The four candidates hoping to become the MSP for Argyll and Bute in next month’s Scottish Parliament election set out their stalls at The Buteman’s hustings in Rothesay on Wednesday.
The SNP’s Michael Russell, who won the seat in 2011, is facing challenges from Mick Rice for Labour, Alan Reid for the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives’ Donald Cameron.
The members of the public present asked questions on the NHS, health, economic development and land reform, farming, transport, energy policy and electricity supply, education and local government.
More detail from the evening to follow on this site in the next few days, and in the next print edition of The Buteman - but in the meantime, here are some of the things the four candidates said in their introductory remarks.
Mick Rice (Labour): “I have a great deal of sympathy with those people who voted Yes in the referendum in 2014, and I say that because many of them thought that at one bound Scotland could be free from Tory rule.
“But unfortunately that did not happen. And we now need to look to the future and how we are going to work together successfully as a United Kingdom.
“I want to see a vibrant UK in which Scotland is strong. I think we should be working in harmony with our colleagues in the rest of the UK.
“I only discovered I was English when I moved to Scotland. I thought I was a bog-standard Brit until I came here.”
Michael Russell (SNP): “The MSP does three jobs. The first job is to work with individuals. The second job is to stand up for individuals and communities when they have difficulties and when they need their point of view put forward. And the third job is to make laws - to make sure that we have good laws and that lose laws work for the people of Argyll and Bute.
“But there’s a final thing that politicians do - they have to have a vision of the future. They have to have an idea of how they want things to change. And this election is about that.
“It’s about making sure that Scotland continues to change for the better - that we have an equal, fair and more just Scotland. I’ve been doing the job, and I want to go on doing the job.”
Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat): I was the Member of Parliament for Argyll and Bute for 14 years before losing my seat last year in unusual circumstances - my vote actually went up but I lost because the SNP vote was able to leapfrog me, because there was a collapse in the votes for the other parties.
“I want to see the next Scottish Parliament concentrate on growing our economy and delivering efficient and effective public services for the people of Scotland. We don’t want to be distracted by another independence referendum - we had one, there was a clear result, we don’t want to end up bogged down in a ‘neverendum’.
“Bute has tremendous potential, and I want to work with local people to realise that potential.”
Donald Cameron (Conservative): “My vision for Argyll and Bute is one where we encourage repopulation in the face of predicted population decline - we keep our young people here, we provide jobs, we provide investment, and we manage to make our economy thrive.
“We represent the true Unionist party. We are a hundred per cent committed to the Union - if you voted No in 2014, we will stand up for you. It’s in our DNA; it’s in our name. And we will seek to put the referendum to bed for ever.”
The evening was filmed by democracylive.scot - unfortunately a lack of mobile network signal at the venue, the United Church of Bute’s church centre, scuppered plans to live stream the proceedings, but the video should be uploaded to YouTube some time on Thursday and we’ll point you towards it as soon as it’s published.