With ten days to go until the election we’ve been catching up with the Conservative Party campaign.
Greater Glasgow is not natural Tory territory. At the last local government elections Conservatives won just a single seat of the 79 on Glasgow City Council. They failed to return even one councillor to the West Dunbartonshire authority.
Despite many years in the political wilderness and widespread hostility to their name, members of the party continue to stand up for what they believe. They still offer voters a centre-right alternative to Scotland’s social democratic consensus.
The Tories may not be popular, but a refusal to fade quietly away sees them field candidates in every ward in the area.
Martyn McIntyre has repeatedly stood under the Conservative banner. This year is on the ballot in the ward covering Drumchapel and High Knightswood – one of the most solidly Labour districts in Scotland. Even under proportional representation its support for the party was so high that in the last Council elections, held in 2007, all four candidates elected were from Labour.
The chances of a Tory being elected from the ward may seem unlikely but McIntyre is happy to make his party’s case to voters. He explained: “It’s important to have different voices in a democracy and we’ve found people have been very responsive to us.
“Glasgow has lots of problems that can only be tackled if the Council backs small businesses to boost employment. Conservative councillors will make sure the Council uses economic development powers to help businesses give opportunities to our young people.
“It’s been a long time since the Conservatives ran Glasgow and we hope people will consider that we can make a difference. Labour have controlled City for three decades and the administration has self-destructed. It’s time for a change.”
If support for the Conservatives is weak within the city limits it is almost invisible in Clydebank. Every single member of West Dunbartonshire Council is somewhere on the left of the political spectrum. However, the Tories are eager to give residents the chance to vote for a centre-right candidate.
Douglas Campbell is the Conservative standing in Clydebank Central – the ward covering Drumry, High Dalmuir, Kilbowie, Linnvale, Parkhall, Mountblow and Radnor Park. The 28-year-old driving instructor decided to stand to do something about social problems.
He said: “Clydebank needs local champions who will stand up for the residents’ interests and represent their views on the Council. We need people who will push for new job opportunities in the town as well as improved roads, community facilities and schools.
“The Council should be using all the power it has to attract business to the area. A lack of job opportunities is behind many problems and councillors should be doing everything they can to bring jobs to Clydebank.
“Deep-rooted problems require hard working councillors who will tackle the big issues, be accessible to residents and listen to their concerns. As a Conservative and Unionist councillor I would do everything I could to make Clydebank a better place to live, work and invest.”
Many assume there is no Conservative presence in Greater Glasgow but the area has been consistently represented by Tories in the Scottish Parliament – elected via its regional lists. The party’s current leader, Ruth Davidson, is a Glasgow MSP, while Deputy Leader Jackson Carlaw represents the West of Scotland – which includes Clydebank.
In speaking to Conservative candidates it is clear they believe Council help for small business is essential. The party sees it as key to improving the prospects of people living in Clydebank, Drumchapel, Knightswood and Yoker.
Martyn McIntyre added: “Economic development powers are the most important tools Councils have. It’s vital they’re used to help start-ups and other small businesses break the cycle of long-term unemployment.
“Other things like potholes and anti-social behaviour must be tackled. Broken windows, litter and graffiti bring the area down and make it much harder to bring in jobs.
“Whoever forms the next administration; Conservative councillors would demand the budget allocates money to fix these problems. It is essential to make the area better for residents and more attractive to employers. My colleagues and I have experience in business and we can bring that insight to local politics.”
Our wards’ Conservative candidates for Glasgow City Council (GCC) and West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) are:
Clydebank Central (WDC) – Douglas Campbell
Clydebank Waterfront (WDC) – Linda Kinniburgh
Drumchapel/Anniesland (GCC) – Martyn McIntyre
Garscadden/Scotstounhill (GCC) – Susan Marion McCourt
Kilpatrick (WDC) – Douglas Boyle
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