Wednesday April 7th 2021
Not being able to get out and about to meet people at street stalls or chat on the doorstep certainly makes this a unique election. I really miss that interaction. I’d like you to get to know me a little better prior to casting your vote, so thanks to Midlothian View for providing the candidates with that opportunity.
I feel an immense sense of pride knowing that I have the opportunity to represent our constituency at Holyrood, the constituency where I have lived my entire life. I am a Midlothian Councillor for the ward of Dalkeith and Danderhall. I hold Cabinet responsibilities and I am the Chair of the Midlothian Police and Fire and Rescue Board. I have extensive experience working in the public sector. That experience includes over 10 years of service with Lothian and Borders Police/Police Scotland (Operations Coordinator).
Does it get more contentious than the constitution? I don’t think it was ever in doubt that this issue would take centre stage at this election, although not of my choosing. That said, I would like to make my position clear from the outset then focus on other matters in the coming weeks.
Scotland would be an independent country had the result been different in 2014. However, my view is that we should not separate from our family of nations. I voted ‘No’ in 2014 because I thought separation was a bad idea. My view has not changed, I still believe independence is a bad idea. The UK is stronger with Scotland, and Scotland is stronger within the UK.
I do not support independence or another referendum.
The pro-independence parties want to create a sense of inevitability while avoiding difficult questions about the economics of independence, but the costs of separation cannot be dismissed. We know that economics is fundamentally linked to opportunities and life chances. The economic case for separation is no stronger now than it was in 2014. Since then, the SNP’s own Growth Commission has demonstrated the extent of the austerity that would have to be imposed by a Scottish Government in an Independent Scotland – and that was before the COVID crisis added billions to the balance sheet. There also is no certainty that an independent Scotland would be able to rejoin the EU (I voted remain) and whether the terms would be as favourable as before. Additionally, there are serious questions to be asked about what a Scottish social security and pensions system would look like with a smaller tax base.
Thousands of Scottish jobs rely on free trade with the rest of the UK and 70% of Scottish exports go to other nations within our family of nations. A family which is over 300 years old. Public spending in Scotland is also 10% higher than the UK average. We also share a currency and many public institutions. Those are just some of the shared benefits I’d rather not lose.
I’ve always supported devolution, because in my view the Scottish parliament was formed so we could find Scottish solutions to Scottish issues. That said, I would like to see fully devolved powers in respect of gambling and drug policy. Some of our devolved powers include Health, Education, Criminal Justice, Police and Income tax rate.
The last year has been tough for us all, the pandemic has separated us from our friends and family. Despite that, we have come together like never before. We can’t go back to the old arguments. I want to focus on what unites us, not what divides us. Our focus must be a COVID Recovery Parliament.
I’ll end my first Midlothian View election contribution with a quote from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on this topic. “Just imagine what we could have achieved if we had a government that obsessed about ending poverty as much as it does about independence.” Yes, just imagine.Tweet Share on Facebook