This week we spoke to candidates for the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency. Here is what they had to say....
Sir Robert Smith - Liberal Democrat
As the local MP for the last eighteen years I have worked with communities to tackle the issues that affect the North East.
In Parliament I have made the case for the importance of North Sea oil and gas, which is vital to so many local jobs. I have put pressure on the Government, leading to budget measures and the creation of the Oil and Gas Authority. This progress will help to reduce the impact of the downturn caused by the drop in oil prices.
I have campaigned on many other issues affecting this large rural constituency including moves to keep fuel duty down, delivering support for local Post Offices and calling for improved transport and telecommunication links.
My work on the Energy and Climate Change Committee has allowed me to focus on issues including fuel poverty. When acting Chair I questioned heads of the big energy companies and the Committee’s work has led to moves towards fairer competition and a more transparent system for energy bills.
It was a difficult decision for me to go into coalition with the Conservatives. However Liberal Democrats have delivered a stable government and a recovering economy. I am also proud that in government we have reduced taxes and raised pensions.
Many Labour and Conservative supporters have said they will vote for me this election to avoid the upheaval threatened by the SNP.
Voters I talk to are concerned that if the SNP are elected they will bring uncertainty and instability that will threaten the economic recovery. They are also unhappy with their record of delivering services like health and infrastructure to the North East.
If re-elected I will continue to seek to serve all the people of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, giving the North East a strong voice, in a stable UK.
Stuart Donaldson - SNP
I am lucky to have grown up in the acclaimed best place to live in Scotland, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine. I was educated locally at Durris Primary School and Banchory Academy. Living and working in Aberdeenshire has given me an indepth understanding of the issues that are important to rural communities, local businesses and families across this area. I am standing for Westminster because West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine needs an MP who will be a strong voice for Scotland and a strong voice for everyone living and working in this constituency.
The SNP is now the third largest party in the UK, the only party in Scotland offering a real alternative to austerity. With strong Scottish voices at Westminster we will hold the government of the day to account on more powers to protect local jobs and local businesses. Electing a strong team of MPs will protect public services, keep the NHS safe in public hands and invest in better childcare, instead of wasting £100billion on new nuclear weapons.
The SNP is the only party that is listening to the communities and businesses that are so important to this area. For many of our friends and family who have faced job cuts in the oil and gas industry, too little help has come too late from Westminster.
SNP MPs will deliver stability for the energy sector to help the industry secure employment for future generations. We will also be a strong voice for our rural communities and businesses. SNP MPs voted against the privatisation of Royal Mail that was pushed through by the Conservative & Liberal Democrats. The SNP is the only party committed to ensuring are rural areas remaining thriving places to live and work.
A vote for Stuart Donaldson is a vote to make sure your voice is heard in Westminster.
Alex Burnett - Conservative
Kincardine and Aberdeenshire has been my home all my life. It has made me the man I am today and that is why there could be no greater privilege than being your MP. In this campaign I have knocked on over 20,000 doors and spoken to many of you on why this is the most important general election in a generation.
Looking back over the past 5 years, we have shown great resilience within businesses and our wider community. And by rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job at hand, we now have one of the highest employment rates in the UK. We can earn more free of tax, and mortgage rates have been driven down and kept low.
But we cannot risk throwing all of this away. Nationalists pose a real threat to the very future of our country because for them every vote is a vote on the road to independence. We have a Labour party that doesn’t understand the North East with a weak leader wanting to drag this country back to the Dark Ages of Recession. The LibDem vote has crumbled the length and breadth of Scotland. There is only one party on the up who can stand up to the SNP. And that’s the Scottish Conservatives.
But if you won’t take my word for it, you will find it is what the independent polls are also saying. This is a two horse race between myself and the SNP.
I believe in a stronger West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, within a stronger Scotland, in a stronger UK. I want a country where hard work is rewarded and where we are allowed to get on with our lives as we wish. If you believe in these things too, then vote for me on May 7th
Barry Black - Labour
All throughout this election campaign I have been talking to people about what this election means for my generation.
We are worried about the future if the coalition stays in office.
There’s the opportunity for change next month, an opportunity to kick the Tories out of Downing Street.
I’m the youngest person standing for Labour in Scotland. Why? I could give you a line on youths needing to be more engaged in politics and yes, that’s true, but this is something bigger than that. This election is decision as to whether we commit to a decade of Tory austerity, or we choose a Labour government which understands that the best investment any government can make is in its future.
After I left school, I worked as a barista in a cafe chain. I know the challenges that exist when you are working on low pay. At university, I rely on my student loan - and see far too many cases of others’ studies being disrupted because of financial pressures. Lots of my friends struggle to get jobs; many in the north east want to take up skilled jobs but can’t get the training. Under the SNP government, college places have been cut and the access rate to the best universities is appalling.
Scottish Labour has pledged to fund young people £1600 who don’t leave school to go to further education; to increasing the minimum wage to at least £8; to banning exploitative zero hours contracts; to increasing the bursaries for the poorest students by £1000, reversing cuts made by the SNP; and to growing the number of quality apprenticeship opportunities and to pay for travel to this work.
I’m proud to be standing on this platform of policies; an action plan which will make a real difference to young people.
If you want a government which invests in its future, vote Scottish Labour.
Richard Openshaw - Green
I believe that public services should be in public hands. Both I and the Scottish Green Party are committed to the renationalisation of rail and opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which threatens to damage our public services.
It will be a priority of mine to ensure that whoever forms the next government works immediately to put in place a long-term plan for transition towards a post-oil economy. This will create stability to our local economy and offer security to many who currently face uncertainty. The necessity to move away from oil is unavoidable and the skills and experience that exist in the north east mean we are uniquely placed to take advantage of the opportunities that renewables offer.
In addition to a stable local economy, I want to see an end to zero hours contracts and for everybody to receive a living wage, rather than a minimum wage that the government accepts is insufficient without state support.
As well as publicly owned railways, I believe that a fully integrated transport infrastructure is needed. Bus services throughout Aberdeenshire must be improved and cycling provision given greater priority. There will always be some journey’s for which using a car is the only viable option in a large rural area such as this, but I believe that the more journeys we can make by other means, the better for our environment and our health.
I have lived in the north east for nine years and currently live in Kemnay with my wife and young son. I am a keen hillwalker and conservationist and also have a passion for folk music and sport. If elected, I promise to be a hard-working MP who will always stand up for the people and communities of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.
David Michael Lansdell - UKIP
After repeated attempts to contact the UKIP press office for the opportunity to submit a statement, none was provided. As to not appear biased against the right wing party this is what it says about their candidate on their own website:
My name is David Michael Lansdell; I am a sixty-two year old father of five and grandfather of four, I live in Aberdeen Scotland.
I own and operate an Oil & gas Exploration support business called HOSE CAMLAN hands on subsea engineering.
I was lifelong conservative voter, until I finally realise [sic] that they had nothing common with me; and in effect were doing nothing to support and further anything that I or the rest of the country believed in.
I joined UKIP because they are the only party, who have any genuine interest in the wellbeing and future of the United Kingdom; and since then I have done everything I can to promote the party and its cause, as I did during the referendum here in Scotland last year, and saw the Union saved.
I now intend to work for and support UKIP, as we go from strength to strength, in pursuit of the best interests of everyone in the United Kingdom.