Relishing the task of getting the Kirkcaldy seat back for Labour

Lesley Laird with Councillor Neil Crooks
Lesley Laird with Councillor Neil Crooks

The Labour Party’s candidate for the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency, Lesley Laird says she is confident people in the area will return to the party.

The 2015 election saw a massive swing to the SNP in the area which was previously a Labour heartland but Lesley, the former deputy leader of Fife Council, says the party’s manifesto is proving popular with voters.

Lesley with labour colleagues including former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown

Lesley with labour colleagues including former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown

“We have had ups and downs as a party but I think it is coming back to the manifesto and the policies that we want to talk about at this time,” she said.

“I think people are fed up with Brexit, they’re fed up with Indy#2. They want to see their lives improve and the Labour manifesto addresses some of those real basic fundamental things that people want to see addressed and I think it’s resonating really well on the doorsteps.”

Having served as a councillor in the Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay ward, Lesley says the key to being a successful public servant is simply to listen.

“My priorities are the things that people are telling me are important to them,” she said, “and it’s not another referendum, it’s actually jobs, the future for their children after leaving school, opportunities for them and education, the quality of that education.

“It’s also about the health service, concerns about GP appointments, concerns about the overall level of service and support in terms of health and social care.

“People are also looking for decent housing. Many of them are paying private sector rent and that’s a big issue for many people. They’re spending a lot of their income on rent.

“So those are the things that are really important to people. We need to get these fundamentals right and we’re clearly not.”

Problems facing politicians need to be tackled at their root cause, according to Lesley, which is the style she would adopt if elected as Kirkcaldy’s MP.

“I think that whatever role you have, at whatever level of government you’re at as an elected representative, you’ve got to get the basics right for people and that’s where I would like to think that my style would work.

“I don’t really care about who provides a service, I care that our constituents get the care they should.

“What’s very clear to me from working in local government is that people have very high expectations of what the council should achieve and in reality, the council cannot do some of the things that we need the private sector to do, but you have to enable the private sector to do those things.

“For example, if you have a business rates scheme which is actually not helping businesses, then you really need to look at that and get back to basics.

“What is getting in the way of stopping people doing the things they need to do? Why is not working? And how can we change it? What are the things that would make it better?

“While we do have the small business bonus scheme, I would have to say that it’s not a long-term solution to fixing the problem that is a fundamental problem.

“My approach is I like to get to the root cause, find out what people say that is and say, right, if we’re going to change that what would that look like and how do we get the right people round the table who could actually play a part in doing that?”

Lesley knows she has a huge job in persuading Kirkcaldy to return to Labour, but says she is the right person to do just that.

“It was a bit of a landslide for the SNP last time and if you look at it across all the wards in 2015, that was the mood, but what we’re seeing now is different,” she said.

“The SNP have been in charge here in Scotland for 10 years and services have not improved. We have more children in poverty – a 40 per cent increase. That’s shocking and they have the power to change that.

“So yes, I have got a big task here, but I am absolutely up for that. I always come with a very positive approach to whatever task I look at and my track record shows that.

“When I think it’s possible to do something I am someone who gets very focussed on delivering that, and that’s why I’m here. We’re here to serve people and to make things better and I’m committed to doing that.

“That’s what gets me up in the morning, to leave things better than they were the day before. I’m very driven about that.”