THE countdown to become Musselburgh's next MSP is well and truly under way.

Colin Beattie (SNP) is looking to be elected for the third time having first won the Midlothian North and Musselburgh seat in 2011.

He will be up against Stevie Curran (Labour), Charles Dundas (Liberal Democrats) and Iain Whyte (Conservatives) in the election next month.

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:

Colin Beattie (SNP)

WE ALL have a huge respect and affection for our NHS.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our NHS has been there for us – sometimes at great personal cost.

I believe that offering our NHS staff an inflation-busting four per cent pay rise is well deserved, although I wish it could be more.

South of the Border, one per cent is being imposed.

This is simply an insult.

There is a perception that our NHS is ‘broken’ in some way.

I do not believe this, but I do see a huge organisation which now needs to re-invent itself, not for the first time, into an efficient, modern support for us all.

However, our NHS is genuinely under threat.

Privatisation is not just a scare word.

The Transatlantic Trade Deal being negotiated with the USA leaves our NHS vulnerable and available for sale.

Our SNP MPs proposed an amendment which would have ensured that our NHS remained in the public ownership.

The Westminster Government rejected that safeguard.

Since GP surgeries are independent contractors, not run by the NHS, they are vulnerable to being sold to the highest bidder.

This is how the system was set up in 1948.

It may have made sense at the time but no longer.

We must review the deal with doctors and ensure that creeping privatisation cannot take place.

In Scotland, we have control over our NHS.

However, the UK Government passed the Internal Markets Act, which allows UK Government ministers to arbitrarily enforce a ‘levelling out’ of regulations and differences between the nations of the UK.

This would allow London to make NHS Scotland available for sale regardless of our wishes.

I will fight to prevent the loss of our NHS and the best way to be sure of that is to take back control of our own affairs.

Please give me an opportunity on May 6 to continue to serve our community and to protect our NHS.

East Lothian Courier:

Stevie Curran (Labour)

I’D LIKE to begin by expressing my sadness at the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh – a dedicated public servant.

I send my condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.

The quality of our social care system should be a key issue at this election.

The speed with which the failings of our social care system were exposed last spring was ghastly.

The Covid crisis didn’t bring about the crisis in social care, it was already there.

It simply brought it to the top of the agenda.

The challenge of Covid-19 has made the crisis in care even more acute.

The movement of people from hospital settings, without consultation and without being tested, into care homes to accommodate Covid patients was a human rights scandal.

This contributed to the devastating reality of care homes becoming the epicentre of the pandemic and almost a third of deaths across the country being people from care homes.

Scotland’s social care workers have also been on the frontline in the fight against Covid.

Their commitment, alongside all our other frontline workers, to help keep us safe during this public health emergency has been heroic.

Scottish Labour has been calling for a National Care Service for some years now, a service that will include local government’s social care staff as partners in the service delivery.

It will put the dignity of individuals and the quality of services before profit.

We must address the inequalities in the sector as it deals with the shortcomings highlighted in the recent Feeley Report, which I don’t think goes far enough.

Scotland urgently needs a plan to transform social care. Scottish Labour knows that urgent reform and investment is needed and that’s why we are working with the public to make our vision for a National Care Service a reality.

We don’t want to just talk about the problems, we want a plan for how things could be better.

East Lothian Courier:

Charles Dundas (Liberal Democrat)

A QUESTION which I keep being asked during this campaign is what will the Scottish Liberal Democrats do for those in our communities who are struggling to make ends meet, especially those with children?

I know that all parties are committed to reducing child poverty, but here is what I want to do about it.

Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Democrats will commit to doubling the Scottish Child Payment.

This is currently available at £10 per week to eligible children under six.

This will rise to take in under-16s in the next few years and we will pay £20 per week.

We are also keen to listen to campaigners who want to extend the payments to include disabled children or those with disabled parents.

It was Liberal Democrats who reintroduced free school meals and targeted extra money to schools who needed it most in England, and in Scotland we will extend free school meals to cover all primary school pupils all through the year, including school holidays.

This will also help these children with their education since a hungry child finds it difficult to focus and learn.

The Scottish Lib Dems also pledge to increase the amount of free childcare Scotland offers, increasing it to a full 1,140 hours for every two-year-old.

At the moment only some twoyear-olds are eligible, and takeup of the places is very low.

By expanding the scheme, we’d hope it would be more useful to more and more working parents, helping them get back to work and all the benefits that brings to society and the economy.

We will also extend the number of summer clubs on offer to eligible children to help parents on low incomes with the costs of childcare during the school holidays.

Plus, our manifesto pledge on fuel poverty will also help us with child poverty.

Warm homes with lower heating costs undoubtedly help the families who need it most, and I think that Midlothian North and Musselburgh would benefit from more Liberal Democrat policies like these in place after the election.

East Lothian Courier:

Iain Whyte (Conservatives)

AS PART of my campaign, I have been highlighting the need for more local policing and a return to locally based crime prevention across the constituency.

This should be backed by visible local police patrols in our neighbourhoods to deter and detect crime.

So, it was disappointing to read news articles this week highlighting police advice to Musselburgh householders about securing their garden sheds due to a spate of breakins.

The crimes seem to have been concentrated in the Stoneybank area but the advice is valuable for everyone.

Police say you should make sure your shed is secure and should fit an alarm if there is anything valuable inside.

The alarms can be provided free to elderly and vulnerable residents: email

Since Police Scotland was formed, there has been a centralisation of our policing that I want to see reversed.

During that time, public awareness of police patrols fell from 56 to 37 per cent.

I know from my time as chair of Lothian and Borders Police Board that locally based crime prevention had a really positive impact.

Crime fell and communities felt far more connected to their local officers, who they knew were working on their priorities.

That’s why I want to see beefed-up neighbourhood policing teams and their return in the parts of the constituency where they have been reduced or removed.

These teams work well on a preventative agenda.

They solve problem issues and work with the community sorting things like housebreaking sprees and anti-social behaviour.

I also strongly support the wider Scottish Conservative campaign to introduce a Local Policing Act to boost local police patrols and increase community engagement with policing decisions.

This goes alongside our plan to tackle more serious crime by introducing a Victims Law to end the SNP’s soft-touch justice system.

This would give judges the ability to put the very worst criminals behind bars for life.

It would also end automatic early release, so that criminals must earn parole.

Musselburgh residents need to see a more visible, local and responsive police service.

That would be my aim if you elect me as your MSP.