Scottish elections: This is who is standing in Mid Fife and Glenrothes

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

By Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 30th April 2021, 8:23 pm

In this feature we profile the candidates standing in Mid Fife and Glenrothes.

Am I in this constituency?

Mid-Fife and Glenrothes covers the Fife Council wards of Glenrothes West and Kinglassie, Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch, Glenrothes Central and Thornton, and Leven, Kennoway and Largo.

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The Mid Fife and Glenrothes candidates

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

What happened last time?

Mid Fife and Glenrothes has been held by the SNP since it was created from most of the old Central Fife constituency in 2011. Tricia Marwick - incumbent in the old seat - won first time round, but resigned the SNP whip to take up the post of Presiding Officer.

Jenny Gilruth was elected for the nationalists in 2016 with an increased majority of 8,276 after Marwick announced her retirement from politics.

Voters go to the polls on Thursday

The most recent electoral activity, in the UK General Election, saw the SNP increase their majority over Labour in the Glenrothes by 8,000 in 2019.

Who is standing?

Mid-Fife and Glenrothes has five constituency candidates for 2020, each of whom is profiled below in their own words.

Altany Craik - Scottish Labour Party

Tell us about yourself.

I was elected to Fife Council in 2012 - but prior to that I was a lecturer at Adam Smith College in economics, management and accounting. I joined the Labour Party in 2010 around the time of Gordon Brown's election. After I was elected I continued lecturing for another year until I made the choice to be a councillor full-time. It was an accidental entrance into politics though.

What are your local priorities if elected?

What I've found, having been a local councillor, is that the people who should be representing us at a national level need to be very much rooted in their own communities and delivering for our residents, and some of that has been lost. People with no experience of delivering on the ground are making local choices that are unworkable.

If you've been delivering at a local level in spite of the help you get from government that's the experience you need to make the [post-Covid] recovery work. It's fabulous having blue sky thinking until you're trying to deliver; you need practical people for this and that's where I put myself.

The Levenmouth rail link is happening - but after this Covid period what we need to be focused on is getting people back to work, and supporting young people who are 18 months older and not as ready for the world as they should be.

We've had a decade of cutbacks in core [council] budgets and that has led to roads that aren't up to the job - and flooding issues we haven't been able to address. Extra money this year is very welcome but we need to get it right for the future, and that means looking at how we do council tax.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I was born in Glenrothes and I've lived in Glenrothes all my life. My first job was in Fosters Menswear in the town centre; I've worked in retail, call centres, right across manufacturing and servicing. I also write books: I've written nine books available on Amazon.

Jenny Gilruth - Scottish National Party (incumbent)

Tell us about yourself.

I was a teacher before I was elected in 2016, in modern studies and later as a principal teacher, and I worked in education. I joined the SNP when I was 21 and got involved in a grassroots group and started working for Tricia Marwick - she's the one who really got me involved in party politics.

What are your local priorities if elected?

My priorities haven't changed much since I was elected in 2016. My first priority is transport and I've delivered some really good projects in the area. The Levenmouth Railway is coming back under an SNP government. It's a £70 million investment and my commitment is to ensuring that comes to fruition and is fit for purpose.

Education investment is hugely important and we've been investing in the community with Pupil Equity Funding. The pandemic has thrown up challenges for schools and one of our commitments is that pupils will have access to Chromebooks or computers. It's important that investment goes in to help them get jobs, and I'm really committed to getting good quality, green jobs for Central Fife.

The other thing I want to work on is in Glenrothes. The town centre is a shopping centre and we've seen real challenges with Mars Pension Trustees, who own it. Before the pandemic I was working with the council to look at how we might get better investment for the town centre and the Glenrothes Masterplan. That's a really exciting project and if re-elected that's something I want to take further.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I'm terrified of spiders - and Fife has got the biggest ones in the country!

Jane Ann Liston - Scottish Liberal Democrats

Tell us about yourself.

I've got a background in IT and data processing, writing things in COBOL for the Royal Bank of Scotland, and I got into the politics side of things because of the [1989 onwards] railway campaign to get the railway back to St Andrews and so I stood for Fife Regional Council, and was in Fife Council right at the beginning.

What are your local priorities if elected?

One thing would be to make sure the Levenmouth railway won't fall behind. While rail campaigns take a heck of a lot of trying to get anywhere once they're agreed things can be built remarkably quickly. I also want to see something done with the Lundin Links Hotel sitting derelict.

I want to put forward my ideas of a land value tax to discourage people from just sitting on something like that until it falls down. As a councillor I can raise awareness but as an MSP you're a legislator and this is where I can do more.

The SNP said they would get rid of council tax and they haven't. Council tax is regressive and tends to benefit people who are better off. We need to see local taxation come in for that and business rates. I want to come up with a farer way of funding local government because it hasn't been properly funded for years.

Holyrood will say they've given councils more money but the costs of delivering services increase and more responsibility has been foisted on local authorities. People blame the local authorities but the source of funding, the government, is to blame. If you've been a councillor, you've been at the 'sharp end', as it were, and I can use my raw experience somewhere like Holyrood to say: 'This is what it's really like.'

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I danced the can-can just a few days before my 60th birthday for a show! Considering I only took up ballet in my forties I don't think that's too bad.

David MacPhee - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Tell us about yourself.

My background is working in manufacturing in the TV sector but before that I worked for smaller businesses as well. My wife works in the NHS and so gets exposed to the problems the health service is facing. We have a wee one who will be in school before we know it. This is my first time running to be an MSP.

What are your local priorities if elected?

I've been speaking to a lot of people across the constituency and the top issue people are always talking about is the security of local jobs, and that is backed up by the data. There are more people looking for work here than in other parts of Fife and wages are £4,000 lower than the Scottish average.

Beyond that the other big issue is the NHS. I know the pressures the workforce is facing. There is a backlog of procedures put on the backburner when Covid came along - now we need to start sorting that and step up treatments while recognising that the NHS is under a lot of pressure.

People are naturally concerned about the slipping standards in education and this last year of disrupted learning has set back our children. We want to recruit 3,000 teachers [across Scotland] and introduce a national tutoring programme targeting kids who have fallen behind.

Finally, this area needs strong representation. After 14 years of the SNP, we have a situation with more people looking for work on lower wages than the Scottish average and the attainment gap in Fife is particularly concerning. We need to be able to muster the powers of the UK and Scottish governments to turn this situation around.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I'm a keen hillwalker on Munros. I've been slowly ticking off the 300 there is and I've just passed the 50 mark. That's been held back by Covid but as soon as things are opened up again I'll be away up to the Highlands.

Steve Saunders - Scottish Family Party

Tell us about yourself.

I'm 71 years old, and have been married for 22 years in my second marriage - my first wife died of Huntington's disease. I came to Fife after meeting my second wife in Spain - she was from St Monans. I'm a consultant hydro-geologist, officially retired three years ago but still doing a bit of part-time work. It's taken me across the world, I love it.

What are your local priorities if elected?

I've been looking at SIMD [Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation] data and there's some really interesting things to note. Even in Glenrothes there are divides between good areas and not-so-good areas, and the areas that are deprived seem to be getting worse. In 2015 the Scottish Government started raising rateable values and council tax and put that money into challenged communities but the attainment gap has not come down.

Our children need to be encouraged to play to their strengths from early doors and to be motivated to do good, rather than going around with time on their hands causing trouble. I serve for the Salvation Army and for the last two or three years I've done youth clubs, and those work. The money used on this attainment gap should be spent on things for kids to do to better themselves.

Around 30% of people in Fife have mental health issues and the SNP are battering on about independence instead of the children who can't go to school because they are scared to go outside. I'm a family man and I believe in a stable family life in whatever shape and form that is. If a mother stays at home she should be able to give her personal tax allowance to her husband.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I enjoy table tennis. I've always enjoyed tennis, table tennis, squash, but I've played for Fife in the league. Before lockdown I was going to be doing some work in Levenmouth Academy with another coach - I like to pass on what I've got and I enjoy that. It's good, healthy exercise.

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