Candidates in the North Angus and Mearns race have their say...
Mairi Evans, SNP
Angus North and Mearns is such an incredible constituency and I am standing for election because I want to help make it the best it can possibly be- a place where people choose to live, work, invest in and visit. I want us to live in a more prosperous, equal and fair society where everyone, no matter what their background has the same opportunities and the same chances in their life.
The SNP has made great strides towards this since coming to government in 2007. We have worked hard to safeguard key principles such as the right to a free education. That is why we have continued to protect free university tuition, ensuring that everyone can benefit from the opportunity of higher education. We have invested in our school infrastructure, with new community campuses in Laurencekirk, Brechin and Forfar. We have created a record number of modern apprenticeships and aim to increase this, giving our young people the opportunity to work, learn and earn money while doing so.
The SNP has made, and will continue to make real investments in the Angus North and Mearns region. There is the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the proposed investment for the Laurencekirk junction and Montrose rail infrastructure. I was delighted when Nicola Sturgeon announced universal broadband coverage for all premises in Scotland, helping to address the digital divide experienced in rural areas like ours.
If elected I will be open and accessible and will do my best to represent every constituent with all the energy I possess.
Euan Davidson, Scottish Liberal Democrats
My name is Euan Davidson, I currently live in Aberdeen and work as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. I have been fortunate enough to be selected as your Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for this election.
The Scottish Lib Dems are clear about what we want to prioritise over the term of the next parliament, it’s something which benefits us all. Education. Scotland was once regarded as having one of the best education systems in the world but now we are slipping down the league tables. I want to see a penny on income tax so that we can inject a massive financial boost in our education system from pre-school to university.
A personal priority for me is improving the state of mental healthcare across Scotland. The Scottish Liberal Democrats want to introduce a law so that there is equality between mental and physical health. We want to train more mental health staff so that a great variety of therapies are available for those with mental health conditions. We need to increase funding for children and young people’s mental health. This is especially important for the North East, there isn’t a single children’s mental health bed north of Dundee.
I also want to see the power for local councils to set their own tax rates, the Scottish Government’s nine year freeze on the council tax has put immense strain on the services that some our more most hard pressed residents are dependent on. As well as returning tax powers to our local authorities I want to see councils have the right to approve local policing plans. The decision to centralise the police has been a disaster we must do all we can to restore confidence in Police Scotland. Finally we must move on from the division of the independence referendum and concentrate on delivering a stronger, fairer and freer Scotland.
Alex Johnstone, Scottish Conservatives
Alex was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and has a strong record in standing up for local people as a Regional Member for North East Scotland.
Born in Kincardineshire in 1961, where he continues to live, Alex was educated at Mackie Academy, Stonehaven and was a self-employed dairy and arable farmer before his election.
He has fulfilled a number of key roles for the Scottish Conservatives at Holyrood, including Chief Whip and Business Manager, Rural Development and Environment spokesman and, more recently, Shadow Minister for Communities and Housing.
At this election, the Scottish Conservatives are aiming to become the strong opposition to the SNP at Holyrood that has been lacking for the past nine years.
The party launched its manifesto with a pledge that people in Scotland should pay no more in taxes than people in other parts of the United Kingdom.
The Scottish Conservatives want to see 100,000 homes built over the life of the next parliament and £1billion invested to improve energy efficiency in Scotland’s homes to reduce household bills and tackle fuel poverty. The party would increase health spending, reverse cuts to further education and repeal the controversial Named Person legislation.
On local issues, Alex would stand up for our farmers who have been starved of vital funds due to the SNP’s mishandling of CAP payment processing. He would work for a better deal for our underfunded local councils and health board and to restore local accountability to the police force.
The Scottish Conservatives would also stand up for the 2million people who voted No by opposing the latest drive for independence as promised this summer by Nicola Sturgeon.
John Ruddy, Scottish Labour
The Scottish Parliament election on 5 May will be the most important in years. The new powers our parliament now has mean we face a big choice. We can either use the powers we have to invest in our economy or we can carry on with the cuts.
Labour will use the powers to stop the cuts and invest in our public services like education. We believe the richest 1% should pay their fair share, so we will ask those earning more than £150,000 a year to pay a 50p top rate of tax. That means we can invest extra in our schools, giving the money direct to head teachers who are best placed to decide how to spend this.
Under the SNP’s plan, the cuts will carry on. They aren’t willing to use the new powers we have, and won’t even ask the richest 1% to pay their fair share. That means the cuts will carry on. It means fewer classroom assistants, fewer students going to college and the very fabric of our society at risk.
We now have the power to stop the Tory cuts. The Scottish Parliament doesn’t have to be a conveyor belt for Tory austerity. Labour’s plan to use the powers we have means spending on public services like the NHS and schools will increase.
Faced with a choice between using the powers to invest in the future and carrying on with more cuts, Labour will always use the powers.