Scottish elections: This is who is standing in Dunfermline

Voters go to the polls on Thursday to choose their next MSPs.

By Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Saturday, 1st May 2021, 1:10 pm
The candidates in Dunfermline

In this special report, we spotlight the fight for the Dunfermline constituency.

Am I in this constituency?

Dunfermline covers the Fife Council wards of West Fife and Coastal Villages, Dunfermline North, Dunfermline Central and Dunfermline South.

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You can check which constituency you live in on the Local Government Boundary Commission website.

What happened last time?

Dunfermline was first won by the SNP's Bill Walker in 2011 - before he resigned in disgrace after being convicted of 23 domestic violence offences. Labour's Cara Hilton won the seat in a 2013 by-election before the SNP's Shirley-Anne Sommerville claimed it in 2016 with a majority of 4,558.

The most recent electoral activity, in the Dunfermline and West Fife constituency during the 2019 UK General Election, saw SNP man Douglas Chapman increase his majority over Labour from 844 in 2017 to 10,699.

Who is standing?

Dunfermline has four constituency candidates for 2020, each of whom is profiled below in their own words.

Aude Boubaker-Calder - Scottish Liberal Democrats

Tell us about yourself.

I'm originally from Belgium and moved eight years ago to Scotland. I had to get up to speed quite quickly with politics. I wasn't hugely political but thanks to my husband [Fife councillor James Calder] and the independence referendum I became more interested. In Belgium, there's kind of a duty to vote - that democracy is really important, so I learned more.

What are your local priorities if elected?

As a party, the Liberal Democrats put mental health as a priority that we have to tackle. Having had a history of poor mental health myself, and seeing people struggling to get appointments and care, we need to battle waiting times.

Another thing for me in Dunfermline is that we have a commitment to reduce plastic in everyday life and we have to work with groups like Plastic Free Dunfermline to say the time is now to deal with this in the climate emergency. Reducing the everyday impact on the environment and that starts by asking supermarkets to stop using single-use plastic. We can do that locally but as an MSP you can ask the government to take action.

We need to help Fife Council to get more power: people complain about, for example, not having enough say in planning applications as developers have the right to appeals but communities do not. In the last few years there have been a lot of issues about this. The planning system should stay within the community, not the Scottish Government.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I'm expecting a child in the next couple of weeks - we don't know what it is yet. It's really important to me that I am engaged, as a feminist, in politics because the issue of women in politics is so important. We've seen accounts of women working in politics and motherhood at the same time - just look at the prime minister of New Zealand [Jacinda Ahern] who was in exactly the same situation as me.

Julie MacDougall - Scottish Labour Party

Tell us about yourself.

I've got experience of working in the private, public and third sector. I grew up around politics because of my dad [late Central Fife and Glenrothes MP John MacDougall] but went about for a number of years in the travel sector and went into estate management so I've always been a people person and interested in fighting for social justice.

My dad died of mesothelioma in 2008 and I was involved with the Labour campaign at that time, and that's how I got into working in Glenrothes doing a lot with Lindsay Roy, who succeeded Mr MacDougall in the Glenrothes constituency].

I've also established a trust in my dad's memory.

What are your local priorities if elected?

Looking at the track record I had and enjoying the work I did with councillors and local organisations I was rooted in the community and that's the approach I would take if elected. After the pandemic we need to take a different approach to politics that's more about people.

There has always been a need to work together with people, and while there's a lot of good things happening in Fife little of it is joined up. I'd like to work with the council, local organisations, businesses, colleges in trying to rebuild things [post-Covid] - we need a partnership approach to bring communities together.

Education is a huge issue as we know because young people have been dealt an awful hand during the pandemic. They're just starting off in life so they're going to need a lot of support and I'd work on a partnership approach with colleges and businesses to create long-term job opportunities.

In Dunfermline we've got the new Talgo train manufacturing factory coming in - I'm hoping to work with them to ensure jobs are created that go to local people.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I worked as a holiday rep in Gran Canaria in my younger years - that was a great job.

Roz McCall - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Tell us about yourself.

I was elected as a Perth and Kinross councillor in 2017 but became politically aware during the Scottish independence referendum. After school, getting a degree wasn't necessarily the best way of getting a job so I started my own distribution company with my husband and we ran that for many years distributing retail products. Then I went into property and became very interested in politics. I think it affects people more than they think it does.

What are your local priorities if elected?

I'm not based in Fife at the moment but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be if the time comes.

But there are issues I'm aware of and from speaking to a lot of people over time there's an awful lot of issues in local government funding coming up time and time and time again.

To me it's really important to have that local democracy and that we fund councils properly. The issues in Perth and Kinross won't be the same issues in Fife and vice-versa. To put in blanket arrangements across all of Scotland doesn't work and we need to give our councils back the ability to do local government and they need proper funding.

That flows into education. If you want to give kids iPads or a new device you need the infrastructure, the IT, to back that up. Fife has poor local infrastructure as far as broadband and transportation is concerned. In the western villages people are being forced into cars which isn't environmentally friendly. Education is the golden ticket - I really want to look at the standards of education and do what we can to reverse this downward trend we're seeing at the moment.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I'm a passionate mum. I'm a passionate wife. I have very strong feelings, passionate feelings, that the individual person can do more than they know. I believe in people and I adore people. I adore chatting to people and I love that interaction - it's been missing, that ability to chat to people, for over a year and I can't wait for it to come back.

Shirley-Anne Sommerville - Scottish National Party (incumbent)

Tell us about yourself.

I've been the MSP for Dunfermline for the past five years, and was the minister for colleges and universities but I'm now cabinet secretary for social security. Before I was elected I worked at Yes Scotland during the referendum campaign and was deputy chief executive of the SNP. My background is in campaigning work, for the Royal College of Nursing and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

What are your local priorities if elected?

One of the major things we've got is the two new high schools and new Fife College in Dunfermline that the Scottish Government will be funding. It's fantastic but we need to make sure it's done well and that it's providing not just the best learning opportunities but a campus we can be proud of, in terms of its environmental credentials and that the communities around it have facilities protected should it go ahead.

In general we need to make sure we've got good transport facilities in Fife. While people might be working from home a lot more, even after Covid, we need to make sure we've got rail links so I'm keen to look at the west Fife rail link and I'm delighted the SNP, if re-elected, will take the rail franchise back into public ownership. People will see a real difference in service.

The other thing for me is supporting businesses in Dunfermline and west Fife. They've had a torrid and difficult time but we need to make sure they are supported as they try to open up and get up and running again. It's those businesses that are supporting local jobs in the area.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

We have just got a new puppy!

It's not a great time, two weeks before an election, but there's much excitement in my household - not particularly about the election, from my children's perspective, but more the fact the puppy will be arriving. It's a little Cockapoo [a Cocker Spaniel/Poodle hybrid] and there's much debate about the name. That's the first vote I'll have to get out the way!