Election campaign kicks off in Perthshire

-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)

Perthshire general election candidates have been setting out their stalls in advance of the snap summer poll announced last week.

Three Westminster constituencies cover the PKC region in the July 4 election: Angus and Perthshire Glens; Perth and Kinross-shire; Stirling and Strathallan.

All are the result of boundary changes since the last election in December 2019. The predecessor seats of Perth and Perthshire North, Ochil and South Perthshire and Stirling had SNP majorities of 7550, 4498 and 9254 respectively with the Conservatives in second place.

Perth and Kinross-shire SNP candidate Pete Wishart - Perth and Perthshire North MP (2005 to 2024) – said he had a record of supporting communities on issues like “helping to save vital bus services, fighting to halt cuts at UHI Perth, and working with council colleagues to address flooding issues.”

He added: “And in Westminster, I have remained steadfast in standing up for my constituents interests by opposing damaging policies such as Brexit, austerity measures, and the recent Rwanda Bill.

“For the first time in 14 years, voters have a chance to ensure this Conservative government is removed from power, and in Perth and Kinross-shire, it’s a two-horse race between me and them.”

But Conservative opponent Luke Graham said it was “time for a change”, pointing out he would work on supporting business, farmers and the rural community as well as promoting renewable energy.

He added: “I will hold the SNP to account for their failures, but my campaign will focus on the positive plans I have for Perth and Kinross-shire like investment, jobs, opportunities and moving Perth and Kinross-shire forward.”

Liberal Democrat Amanda Clark, also spoke of change, and said: “The chaotic Conservatives and the scandal-hit SNP have made a mess of our country for far too long. People have had enough —it’s time for change.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to put Scotland at the heart of a reformed UK and fix our broken relationship with Europe.”

Similar themes were expressed by candidates in the Angus and Perthshire Glens constituency.

The SNP’s Dave Doogan - MP for Angus (2019 to 2024) – said the country was languishing “in our fifteenth year of Tory austerity” and pointed to “the damage inflicted by Liz Truss under the Tories’ cost of living crisis.”

He added: “In Angus and Perthshire Glens only the SNP can lock the Tories out of Power at Westminster and fight for a better independent future for all of Scotland.”

But Conservative candidate Stephen Kerr, from Forfar, currently a Central Scotland list MSP, said the choice in the constituency was between the Tories and the SNP, adding: “This election is an opportunity to turn the page on the divisions of the last decade and to send a clear message that we have had enough of the SNP’s independence obsession and we want our politics to return to the real priorities of the people of Scotland.”

Lib Dem Claire McLaren – a Perth and Kinross councillor since 2022 and the party’s agriculture spokesperson, said: “Change is desperately wanted by the people of Angus and Perthshire Glens. Liberal Democrats offer this.

“They deserve an MP who will stand up for them and work hard to make their lives better.”

Labour’s campaign in the Perth and Kinross-shire constituency kicked off with an event in Perth on Saturday.

The party’s candidate Graham Cox was joined by Scottish Labour activists for the Tulloch event.

Mr Cox said: “I am proud to launch my campaign to be the Scottish Labour MP for Perth and Kinross-shire.

“Living in Kinross and having many connections with Perth, I know that our community deserves better than the past 14 years of Tory decline.”

“I’m letting people know that they have a choice in this election — they can send a message to Westminster or they can send a Government.

“People are telling me they’re fed up with SNP and Tory rhetoric and failed promises and so I want to be part of a government that delivers for Perth and Kinross-shire.”

In Stirling and Strathallan, the Labour Party candidate, Stirling Council leader Chris Kane, said however the fight there was between him and the SNP’s Alyn Smith, Stirling MP (2019-2024).

Mr Smith said: “The people and communities I have represented these past few years have faced unimaginable hardship under this failed Westminster system, and they deserve an MP who will take the fight to London on energy bills, mortgage bills and the growing cost of a disastrous Brexit we rejected.

“Scotland’s voice must be heard. We need a root and branch change across all systems and structures - and neither Labour or the Tories are fit to deliver it. Stirling deserves better than more of the same broken two-party system.

“This July 4, on the most famed of Independence Days known the world over, I’m asking the people I’ve represented, the communities I’ve fought for and the place I call home to send me back into the lion’s den. The job’s not done yet.”

Mr Kane said: “I know people want change and I want to be an MP that stands up for our area and puts public services first, not independence or more constitutional wrangling.“

“All the recent polls show that in Stirling and Strathallan it is a straight fight between Labour and the SNP.

“And so there is the opportunity to elect a new UK Government, but also to send a message to the SNP who are failing the people of Scotland on so many policy areas.”

But the Tory candidate Neil Benny, the Conservative leader on Stirling Council, insisted he was best placed to take on the SNP and “make sure we have an MP focused on our area, rather than independence.”

Other Candidates announced: Angus and Perthshire Glens – Elizabeth Carr-Ellis (Labour); Kenneth Morton (Reform UK); Dan Pena (Independent). Perth and Kinross-shire – Graham Cox (Labour); Helen McDade (Reform UK).