Questioning the constituencies

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Just as the mighty Southern Reporter was hitting the giant printing press somewhere just off the M8, great things were also happening in Newtown St Boswells and Dumfries.

At exactly 4pm, returning officers closed their books on nominations for the two seats that embrace the Borders for elections to Westminster.

It has been no secret for a long time who the main parties are putting forward as hopefuls. Just for clarification for those with a mind muddled by council wards, Holyrood constituencies and London seats, the two the warring factions are fighting for on May 7 are: Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk; and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

The first makes sense, covering as it does three of our four Border counties. It’s been tinkered about with in the past with the eastern component of the trio once sharing a Westminster space with East Lothian. But sense eventually came and Berwickshire was back in its rightful place.

Berwick, of course, isn’t. It is still in with our northern English neighbours, sitting on the wrong side of the Tweed.

When the new Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency was born out of political gerrymandering, I described it as a carbuncle.

We are certain, once again, to see wheeling and dealing in – before the baccy ban – what used to be smoke-filled rooms. The only smoke now is in the salmon. Oh, he – that’s salmon with a ‘d’ – is sure to be in there.

The TV debates have been interesting, but not overly-enthralling. Seven-up could have been a bit more juicy and the first by the Scottish leaders only infrequently set the heather on fire.

I was impressed by one on Tuesday that featured that most important ingredient of any country’s mix – the young. They asked sensible, well-delivered questions, and refused to accept at face value answers from politicians, pundits and a comedian. Articulate and intelligent, they showed, to me, why the voting age must be reduced to 16 for all elections.

One young lady hit out at gender-quality politics – when she said she didn’t care who represented her, as long as they did it well. An extremely valid point.

Going back to 4pm yesterday reminds me of an election to either Peebles Town or Peebles County Council. A well established figure – Police Judge Jock Preston – was sitting in a meeting when the 4pm deadline came and passed. He’d served Peebles well for decades, despite his roots as a Gala man from Tweed Road, but now was a councillor no longer. Fortunately for Jock a Peebles vacancy soon arose and he was back in the fold.