General Election: Lib Dems aim to take North East Fife from SNP

Stephen Gethins, of the SNP, left, and Elizabeth Riches of the Lib Dems
Stephen Gethins, of the SNP, left, and Elizabeth Riches of the Lib Dems

As the dust settles on the local elections, the fight begins to secure North East Fife in next month’s General Election.

The seat, which had been a decades-long stronghold for Lord Menzies Campbell, swung to the SNP when Stephen Gethins snatched a 4344-strong majority in 2015.

Tim Farron (left) in St Andrews with local candidate Elizabeth Riches and former North East Fife MP Lord Campbell.

Tim Farron (left) in St Andrews with local candidate Elizabeth Riches and former North East Fife MP Lord Campbell.

Thanks to a snap election, the Lib Dems believe they have a golden opportunity to reclaim the area, while the SNP are forced into a fight to retain it.

Both camps enlisted their biggest hitters when they launched their campaigns this week, leaving no doubt that North East Fife will be a keen battleground.

So far, Elizabeth Riches has announced she will stand for the Lib Dems, Stephen Gethins for SNP, Rosalind Garton for Labour and Tony Miklinski for the Scottish Conservatives.

The Scottish Greens announced they would not field a candidate in North East Fife to try to help the SNP win.

Andy Collins, chairman of Yes North East Fife, said any pro-independence rival to Stephen Gethins would be put forward “over my dead body”.

So, as the battle begins, we will publish statements from each candidate in the run up to the General Election on June 8, beginning with the SNP and the Lib Dems this week.

Stephen Gethins SNP:

It has been a privilege to represent North East Fife since being elected just under two years ago and I want to continue the job that I have started.

I know first-hand how important it is to have a strong voice to stand up for Scotland and to stand up to the Tories at Westminster.

Now, more than ever, that strong voice matters for the people of North East Fife and will be crucial in the next Parliament.

The Tories want to take North East Fife for granted, using local votes to deliver their damaging hard-line agenda, putting thousands of jobs in our food and drink sector and tourism industry at risk and prevent crucial European funding from reaching our universities.

I will always put North East Fife first at Westminster.

As an MP I have helped over 5000 local people on issues from benefit cuts and unfair pension changes to immigration issues and the impact of Tory austerity on families.

I have also supported communities who have fought to retain their libraries, banks and post offices. I want to continue that work. However, the next Parliament will have a big impact on jobs, the economy, our rights, the environment and opportunities for young people. It’s important we hold the Government to account.

North East Fife is a very special area and I value living here with my wife and young family. The Tories claim they have a ‘fighting chance’ of winning this seat. Help me keep out them out and protect this area by voting SNP.

Elizabeth Riches Scottish Liberal Democrats:

As Liberal Democrats we have a clear message, one that makes us distinct and one that is easily recognised.

We stand as the party that is united in its support for Scotland in the UK and the European Union. We are ready to oppose the hard Brexit Teresa May is bent on imposing and we will defend an open, tolerant and united Britain. We will invest in education and mental health and work to stop another divisive referendum.

I have strong local connections as I have lived in NE Fife for over 38 years and have spent 27 of them as a councillor for the East Neuk area.

I have experience of leading the Fife Council Opposition for 10 years and as the Depute Leader of the Council for five more years, so I am used to dealing with strategic issues as well as scrutinising detail. I am ready to challenge as necessary but enjoy meeting people and supporting communities and understand a lot of the frustrations they have to contend with in daily life.

There is a real job to do of standing up for the people of North East Fife, for the farming and fishing interests, for the university, for businesses and for tourism, for Elmwood College, for those without work and the homeless. I will be the strong voice in Westminster who will concentrate on what our communities need.