General Election 2015: The candidates have their say

Only a few days remain before the 2015 General Election, with  five candidates standing in the Argyll and Bute constituency.

Conservative, Labour, SNP and UKIP are all hoping to take the seat which has been held by Liberal Democrat Alan Reid since 2001.

This year the constituency has been seen as a four-way marginal; in the 2010 election Mr Reid had a majority of 3,321.

All five candidates  – Mr Reid, Mary Galbraith of Labour, the SNP’s Brendan O’Hara,  Alastair Redman (Conservative) and UKIP’s Caroline Santos – were invited to use this website to  get their message across to voters, answering four questions.

Their responses  follow, in alphabetical order by candidate.

Mary Galbraith, Labour:MG - Garelochhead

Could you tell readers about yourself, and why you’ve chosen to try and represent Argyll and Bute?

Born and brought up in this constituency on the family farm in Kintyre, I was educated in local schools before studying Economics and German at Glasgow University.  In my working life I’ve taught English in a German secondary school, worked as an economist, managed community services for Argyll & Clyde Health Board, and now work in strategic change and IT across Europe.

I want to be the local MP to right the wrongs inflicted on this place.  For too long we’ve been forgotten, treated like a backwater.  Too many local services have been withdrawn: whether police stations, post offices, or beds in our local hospitals. We’ve missed out on major investment in the last 30 years, hurting local businesses and jobs. We’ve been on the wrong end of too many bad decisions.

I’m a campaigner and for years I’ve spoken up for Argyll & Bute, whether on poor mobile phone signals, maternity services, farming, ferries or town centre improvements. Our working families, young people and pensioners urgently need the right changes.

Now more than ever we need a representative who can revitalise Argyll & Bute. Promote our businesses and talents. I’ll be the local champion our communities need.

What do you think are the key issues in the future for Helensburgh and the Rosneath Peninsula?

The clear message I hear around Helensburgh and the Rosneath peninsula is that we deserve better: A better government, and better representation in Westminster.

Most families are more than £1,000 worse off than they were at the last election in 2010.  A Labour government will tackle tax-dodging, introduce a youth jobs guarantee scheme, abolish the bedroom tax, lower energy prices, cut taxes for small businesses, end exploitative zero hours contracts, and increase the minimum wage to £8. Our plans will help those households hit hardest in the last five years, not just the privileged few at the top.

People I talk to in Helensburgh and Lomond support these Labour polices and know that only a Labour government can deliver the change we need.  Most didn’t vote for the current government and feel betrayed that the local Lib Dem MP has endorsed polices few here chose.

I work closely with Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP for around a third of the Argyll & Bute UK constituency.  We both know how local services like policing and the NHS have been hit hard recently.  I’m against the proposal to transfer the local police command from Dumbarton to Paisley, and right behind the campaign to keep our health services ‘north of the river’.

Labour’s plans to secure our NHS, funding 1,000 more nurses and an additional 500 GPs are welcomed by everyone in the area.  People here trust us to deal with the current A&E crisis and improve cancer waiting times.

What should happen at Faslane and Coulport in the future? Please be specific, e.g. should there be 4 or 3 Trident nuclear submarines based there.

All governments have a fundamental duty to protect their citizens from external threats.  The risks our country faces today are very different to those encountered by previous generations.  The future security landscape remains uncertain and difficult to predict.

In a world where eight other countries (only two of which are NATO members) still possess nuclear weapons, unilaterally abandoning the nuclear deterrent will not make our country or the world more secure. The only way to end the global nuclear threat for good is through dialogue and agreement between countries.  I’m pleased the Labour Party recognises the importance of Britain leading international efforts for multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

On the basis of what we currently know, I support the continuous-at-sea-deterrent model, requiring four Vanguard-class submarines. The Parliamentary process to decide on their replacement will obviously examine any new evidence that emerges between now and then.

 Who do you want to be Prime Minister as a result of this General Election? Ed Miliband

SNP candidate Brendan O’Hara has not yet responded to requests for information; if any response is received this story will be updated.

Alastair Redman (Conservative)

I am a native of Argyll and Bute hailing from the Isle of Islay where I work as the Postmaster in the village of Portnahaven and I am also director of a local recycling charity, Re-Jig.Redman pic

I have a long-standing passion for politics and currently serve as vice-chair of the island’s Community Council and I am campaigning tirelessly to improve the lot of all who live in my homeland. Argyll and Bute makes an immense contribution to the country’s economy through malt whisky distilling, agriculture, forestry and fishing, but the amount of money spent on the area does not always tally with this and I believe this has to change.

I am determined to ensure that the rural and island communities of the area are treated with respect, particularly in relation to the provision of the key services which we all rely on. Improving infrastructure is also a top priority for me, including public transport, roads, broadband provision and mobile coverage. If elected I will put the interests of local people at the heart of everything I do to make the area an even better place to live than it is already.

What do you think are the key issues in the future for Helensburgh and the Rosneath Peninsula?

Faslane Naval Base is absolutely critical to the local area, directly and indirectly supporting a huge amount of jobs, families and businesses in the local area. The Conservatives, understanding this and the importance of a nuclear deterrent in an unstable world, are committed to replacing Trident. In contrast, the SNP’s policy on nuclear weapons puts Faslane and the local area at risk.

The Conservative-led Government has had great success creating jobs across the country with employment up in Scotland by 178,000 since the last General Election and I want to capitalise on this to see more employment, enterprises and opportunities coming to the local area. 22,620 premises in Argyll and Bute now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the £1.7 billion investment across the UK, but I want to ensure that all local people benefit from its continued roll-out and to reach those remote areas which currently have zero, or limited, connectivity.

Our economic recovery would be at risk with a weak Labour government influenced by the SNP and I think the consequences of more spending, taxes and borrowing would be felt on the ground. Over 58% of people in Argyll and Bute voted to stay in the United Kingdom and I want to ensure this is respected and that local interests are not put at risk by constitutional wrangling. I believe that devolution should not stop at Holyrood and want to see more powers brought to Argyll and Bute to improve local peoples’ lives.

What should happen at Faslane and Coulport in the future?

Our Manifesto gives a clear commitment that we will build a new fleet of four Successor Ballistic Missile submarines, replacing the previous four Vangaurd boats. Our policy on this remains unchanged as set out in our 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review – that we will retain Trident as a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety. We are already investing £350 million in designing the next generation of nuclear submarines and £1.1 billion to build new nuclear reactors for the Royal Navy’s submarines. The SNP would scrap our deterrent altogether and the Liberal Democrats want a part-time force, cutting the number of submarines and only sending them out on patrol occasionally. Therefore, only the Conservatives have a clear vision for maintaining our nuclear deterrent and securing Faslane, Coulport and the local economy of Argyll and Bute.

Who do you want to be Prime Minister as a result of this general election? David Cameron

Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat

I have been the MP for Argyll & Bute for the past fourteen years. During my time as Argyll & Bute MP my prime focus has always been on standing up for my constituency.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As well as representing Argyll & Bute in Parliament I have always made sure that I get out and about the many villages and islands of this widespread constituency. On my annual summer tour I hold surgeries in all the villages, including Kilcreggan, Cove, Rosneath, Clynder and Garelochhead.

I very much enjoy visiting the many places in my constituency and getting to know local people. Argyll & Bute is a beautiful constituency with many welcoming people, but the widespread geography presents many challenges. I get great satisfaction from helping people to overcome these challenges and so I ask for your support to continue this work for another five years.

What do you think are the key issues in the future for Helensburgh and the Rosneath Peninsula?

Bringing superfast broadband and 4G mobile phone coverage is vitally important these days. I secured money to bring superfast broadband to Argyll & Bute. Cables have been laid and exchanges are being upgraded, but there is still a lot of work to be done to connect up all the premises in Helensburgh and the Rosneath peninsula. It’s essential that this work is completed quickly.

Before Parliament broke up for the Election I arranged for a senior BT manager to be grilled before the Scottish Affairs Select Committee on progress and if re-elected I will continue to focus on this.

Once superfast broadband arrives, it’s important to make sure that the mobile phone companies follow this up with 4G mobile phone coverage.

I want to see much more money invested in our Health Service. Liberal Democrats will invest in the NHS across the UK, meaning £800 million extra for Scotland. I have been campaigning for more procedures to be carried out in local hospitals. That means bringing services back north of the river from Paisley. There must be no repeat of the long wait for treatment experienced by some patients at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital earlier this winter.

I lobbied the Post Office hard to keep a post office in Cove and I have complained to Post Office management about the delays in connecting the equipment in the village shop.

Another priority must be to get a reliable ferry service on the Kilcreggan-Gourock route.

What should happen at Faslane and Coulport in the future?

One of the first decisions the next Parliament will have to make is whether or not to replace the four ageing Vanguard submarines which carry Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Every effort should be made to negotiate worldwide nuclear disarmament, but in the absence of any progress towards this goal, Britain should build four replacement submarines. I spoke and voted in favour of this in Parliament earlier this year.

We have no way of forecasting the threats that we may face from nuclear powers in the future. In my opinion, having a nuclear deterrent is bound to deter other countries with nuclear weapons from using them against us.

The Royal Navy intends to transfer all its submarines to Faslane over the next few years. As long as Scotland remains in the UK, Faslane and Coulport will have a secure future with more jobs because of the extra submarines.

Who do you want to be Prime Minister as a result of this general election? Nick Clegg

Caroline Santos, UKIP

The eldest of three, brought up and educated in Argyll, I am delighted to have been selected by UKIP for my home constituency of Argyll and Bute.Caroline Santos

Educated at rural Rashfield primary and then Dunoon Grammar, I initially spent time working in the tourist industry on The Isle of Tiree and then at a fish farm outside Dunoon, before going on to spend some of my career working in the care industry while bringing up three children, having now returned back to the tourist industry.

I have always had a keen interest in politics, particularly those issues affecting rural areas and believes the cosy Westminster club of career politicians has gone on for too long.  A passionate believer in freedom and less Government, with a libertarian angle alarmed by the dictatorship of the EU and the growing cancer of Nationalism back home, UKIP was my natural choice.

If elected I will prove a doughty champion for the issues affecting Argyll and Bute whilst campaigning to end rule from Brussels and promote Scotland’s place at the heart of a United Kingdom.

I strongly believe that one of the main responsibilities of Government is to maintain a strong defence – particularly in an increasingly unpredictable and dangerous world.

What do you think are the key issues in the future for Helensburgh and the Rosneath Peninsula?

No response received as yet to this question – this story will be updated if a response is received.

What should happen at Faslane and Coulport in the future?

I fully support the replacement of the Trident submarines as this will maintain a system that has proved to be a cornerstone of peace and security for 50 years.  In Argyll and Bute it will also maintain job security for 4,500 jobs at Faslane – jobs that would be lost if the snp got their way.

Whilst the cost, estimated at £20 billion is a lot of money, it is important to put this in perspective.  The Russian leader, Putin, who has already proved with his actions in Ukraine that he treats national borders with contempt, sits on a stockpile of 8,000 nuclear missiles.  Despite this, he is spending £500 billion on more arms in the next ten years.

It is therefore imperative for our and our children’s safety and security that we maintain our deterrent and upgrade Trident.

Who do you want to be Prime Minister as a result of this general election? Nigel Farage

2 Comments

  1. Vote for the man with experience Alan Reid MP ,we are living in difficult times ,all the more reason to go for the person that has worked for A&B for 14 years and knows every corner!!

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