engage with local people, but as I say national issues aren’t reason enough and I believe for many people it comes down to the candidate.
In the Borders we have witnessed many job losses recently and I personally felt that if I’m going to be saying to people to vote Labour and talk about more jobs and investment it was essential that we were seen as leading from the front. And that’s exactly what we did with regard to Hawick Knitwear who announced they went into administration over a month ago and this Monday we will find out if a buyer has been accepted. I didn’t do this because I was hoping to be standing as a Labour candidate I did it because it was the right thing to do as I care about what happens in my area.
As part of my campaign I will of course be campaigning for people to vote Labour on our policies and what we stand for but I will also be asking people to take a look at me and what I can do for the area, even if they haven’t voted Labour before they might get behind a local candidate. There is no denying that locally we can’t match the campaign funds of the Tories or the SNP and to counter that we need to think outside of the box when it comes to reinforcing our message to the electorate but it isn’t impossible.
I will be having my campaign launch at the Ednam House hotel Kelso at 7pm tomorrow (March 4th) and everyone is invited to attend.