Salmond to visit as Kerr and Moore square up

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Former First Minister Alex Salmond will be in the Borders next week to endorse Calum Kerr, the SNP’s candidate for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk in the General Election.

Mr Salmond will address grassroots supporters at Mr Kerr’s official adoption meeting in the Cross Keys Hotel, Kelso, on the evening of Friday, February 20.

The 42-year-old telecommunications consultant, who lives in Cardrona, has been selected to fight the seat on May 7 after a membership ballot.

Galashiels-born Mr Kerr, chair of the Yes Scottish Borders campaign ahead of the Independence referendum, has now embarked on an online “crowdfunding” bid to raise £4,500 to support his campaign to oust sitting Lib Dem MP Michael Moore.

It is an outcome predicted by one polling organisation – Electoral Calculus – which forecasts the SNP will take the constituency with 34.4 per cent of the vote ahead of the Conservatives’ John Lamont and Mr Moore.

“This is a seat we can and will win,” asserted Mr Kerr. “The track record of Michael Moore, who stood on an anti-Tory platform last time and drew in anti-Tory votes, is lamentable.

“As a former Scottish Secretary and supporter of the coalition at Westminster, he bears full responsibility for the appalling failings of this UK government, all of which have been acutely felt here in the Borders.

“If elected, I’ll be working to turn things round from day one. I’ve already put together an action plan containing workable practical ways to start renewing the local economy by bringing in jobs and investment.

“Thanks to Mr Moore and his Lib Dem and Tory colleagues, our region is plagued with unemployment, collapsed businesses, decaying high streets, underinvestment and under-funded farming communities.

“It’s time to show Mr Moore and his party the door.”

Mr Moore hit back, claiming the recent visit of Prime Minister David Cameron showed the Borders remained a battleground between his party and the Conservatives.

“Back in 2010, the coalition was formed by two opposing parties to tackle the serious financial situation facing the whole of the UK,” said Mr Moore.

“Most people in the Borders recognise the deficit has to be tackled in an appropriate way and tough decisions made.

“In Government, however, we have made it clear that we will not support the Tories’ drive for a smaller state, including a determination to slash welfare spending by £12billion, or their apparent intent to promote austerity for austerity’s sake.

“As we have taken the difficult decisions to balance the country’s books, we have seen unemployment fall in the Borders and local businesses growing. There is still a huge amount of work to be done, but the country is on the road to recovery.

“In contrast, the SNP remain bent on breaking up the UK and bringing economic uncertainty to Scotland.

“They have seen their entire economic policy undermined by the collapse in the oil price and they seem determined to remain in denial about the challenges facing the country.”