Hawick councillor joins Alba Party
An independent Hawick councillor has joined former First Minister Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, which was reportedly formed to help secure a supermajority of pro-independence MSPs at Holyrood in the upcoming election.
The news may come as a surprise to Teries, however, as despite being regularly seen around town in a tartan suit, Councillor David Paterson proclaimed quite loudly at the count for the last council elections that he didn’t want to see “another independence referendum”.
Mr Paterson told us on Tuesday in Hawick that his views have changed since then.
He said: “I supported the SNP for years, but came out of the party many years ago.
"I just felt that the SNP were going absolutely nowhere and this new party could be the catalyst for good things for Scotland.
"So I’m hoping they can pick up a lot of seats at the next election and make a mark on the country."
Asked about his comments at the last council election in 2017, he said: “Aye, that was then and this is now.
"So many changes have come about and now we need another referendum.
"Scotland was taken out of Europe against its will and people need to make their own minds up now and it’s time we had a change.
"Alba approached me and asked me how I felt about the party and I said I was quite for it, so they asked me if I wanted to join, so I did."
We asked Mr Paterson, who is well known as an independent of many years, standing up for the people of Hawick and the surrounding area with no political bias, why he felt the need to join a party now.
He said: “You may well say the same about why people join the Conservative Party, the SNP or the Liberal Democrats.
“It’s something I want to do, and it's something that appeals to me.
"I don’t think the SNP are going anywhere and I think this party can be the catalyst for good things.”
Mr Paterson was joined in Hawick on Tuesday by Cynthia Guthrie, a company director with business interests in the Borders and also tops the South of Scotland regional list for the Alba Party in the election on May 6.
She told us: “I’m delighted to see David on board, as I’ve canvassed with him before.
"He’s as passionate as I am about independence, and I believe this is the right home for him,we really need experienced people who are passionate about their local communities to get that message across.”
About Mr Paterson’s change of heart, she said: "I think David is quite right, and I hope that the people in the South of Scotland realise that by voting Alba on the list you are actually keeping the Tories out.”
She added: "I’ll be voting SNP, but on the list we need to absolutely stick behind our country, it’s that important.”
Mrs Guthrie said she was not sure if any other Scottish Borders Councillors were asked about joining the party, which claims to have pitched the most diverse group of candidates in the election.
And Mr Paterson, a former champion boxer, appears to add to that diversity.
A party spokesperson said: “Eighteen women candidates represent 56% of the total fielded across Scotland.
"In the South of Scotland three of the four candidates standing for Alba are women. Alba currently include eight serving councillors, six current or former parliamentarians, three BAME candidates, three candidates with disabilities, two serving MPs, two economists, one former champion boxer and a former First Minister, Alex Salmond.”