As the general election draws closer, Brig is giving you and all-you-need-to-know rundown of the candidates competing to represent Stirling in the general election on June 8.
Today’s we have the Labour Party’s Chris Kane.
Growing up in a nationalist household, it wasn’t until Chris had a family of his own that he decided the Labour Party was for him, and a few years ago he joined the party and has recently been elected as a councillor for Stirling West.
Now, he is one of the hopefuls standing as a candidate in the general election for the Stirling constituency.
Chris is very honest that if he’s elected, being both an MP and a councillor wouldn’t be possible, promising to stand down from his post as councillor. Instead he said it is up to his constituents “where they want him to serve”.
Scottish independence is an extremely divisive issue in Scotland with all of the main political parties taking strong stances on the topic.
Labour is no different, and worked with the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland in the UK in 2014.
With the SNP announcing plans for another independence referendum after the Brexit negotiations ends – should they achieve a majority of Scottish MPs – Scottish Labour have accused them of prioritising independence over important issues such as health and education.
On announcing Scottish Labour’s manifesto, Kezia Dugdale stated that it was a clear opposition to independence and this is a stance Chris firmly supports.
He explained: “One of the problems we have is that the SNP is that they’re so fixated on independence that other things are slipping and I think that we had the debate in 2014 about independence, let’s have a debate about education, let’s have a debate about education.
“There are many big issues facing us in Scotland today and we can’t just keep focussing on the same one all the time.”
He also ruled out supporting a coalition between the SNP and Labour as he said his party must aim for a majority and a vote for any other party “risks” that.
Perhaps one of the most widely discussed Labour pledge for this election is the promise to increase the living wage to £10 per hour and with one in five people in Scotland living in poverty, this policy is crucial to Chris.
He said: “There are too many jobs out there that are keeping people in poverty. Some of the poverty statistics are ridiculous and the amount of people in Scotland who are in poverty, where one person is in a job is quite ridiculous so the Labour Party’s position is that everybody needs a fair wage for a fair days work and £10 an hour is the starting point.”
Despite the Scottish Government having the ability to increase income tax, it has not yet been done and Scottish Labour are pledging to increase the basic rate of income tax by 1p should Labour win the election.
Scottish Labour are promising to implement a fairer taxation system that sees a 1p increase in income tax for middle earners if the party triumphs in the election.
The plans would see everyone earning more than £21,500 paying more tax, which Chris sees as a “worthwhile” investment to create more revenue for education and the NHS.
The Institute for Public Policy Research estimated that Scottish Labour’s plans would add £1.2bn a year by 2020 onto the £11bn already raised by the Scottish Government.
In their manifesto Labour vowed to introduce funding for breakfast clubs for every primary school in Scotland.
For Chris, this allows children from all different backgrounds to have an equal start in school.
“Poverty is an issue that is affecting kids at school, even when in comes to local councils having to give money for kids to ensure that they’ve got gym kits and shoes. How did we get to a world where that was acceptable?
“Free breakfast clubs are essential because if kids are starting the day hungry, they’re not learning. Some kids don’t have a choice and are coming to school hungry, that’s not a world I want to live in and that’s why the Labour Party will fight to stop these injustices.”
The snap election next week arguably revolves around Brexit and which party is trusted with handling the important negotiations and exit process.
Labour’s stance is to support the decision of the Brexit referendum last year and have put in place a manifesto that challenges the Conservatives with pledges such as protecting EU nationals living in the UK and by prioritising jobs as it was announced they plan to create a million new jobs.
Chris said his party’s plan doesn’t give up on a close relationship with the EU and “works for everybody”.
“We will not take this reckless approach to Brexit that the Tories are taking,” he said. “Our plan is better because it’s the same answer we’ve given at every election for the last 100 years, we want equality and opportunity and fairness for all and we want to deliver it, we’re fighting for everybody not just a few people with a lot of money.”
As a Stirling man who is proud of his roots, Chris said he has the constituency’s “best interests at heart”.
He added: “I want good skilled jobs, I want warm homes, I want caring communities and I want great school. These are going to be my priorities if I’m going to be elected as an MP.
“I will be a constituency MP that knows and fights for the constituency and has Stirling’s best interests at heart.
“I think the Labour Party has the compassion and the social justice and the equality at its heart and I have that and I have Stirling at my heart and if I’m elected next week I think that I will work every day to make my constituents proud.
“I think that focus is important because the SNP are going to focus on independence at every opportunity, the Tories are going to focus on increasingly right wing policies, who’s going to focus on jobs and houses and schools and communities and that’s what I’ll do.”