Meet the candidates Midlothian North

Tuesday April 19th 2016

Midlothian North and Musselburgh Candidates

From left to right: Jeremy Balfour, Bernard Harkins, Jacquie Bell and Colin Beattie.

Meet the Scottish Election 2016 candidates in the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency. The election takes place on Thursday 5th May.


Jeremy Balfour, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Jeremy Balfour

“I am 49 years old and live in Edinburgh with my wife and twin girls. I was brought up in Edinburgh and have spent most of my life in the city. I have had different careers including being a solicitor and a Church Minister. At present I work for a small homelessness charity.

I became involved in politics at university and I have been a member of the Conservative Party since then. In 1999 I stood for the first Scottish Parliament elections in the constituency of Edinburgh East and Musselburgh. I stood in 2001 for Westminster in Fife, before being elected to Edinburgh City Council as a local Councillor. I have been a Councillor for 10 and half years.

As the Candidate for North Midlothian and Musselburgh, I am committed to Scotland staying in the Union. A second referendum is a distraction and damaging to the economy and jobs in the area. I want to see the best public services possible and believe the Government should be focused on that. I am committed to seeing education levels increase for all children and believe more power should be given to teachers and parents at the local level.

The Scottish Parliament will have greater powers on tax; I believes we should pay the same tax as people in England and Wales. The money raised should be used on front line services not vanity projects dreamed up by politicians.

If elected on 5th May I will seek to represent everyone in the constituency and campaign for local issues in the Parliament.”


Bernard Harkins Scottish Labour Party

Bernard Harkins

“I live in Musselburgh with my family. I am a Civil Servant and have been a trade union activist throughout my working life. Through Musselburgh and Inveresk Community Council, I work hard for my community. In Midlothian, I worked with the campaigns against public toilet closures and care alarm charges.

After nearly a decade of the SNP in office, it is time for change.

With new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament we have an opportunity to make a real difference on health, education and housing.

At these elections, Scottish Labour are putting forward a bold programme of change.

We will use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to introduce a 50% tax rate for those earning over £150,000 per year, as we believe those with the broadest shoulders should contribute a bit more.

We will also use the powers of the Parliament to increase tax rate by 1p for those earning over £20,000.

We’ll use the additional money raised by these tax increases to invest in education.

We will use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to ban fracking. No Ifs, No Buts – a total ban on fracking.

Scottish Labour will build 60,000 new homes including 45,000 Council houses, using money, the SNP want for a cut in Air Passenger Duty.

Locally, as MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, I’ll tackle the problems I’ve been hearing about when it comes to booking appointments with GPs.

Scottish Labour will address the long-term underfunding of Primary Care Services by the SNP.

If you elect me, you will be electing someone who is passionate about his community and who will work hard towards a better future, a Fairer Scotland built on social justice and equality.

I want to work with you to build that future.”


Jacquie Bell Scottish Liberal Democrats

Jacquie Bell

Jacquie has lived with her husband, Simon, in Dunbar since 1989. They previously lived in Penicuik. She has one son, Huw (35). Jacquie has worked at Lothian Victims Support Scheme, Penicuik CAB and as a Community Care Social Worker in Loanhead and at Liberton Hospital. Jacquie was an East Lothian Councillor from 2007-12 where she had responsibility for Health and Social Care.

“I and the Scottish Liberal Democrats want to use this election opportunity to make Scotland the best again. We want to end the cuts to education by adding 1p to the basic tax rate. This will let us develop early education, introduce a pupil premium for investment in all schools and reverse the cuts in college places.

We want to invest in the NHS with increased support for GPs. On constituency doorsteps people tell me of their long waits for appointments. I also want to see investment in mental health, particularly to reduce the long waits faced by children and young people seeking specialist care. I want to ensure investment in hospital services and am concerned by cuts and closures imposed by NHS Lothian on beds at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Astley Ainslie and Liberton. Many local people would support a campaign to save Liberton from closure. I want to ensure access to care at home where people may have long waits for services, often being delayed in hospital.

The new Integrated Health and Social Care Boards should be monitored. Integrated Boards in Lothians have inherited large deficits and start with making large service cuts.

We want to tackle bureaucracy and centralisation in public services to enable staff to do their job.

We want to meet climate change targets with warmer homes, better public transport and an end to opencast mining and fracking.

I want to provide homes whilst taking account of resident concerns about greenbelt development without infrastructure including access to health services, transport and education. I was a member of East Lothian Planning Committee and have seen the overriding of local decisions by the Scottish Government appointed Reporters. If elected I will seek to enhance the voice of local people in the planning process.

I want to support civil liberties. I want to cease stop and search, particularly of children. I am concerned about the introduction of the Named Person legislation.

I support continued membership of the EU.

Scotland needs strong Liberal Democrat voices at Holyrood and I want to be one of them. As a social worker and former Councillor I have a track record in advocating for people and communities. If elected I will listen to the people of Midlothian North and Musselburgh and ensure that I speak up for them on the issues that matter.”


Colin Beattie, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Colin Beattie

“As many of you are aware the majority of my time is devoted to addressing constituents’ needs and concerns.

Throughout the past five years I have dealt with the consequences of the recession and the brutal Tory austerity programme. I have argued with HMRC on behalf of constituents with cash flow and VAT problems and I have used my financial skills to help negotiate with banks to stop businesses closing.

I have worked with the Energy Minister to promote Geothermal Energy which provides a “green” alternative for our homes and businesses – potentially making use of our flooded mines as a source of energy. At his request I set up a working group to evaluate the viability of this. The positive results should lead to creation of a new energy efficient industry leading to employment and opportunity.

I have spoken out about infrastructure. As we build much needed homes the infrastructure is not keeping up. Schools, doctors surgeries, drainage and other utilities are overloaded. Community facilities are inadequate. This situation must be better recognised and addressed – soon.

Free education is guaranteed under an SNP Government. The ability to learn and not the ability to pay is crucial. This is central to my beliefs. More than 500 schools have been rebuilt or refurbished since 2007. A record 91.7% of school leavers are in education, work, or training. Excellent progress but we need to do even more. £100 million is being invested in closing the attainment gap and driving forward improvements in educational outcomes in our more deprived communities.

Progress in many areas has been significant although much work remains to be done both locally and nationally. The Tory budget cuts are savage but there is a great deal that can and must be achieved in spite of this.

The voters of Midlothian North and Musselburgh gave me their trust in 2011 and I am asking them to do so again in 2016.”

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