Judge me on my record, says SNP candidate Hannah Bardell

SNP MP Hannah Bardell makes her maiden speech in the House of Commons, Westminster.
SNP MP Hannah Bardell makes her maiden speech in the House of Commons, Westminster.
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THE SNP’s Hannah Bardell stormed to victory two years ago with almost 57 per cent of the votes in this seat, which had previously been safe Labour territory since Robin Cook became its first MP on its creation in 1983.

She had a majority of nearly 17,000 over Labour, but says she is not taking anything for granted.

“People may look at the majority and think it’s safe, but my view is it’s a big challenge when that many people have put their faith in you and you have to deliver. I hope people will judge me on my record and recognise I still have a huge amount to give for the area I grew up in.”

She points to her campaign for an aviation noise authority, prompted by the row over new flightpaths at Edinburgh Airport, and her efforts to save jobs under threat because of HMRC relocation, as well as countless individual and business cases where she has helped constituents.

She says the decision of the Labour group on West Lothian Council to form an minority administration backed by Tory votes was “very surprising and disappointing”.

She says: “I’ve spoken to Labour members who are really dismayed by it. We could have worked with Labour. That is going to affect Labour locally.”

But she continues: “At the end of the day this is about Westminster and who do you want standing up and fighting your corner against the Conservatives.

“Whatever people’s views on Brexit, we are going to need proper scrutiny and proper opposition to make sure the processes are adhered to. At Westminster, dysfunctional as it is, we have done our best to hold them to account.”

Labour’s Rhea Wolfson says people are responding well to the policies in her party’s manifesto and voters who switched to the SNP last time are returning to the party.

The £10 living wage and the ban on zero-hours contracts are particularly popular policies, she adds. “There is a lot of industry which is very precarious. A Labour government would be able to intervene in local industry in a way an SNP opposition never would.”

Ms Wolfson, a full-time official with the GMB union, looking after home carers, school cleaners and catering staff, said Theresa May had refused to intervene on HMRC jobs. “What we need a government that will intervene and recognise the disruption to local communities.”

On the topics which many politicians cite as the key issues for the election, she says: “It is rare to have a conversation about Brexit, less so about independence – and the main reaction is people don’t want a second referendum, but it is not the dominant conversation.

“People are a lot more concerned about every-day, cost of living issues.”

Tory candidate Damian Timson, newly elected as a Livingston councillor and also leading West Lothian’s seven-strong Tory group, claims people are not happy with the SNP.

“After a successful council result we’re hoping for an equally good result in this election.

“Any vote for the SNP they will turn into a vote for independence and referendum. That has to be the main message: standing up for the union and the benefits of the UK.

“Locally I have been frustrated when I look at Livingston – it should be the centre of the commercial world in the central belt, businesses should be queuing to come here, but we have units closing and empty office space.

“We’ve got to put in advantageous deals to encourage businesses to come to the area, ensure rail transport links are improved and the road network.”

Charles Dundas, standing for the Lib Dems in the seat for the fifth time, says voters are concerned about the economy.

“Brexit is already having a huge impact on the economy,” he said. “Staying in the single market is a strong message.

“Livingston changed direction last time. Perhaps having broken the habit of always voting Labour they will be ready for another change now.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com