Voters go to the polls on December 12 to elect a new UK Government. The Courier profiles the local election battles.
Dundee East has been an SNP seat since 2005, when candidate Stewart Hosie won by 383 votes over then Labour representative Iain Luke.
Labour had held the seat since the Thatcher era, winning in 1987 following two terms as a nationalist seat under former SNP grandee and leader Gordon Wilson.
Until the late Mr Wilson won the seat in 1974, Dundee East had existed as a Labour stronghold since its creation in 1950.
As a constituency, the boundary stretches from Old Glamis Road in the city to Carnoustie – and takes in other Angus towns including Monifieth and Monikie.
Some of the highest ranked areas of deprivation in Scotland are located in the constituency. Around 22% of the constituency is regarded as being in the most deprived, according to statistics from Citizens Advice Bureau.
Drug deaths afflict the area, adding to the city’s overall position of having one of the highest drug death rates in the developed world.
Employment continues to be an issue for residents in parts of Dundee East. Of the people it helps, the Citizens Advice Bureau says around 37% are unemployed or unable to work due to ill health.
The recent closure announcement of the Michelin factory in the north-east of the city will also have an impact on the surrounding area.
We asked candidates what they would do to help stem the city’s drug death crisis and increase employment prospects in Dundee East – including whether they would decriminalise possession of drugs.
Brexit will, of course, have an impact on how the constituency’s economy will perform.
Michael Crichton (Lib Dem)
The Tay Cities Deal will bring vital investment and jobs to Dundee and the wider region. My first task as MP for Dundee East will be to ensure that the promises of the UK and Scottish governments to fund the deal are kept and key projects are delivered. Creating certainty around Scotland’s constitutional future is essential. I believe that means a strong Scotland within both the UK and the European Union. I work in a local business and have seen first-hand the difficulties high street retailers are experiencing. We need government to give greater support to local businesses.
Rosalind Garton (Labour)
As the MP for Dundee East, I would work to ensure that Dundee can no longer be referred to as the drug deaths capital of Europe. A Labour government will establish a Royal Commission to develop a public health approach to substance misuse, focusing on harm reduction rather than criminalisation. Addiction services need to be better integrated with mental health treatment. Scottish Labour wants increased resources for community-based interventions. It wants the restoration of the £40 million of SNP Government cuts to alcohol and drug partnerships’ funding which services have faced since 2014/15.
Stewart Hosie (SNP)
Encouraging investment and jobs in Dundee requires a combination of infrastructure, direct assistance and a brilliantly educated workforce. I will continue to support the Scottish Government, the SNP-led city council and businesses making positive investment decisions in Dundee, and fighting for our share of the multi-million-pound Tay Cities Deal. On the issue of tackling drug deaths, I welcome the Scottish Government’s Rights, Respect and Recovery strategy. The SNP also calls for the devolution to Scotland and the urgent reform of the 1971 mis-use of drugs act which is now not fit for purpose.
George Morton (Independent)
(Candidate refused to submit photograph)
The main beneficiaries of the 1930s prohibition of alcohol in America were the mafia. Drugs should be legalised. The theft and robbery associated with illegality must be stopped. Decriminalisation is a cop-out which does not stop the drugs barons raking in mega-profits. Employers should not be subject to payroll taxes. Indeed, people generally should not be taxed for working. Instead, the basis of revenue should be land values, public property which should no longer be trousered. We need a clean Brexit which the Tories won’t give us, and our fish back.
Philip Scott (Conservative)
As a Dundee councillor, I am well aware of the massive problem we have with illegal drugs in the city, and I believe everyone in public life in Dundee has a duty to do something to improve the shocking statistics around the issue. To this end, I welcomed the recent Dundee Drugs Commission report that called for more joined-up thinking from the various agencies dealing with these matters, and the tone of the report that suggested we should be challenging the stigma towards users and their families. As your representative at Westminster, I would fight to crack down on dealers, whose wicked trade leads to so much misery.