The Labour candidate for the Stirling constituency in the upcoming General Election is a Stirling University student, Brig can reveal.
19-year-old history and politics student Mary Kate Ross will be campaigning against incumbent Tory MP Stephen Kerr and SNP hopeful Alyn Smith, as well as candidates fielded by the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Brexit Party.
Despite lacking in parliamentary experience compared to the SNP and Conservative candidates, Ross has been active in the Labour party from a young age.
As the daughter of a former Labour councillor in her home town of Motherwell, she is no stranger to door-knocking and on-the-ground campaigning.
She said: “I want to oppose Stephen Kerr, and win back Stirling for Labour.”
Stirling was previously a Labour stronghold; the party held the seat from 1997 to 2015, before losing to the SNP’s landlside. It then changed hands to the Tories in 2017, with Labour placing a distant third.
Ross is particularly vocal towards incumbent Stephen Kerr, who won Stirling at the 2017 election by a majority of just 148 votes over the SNP.
She believes that Kerr is doing a disservice by advocating to get Brexit done, when almost 68 per cent of voters in Stirling chose to remain in the European Union.
If elected, Ross fully supports Labour’s stance of giving the people the final say. She wants to remain, and reform the European Union from within.
Ross said: “I believe that Stirling deserves better than Stephen Kerr”, making particular reference to his votes against legalising same-sex marriage and abortion rights in Northern Ireland.
She also claimed that Kerr is transphobic.
She added: “He should have voted for the amendment to make [same-sex marriage and abortion] legal in Northern Ireland.
“The way politics is over there, they probably would never have got the chance to legalise it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
A spokesperson for Stephen Kerr responded, saying: “It would be a disservice to democracy not to respect the result of the UK-wide referendum.
“That is a principle that cannot be undermined irrespective of how one voted. The vast majority of people want the country to move on.
“We are not aware of any such claims regarding to transphobia and would be interested to see what they are and where they originate. Stephen is not transphobic – we hope that is clear.”
The young Labour candidate puts scrapping tuition fees and championing LGBTQ+ rights at the top of her agenda, as well as putting an end to universal credit, which, she claims, “puts vulnerable people at even more of a disadvantage.”
Ross is also in strong opposition of a second independence referendum, and thinks it’s a “bad look” for SNP hopeful Alyn Smith in his current political situation.
She said: “In 2014, Nicola Sturgeon said the indyref was an opportunity of a lifetime and we voted no. I’m looking to the future now and I don’t see an independence referendum as part of that future.
“With Alyn Smith, it’s a bad look for him right now, quitting the European parliament to go to Westminster.
“He’s ditched the EU which he thinks we should stay in, to fight for a Westminster seat, before campaigning to then leave that Union.
“I will oppose a second independence referedum because last time, families were torn apart and it was a really nasty situation. We’re still feeling it today and another referendum will do so much damage.
“I want to bring a young person’s perspective and look forward to the future, not back into the past.”
A Stirling SNP spokesperson said: “We finally welcome Labour’s candidate to the race. This election is about Brexit, and the vast majority of people in the Stirling area support the SNP’s position and want Brexit stopped, whereas Labour’s confused stance does mean that the party continues to support leaving the EU.
“Alyn has represented the Stirling area alongisde the rest of Scotland for 16 years in the European Parliament, however the fight to protect Scotland’s place in Europe is in Westminster, not in Brussels.
“At the European Election this year, Labour came sixth in Stirling, with just six per cent of the vote. The only way to stop the Tories on December 12 is to vote SNP.”
Stephen Kerr has been contacted for a response.
If you haven’t registered to vote in the December 12 General Election, you can do so on the government website at http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote before midnight on November 26.
Students can register at both their home and term-time addresses, but may only vote at one address on polling day.
Featured image credit: Sonny Bailey