Off we go
Rutherglen became one of the key battlegrounds as the Scottish election campaign got up and running last week.
Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, visited the Burgh where she met voters on the Main Street in a bid to boost James Kelly’s campaign.
Election season got well and truly underway in Rutherglen last week when Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale visited the town.
Ms Dugdale, who was there to lend support to candidate James Kelly, met voters on the Main Street the day after parliament dissolved and the campaigning began.
Speaking to the Reformer, she said the Labour manifesto would bring “an end to Tory austerity”, and vowed to tackle the housing crisis in the constituency, invest in education and end council cuts.
She said: “We have got a very clear and credible plan to stop the cuts and I think people here in Rutherglen want to see more investment go into their kids’ future, into their schools and their local community facilities.
“They don’t want to see thousands of jobs lost, which is the price of the SNP’s budget for the past few years.
“If you want that investment in your child’s future and you want the powers of the parliament used you’ve got to vote Labour.”
She went on: “Scotland has a housing crisis and Labour has a plan to end that.
“Our manifesto will commit to building 60,000 homes over the lifetime of the next parliament, 45,000 of which will be for social rent directly to address the problems that are faced here in Rutherglen.
“The reason that we are able to do that is because we stand for using the powers of the parliament, including borrowing powers.
She added: “We want to protect spending in the NHS in real terms.
“Listen to Nicola Sturgeon and you think that everything to do with the NHS is rosy but the reality is it’s really difficult to get a GP appointment and difficult to get the health care that you need within the waiting times that you’ve been told.”
Ms Dugdale also paid tribute to the candidate she was there to support.
“James Kelly is a fantastic MSP,” she said. “He’s a fantastic business manager in the parliament. It’s exactly why I’ve chosen to spend the first day of the campaign supporting him and I‘m determined to see him back in that parliament as the MSP for Rutherglen.”
James Kelly, who is defending the seat for Labour on May 5, was delighted with the visit.
He said: “We all know the impact of the SNP’s cuts to South Lanarkshire’s budget: schools are increasingly under- resourced, staff are facing job losses and vital community facilities are under threat.
“My promise in this election is clear: I will always stand up for our local area and fight the SNP’s austerity budget.
“The SNP candidate has never once criticised her party’s leadership on the cuts they have forced on to our council.”
Other parties were less impressed with Ms Dugdale’s high-profile trip to the Burgh.
SNP candidate Clare Haughey, said: “The Labour Party want to impose an immediate 1p tax increase which would hit 2.5 million tax payers across Scotland, including almost half a million pensioners.
“At a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet that just can’t be right.
“Working families in our own community are already relying on foodbanks to put food on their tables due to Tory austerity. The SNP is committed to fair and progressive taxation and that principle will be at the heart of our plans for a third term in office.”
Robert Brown of the Lib Dems said: “It adds to the razzmatazz of elections to have senior party figures from the various parties coming to Rutherglen.
“My own party leader Willie Rennie has been here a number of times.
“It is Liberal Democrats, not Labour, who have challenged the SNP government most effectively against their disastrous centralisation of the police, against the SNP cuts of over 150,000 college places, on the GP recruitment crisis and on the need to invest in Scottish schools.”
And Taylor Muir, who is standing for the Conservatives, said: “What will stick in voters minds come May 5 about Kezia Dugdale and Labour is that they want to hit every worker in Rutherglen and Cambuslang earning £11,000 or more with a tax rise.
“Only the Scottish Conservatives and Ruth Davidson will stand up for Scotland’s place in the UK , unlike Kezia, who said Labour MSPs are free to back separation in a future referendum.”
Saying hello Ms Dugdale and James Kelly meet Labour supporters
If the cap fits Kezia Dugdale