In 1745, Charles Edward Stewart, best known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, led a Jacobite revolt to return the British throne to his father, James Francis Edward Stewart and ultimately bring independence back to Scotland. Almost 300 years later, an independent candidate lending his name to the romanticised historical figure is challenging to win the Edinburgh Central constituency at the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary election. The pro-independence, socialist, and anti-royalist is hoping to offer something different to the manifesto promises of the mainstream party candidates.
For Bonnie Prince Bob, the focus of his campaign is on supporting the disadvantaged and left behind within the city. The independent candidate has revealed to The Student in an exclusive interview that, “I want to fight to increase class consciousness within our society and for the emancipation of the working class… I hope to make the city more accessible and affordable for the working classes.” Where the focus of other candidates has been on the national issues of Scottish independence and the pandemic recovery, Bonnie Prince Bob’s campaign is a local campaign focused on localised issues affecting the poorest and most vulnerable.
Bob is relatively new to the political game. Most of his time is spent on his alternative media channel called DISCONTENT which explores issues within Scottish culture and politics and has become the vehicle for his political campaign. Considering this, I asked him why he has now decided to run for office? “I live in this constituency and I have lived in the city all my life, I understand the problems and divisions in this town better than anyone currently serving in Holyrood.”
As mentioned in his manifesto launch, the primary goal of Bob’s campaign is to directly challenge the other pro-indy SNP candidate Angus Robertson. Bob proposes that, “Scotland should be an independent, non-neoliberal republic,” in direct contrast to the more moderate independence that Robertson is hoping to pitch to the upper and managerial class of the city. Indeed, much of Bob’s video content has taken aim at Robertson. Specifically, Bob has taken issue with the SNP candidate’s decision to run for office in a city he does not live in and does not understand the current issues facing the city.
A quick look through Bob’s YouTube channel would reveal some of the other issues facing the city that he has spoken of in the past. When asked about a video he did criticising the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and his thoughts on the festival reportedly going ahead this year, he said, “the festival as it currently exists is essentially a corporate enterprise that exists purely for profit at the expense of both the city’s indigenous population and the exploited artists and performers.”
Furthermore, on the ways that the festival could be improved Bob said that, “the festival should be better regulated and there should be an artistic dividend raised from a tourist tax that is reinvested into local culture and the economy.” Indeed, this is a common criticism made by Edinburgh residents levelled at the increasing commercialisation and gentrification of the city resulting from the international festival.
However, elections have been notoriously unkind to independent candidates without the finance and backing of the established parties. Furthermore, if polling is anything to go by, the SNP are set to win a sweeping majority with a mandate to deliver a second referendum. However, Bonnie Prince Bob’s campaign seems to be tapping into a disillusionment and unrecognizability with the political system at Holyrood. With endorsements from local community activists and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, this campaign will surely continue long after the election on the 6th of May.
Image: Bobbie Prince Bob