Voters go to the polls on December 12 to elect a new UK Government. The Courier profiles the local election battles.
As pointed out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Angus has a long relationship with the SNP – the seat having been a comfortable hold for the nationalists since its creation at the beginning of the Blair years.
That all changed at the 2017 election, when the Conservatives’ youngest female MP was returned to Westminster in the form of Kirstene Hair.
To put it into perspective, the last time Angus had a Conservative overall majority was before Ms Hair was born.
The constituency has not been without its difficulties lately, most notably a decline in the number of High Street retailers in once bustling towns like Arbroath and Forfar and the introduction of parking charges, much to the chagrin of the local population.
Farming is the lifeblood of Angus, with rural crime often going unreported but blighting the area nonetheless. Fly-tipping and livestock theft by organised gangs is a huge concern for residents – which is why we asked our candidates how they would tackle each.
Angus voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to remain as part of the United Kingdom but had a higher proportion than the Scottish national average of voters who wanted to leave the EU – at 45% – so Brexit and IndyRef2 will also play their parts.
Angus is deemed vital to the two parties who have tussled it out for control over the years – already Nicola Sturgeon and former Prime Minister Theresa May have ventured into the constituency as part of their campaigns to win on December 12.
Dave Doogan (SNP)
I am working hard for every vote right across Angus to help ensure we get a hard working MP experienced not just in the area of public services but also in the challenges of creating and sustaining a small business like the business I established in 2016. What is unique to Angus is the outrageous cash grab parking charges imposed by this Tory council which have succeeded only in keeping customers away and creating congestion in local streets. As the MP for Angus I would work in support of local businesses to reform or reverse these charges, which are far too high and also deeply inconvenient for motorists.
Kirstene Hair (Conservative)
I have helped tackle the scourge of rural crime in Angus and will do so if elected again. As an MP, I believe there needs to be a tough deterrent on fly-tipping in the form of heavy fines and I also feel there needs to be a higher prosecution rate for this form of crime. I will continue to hold regular meetings with community councils as this previously led to me being able to raise their concerns about rural crime at the highest level. Matters have not been helped by recent cuts to police numbers and concerns of a funding crisis in Police Scotland. These must be addressed by the SNP Scottish Government.
Ben Lawrie (Lib Dem)
High Streets across the country are struggling due to a mixture of pressures, such as the burden of business rates, the rise of online shopping and a weak economy, all compounded by continued Brexit uncertainty. A Liberal Democrat government would stop Brexit on day one. I believe that we also need to reform the broken business rates system to level the playing field between the high street and online businesses. There also needs to be far greater investment in public transport and active travel so our high streets are more accessible by means other than car. This is particularly important in Angus.
Monique Miller (Labour)
The failing high street is another symptom of economic decay under the current Conservative Government and the lack of state intervention to level the playing field between online business and local enterprises. The Labour Party has a bold and ambitious plan to reform our town centres, whether through action such as free broadband for all, fair taxation of online retailers to provide funds to invest in better infrastructure and incentivising more and better transport links to reduce car dependency and the need for car parking. That’s the real challenge we all need to get behind in Angus.