The NFUS hustings at Carfraemill on Thursday saw the first appearance in the election race of the constituency’s only Independent candidate, Jesse Rae.
Delivering his opening remarks, dressed in his now trademark tartan tunic and metal helmet, and propping his claymore behind him, the singer and composer from St Boswells expressed his disappointment at not being invited to the previous debate in Duns.
Communication was the central plank of his argument, as he detailed his life so far, which has seen spells working in the music industry and on New York’s stock exchange. Years before the era of livestreaming music or internet leaks, he was pioneering the use of music video technology and the internet.
“I have lived here and I will die here,” he told the room, “and I want to make the Borders the best place in the world.
“I can deliver everything,” he went on, “but not through a party, through the industry that I know,and my work, in television and everything else.
“I don’t want votes, because that’s an arrogant thing to ask for. I want your support.”
Mr Rae suggested that a radio station specially run by farmers, broadcasting from the Borders, may be a better way of promoting local interests in Europe than going through traditional party politics.
“I’m in a bit of an odd position,” he went on, “and it’s very difficult sometimes being independent, because I don’t believe in Westminster, and at the same time I am incredibly disappointed in the Scottish Government.”
Mr Rae then appeared to contradict himself slightly, saying: “I’m not disillusioned with politics, I’ve never belonged to any party,” before adding that he was “disgusted with the political system, but I do have 40 years of music work in the Borders.”
Mr Rae, like many of the candidates, seemed to be against the perceived stranglehold of large corporations and supermarkets on the agricultural industry. While he declined to offer any policy on the matter, he stressed to the audience that he “had never walked through a supermarket in the Borders, because I don’t like what they do.”