Meet the candidates Midlothian South

Tuesday April 19th 2016

Midlothian South Tweedale  and Lauderdale Candidates

From left to right: Michelle Ballantyne, Fiona Dugdale, Kris Chapman and Christine Grahame.

Meet the Scottish Election 2016 candidates in the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency. The election takes place on Thursday 5th May.

Michelle Ballantyne, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Michelle Ballantyne

Mother of six Michelle is a qualified nurse with 33 years in NHS management and addictions leading the Children and Families Service. Michelle and her husband have also built a successful manufacturing company. Michelle was elected as a Councillor and Leader of the Conservatives on Scottish Borders Council in 2012.

“Elections are an opportunity for change. I know that we all have similar cares and worries about our economic security because I share them. Many of us feel that politicians are out of touch and that they lack the experience and instinct to actually put things right on the ground. I am not that kind of politician.

I have spent over thirty years in the NHS and business. I pledge to treat you with respect and consideration at all times; and to do my utmost to ensure that the Scottish Government makes the very best use of the resources that it has, before demanding more of your income.

I will fight to ensure that the needs of every part of our society are considered and treated fairly; because a just society is one that allows you the opportunity and freedom to succeed and benefit from your efforts but that also protects and helps those who are less fortunate.

Politics affects every part of our daily life and no one can escape its influences. With the instability of the global economy we need strong, capable politicians with good moral compasses.

When you cast your vote on 5th May I hope you will choose the candidate who offers balanced, compassionate representation. One who puts people before ideology. One who brings experience and conviction to the job. A vote for me on 5th May is a vote with both heart and head and it will be respected.”

Fiona Dugdale, Scottish Labour Party

Fiona Dugdale

“I am not a career politician but a mum and public sector worker. My political beliefs are drawn from my life experiences and I passionately believe that Scottish Labour values are key to ridding poverty and inequality from our society. We have the people, the vision and the policies to address these problems and the consequences for people’s health, wellbeing and life chances.

I believe that public services including health, education, and social care are central to achieving these aims. I am keen that we ensure these services are fit for purpose in the coming decades and that mental health improvement forms part of this vision. To to do this we have to fund them properly and fairly. That is why Scottish Labour will replace the council tax and introduce a fairer, more progressive tax system, sadly something already rejected by the current Scottish Government.

The council tax freeze has had dire consequences for our local authorities and is having a negative impact on our public services. That’s why I am firmly behind the ‘Keep our Cops’ campaign in Midlothian and if elected will fight the SNP Council cuts that will see the loss of 14 front line police officers from our communities. Hundreds of people have signed a petition against this move and I will make sure their voices are heard.

I know that there are real concerns across Midlothian about the difficulties in getting appointments with GPs. I know that local GPs do their best in difficult circumstances but the lack of GPs across Scotland is a huge issue and one that has been largely ignored by the Scottish Government. Locally the SNP members controlling Midlothian Council have played down this issue and have ignored positive suggestions put forward by Labour. Now the inaction by the SNP at local and National level has resulted in 5 surgeries in Midlothian restricting new patients joining their lists.

Labour will invest in your family’s future rather than gamble with it. We will protect our environment for future generations by banning fracking in Scotland and help first time buyers save for deposit for their home. We will tackle the attainment gap in our schools by introducing a Fair Start Fund which will provide £78 million a year directly to schools to help 72,000 of our most disadvantaged young people.

As your MSP I will stand up to be counted on the things that matter. If you want to see a fairer, stronger and more successful Scotland I hope I can count on your support.”

Kris Chapman, Scottish Liberal Democrats

Kris Chapman

“The last five years have been taken up with arguments over the constitution. The next five years need to be focused on the real day-to-day issues that affect Scotland – how to get our public services working for everyone in order to enrich and strengthen our society. This is a message that I believe will resonate with many people, those who are sick of seeing a Nationalist government happy to see standards falling in education, the NHS, and cuts to councils, because they know this lets them engage in yet another round of blame-the-outsider grievance and flag-waving identity politics.

Midlothian deserves better than this. Midlothian deserves an MSP who will seek day-in-day-out to make this constituency, and Scotland, the best it can possibly be with the constitutional settlement we now have in place, rather than accepting decay as a useful political tool for pushing for more agitation.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to making Scotland a liberal, tolerant, fair and prosperous society. Take for example our commitment to ‘a penny for education’ – a small increase in income tax for the well off that will provide £475 million investment directly into education. Recent research from the independent Institute for Public Policy Research demonstrated that the policy is progressive and provides guaranteed funding for nurseries, schools and colleges.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats is the only party, therefore, that is putting forward an education plan that has certainty on funding.

The SNP have let education standards slip. Even more damning, they pulled Scotland out of international assessments on education quality when their failings started to become apparent, demonstrating a ruthless efficiency in putting image management before the welfare of our children. And then there are the SNP’s budget cuts, which are significant. The SNP cannot simply continue to talk left, govern right and hope that the negative consequences of underinvestment in education and other areas go unnoticed. As a local youth worker I see the impact every day. Enough is enough. Action needs to be taken.

Some of the additional funding the Scottish Liberal Democrats will provide for education will be spent on introducing a pupil premium targeted directly at raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. Your votes in May could make the difference for putting in place policies that finally help to close that attainment gap. But only the Scottish Liberal Democrats have put forward a credible and comprehensive plan to make this happen.

This is just one of many progressive policies from the Scottish Liberal Democrats. I hope I can count on your support at this election to see these polices become a reality.”

Christine Grahame, Scottish National Party (SNP)

Christine Grahame

“I have been a member of the Scottish Parliament since its reopening in 1999, first as an SNP Regional Member then for the past five years as Constituency member for Midlothian South Tweeddale & Lauderdale.

In the first session I was convener of the Justice Committee, in the second session I convened the Health committee, in the third session I convened the Health & Sport Committee and in the fourth session I convened the Justice Committee and Policing committees. In 1999 I established and chaired the Cross Party Group to restore the Borders Railway and set up and chaired the Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare, meeting quarterly.

I am proud to be independent minded and an unreconstructed back bencher .I have been known not to tow the party line, and I have held my own Government to account on more than one occasion both as chair of committees and in debates. In particular I opposed the abolition of the requirement for corroboration in criminal cases. This was subsequently dropped by the Government.

I have found representing the constituency the highlight of these years, dealing with around a thousand cases a year; holding surgeries in my offices at Galashiels and Parliament, in the libraries at Gorebridge and Newtongrange making home visits where required and on alternate Saturdays at the local TESCO supermarkets in Gala, Peebles and Penicuik. Each summer I have had a Summer Surgery Tour round the smaller towns, villages and hamlets: calling in Midlothian at Auchendinny, Leadburn, Silverburn, Nine Mile Burn, Carrington Temple and North Middleton. I also made stops across the Borders part of the constituency.In this time I have dealt with some 1000 cases a year and helped many local campaigns.

Prior to my election I was a Civil Court Lawyer, practising in the Sheriff Court and instructing for the Court of Session, specialising in accident claims, matrimonial cases and debt many of them by way of Legal Aid and did voluntary solicitor advice work at a local CAB. Before that I was a secondary teacher (English). I therefore do not consider myself to be a “career “ politician although my seventeen years of parliament has found my wide range of experience in my previous professions very useful.”

On a personal level, I am divorced with two adult married sons, three grandchildren and a rescue cat.

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