Here are the candidate and issues in Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Stretching from Penicuik to Galashiels and including vast swathes of the Borders, this seat used to be firm Lib Dem territory.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 7:00 am

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In its previous incarnation as Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale it was represented at Westminster by David Steel and then Michael Moore and produced a comfortable majority for the party at the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999.

But the SNP then narrowed the gap to below 600 votes in 2003 and 2007 and won it, on revised boundaries, in 2011. Christine Grahame was the candidate each time. She had been a South of Scotland list MSP since 1999 before taking the constituency with a 4,924 majority and she was re-elected by an even larger margin last time.

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Constituency map of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale Picture:  Allan Faulds at Ballot Box Scotland

So she looks set to return to Holyrood after May 6. But she says: "I never count my chickens. I always remember that each five years the electorate is not the electorate that voted you in last time – people have moved in, people have gone away, things have changed."

She says Nicola Sturgeon's “stamina and control” in dealing with the pandemic have impressed people and she is keen Covid recovery should lead to change.

Recovery and independence go hand in hand, she insists. “I don't see them as separate. I don’t want same old same old. I want a complete change in the way this country runs itself.”

She says the growth in housing, especially around Gorebridge and Newtongrange, and the extra demands that brings is a key issue for the area, particularly transport. “I regret the Greens opposed the plans for the Sheriffhall roundabout. They say it would mean lead to cars but at the moment the congestion means you have cars backed up and running their engines.”

Christine Grahame - SNP

The Tories jumped from fourth place to second in 2016, increasing their vote by almost 17 per cent, while Lib Dem support plummeted.

The Conservative candidate this time is Shona Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council, who lives in the heart of the constituency in Peebles.

She worked as a Westminster lobbyist and as a charity director before being elected a councillor and this is her first bid for Holyrood.

She says the recovery is the issue people talk about most. “They don’t want to think about another independence referendum at this point, all they want focus on is how do we rebuild our economy, rebuild our businesses and rebuild our school and education system after Covid.”

Shona Haslam - Conservative

And she highlights the Tory pledge to give councils a fairer funding settlement. “Midlothian is one of the fastest-growing local authorities in Scotland and housing and services are a major issue. And with the cuts to council services that have happened over the past 14 years it’s inceasingly difficult for councils to continue to meet the demand that new housing brings along – emptying the bins, maintaining the roads, providing education.”

Given her party’s strong performance last time, Ms Haslam says: “I’m fighting for every vote and I'd love the pro-Union parties to unite around the Scottish Conservatives and take on the SNP.”

Labour’s candidate is Katherine Sangster, who works for Edinburgh South MSP Ian Murray and is also Scottish manager for the Fabian Society, Britain’s oldest think tank.

She says Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is popular with voters. “And the message from Scottish Labour that we need to unite and we need a recovery-focused parliament at least for next five years is something that resonates with the public.”

Katherine Sangster - Labour

“There is not much appetite for another independence referendum, just a desire for politicians to listen focus on issues impacting people day to day.”

She says people are concerned about potholes, anti-social behaviour and education.

And she agrees the scale of development raises big issues. “We’ve had an explosion of housing without the services coming in to back it up. Councils haven’t been given finding that matches the population growth.”

Lib Dem candidate Adrian (or “AC”) May, an IT consultant, says the surge in housebuilding has seen parts of Midlothian become “dormitory” communities.

"People are working and spending their money in Edinburgh but living in Midlothian. It’s not the best for communities or for the people themselves, spending all that time travelling and not having the services and go-to destinations on your doorstep.”

He wants to promote the rejuvenation of the high street as the civic and economic heart of the towns and create more opportunities for young people so they don’t have to move out of the area.

AC May - Lib Dem

The Greens are fighting this seat for the first time. Candidate Dominic Ashmole says: "Politicians are not being real with us about how little time there is to stop climate change turning into the end of civilisation.

"We're proposing a £10 billion Covid recovery investment but very much focused on building back fairer and greener. And the main tenets of that are 100,000 green jobs in things like renewables and retro-fitting homes for energy efficiency.”

And also standing is retired barrister Michael Banks of the Vanguard Party, which is pro-Union, pro-Brexit and says it champions traditional values and pushes back against “the tyranny of woke".

2016 result

Christine Grahame SNP 16,031 45.1%

Michelle Ballantyne Con 10,163 28.6%

Fiona Dugdale Lab 5,701 16.0%

Kris Chapman Lib Dem 3,686 10.6%

Majority 5,868

Turnout 59.1%

Seat history

1999: Lib Dem

2003: Lib Dem

2007 Lib Dem

2011: SNP

2016: SNP

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Dominic Ashmole - Green