Our new video series brings the leaders of Scotland’s main political parties to the farm, perched on bales of hay for a conversation with comedian and local farmer Jim Smith.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is no stranger to the cowshed, having grown up on a working farm in Moray and still very much involved in rural affairs.
Jim and Douglas have known each other more than 20 years, first from the young farmers community.
“What was your wildest night out as a young farmer” Jim asks.
That’s not a question any politician would be willing to admit, but Douglas does point the finger of blame at Jim: “So, there’s no way I’m going to announce that! But, eh, I do remember coming back to our flat in Ayr and the doors had been taken off the hinges, and I remember you getting some of the blame for that.”
In the conversation the two farmers discuss topics as diverse as a Forres Mechanics link to footballer Lionel Messi, Scotland’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and re-introducing extinct species into the Scottish countryside.
“Scottish people can’t even cope with midges in the summer, so how are they going to cope with wolves and bears?” Jim asks.
“Or a lot of beavers” says Douglas. “You’ve got to worry about people and their beavers.”
Jim notes that beavers are causing “mayhem” up near his farm in Blairgowrie and suggests one solution would be to introduce lynx.
“If you use lynx, you’ll never see a beaver” says Jim.
“I’ve experienced that before” says the Scottish Conservative leader “again the things you learn at agricultural college.”
These cowshed conversations allow the party leaders to relax and open up in an informal setting about a lot of topics that are important to people in Scotland’s countryside communities – with Jim Smith promising them less of a grilling, and more of a gentle warming on the Aga.
The videos with political party leaders visiting the farm can be found on our Election Hub website, with episodes featuring Willie Rennie, Patrick Harvie and Douglas Ross, with Anas Sarwar coming soon.