STIRLING’s Labour candidate, 19-year-old Mary Kate Ross, is calling on voters to focus on social issues, rather than Brexit or Scottish independence, when it comes to voting in tomorrow’s general election.
Ross admitted that Brexit is a “big issue on the doorstep,” given that 68 per cent of Stirling voters chose Remain in the 2016 referendum on EU membership.
However, she also added that “a lot of people are talking about zero hours contracts, local issues, rising homelessness and ending austerity.”
Ross said that voters seem receptive to Labour’s stance on Brexit.
“People want to vote for a party that is advocating to remain in the European Union.
“I have said that if Labour got a deal then put it on a ballot alongside remain, then I would be one of the remain campaigners.
“Scottish Labour plan to support remain.”
Throughout the campaign, Ross has been highly critical of the incumbent, Conservative Stephen Kerr who was elected at the 2017 general election with a majority of just 148 votes over the SNP.
Ross said: “Stephen Kerr is ignoring his constituents and completely following party line.
“As an MP, your job should be taking your constituents views and putting them to parliament, not taking your own views and ignoring everyone else.
“I’m a better candidate [than Stephen Kerr] because I actually want to remain in the EU; I want to respect Stirling’s EU referendum result.
“I want to put an end to austerity and a ban on zero hour contracts. I don’t want people relying on food banks.
“I just think I’ve got more of a heart than Stephen Kerr. For him to stand up and defend austerity, it’s just not right.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “Ms Ross appears to be confusing the role of an elected representative with that of a delegate.
“Stephen clearly stood on a manifesto that committed him to honouring the referendum vote result of 2016. He was elected on that manifesto.
“The 2016 vote was UK wide and not taken by individual constituencies. It is imperative that referendum results are respected if we are to maintain the integrity of our democracy.”
Citing Labour’s plan to invest an extra £70 billion in Scotland, which would allow for investment in the NHS, education, social care and infrastructure, Ross added: “There’s more to Scotland than independence.”
However, in the event of a Conservative majority, Ross admits she is unsure how she would feel about offering a second referendum sooner.
She added: “It’s a shame to see people voting Conservative because even though they’re strong on their Brexit stance as a party, which is appealing to a lot of English voters, they are a party of austerity. Labour is a party of hope.
“The Tories have been in government for nine years. Think about how many people have found themselves struggling to get by with delayed universal credit payments.
“Brexit is a big issue but surely we want a party in government with better social understanding, and plans to abolish universal credit and zero hour contracts.”
The UK Labour party are against scrapping Trident, but at a recent hustings, it was revealed that, if she was elected, Ross wouldn’t “blindly follow the party line.”
She said: “As a person, you should follow your principles, and not follow party line if it’s something you really believe in and feel strongly about.”
Ross also expressed her belief that “Boris Johnson is unfit to run the country.”
She added: “He has shown himself to be quite heartless over the election campaign.
“A Tory government means more austerity and more chaos over Brexit – what does ‘get Brexit done’ even mean?”
When asked, “Can independence supporters vote for you?”, Ross replied: “I hope so. Independence is an issue, but this election should not be about independence.
“There’s so much going in terms of social issues. Perhaps independence is something to think about it in years to come, but we had the vote in 2014 and I think it’s too soon to have another one.
“People say that it’s hypocritical of me because I want another EU referendum. But a lot of people are changing their minds about Brexit.”
“If polls were consistently showing support for Scottish independence, then maybe another indyref would be on the cards. The Labour party has said that it would not support one in the early years of government. It would have to depend on circumstances.”
Ross concluded: “This campaign is about making Britain work for everyone. Getting young people a fairer wage, investing in pensions, pushing through a Green New Deal.
“And it’s about ending austerity, and bringing hope to Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”