Election day is here - but have you decided who is getting your vote? Argyll and Bute’s five General Election candidates set out, in their own words, why you should vote for them today.
Alastair Redman (Conservative) says “I have lived in Argyll and Bute my entire life, on the island of Islay, and I know all too well the issues facing this rural constituency, having experienced them first hand.
“I run a small local shop and Post Office, so I have a complete understanding of the challenges facing many of Argyll and Bute’s small businesses. Our economy both locally and nationally has improved; 668 fewer people are now relying on unemployment benefit in Argyll and Bute than in 2010 - a 38 per cent drop since the last General Election; we have 50 more registered businesses; 38,946 people benefitted from the personal allowance increase, and 4,134 have been removed from income tax altogether; 22,620 premises now have access to superfast broadband.
“But our local infrastructure in many cases is not fit for purpose. Not enough is being done to support our essential rural industries such as fishing and farming; the crisis facing our dairy industry on Bute has to be addressed. We need to see more local powers and local devolution.
“A vote for me will bring about the right kind of change here in Argyll and Bute, a candidate from the islands and for the islands.”
Mary Galbraith (Labour) says “This election will determine who can best represent everyone in Argyll and Bute. As Labour’s candidate since 2013, the message I hear everywhere is that we deserve better: a better government, and better representation in parliament.
“A Labour government will increase the minimum wage to £8, end exploitative zero hours contracts, tackle tax-dodging, lower energy prices, abolish the bedroom tax, introduce a £1,600 Future Fund for school leavers and protect the NHS. Families are £1,600 worse off than in 2010. Our plans will help households hit hardest.
“Only a Labour government can deliver the change we need. Most didn’t vote for the coalition and feel betrayed that our MP endorsed polices few here chose.
“I grew up in Kintyre, was educated in local schools, then studied at Glasgow University. I’ve taught English in Germany, worked as an economist, was employed by the local NHS, and now do strategic change work across Europe.
“I’ve been campaigning on ferries, local enterprise, elderly care and culture. It’s the need to transform our prospects that drives me to represent local people. Because Argyll and Bute deserves better.”
Brendan O’Hara says “Let me be absolutely clear: this election is not a re-run of the referendum.
“It is, however, one of the most important elections Scotland has ever faced, because it will determine our relationship with the rest of the UK for the foreseeable future.
“And only you can decide what that relationship is.
“Do we play a full and constructive part in making life better for everyone on these islands, while securing substantial new powers for our Scottish parliament? Or do we return to “business as usual” with Scotland reduced to playing a bit-part role at Westminster?
“I firmly believe it’s time for a change, and if elected, I promise to work constructively with other progressive parties and individuals to secure that change both here in Scotland and across the UK.
“We need to grow our economy by investing in our public services, we need to bring an end to the unfair and socially divisive austerity agenda and we need to stop £100,000,000,000 of your money being wasted renewing weapons of mass destruction.
“On May 7, we have an opportunity to transform politics across these islands and make government work for the good of the people.
“Let’s make it happen.”
Caroline Santos (UKIP) says “The eldest of three children, brought up and educated in Argyll, I am delighted to have been selected by UKIP for my home constituency of Argyll and Bute.
“I was educated at rural Rashfield Primary in Cowal and then at Dunoon Grammar School. I initially spent time working in the tourist industry on 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. I have now returned to the tourist industry.
“I have always had a keen interest in politics, particularly those issues affecting rural areas, and I believe the cosy Westminster club of career politicians has gone on for too long.
“I am a passionate believer in freedom and less government, and 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 promoting Scotland’s place at the heart of a United Kingdom.”
Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat) says “This is a very close election between myself and the SNP challenger, with the other parties out of the running.
“People have a choice between the Liberal Democrat policy of continuing the recovery from the crash of 2008, or voting SNP, with their policy of going to London to demand a £7.6 billion cut in the Scottish Parliament’s budget.
“This is because they want to replace the generous Barnett formula with fast-disappearing oil revenues.
“We delivered a fuel duty freeze and a five pence island fuel duty discount. The Budget announced a £30 cut in Highlands and Islands electricity bills. Superfast broadband and 4G mobile phone coverage are on their way. The Rothesay exchange will be upgraded very soon and the Kilchattan Bay one next year. We delivered an £825 income tax cut for workers on middle and low incomes and a state pension increase double the rate of inflation.
“The NHS will continue to be our top priority with a costed plan to increase health spending by £8 billion a year.
“I have shown myself to be an independently minded MP who doesn’t just toe the party line. I voted against the bedroom tax and university tuition fees.”