TAG | Conservative
I have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Angus North and Mearns for the Scottish elections next May. I have also been selected as one of the Liberal Democrat Regional Candidates for the North East.
I am very grateful to the Liberal Democrat members in Angus and the Mearns for their support and their decision to select me as their candidate. I am looking forward to continuing the campaigns that we have been running in the area.
The SNP have said they will fight the next election on just the issue of independence. Most people are concerned about their jobs, rising prices and the economy. This shows how out of touch the SNP really are. They have been completely unprepared for the economic crisis, created by the Labour government.
In just five months, the Liberal Democrats in coalition have put in place plans to take 900,000 low earners out of income tax, restore a fair pension and to provide £2bn extra in child tax credits for poorer families. In stark contrast, in over four years, the SNP have failed to deliver on their hollow promises of more police, smaller class sizes and maintaining teacher numbers. The Liberal Democrats can do more for Scotland and for Angus and the Mearns.
Stonehaven Liberal Democrat Councillor, Peter Bellarby, said, “I am very pleased that Sanjay has been selected. Mike Rumbles has served Stonehaven and the Mearns well and I am sure that Sanjay will continue to listen and respond to the concerns people have in this area, just as Mike has done. In the revised constituencies, Mike Rumbles will be the candidate for Aberdeenshire West and I am sure that Mike and Sanjay will form an excellent partnership for this area.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr David May from Montrose, commented “I am delighted that Sanjay has ben selected. He has an excellent record on campaigning on local issues. He has called for the SNP government to reinstate funding to prevent coastal erosion and flooding, to provide relief to small businesses who received huge rises in their business rates and for a full time service at Forfar fire station. And he has been a strong supporter of Jill Campbell’s campaign for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk Junction.”
David continued, “Angus North and Mearns is a new constituency for the Scottish Parliament. In the Mearns, residents have elected four Lib Dem councillors, Sir Robert Smith MP and an outstanding Liberal Democrat MSP, Mike Rumbles who has stood up for their needs at Holyrood. Unfortunately, SNP representatives have let down Angus residents. Now, Angus and Mearns residents will get a straight choice between an SNP candidate and a Liberal Democrat who will continue to fight for local people.”
Below: Sanjay campaigning for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk, along with Laurencekikrk Flyover campaigners Jlll Campbell and Julie Watson, with Tavish Scott MSP, leader of Scottish Lib Dems, Mike Rumbles MSP, Sir Robert Smith MP and Montrose Cllr David May
Alberto Costa has sent a letter to postal voters in Angus, in which he writes:
Remember, a vote for the SNP or the Lib Dems will only risk another five years of Labour or a hung Parliament.
Of course, the only thing that would make another five years of Labour more likely in Angus, is a vote for Labour candidate Kevin Hutchens. But Alberto does not mention that, as his intention is clearly to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about voting for the SNP or the Lib Dems.
Mentioning the Lib Dems as well as the SNP, but not Labour, clearly shows that Alberto knows that Angus is now a three way battle.
What is particularly worrying, is the sense of entitlement Alberto Costa displays in his letter to Angus residents. There is an assumption that the Tories have a right to power and that Angus residents have a responsibility to vote for him:
If we really want change, we all need to play our role and that means electing a new Conservative MP for Angus.
The reality is that if they want real change, then Angus residents have the opportunity to vote for the Liberal Democrats who can deliver it for them.
I was really disappointed to read two new articles on the ongoing ugly spat over donations and expenses between Mike Weir and Alberto Costa. Angus residents really do deserve better from their prospective representatives.
I highlighted how this spat has become national news in my previous post, which you can read by clicking here. The whole sordid affair reflects badly on Angus and I had hoped that the matter would end there. Unfortunately the argument has continued to rumble on.
Firstly The Daily Record highlights how Alberto Costa’s campaign received £10,000 from Swiss banker, Henry Angest, funnelled through a City company called Flowidea Ltd. You can read the article in full by clicking here.
Then Alberto Costa hit back, accusing Mike Weir of accepting a £4,000 donation from someone who he is running a campaign for taxes on holiday lets. You can read the full article in the Press and Journal by clicking here.
The merits of the accusations and counter accusations aside, there is clearly a need for our politics to be cleaned up.
In my previous blog post and in an open letter to all the other candidates, I called on them to give cross party support to full political reform, rather than nips and tucks or little tweaks here and there, asking:
Will the other candidates back proposals for a fairer political system, including the right of Angus residents to recall their MP, to cap donations to political parties, independent auditing of expenses and limits on spending by political parties? Crucially will they back a written constitution that clearly sets out the role and powers of MPs, ministers, judges, the Head of State, parliament and national assemblies?
On a separate issue, will the candidates back proposals for a fairer, proportional voting system, as used in Angus Council elections? Mike Weir was elected as MP for Angus, with just over 1 out of 5 of those eligible actually voting for him and very nearly 2/3rds of actual voters, voting against him. Surely the Angus MP needs to have a better mandate than that?
The letter has appeared in all the Angus local newspapers and I have yet to hear a response from any of the other candidates. This is hardly a surprise as Labour, SNP and Conservative MPs, including Mike Weir, have all voted in the past against proposals by the Liberal Democrats to clean up politics. It is little wonder that Nick Clegg described the last session as “the most corrupt parliament in history”.
I make my call again:
I would ask for full backing from Mike Weir MP, Kevin Hutchens and Alberto Costa. Angus residents can that way be assured, that whether it is myself or one of the other candidates that is elected at the forthcoming election, they will be voting for genuine, open, fairer political reform.
Will the other candidates back full, genuine, fair political reform to create a functioning, responsive, clean democracy in this country?
Before the Iraq War, we stood under a banner of “Not in My Name” in the two giant demonstrations in London against it. This YouTube video from WikiLeaks shows the video footage from a US helicopter gunship in Baghdad in 2007. The US soldiers believe that a group of men have weapons, including AK47′s and an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher). They open fire, killing most of the men, leaving only one alive, but injured. In fact the men were all civilians, gathered around a Reuters photographer and his driver. The weapons were cameras. A van comes to try and help the injured Reuters driver and the soldiers open fire again, killing those trying to help. Two children in the van are injured.
It is an extremely graphic and disturbing video.
Before seeing the video, I wanted to give the soldiers the benefit of the doubt and appreciate that the realities of war sometime mean that there are situations close to the limit of what is acceptable. I thought it might be one of the situations in war that are appalling, but unavoidable.
Having forced myself to watch the entire video, I feel fairly confident in saying the US soldiers displayed appalling judgement. Those innocent men were killed unnecessarily, very likely unlawfully.
All wars are brutal and the media age is bringing that brutality home to us. We should not dismiss the brutality, just because it has always been that way. Instead it should be a wake up call to ensure that we only engage in wars if absolutely necessary.
Many civilians have been killed as a result of the war in Iraq, both by our own troops, in our name, by suicide bombers and as a result of a collapse into lawlessness. Some estimates put the civilian casualties in Iraq at 600,000. I am not sure I believe that figure, but it is clear that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children have lost their lives as a result of this war conducted in our name.
This was should never have happened, the public never supported it. It went ahead, because Labour and the Tories supported it. Because they did not have the integrity to properly scrutinise the legality and justification for the war.
Iraq still matters in the 2010 election, not just because we sent our soldiers to war under-equipped and under-paid, nor because legal advice was manipulated or ignored. Iraq still matters because we have a wholly undemocratic system that cannot hold a government to account. It matters because in the UK, there is little to stop an illegal war being conducted in our name, or civilians being murdered in our name.
And that will not change whilst either Labour or the Conservatives are still in power, because they will not lift a finger to provide real democracy in this country. For that reason, Iraq will matter not just in this election, but in every election, until we are able to say what is done in our name.
I welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to include the Liberal Democrat proposal to remove the right-to-buy for new build council and social landlord houses in the draft Housing (Scotland) Bill. There is an overwhelming case to abolish the right to buy for new build council houses.
However, I was disappointed to hear that my fellow parliamentary candidate, Tory, Alberto Costa, is not supporting the proposal. I am surprised that Mr Costa does not appreciate the hugely negative impact this policy has had on the most vulnerable families, Angus Council’s budget and taxpayers’ funds.
Families across Angus and indeed, Scotland, are having to wait for years for suitable council accommodation. Councils have had to sell off their best assets at steep discounts, under this old Thatcherite policy.
There are much better methods for helping first time buyers get onto the property ladder, such as equity mortgages, that do not disadvantage vulnerable families and do not disrupt Angus Council’s ability to provide suitable housing.
Does Mr Costa seriously expect Angus Council to continue the cycle of finding suitable land, planning, funding and building houses, just to sell them off cheaply to property speculators?
He seems to want to nationalise the costs and privatise the profits. It demonstrates that the Tories have not changed and cannot be trusted to run this country.