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THE contest for the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat has turned into an intriguing one.
Labour’s Lesley Laird created a shock in 2017 when she unseated the SNP’s Roger Mullin but the Nationalists had targeted to win it back.
Then things took a twist when the party withdrew support from Neale Hanvey because of remarks he had made a couple of years back of what was seen as being of an anti-Semetic nature.
He has continued to fight the campaign and along with Conservative Kathleen Leslie, Liberal Democrat Gillian Cole-Hamilton, the Green’s Scott Rutherford and Brexit candidate Mitch William, feel they have much to offer voters.
We asked the candidates to contribute to our hustings page.
Liberal Democrat candidate Gillian Cole-Hamilton has stated that the first steps she would take to be a good local MP, would be to ensure she was readily available to local people ensuring they were plugged into the right benefits and were having their claims fairly heard.
On transport problems with ScotRail rolling stock, she said there have seen far too few carriages on the Fife Circle and Edinburgh bound trains. She would seek an early meeting with Alex Hynes, managing director at ScotRail, to ensure adequate rolling stock was in place for the return to work after Christmas.
Gillian is also committed to the Lib Dem manifesto pledge to stop Brexit.
Labour candidate Lesley Laird said: “It has been a privilege to represent Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and I want to continue the work that I have started. Labour is the only party capable of delivering the real changes our communities are crying out for after a decade of Tory austerity.
“People are worried about cuts in public services and our NHS, the rising cost of living, low pay, protection for pensioners, child poverty and the scourge of Universal Credit.
“The Labour Party is not alone in recognising these issues, but we alone offer solutions to them. We’d invest £100bn in Scotland to rebuild our public services, kick-starting our industries with a Green Industrial Revolution and tackling climate change.
“We’ve committed to scrapping Universal Credit and putting in place a welfare system that provides a genuine safety net for people. A £10 per hour minimum wage from the age of 16, compensation of up to £30k for WASPI women and justice for miners’ pensions.
“We’re the only party that can form a Government and break the deadlock on Brexit by letting the people decide”.
Lesley went on: “I want to continue the progress I have made on Mossmorran after forming the Mossmorran Communities Working Group. We’ve got companies, regulators and politicians round the table, re-electing me as your MP will help ensure we continue to hold them to account, and deliver on their commitments.
“Labour are the only party that can stop Boris Johnson and deliver a stronger, fairer society – please, don’t miss that chance”.
Conservative candidate Kathleen Leslie said: “There are three key issues that must be addressed. The first is to send a strong message to the SNP that we said ‘No’ in 2014 and we meant it. Every vote for the Scottish Conservatives sends that message. Secondly, we must get Brexit sorted, the uncertainty must end.
“The third issue is the local ones. Following decades of Labour complacency in this constituency is it time for change. Look at Lochgelly Railway Station, a small car-park and not fully accessible to anyone with disabilities. Labour, both at Fife Council and their previous MPs, have done nothing to change this. Create the correct conditions and you open towns up which leads to jobs and a booming local economy, that would be one of my first objectives”.
Added Kathleen: “Additionally, as an elected councillor, I have always taken the view that constructive engagement with ExxonMobil on the flaring at Mossmorran is the best way forward and we are now seeing that with better communication with Community Councils in the area. “It is vital that concerns are raised and addressed by groups based within the local community. It is important that ExxonMobil address the concerns of local residents on the potential adverse health effects of the flaring, I also believe that we must be aware of the place of Mossmorran in the Fife economy. “More than 250 jobs are associated with the plant and in excess of £40m is injected into the Fife economy every year. The health of the community must be protected, as must the future of Mossmorran, as a vital part of the Scottish economy.”
Neale Hanvey said: “This General Election is about much more than me, or any political party. It’s about each and everyone of us, and our right to choose the kind of future we want.
“Brexit has already left the Scottish economy and businesses vulnerable to recession. The EU supports over 130,000 jobs across Scotland. Exiting Brexit could see Scotland make significant economic gains from international investment. It means we would be free to tackle, poverty, inequality and the injustice of Universal Credit and the Bedroom Tax.
“These Tory policies were imposed on Scotland with the help of the Lib Dems, and the indifference of Labour politicians; most of whom abstained on key welfare and spending legislation. They all bare responsibility for making the austerity nightmare a reality.
“Remaining in Boris’s Brexit Britain not only threatens the social fabric of Scotland, it would also have disastrous consequences on environmental protections, employment rights, health & safety, food standards, and could see Scotland’s NHS up for grabs to American corporations. I trained at the Vic’ and went on to have a successful career as a specialist cancer nurse. Selling off Scotland’s NHS can’t be allowed to happen.
“Ultimately this election is about a choice we must face together. Are we prepared to abandon the values and protections that define Scotland’s way of life or not?
“To make that choice, Scotland’s voice must be heard. Electing me will give power and authority to our right to choose.
“I believe in you, and I believe in a better Scotland”.
The Green Party’s Scott Rutherford contended: “Now that the SNP have suspended their candidate for the constituency there is only one pro-independence party now contesting the election in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and that is the Scottish Greens.
“The constitutional future of Scotland is very important at this election but there are also huge local issues that affect the everyday lives of people that we should be talking about. Issues such as the flaring and pollution at Mossmorran, lack of Green investment at Bifab, stagnant wages and unaffordable housing have all been central to our campaign.
“Enacting a Green New Deal in the constituency could see industry revitalised in Fife, provide a stimulus to jobs locally and could address the disastrous impact we are having on the climate crisis.
“We have 10 years to reach net-zero emissions, every election from now is the climate election and Greens are the one’s leading the change. ”
The Brexit Party candidate is Mitch William.