Candidates ask Duns audience to ‘vote for me’
Six of the seven candidates fighting for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk faced each other and a large audience in Duns for the first hustings of the campaign.
Calum Kerr (SNP), John Lamont (Conservative), Kenryck Lloyd-Jones (Labour), Michael Moore (Lib Dem), Peter Neilson (UKIP) and Pauline Stewart (Green Party) were all given the chance to explain what they would do if elected before the first of the 25 pre-submitted questions were put to them.
They were also given another chance at the end to sum up what they offered the electorate.
Michael Moore defended his 18 year record of representing the Borders at Westminster, and in particular the past five years as part of the coalition Government: “If we look back five years the UK was in a dangerous financial position,” he reminded the audience.
“In the next Parliament we want to continue to secure the recovery and want to go further - taxes down, pensions up, better health and a stronger Scotland.”
Labour’s Kenryck Lloyd-Jones said: “I’m here to tell you the Scottish Borders needs a Labour Government to tackle the boarded up shops, ‘To Let’ signs and signs of a failing economy because we have had a Tory/Lib Dem Government that has failed in its endeavours because it has cut too sharply and too quickly. We need a more vibrant economy, putting more money into people’s pockets.
“We need a freeze on energy prices, a rise in the minimum wage and an end to zero hours contracts.”
The SNP’s Calum Kerr said he wanted to bring hope and renewal to what is a fantastic part of Scotland.
“It’s clear the Lib Dems are finished here and it’s a straight fight between Conservatives and the SNP. 87% of people in this region voted in the referendum and it’s important that everyone engages in the process.”
Pauline Stewart for the Green Party admitted that at the end of last year she had decided to spoil her voting paper “because there was no one to vote for.”
She had a dramatic change of heart and instead decided to stand for the Westminster seat to fight against the system that she says sees politicians serving the interests of big business rather than the people.
“We want to see a radical shift in what our politicians are doing to us and to our planet.”
John Lamont (Con) said: “It’s a big responsibility that we all have. To change course could put all these reforms at risk.”
He added that the key features of this election were: job creation; standing up for local health services; improved transport links; and better broadband.
UKIP’s Peter Neilsen focused on immigration saying: “Britain has, over the last few years, been flooded by immigrants. The net annual immigration is equal to twice the population of Dundee and three times the population of the Scottish Borders which has caused an overload on houses, health services etc.
“UKIP isn’t going to form a Government we are here as a pressure group who want to see lots of changes.”