East Neuk and Landward has been a separate branch for just over 3 years. What have we been up to in that time?
It feels like we have been permanently campaigning. In 2017 we helped return Stephen Gethins as MP for North East Fife. Famously, that win was by two votes. Less famously, the activists who knocked on the doors to get out the vote on Polling Day took three days to dry out, but it was worth it. Then much to our disappointment, and despite our efforts in securing the highest vote ever for the SNP in NE Fife, Stephen lost his seat in the coldest election campaign ever. Also in 2019, in a reasonably warm and dry EU Election, we played our part in securing a resounding SNP victory.
But in the last three years, it hasn’t all been about delivering leaflets and knocking on doors. We have been busy in other ways. And here are some of the highlights.
In April 2018, with the help of Jenny Gilruth MSP, a number of Branch members visited the Scottish Parliament. We were shown around the fabulous building, and sat in on First Ministers Questions. It is strictly forbidden for visitors to interfere with the proceedings, so it was with a great deal of difficulty that some of our party were restrained. Particularly when Ruth Davidson (remember her?) was speaking.
In August 2018, we had our first attempt at a branch Cheese & Wine Party, in the Dreel Halls in Anstruther. It was a huge success, with members from all over the Constituency coming to a relaxed and enjoyable social evening and Q & A Session with Stephen and Councillor John Docherty.
Then in October 2018, we hosted ‘The National Roadshow’. Richard Walker, Editor of the Sunday National, introduced a number of contributors to the newspaper. The undoubted star of the show was The Wee Ginger Dug. Witty, knowledgeable and passionate, he presented an unanswerable case for Independence. And his owner, Paul Kavanagh (pictured) was pretty impressive too.
In October 2019, we held our second Cheese & Wine Party, in Pittenweem Town Hall, and by now we had got the hang of it. Just look – we were able to ask questions and have a chat with Keith Brown and Pete Wishart. A fabulous evening.
In addition to our big overtly political events, we organised purely fun activities. We ran six music evenings, including a memorable evening with the wonderful Sheena Wellington. These were organised by Annie Harrower-Gray and Iain Anderson, and were held in the Royal Hotel, Anstruther. We would love it if someone could revive these music sessions.
And we have to mention our famous Quiz Nights. Maybe not famous, exactly, but fun nonetheless, usually compered with a touch of humour and chaos by Ross Gillanders.
Branch members are also welcome to attend a range of activities organised by other branches and the Constituency Association, the body which co-ordinates the work of the 5 branches in NE Fife. Our members have attended Burns Suppers, film shows, and a host of other events.
But there is no doubt about the highlight of our activities – the visit of the First Minister to Anstruther on 31 May 2017, as part of that year’s General Election Campaign. Nicola was her usual chatty, approachable self. A memorable day.