Meet Argyll and Bute’s constituency candidates

The Scottish parliament

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There are four candidates standing for election on May 6 to the Argyll and Bute Scottish Parliamentary constituency.

On the day, voters will also be asked to vote for their choice of candidates from the Highlands and Islands regional list.

Here the four constituency candidates explain in their own words, why you should vote for them.

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative and Unionist

As your MSP, my priority will be securing jobs and livelihoods for local people as Scotland recovers from the pandemic. We must not allow the SNP to distract us with arguments over the constitution. We should focus on tackling depopulation and creating opportunities for our young people.

I will campaign for improvements to our infrastructure. We need better ferries with greater capacity given the disastrous failure of the SNP to deliver the ferries they promised.

Too many of our roads are substandard, given the weight of traffic they now carry – the Scottish Conservatives will establish a £200 million national roads fund to help fix potholes and upgrade our local roads.

And we badly need a permanent solution for the A83 at the Rest Be Thankful which is such an important route for residents and businesses here. After 14 years of promises from the SNP, it is inexcusable that we still haven’t a firm date for this. I will insist on a detailed plan with a budget, timescale and completion date of 2024, rather than the never-ending cycle of consultations which have got us nowhere.

We require adequate superfast broadband to encourage businesses to invest and create jobs for local people. The Scottish Conservatives guarantee the rollout of full-fibre broadband to all by the end of this new parliamentary term.

I will speak up for our crofters and farmers who make such a vital contribution to the local economy. And I will campaign against the SNP’s relentless centralisation of services which imposes Central Belt control over matters which should be decided locally.

Finally, I want to see us take advantage of the strength of the United Kingdom. The vaccination programme delivered by the UK Government, and the furlough scheme which is protecting thousands of jobs across Argyll and Bute, shows what the UK can do when we act together.

There really is a brighter future ahead if we forget the old constitutional battles and concentrate on what unites us. Let’s focus on what really matters. That’s what I am resolved to do, if elected your MSP.

Jenni Minto, SNP

This election is the most crucial Scottish Parliament election – this is your chance to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. This election is about the right to decide who leads Scotland’s recovery from Covid and makes the decisions on economic, social and environmental recovery.

The SNP puts people at the heart of its policies.

For families struggling to make ends meet, the SNP will double the game-changing Child Poverty Payment to £20, helping around 3,500 families in Argyll and Bute.

All eligible children will get 1,140 hours of free childcare from August and laptops for learning will be delivered to every single schoolchild.

The Young Person’s Guarantee will ensure those between 16 and 24 have the opportunity of university, college, an apprenticeship, training or work experience programme, secure a job or take part in a formal volunteering programme.

Scotland has one of the world’s best food larders and the SNP will enshrine the right to food into law. A local food strategy will be produced which supports locally-based production, cutting food miles and enabling more people to enjoy locally grown food.
Argyll and Bute’s infrastructure will be further supported: new affordable homes will be built, a permanent solution for the A83, fit for purpose ferries and the R100 voucher scheme for broadband rollout.

The SNP will invest in new, good green jobs, support people to grow businesses and reskill for the jobs of the future – stemming population decline.

A new Land Reform Act will be introduced with a pre-emption to support community buyouts, and the Scottish Land Fund will be doubled to £20 million.

To encourage population growth on our islands, an Island’s Bond of up to £50,000 will be offered to young people and families to make the move to or stay on our islands.

Investment in our NHS and establishing the National Care Service will ensure the best possible solution for those being cared for, their families and those looking after them.
The SNP puts people first. Only independence will put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.

Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat

I am the Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute and at the top of the Liberal Democrat Highlands and Islands list. I ask for your vote on both ballot papers. I finished second to the SNP in the last Holyrood election and ask for your support to finish first this time.

The Rest and Be Thankful is a vital access to Argyll. We must have a two-lane temporary diversion road by the end of the year, followed by a permanent solution, protected from landslides as quickly as possible, in a lot less time than the 10 years the SNP say it will take.

Liberal Democrats will guarantee a job for all 16-24 year olds. We will support people to access retraining and further education with a new Training Bond. We will guarantee a job for every qualified teacher to cut class sizes.

NHS staff have put in extra shifts and sacrificed their own wellbeing to keep us safe. We will recognise and support their efforts. We will undertake an urgent plan to catch up on the backlog of treatments.

There was a crisis in mental health even before the pandemic, with long waiting lists. We will train more mental health specialists for community centres, hospitals, workplaces and schools.

The recovery must be a green one. That means switching to electric vehicles with a network of charging points throughout the country. It means training people in green jobs of the future. It means insulating homes.

Superfast broadband must be rolled out everywhere.

Years ago, I warned the SNP Government that if they didn’t build more ferries, the ageing fleet would be in drydock regularly. Unfortunately, they ignored my warnings. Mull and Islay must get new ferries. I cannot understand why the Scottish Government won’t buy the catamaran identified by the Mull and Iona Ferry Group.

I am opposed to another independence referendum. It would be an enormous distraction from the vital work of recovering from the Covid pandemic. I ask for your support on both ballot papers to put the recovery first.

Lewis Whyte, Scottish Labour

I’m currently a student at the University of the Highlands and Islands but I’ve previously worked in IT, hospitality and the third sector before and during my degree.

I’ve also been a martial arts instructor for seven years. I was raised in rural parts of the Highlands by a single mother who often worked two jobs just to make ends meet. I know the struggles of working-class people in rural areas because I’ve lived them.

On housing, Scottish Labour is proposing to build 120,000 new carbon neutral social homes across Scotland, and Argyll and Bute should be a priority due to its severe shortage of social housing stock. We’re also proposing to put in effective rent controls and set limits on the number of second homes that can be within a community.

On job opportunities, we plan to revitalise the economy in every part of the country through our National Covid Recovery Plan. This would include a focus on sustainable community investment, a Business Restart Fund, and a job guarantee for all young people.

I know that two of the biggest issues in Argyll and Bute are the ferries and the Rest and Be Thankful. Scottish Labour is proposing proper investment in a fleet fit for the future. In the short-term we need to lease and purchase ferries to mitigate the failing old fleet, and in the long-term build vessels here in Scotland suited to the routes they use and increase the total number of vessels so we can set new routes and have more regular services alongside reserves for emergency use.

Now that Transport Scotland has selected option 1, Glen Croe, we need to make sure that the consultation on the exact replacement route is completed quickly and properly to ensure work starts soon. In the meantime, we need to put preparations in place to use the Old Military Road and the forestry road in opposite directions for when the Rest is shut.

I urge you to take a fresh look at Scottish Labour, we’re campaigning for some fantastic policies to tackle a variety of rural issues. Please consider using both of your votes for Scottish Labour.