Referendum rethink for Labour candidate

Candidates Sally Prentice, left, and Gail Hendry.
Candidates Sally Prentice, left, and Gail Hendry.

Her by-election campaign so far might have been overshadowed by her comments on Scottish independence, but Sally Prentice says she’s now ready to toe the party line and oppose a second referendum.

The Scottish Labour Party candidate, of Swinton in Berwickshire, will contest the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire seat at June 8’s Holyrood by-election.

Candidate Catriona Bhatia.

Candidate Catriona Bhatia.

The 27-year-old stood at this month’s council election for Kelso and district but was eliminated after stage five of the vote redistribution.

A single mother of two, she previously worked in customer service.

Miss Prentice, originally from Haddington in East Lothian, said: “I am not a seasoned politician, and I wish to serve my constituency, not govern.

“My heart is in it, my ego is not. I wish to help shape a fairer Scotland. I have always had the view that if you don’t like something, change it.

Candidate Rachael Hamilton.

Candidate Rachael Hamilton.

“I joined the Labour Party officially in 2015, when Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

“I have been brought up with our values and beliefs, often describing myself to people as having Labour through me like Blackpool rock.”

Having been born a premature and seriously ill baby, Sally is passionate about the National Health Service as she credits it with saving her life.

She is also an advocate for free education, having previously quit her degree studies due to financial strains.

“I wanted to be a nurse, but I couldn’t afford to carry on studying, and that’s something I would love to change for others,” she said.

“Free education is a marvellous help in Scotland, a cornerstone in our forward thinking, but unfortunately, it is only half the battle.

“I had three part-time jobs to support myself and I still couldn’t make ends meet.”

She also cites VAT exemptions for some public service bodies and introducing a food coupon scheme to encourage healthy eating as being among her main priorities.

A suggestion that electing Jeremy Corbyn as UK prime minister would help deliver a second independence referendum saw Miss Prentice’s by-election campaign make national headlines last month.

She posted a graphic on Facebook stating: “A vote for Labour in Scotland is a chance of indyref2” and suggested to SNP supporters that “the only way you’re going to get to ask the question again is if Jeremy Corbyn is in No 10”.

This week, though, she told the Southern: “Jeremy opposes a second referendum, as does Kezia Dugdale, therefore so do I.”

There are no Labour councillors in the Borders, and it has just two regional list MSPs for South Scotland.

Sally is standing against three other women for the Borders seat – Liberal Democrat Catriona Bhatia, 48, of Eshiels, near Peebles, a former Scottish Borders councillor and daughter of ex-MP Lord David Steel; the Scottish Nationalist Party’s Gail Hendry, 53, of Hawick, former first minister Alex Salmond’s sister; and Conservative Rachael Hamilton, 46, of Maxton, near St Boswells, who has given up her list MSP post to bid for the constituency seat.

The seat became vacant after John Lamont quit his Holyrood job to focus on bidding to claim the Westminster seat that the SNP’s Calum Kerr beat him to last time round.