PARLIAMENT’S OUT: Make sure the bad boys don’t return after summer

Parliament is out and the official General Election campaign has begun. Polls are steady and – in Alice Cooper style – predict that Westminster will be a school “blown to pieces” by the SNP this May.

Today’s report focuses on a hotly contested seat in the Scottish Highlands, where a long-time Liberal Democrat incumbent can be found scratching his head as to how his job can be saved.

In the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency, Viscount John Thurso – in office since 2001 – is fighting formidable Nat hopeful Dr Paul Monaghan. Current polling for this area puts Monaghan on top to win the seat with a 25% majority.

Dr Monaghan, who was educated locally and graduated from the University of Stirling, is a “straight talking individual who genuinely cares” says Amy, a care home worker and mum, during our interview in a windswept bus shelter.

“I’ve heard him speak and I think he’s great. It’s time that we got a representative who can communicate in a way that is both friendly and understandable. My family and I speak English, not Etonian.”

Flushed away: Thurso's "fire startin paper". Pic: @andephark (Twitter)
FLUSHED: Thurso’s “fire startin paper”. Pic: @andephark (Twitter)

Up beat and cheery, his leaflets contrast starkly with those of Thurso.

Monaghan’s leaflets mention the SNP and the progressive politics they offer, displayed neatly on yellow with his picture and the tagline “Stronger for Scotland”.

Thurso’s leaflets, too, mention the SNP. Set out grungily on matt black, they fail to mention what the Lib Dems have to offer the voter and focus on slamming the Nats. So effective, one constituent took to Twitter and dubbed the leaflets “fire startin paper” and vowed to back the SNP. Another user tweeted images of Thurso’s leaflets being flushed down their toilet.

Overall, the SNP are a hard match for the Westminster bad boys. With the first televised seven-way leaders debate set to air next week, Lesley Riddoch has predicted that Nicola Sturgeon will have a “Patrick Harvie effect” – that is, being able to communicate and engage in the debate in a way that cannot be matched by the regulars.

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Follow George Gunn on Twitter – @GunnPolitics

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