Scottish independents: Who are the candidates going it alone?
Standing for election can be difficult enough, but without party machinery behind you it can be even harder. It’s why only two independents have been successful in the 22 years of the Scottish Parliament: Margo MacDonald and Dennis Canavan. And they were both already household names.
Those daunting odds have not stopped 25 people stepping up to the plate on their own this time around.
Some of them are seeking to promote a single issue, others are hoping to cause trouble for the establishment, and others still are following the long-standing tradition of joke candidacy.
Holyrood takes a closer look at some of them…
Having already been an MSP since 2016, Wightman will be hoping he’s made enough of a name for himself to be elected via the Highlands and Islands list. Well-known in land reform circles, he literally wrote the book on land rights and land ownership.
In a region still feeling the impact of events like the Highland clearances, that could play well for him. He is proposing a Land for the People Bill to help deliver affordable housing and reduce the concentration of private land ownership. Previously a Green MSP, Wightman resigned from the party over a row about trans and women’s rights.
Krykant has already caused a bit of a stir with the opening of his drug consumption van in Glasgow last summer. A former addict himself, he argues more needs to be done to tackle Scotland’s tragic drug deaths including through an Overdose Prevention Sites Bill which has already gained the support of more than 80 other candidates.
He also believes Scotland has been “run into the ground by underinvestment and a lack of interest in our local communities”. He is running in Falkirk East.
The former Britain First leader is going up against Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside. Announcing her intention, Fransen said: “I am going to be standing in the Scottish elections in May against these SNP commie, Marxists, naughty people.”
Previously convicted of a number of religiously aggravated crimes, including harassment, Fransen is part of the British Freedom Party which says it rejects “the evils of abortion, gay marriage and multiculturalism”. BFP is not a registered political party however, so Fransen and two others, Jimmy Dowson and Joseph Finnie, are standing as independents.
Bonny Prince Bob
Also looking to stick it to the establishment, but from the other side of the political spectrum, is Bonnie Prince Bob. He has specifically pitched himself in opposition to Angus Robertson, who he labels a “carpetbagger”, for Edinburgh Central.
In a colourful campaign video, the Edinburgh artist describes the Scottish Government as a “shell organisation for capital interests” and goes on to lament the “explosion of AirBnBs that squeeze out local tenants” and the “flogging and whoring of every square metre of public space to crap hotels and fetid Etonian spivs” in the capital.
Coronavirus is naturally shaping a lot of the discussion around the election, including a raft of anti-lockdown parties and candidates. Paddy Hogg is one of them. He supports the Great Barrington Declaration, which promotes a herd immunity response by allowing those “at minimal risk of death” to live normally to “build up immunity to the virus through natural infection”.
Hogg, a North Lanarkshire councillor who used to be an SNP member, was last year charged with culpable and reckless conduct after allegedly organising two anti-lockdown protests in Edinburgh. Appearing in court in December, he made no plea and the case was continued for further examination. He will appear on the Central list ballot.
Greg Energy Advisor
Greg ‘Energy Advisor’ McKee is supportive of a referendum – on Scotland having full control of its energy grid. Another candidate standing against Nicola Sturgeon, he is campaigning to end fuel poverty by nationalising the energy sector (which was privatised 30 years ago).
A single-issue candidate he might be, but McKee could yet be successful in putting plans for a publicly owned energy company – first announced by the SNP in 2017 – back on the agenda.
There may be no Lord Buckethead on the ballot in Scotland, but there is a candidate who wants to make him Patron Saint. Standing in Clydebank and Milngavie and self-described as “the dankest candidate available”, Alexander John’s manifesto commitments include selling Edinburgh to Elon Musk, turning Falkirk Wheel into a square and giving a free bottle of Buckie to everyone who doesn’t catch COVID.
He’s also keen on serious issues like climate change though. He has promised to plant “at least” one hundred banana trees if elected. He added: “I would do more, but I’m only one man and my back’s sore half the time.”