General Election: Labour and SNP eye up Kirkcaldy

The dust had barely settled on local elections when candidates were announced for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in the General Election.

Friday, 12th May 2017, 4:01 pm
Updated Monday, 15th May 2017, 9:22 am
The SNP's Roger Mullin, left, and Labour's Lesley Laird

The dust had barely settled on local elections when candidates were announced for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in the General Election.

Lesley Laird - former deputy leader of Fife Council - hopes to wrest the constituency back into Labour’s hands, while Roger Mullin will fight to retain the seat for the SNP.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency - comfortably held by former prime minister Gordon Brown until he retired - has been identified by Labour as a top target for the June 8 vote.

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It swung spectacularly to the SNP in 2015 when Roger Mullin’s shift of 34.6 per cent, won him a majority of 9974 votes.

However, following analysis of last week’s local election results, Labour claims Kirkcaldy is one of seven constituencies across Scotland which shows the party is ahead of or within a single percentage point of the SNP.

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath has also been seen traditionally as a reliable barometer of what to expect across the country.

In a statement, Lesley Laird, who has served as a local councillor since 2012, said: “In 2014, this area voted to stay in the UK, but since 2015 we’ve been represented by an MP who wants to divide our community again.

“That’s not what the vast majority of people here want. People here want to work together to make Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath even better than it is today and to make sure it’s the best place to live, work and raise a family.

“This election in this constituency it is a straight choice between Labour and the SNP.

“I’ll be fighting this election on the issues that matter to people every day of their lives, but unfortunately have been for far too long neglected.

Health and social care. Education and skills. Investment and employment. And much needed social housing.”

Mr Mullin cited Hansard figures showing he had worked “significantly harder” at Parliament than Mr Brown during his final five-year term and, as a result, achieved “significant improvement in the representation the constituents of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath”.

He added: “With the General Election now only weeks away and the very real possibility of continued policies of harsh austerity being pursued by a strengthened Tory government, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath needs a visible and vocal MP that will stand up and speak up for them.

“If re-elected I will continue to work hard for my constituents and make sure their voices are heard”.

Meanwhile David Coburn, UKIP’s leader in Scotland, is to contest the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat.

He said: “I have lived in the area throughout my time as an MEP – it is a beautiful place with inspiring people, yet I still feel it has not reached its true potential.

“After the industry went and the mines closed, the people were left with few opportunities.

“As a resident, I want to reverse the process of decline and transform the area into the economic powerhouse it once was.”