North East Fife fight ‘a three horse race’

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With less than a week to go the battle for North East Fife has intensified, as the candidates stepped up their campaigns for the General Election.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week visited the area for the second time - a clear indicator of just how seriously the SNP are taking the fight to re-elect Stephen Gethins.

Meanwhile the Conservative and Lib Dems are fiercely contesting the seat.

The Lib Dems are thought to have pooled their campaign resources from other areas to focus their fight for a small number of target seats - with North East Fife one of the few they believe they have the best chance of winning.

The Tories, on the other hand, have gone all out to mark themselves as the party of the union.

Lib Dem candidate Elizabeth Riches, said: “We’ve been out knocking doors, and we’ve made quite welcome by people.

“We’re finding that there are a number of Conservative voters who are now planning to vote for us, and we’re also seeing that a little bit of the shine has come off the SNP.

“The three main points we’re fighting on are – firstly, we don’t want another divisive referendum on independence, secondly, we want to give people another vote on the outcome of Brexit once the terms are finalised, and thirdly we want more investment in mental health and education.

“These are issues that people are relating to.

“This is an election which has really engaged people, and it’s really exciting to be out there discussing the big issues with the public.”

The SNP’s Stephen Gethins said: “There’s no question that the Tories have had an increase in support, but I’m finding that the SNP support is still strong. I’m also getting a lot of support from former Lib Dem voters. I think it’s a mix of my local work, where I’ve helped around 5000 people, and my work on Europe. They also see me as the best way to stand up to the Tories, due to the confusion in the Lib Dem referendum message.

“If you want to give North East Fife a strong voice then vote for me.”

Conservative candidate Tony Miklinski said: “We started this campaign with fairly modest expectations, and we’re exceeding them daily.

“I’ve seen anger at the SNP for their obsession with independence.

“The Lib Dems are not a credible alternative.

“I think we’ll have support from Labour voters who feel let down by their party. Kezia Dugdale can’t open her mouth without being contradicted by Jeremy Corbyn. Labour voters know we will stand up for them.

“This is a three-horse race. I genuinely and sincerely believe we can do it.”

Labour candidate Rosalind Garton said: “It’s been very interesting on the doorsteps. People are really concerned about the Conservative plans to means test the winter fuel allowance.

“We’ve been focusing on local issues. In 2015, North East Fife had the largest number of people earning below the living wage. There’s a lot of insecure employment in the area. We’ve pledged to put an end to this shocking situation. Many private renters don’t want to let people on zero-hours contracts in, couple with the fact that house prices and rent in the area is so high, and the shocking number of holiday homes here.”

Mike Scott-Hayward, Independent Sovereign Democratic Britain, is waging a one-man campaign. That can make it tougher when knocking doors, but he’s quite clear of the benefits if elected. He said: “I don’t have a party, I’m not lobby fodder. I don’t have to follow the whip. I won’t be told by my party to be in Westminster for a vote which has little relevance to the area. I can be back at the constituency, talking to locals and hearing their concerns.”

The General Election will be held on Thursday, June 8.