IT IS now the third week of campaigning to see who will become East Lothian's next MSP.

Iain Gray (Labour) has stepped down after more than a decade in the role, with East Lothian residents electing their new representative next month.

Four candidates - Euan Davidson (Liberal Democrats), Craig Hoy (Conservatives), Paul McLennan (SNP) and Martin Whitfield (Labour) - are in the running for the role.

Each week, the East Lothian Courier will give each of the candidates the chance to speak about what they've been up to and why you should vote for them.


East Lothian Courier:

Euan Davidson (Liberal Democrats)

THIS week, the Liberal Democrats have been highlighting the shocking state of mental health services across Scotland.

Right now, adults can wait up to two years for necessary treatments.

Even prior to the pandemic, waiting times for these vital community services were getting worse.

Earlier this year, Lib Dems in the Scottish Parliament finally persuaded the Scottish Government to declare this awful situation a national crisis.

Now we need to elect more MSPs that will treat it as that.

We immediately need to see a resumption of mental health First Aid training.

This was suspended for the pandemic, yet physical First Aid courses were allowed to continue.

During the recent budget negotiations, my party was able to secure £120 million for community services and we need to see much more going towards these early help services.

The impact on our families, communities and economy of failing to take this crisis seriously cannot be overstated.

Under the current SNP Government, it is not just mental health services which have suffered.

Nicola Sturgeon has broken her waiting times guarantee, failing 300,000 patients, meaning they have to wait longer than 12 weeks for vital services.

The mismanagement of hospital construction has meant that the new Sick Kids building in Edinburgh has opened 10 years after it was promised.

Now she is threatening closure of the vital Eye Pavilion, which has provided such fantastic treatment for so many across the Lothians.

It appears that her Government wishes to move the service to St John’s in Livingston, making it extremely difficult for many communities across East Lothian.

In a few weeks’ time, we need to elect someone who will fight tooth and nail for investment in our health services and push to keep them as local as possible.

This won’t be possible if we spend the next five years bickering over another referendum.

East Lothian Courier:

Craig Hoy (Conservatives)

PARTY politics were rightly set aside last weekend when we suspended campaigning to mark the sad passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Seeing our communities come together to remember someone who gave over eight decades of military and public service was a poignant reminder of what is important.

As parties resume campaigning as postal ballots arrive this week, it is time for East Lothian’s candidates to outline how they plan to make a difference for our communities.

My campaign is focusing on our recovery from Covid-19.

I am presenting positive commitments to our towns and villages while, at the same time, warning of the risks of breaking up the United Kingdom.

One of my top campaign priorities is education and this reflects local people’s priorities too.

We must do more to support our young people who have been devastated by the effects of Covid-19.

In East Lothian, the pupil-to-teacher ratio ranks alongside Edinburgh as the worst in Scotland.

The SNP have failed to deliver on their promise of reducing class sizes and pupils are suffering restricted subject choice.

That’s why the Scottish Conservatives are committed to delivering 3,000 extra teachers nationally.

The SNP have made only limited progress in closing the attainment gap in our schools – despite saying it was their defining mission.

Alongside the local Labour council administration, the SNP are failing pupils from the poorest backgrounds in East Lothian.

Our county’s attainment gap grew by three per cent between 2015 and 2019.

It is unacceptable that the SNP Government have excluded local schools from receiving attainment challenge funding to address this.

If elected as your MSP, I will press the case for more investment and more teachers for our schools, to help give all our young people the very best start in life.

Only a vote for me in the constituency vote, and only by casting your hugely important ‘party list’ vote for the Scottish Conservatives, can you guarantee education will be a top priority – rather than the fresh drive for another divisive independence referendum.

To find out more about my priorities visit

East Lothian Courier:

Paul McLennan (SNP)

THIS election is about trust: which party do you, as a voter, trust to act in the best interests of your community in East Lothian and elsewhere across Scotland?

The SNP is committed to public services: we’ll give NHS staff a four per cent pay rise and introduce both a National Care Service and a National Wage for Carers.

Nicola Sturgeon recently set out her aims to “bring on stream underused theatre capacity in community and general hospitals to treat more patients as day cases... including in East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington”.

That is an immediate benefit, on our doorstep.

We’re helping children to learn by ensuring they don’t go hungry at school; and investing in social housing and fair rents in the private sector.

Meeting housing needs must be guided by principles of social justice, equality and human rights: everyone is entitled to a home that supports health, wellbeing, job prospects and life chances.

The SNP’s ‘Housing to 2040’ plan was initiated before the pandemic.

Having consulted widely across Scotland, it is delivering a housing strategy putting people and communities first, with 100,000 affordable homes by 2031/32, including 70 per cent for social housing.

The construction industry can benefit the economy and good-quality housing can transform lives.

I believe voters trust the SNP to build the post-Covid recovery of public services.

They have already rejected Boris Johnson’s Brexit shambles and its false promise to spend billions more on the NHS.

I believe East Lothian voters will similarly reject the Labour and Tory recent support of stockpiling even more nuclear weapons, rather than spending those billions on health, housing and education.

Broken promises undermine public trust, and trust is fundamental in this election.

Which leader do you trust to form a government that represents your values and prioritises public services meeting your community’s needs?

Rebuilding an economy supporting public services will make Scotland the country we know it can be; it needs the full powers of independence and I trust Nicola Sturgeon’s experienced leadership.

To elect me as MSP and Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister, it’s ‘Both Votes SNP’ in East Lothian.

East Lothian Courier:

Martin Whitfield (Labour)

FOLLOWING the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, we suspended our campaigning as a mark of respect for HM The Queen and the Royal Family.

Prince Philip was a remarkable public servant and we will again suspend campaigning on Saturday for his funeral to reflect on his contribution to public life.

Before campaigning was suspended, Scottish Labour unveiled its recovery plan for the economy and jobs.

At its heart is a £1.2 billion jobs recovery plan, the biggest job creation scheme in the history of devolution.

This recognises the scale of the looming jobs crisis the country faces.

It includes guaranteeing a job or training for every under-25, as well as those over-25 who are long-term unemployed, 5,000 new apprenticeships and a skills revolution.

The party also launched plans for an ambitious climate recovery, something Scottish Labour believes should go hand in hand with our economic recovery.

This includes investing in green transport, safer walking and cycling routes, free bus travel for under-25s, making all homes energy efficient to reduce living costs, create jobs and help to reduce our carbon emissions.

These innovative national plans will translate well to a local level, providing a framework to support East Lothian’s recovery.

However, I’m very clear that our local recovery, while backed by national guidance and funding, must be designed and delivered locally, not by ministers and civil servants in Edinburgh.

Over the last year, our communities have demonstrated how they can come together in times of need and look after each other.

Local communities, businesses and organisations should be empowered to show the same drive and determination in recovering from Covid-19 that they have shown throughout the crisis.

Finally, on a more personal note, I have pledged my support for several important campaigns and initiatives so far during the campaign.

Among them are the Teach the Future pledge on making the climate emergency part of the curriculum; the More for Scotland’s Animals pledge on animal welfare; the Walk, Wheel, Cycle, Vote campaign on active travel; and the Rally 4 Rare pledge on supporting those diagnosed with rare genetic diseases.