Who will get your vote in the 2017 General Election?

General election 2017 candidates for Falkirk constituency (from clockwise):  John McNally, Debra Pickering, Craig Martin, Callum Laidlaw and Austin Reid, centre
General election 2017 candidates for Falkirk constituency (from clockwise): John McNally, Debra Pickering, Craig Martin, Callum Laidlaw and Austin Reid, centre

Candidates in Falkirk and Linlithgow and East Falkirk constituencies put their cases for why they should be elected.

Falkirk

Joan Coombes, Martyn Day, Charles Kennedy and Sally Pattle - 2017 General Election candidates for Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Joan Coombes, Martyn Day, Charles Kennedy and Sally Pattle - 2017 General Election candidates for Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Craig Martin

Labour

The former councillor is now retraining as a chemistry teacher. Married and living in Falkirk, the 32-year-old has two young sons. He said: “As the only local candidate from the main political parties you can trust me to be a champion for Falkirk. Labour are the only party at this election that are offering hope and a positive vision to create a fairer country for the many, not the few.

“While the SNP obsesses over how to get another divisive independence referendum, I believe it is time to get on with the day job. Labour will end the cuts to budgets, will introduce a £10 an hour minimum wage and will ban zero hours contracts to ensure families have the security they need.

“Where the SNP simply passes on Tory austerity without putting up a fight, Labour will transform our economy through investment and development. No more tax breaks for the richest and big corporations.

“The only way that people across Falkirk can reject this nasty Tory Government and reject the threat of a divisive second independence referendum is to vote Craig Martin on June 8 and elect a local champion.”

Callum Laidlaw

Conservative

The 33-year-old corporate communications consultant was recently elected councillor for Portobello Craigmillar. The son of a teacher and small business owner, he lives in Edinburgh with his partner and two dachshund dogs.

He said: “Falkirk is the only local authority in central Scotland not to benefit from City Region Deal funding which comes from both the UK and Scottish Government and is used to invest in infrastructure to attract investment. I think Falkirk needs to be heard in Westminster and a voice on the Conservative benches is the best way to achieve this.

“The Conservative Government has committed to a new ‘Industrial Strategy’ targeted at increasing investment in British manufacturing and engineering. Falkirk has a proud tradition and skilled workforce as well as excellent connections to the road, rail and air networks. I want to see Falkirk being heard on the world stage and attracting significant investment to create new jobs and opportunities, just as the North of England has.

“Like all Conservatives, I am committed to investing in our armed forces and intelligence services ensuring that we are as protected as we can be in these uncertain times.”

John McNally

SNP

Born in February 1951, John was raised, one of seven children, in his home town of Denny. His dad, a committed family man, worked in the foundry and was a great support to his mum in looking after their children.

He said: “I’ve run a small hairdressing business in Denny for more than 40 years. This has provided me with an insight into how communities live and interact with each other.

“My wife, a health visitor, and I have been married for 36 years and we have two grown-up children.

“I’ve long held a passionate belief in politics and to this day I am deeply involved in local issues. I worked for my area as a community councillor and then as an elected councillor. I brought a ‘can do’ attitude to represent the people at Falkirk council for ten years.

“Since then, and thanks to the residents of this area, I was voted in to be your MP. I have had two years at Westminster and led in important areas including; defending pension rights for women; standing up for small business; highlighting the needs of our elderly and disabled; campaigning to reduce childhood obesity and protecting our wonderful Scottish environment from pollution by microbeads – and from the threat of fracking.

“Now this snap election has been called it is evermore important for Falkirk to know that I will continue to be that strong voice rejecting Tory austerity.”

Debra Pickering

Green

Originally from Cumbria, Debra has lived in Scotland for 20 years and in Falkirk for 12 of those with her husband and West Highland Terrier, She has two grown up daughters and one granddaughter.

A trained psychotherapist with particular interest and experience in the field of addictions, she has always been interested in politics at both local and national levels and was one of the youngest ever councillors in Cumbria.

She said her principal motivation in standing was her opposition to fracking, adding: “I’m tired of the SNP sitting on the fence with the moratorium. Their outright refusal to ban fracking once and for all is just not good enough for the people of Falkirk.

“Fracking is dangerous. When the very land we live on, the water we drink and the air we breathe is at stake we can’t stand idly by.

“We need a planned and managed transition away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy under democratic control which provides energy security, job security and faces up to the realities of climate change. The Scottish Greens know that Scotland can meet its needs through a diverse range of sustainable energy sources.

Austin Reid

Liberal Democrat

The 75-year-old is married and lives in Bo’ness. He believes that the stance of the Scottish Liberal Democrat party as pro-UK, pro-EU and progressive will be backed by the people of Falkirk. Austin is convinced that local people rejected independence by a large margin and should have an MP who can speak for them. He said: “I want to be a voice for Falkirk and the United Kingdom while contributing to the development of a tolerant and caring community.

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats have a plan to improve education and invest in the NHS to support those needing mental health treatment.

“We need an environmental policy which provides a long term future for all of our communities.

“I will be an effective Member of Parliament as I am experienced at working with people. I am active in our local community and volunteer with a number of organisations.”

Stuart Martin

UKIP

Despite several attempts to contact Mr Martin and UKIP no details have been submitted.

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Joan Coombes

Labour

Having lived in Grangemouth all her life. Joan is a proud mother to three and a doting grandmother to two.

She said: “I am not a career politician. I got involved in politics late in life after I did some volunteering in South America and saw for myself what happens when governments ignore their people. When I returned back home I wanted to help my town and was elected a councillor in 2012 and was deputy Leader of Falkirk Council for the last four years.

“Every election is a choice. What makes this election different is that the choice is starker than ever before. We can choose more of the same: the rich few getting richer, more children in poverty, our NHS failing and our schools and social care in crisis. Or we can vote for change.

“I am proud to stand for the Scottish Labour Party, which is the only party offering a plan for real change. A Labour Government would invest in our public services and our economy paid for through a fair and progressive tax system.

“Lets build a Britain that works for the many, not the few. On June 8 vote Joan Coombes because Joan cares!”

Martyn Day

SNP

A former councillor in Linlithgow, Martyn said: “Serving as your MP has been an honour; it is a privilege to be seeking re-election for my home constituency. I am proud to be standing on my record and that of the SNP. Upon re-election I will continue to be available to listen to and represent your views.

“I may not always agree with you but I will always ensure that you get a fair hearing and representation. To support this I have a professionally staffed office and ensure maximum availability through surgeries, appointments and home visits.

“The question in this election is which party is capable of preventing the Tories from doing whatever they want to Scotland. At Westminster, the SNP have provided the only effective opposition on austerity and attacks on the poor, the disabled and pensioners.

“Every vote for the SNP is a vote against further cuts to public spending, a vote to protect the triple lock on pensions, and a vote against any further cuts to low income working families. A vote for the SNP will also strengthen Scotland’s hand against an extreme Brexit which risks 80,000 Scottish jobs.

The SNP is the only alternative to the Tories for those seeking a stronger, fairer Scotland.”

Charles Kennedy

Conservative

A 62 year old married man with one daughter, Charles was born and raised in West Calder, has lived in Bathgate for the last 27 years and lived almost all his life in West Lothian.

Early years education was at West Calder High before going to Napier College to study quantity surveying. He has spent all of the subsequent 44 years working in the construction industry as a quantity surveyor.

He said: “Since joining the local Conservative and Unionist Association I have been active in the constituency, initially arranging campaigns for other candidates, before standing for council in the Bathgate Ward and then fighting the 2016 Scottish Election in Linlithgow. In the recent Council election I again stood in Bathgate and was elected to West Lothian Council.

“During the Scottish Independence Referendum I led the Better Together Group in West Lothian where we returned a decisive No vote in this area.

“My support for the continuation of the Union of Nations that is our United Kingdom remains as strong as ever and this General Election provides an opportunity, through voting Conservative, to turn away the divisive policies of a Nationalist obsession with Independence and create a strong and stable Scotland within our United Kingdom.”

Sally Pattle

Liberal Democrat

After graduating from St Andrews University in 2000 with a degree in Modern History and International Relations, Sally (38) enjoyed several careers before bookselling. These included being an anti-social behaviour officer in not-so-sunny Plymouth and a stint teaching English at a university in very sunny Seville, Spain.

In 2012 she studied for a Masters in Publishing at Napier University and went on to work for Scotland’s leading independent publisher, Birlinn Ltd.

In 2015, Sally took over the day-to-day running of Far From The Madding Crowd, on Linlithgow’s High Street. In 2016 she started two book festivals, including a free schools festival, after realising there were no other similar events happening in West Lothian.

Sally first joined the Liberal Democrats as a student when Ming Campbell inspired her at a hustings in 1997. She has been involved in campaigns over the years, particularly in Plymouth, where she helped out in local council elections as well as the 2005 general election. After moving back to West Lothian in 2016, she was instrumental in restarting the West Lothian Liberal Democrat branch. As convener of the branch, she is responsible for raising awareness of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and their values and how they relate to local issues.