Students eligible to vote in the forthcoming elections for the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 5 May will have now received their polling cards through the post. St Andrews falls within the boundaries of the North East Fife region.
Following the decision in 2010 to change voting boundaries in Scotland, political academics calculated that one in six electors in Scotland will be in a different seat. Professor David Denver from Lancaster University conducted research on behalf of The Associated Press and BBC Scotland and found that the changes could favour the Scottish Conservative party. However, the North East Fife region has been represented by Liberal Democrat MSP, Iain Smith, since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Tavish Scott MSP, has spoken of his intense frustration at the effect that the Liberal Democrat coalition in London is having on his campaign in Scotland. Unlike the Westminster government, the Scottish Liberal Democrats vow to keep higher education free in Scotland.
There are four candidates standing for the 2011 election. The Saint asked each one to address the student voters within the University.
Miles Briggs: Scottish Conservatives
Scottish Conservatives want to maintain our internationally renowned reputation for excellence in teaching and research that Scottish Universities have enjoyed for a very long time.
The status quo is simply not tenable and the introduction of up-front tuition fees is unacceptable. Scottish Conservative therefore believe we should introduce a fair and affordable graduate contribution facilitated through income-contingent loans. Our proposed graduate contribution will be based on a University cost of £3,600 and would be capped at £4,000. The contribution would only be paid after graduation at a rate affordable to the graduate.
Regardless of what the other parties are trying to make students believe, the funding gap facing higher education in Scotland is not bridgeable unless a graduate contribution is introduced.
Colin Davidson: Scottish Labour
I was born, lived and worked all my life here in this part of Fife and graduated from St Andrews University in 1994.
Community and voluntary work are important to me and I believe we should provide more opportunities for young people to get involved in voluntary work in their communities. I have served on Fife’s Children’s Panel for twenty years and volunteer on a regular basis to support the local churches charity that does outreach work in the local community.
The voters in North East Fife deserve a candidate who is knowledgeable about the local area, works here on a daily basis and feels the anger and frustrations hard working people, the elderly and more recently, our higher education students, have with politicians who break their word, abuse expenses and rarely deliver on election promises once elected.
Iain Smith: Scottish Liberal Democrats
This election is an important opportunity to influence the future. Your future. I know many of you are concerned about the cost of University. I want to keep higher education free with no fees and no graduate contribution.
Liberal Democrats want to see 100,000 new jobs by creating the right conditions for economic growth by supporting business, investing heavily in the offshore renewable industry and implementing super-fast broadband to make us the most digitally connected region in Europe. Imagine what opportunities that could lead to.
I want to support Universities, like St Andrews, invest in the future and make Scotland a world leader in science and research. Liberal Democrats will create a “Science Nation Fund” of £250 million to help achieve this.
I want everyone to achieve their potential.
Rod Campbell: Scottish National Party
Rod Campbell is an Advocate. Born in Edinburgh, he was educated at Reading School, Exeter University and the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.
He has a degree in politics and qualified as a solicitor in both England and Scotland. For a number of years he was a partner in an international law firm based in London. He qualified as an Advocate in 2008.
He is Convener of the Perth South branch of the party and a member of the party’s Appeals Committee. He has fought four previous elections for both the Westminster and the Scottish Parliaments.