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

Iain Gray (Labour) is stepping down after more than a decade in the role, with East Lothian residents electing their new representative on May 6.

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)

POVERTY and inequality across Scotland remain stubbornly persistent and have been heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We need strong action to tackle the deep-rooted causes of this problem.

These often emerge early in life and one of the starkest examples is the widening attainment gap between the richest and poorest pupils in our schools.

At the current rate of progress, it will take 35 years to close this gap. That isn’t good enough.

The Liberal Democrats championed the pupil premium at a UK level, which sees extra money for the poorest pupils.

We want to see much more investment in the attainment fund, which is the Scottish equivalent.

Taking the example of countries performing better than Scotland, we look to give all children a fair start in life by investing in early years provision and starting school at seven years old.

Government alone can’t overcome these issues.

This week, I had a meeting with the wonderful Bridges Project in Musselburgh, which helps young people on the brink of failure in education or after leaving school.

Projects like this need full government backing.

We need to elect politicians who understand, value and are prepared to fund the third sector.

Of course, education is not the only field where reform is essential.

Our welfare state is not fit for purpose and we would seek to pilot a universal basic income for everyone in Scotland.

We also need to tackle Scotland’s twin forgotten crises – drug deaths and mental health – both of which disproportionately impact deprived communities.

Mental health waiting times remain persistently high. We need real investment in community services.

Liberal Democrats would push for ringfencing 15 per cent of the health budget for these services.

Scotland has Europe’s worst drug death rate, a figure which should shame us all.

We must move away from thoughtlessly gaoling offenders and invest in rehab services which have been decimated under successive SNP governments.

East Lothian Courier:

Craig Hoy (Conservatives)

I MAY have spoken to you on the phone over the last week.

From Ormiston to Oldhamstocks, voters expressed real concern about another independence referendum.

At the point where we should be focusing on our recovery, the SNP would drag us back to the divisions of the past. With their reckless referendum, they would put jobs, businesses and public services at risk.

The majority of East Lothian voters I have spoken to are clear that another referendum would fatally undermine our recovery.

And whatever Labour says, they cannot be trusted to oppose another referendum. Anas Sarwar has left the door open to another vote and Keir Starmer says he would assess things if the SNP won a majority. If you vote for me, you are guaranteeing you are voting against IndyRef2 and for someone who will stand up to the SNP.

My focus will be 100 per cent on our recovery. If we fail to kickstart our economy, it is our poorest and most vulnerable who will pay the highest price.

The Scottish Conservatives have announced an ambitious manifesto fully focused on rebuilding communities. Over their 14 years in charge, the SNP have slashed funding for council budgets, which has had a massive impact on local services like our roads, schools and bin collections. Communities here, particularly our rural ones, have been neglected by the SNP, forcing young people to move elsewhere to live and work.

As we rebuild, communities must be at the heart of everything we do. Our manifesto pledges to introduce a Communities Bill which will enshrine fair funding for local authorities like East Lothian. We will also invest £550 million in community investment deals, worth up to £25 million each, directly investing in skilled jobs here.

But none of this is possible if the SNP win a majority. They will only be focused on another independence referendum, taking a wrecking ball to our recovery. Only a vote for myself in the constituency and the Scottish Conservatives on your peach ballot paper will stop IndyRef2 and deliver a parliament 100 per cent focused on our recovery.

East Lothian Courier:

Paul McLennan (SNP)

SINCE 2007, the SNP has been winning Scotland’s trust. Alongside Nicola Sturgeon, I’m asking you to choose transformational change, re-imagining how our social, economic and green recovery can address both pandemic and climate emergencies.

Tory austerity failed to solve the financial crisis. Now you can choose whom you trust to harness the collaboration that, thanks to Test and Trace – run by the NHS, not a private company – is bringing better days to East Lothian’s horizon. Compassionate, fair investment means free NHS dental care; a National Care Service; a National Wage for care staff; free non-residential care.

Grants and rates relief for pandemic-hit sectors will underpin a 10-year strategy for economic transformation through green jobs; national training funds; infrastructure renewal; and 100,000 more affordable homes. A £20million rural enterprise fund and a Community Wealth-Building fund will ensure that economic transformation reaches all of East Lothian.

The SNP’s pioneering ‘whole society’ approach tackles job insecurity and enables people to fulfil their potential, recognising climate justice as a moral imperative and an economic necessity for our better future. I’ll support tackling child poverty and a minimum income guarantee through a Citizens’ Basic Income to enhance human dignity.

A four-day working week will mean increased family time and opportunities to enjoy our county. Reducing commuting cuts car use by 20 per cent. Free bus travel for under-23s/over-60s; green buses by 2023; and a re-nationalised rail service show that COP26’s objectives can impact positively on East Lothian.

Transitional steps from old to new thinking must be just and fair, whereas the pandemic has been neither: huge sacrifices mean that into year two of the crisis, young people are missing out on so much. As an MSP, I’ll back wholeheartedly policies to deliver the SNP’s pledge: no young person will carry the pandemic burden into adulthood.

I believe East Lothian will choose to rise to the challenge of rebuilding: as the writer Alasdair Gray said, let’s show we’re already ‘living in the early days of a better country’.

Westminster puts obstacles in our path: for a fairer, prosperous Scotland for this and future generations, now is the time to change course – both votes SNP on May 6.

East Lothian Courier:

Martin Whitfield (Labour)

TODAY (Thursday) sees the launch of Scottish Labour’s election manifesto.

While I’m writing this update a couple of days before the launch, several of the key elements of the manifesto have already been unveiled: for example, our jobs recovery plan, the biggest job creation scheme in the history of devolution, and our NHS recovery plan, which includes getting cancer treatment back on track, improving mental health care and support, and valuing the NHS workforce.

Last week, Anas Sarwar announced another flagship policy, our ‘digital connection credit’, which will help every person aged 75 and over in Scotland pay their TV licence, supporting nearly 8,000 people in the East Lothian constituency. The policy will effectively save the free licence benefit after the Tories broke their promise to the country’s elderly population. Those eligible for the new credit could also use it to help pay their broadband bills.

I’m proud to be standing on a platform to support older people in East Lothian. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of TV and broadband to bring people together, even while we’ve been separated in our homes and this policy will help make a real difference for some of those at highest risk of being digitally excluded. Find out more about our manifesto at

On the local campaign trail, I’ve been out leafleting and speaking to people in communities across the constituency over the last week. I’ve also been speaking to voters on the phone and participating in various virtual hustings, meetings and briefings. Postal votes have also dropped over the last week. I returned mine straight way and am encouraging people to make it #BothVotesLabour and return theirs too.

I’m also looking forward to going to Haddington Farmers’ Market on Saturday, when it celebrates its 21st anniversary. As the economy continues to reopen, it’s important that we support local businesses to begin their recovery from the terrible impact of the last year.

This remains a very different kind of campaign, but I’m determined to be as accessible as possible. Questions can be emailed to me at or visit

Here are the campaign updates for weeks one, two and three.