Candidate disappointed as claymore out for the count

Independant candidate Jesse Rae
Independant candidate Jesse Rae

“I’ve heard of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut – but never a claymore”.

That was the acerbic reaction of pop musician and producer Jesse Rae on learning he will not be allowed to carry his trademark ceremonial weapon at tonight’s general election count in Springwood Hall, Kelso.

The banning edict has come from Scottish Borders Council chief executive Tracey Logan in her capacity as returning officer for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency, where Mr Rae, 64, is seeking election as an Independent.

“I have been advised you often choose to carry a claymore,” wrote Ms Logan. “I wish to advise you formally that you will not be permitted to enter polling stations, the count centre or council property on the day of the election/count whilst carrying the claymore.

“You will appreciate that, as Returning Officer, I have responsibilities for the safety of presiding officers, poll clerks, other staff and members of the public who will be based in or visiting polling stations, and at the count centre once the poll closes.

“Some of the more frail or elderly people may feel intimidated by the claymore, which could be perceived by some to be threatening.

“I fully accept your rights as a candidate to visit polling stations and the count centre on the day of the election. However, in exercising those rights, you must do so without the claymore and I simply cannot permit you to do so whilst carrying it.

“I must ensure people are able to vote on the day without any perceived threat or risk.”

The sword has been an integral part of Mr Rae’s public persona since 1985 when it featured on the award-winning video of his hit single, Over the Sea.

“This is small-minded bureaucracy gone mad,” said Mr Rae, who lives near St Boswells and stood at Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2007 and 2011.

“My claymore, as everyone knows, is not an offensive weapon. It is a trophy: a symbol of my solidarity with Scotland and, particularly, my beloved Borders.

“Other than to vote, I have never visited polling stations on election days, so the ban really only applies to the count. As for the safety of the public, I have never been arrested for anything in my life and I’ve already had the claymore at hustings meetings in Selkirk and Galashiels without a problem.

“To get this letter just a week before the election leaves me feeling hurt and disappointed.

“My own view is that the ban is designed to embarrass me at the count when the media will be present.”

Mr Rae said he had yet to decide if he will exercise his right as a candidate, acknowledged by Ms Logan, to attend the count without his claymore.