Race for Holyrood: Your Scottish election briefing for Thursday, April 1

A lighter look at the Scottish election campaign trail.

Soapbox

@scottishgreens: “We are proud to top this list. If the Scottish Parliament is to represent women, then it needs more women in it.”

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The Scottish Greens have celebrated being named the party with the highest proportion of women candidates in this year’s election.

Just under half (49 per cent) of the party’s candidates are women, compared with 47 per cent of SNP candidates and 43 per cent of Scottish Labour candidates.

By comparison, less than a third (30 per cent) of Scottish Conservatives standing for seats in Holyrood are women.

Caption This

Do you have a good caption for this photo of Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to a chemist in Burnside? Let us know in the comments.

Nicola Sturgeon visits a Burnside chemist during campaigning for the Scottish Parliamentary election in Rutherglen, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

#FakeNews?

In a column for The Scotsman on Thursday, Douglas Ross praised the UK Government’s furlough scheme, claiming it had “protected around a million Scottish jobs” since the start of the pandemic.

The latest figures, published earlier this month by HMRC, suggest the Scottish Tory leader’s statement is close to the mark, without quite being spot on.

The true figure of furlough claims made in Scotland is 892,200.

Campaign Trail

•On Thursday morning Nicola Sturgeon appeared to distance herself from previous claims that independence was “essential” to a successful economic recovery from the pandemic.

She told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme the country now needed to be already “clearly in the recovery phase” before she would consider holding a second referendum at all. It comes after she was accused by Labour’s Anas Sarwar of having a “blind spot” on the constitution during the BBC’s leaders’ debate on Tuesday.

•Meanwhile the Scottish Libertarian Party has unveiled its star candidate for the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency contest at the coming election.

Mark Meechan, aka “Count Dankula”, first made headlines in 2019 after he was fined £800 for filming his partner’s pug giving Nazi salutes in response to racist and anti-Semitic phrases.

The 33-year-old, latterly of UKIP, is hoping to unseat the SNP’s Clare Adamson, who won 52.5 per cent of the vote in 2016.

•Mystery surrounds the status of the Alba Party’s national headquarters in Edinburgh.

No.1 Lochrin Square is advertised online by a rental agency called Regus, which offers “virtual offices” for individuals and organisations alongside more traditional work spaces.

For as little as £93 a month, Regus says companies can enjoy the use of a “prestigious business address” by renting a virtual office at Lochrin Square, with benefits including a receptionist and mail handling services.

Virtual office customers are, however, not allowed access to work in the building itself. This column approached the Alba Party about what kind of rental contract it holds with Regus for its HQ, but is yet to receive confirmation.

Battleground

Perthshire South and Kinross-shire

•Winning party (2016): SNP

•Second place (2016): Scottish Conservatives

•Swing to lose: 1.97%

Perthshire South and Kinross-shire is a predominantly rural constituency, with important links to Scotland’s livestock and fruit-growing markets.

And the area has certainly been fertile ground for the SNP. In 1995, Roseanna Cunningham won the Westminster seat of Perth from the Scottish Conservatives, who had dominated there since the end of the Second World War.

Ms Cunningham retained Perth at the 1997 general election, and went on to win the seat at the newly-formed Scottish Parliament two years later. Since then, she has been returned by constituents in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – when Kinross was added after a boundary review – and in 2016 as well.

But the Tories have never been far behind Ms Cunningham in their old haunt, and after she announced her retirement from Holyrood last year, her SNP successor Jim Fairlie is sure to face stiff competition.

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