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Constituency Profile: Moray

For those of us fortunate to live in Moray we are blessed with stunning scenery, incredible living history in trades from fishing through to the world renowned whisky trade, home to Walkers Shortbread and Baxters Food Group and have the most active military community in Scotland. Moray is a diverse and continually changing community. You’d be forgiven for thinking we had it all, but as we proceed you’ll soon discover why living in Moray is not as joyful as sunset walks across one of our spectacular beaches.

Thanks to the UK Government, RAF Lossiemouth will be soon be home to the P8 Poseidon aircraft with 2 operational squadrons, both of which are already up and running in Jacksonville, Florida. Lossiemouth already has 4 operational Typhoon squadrons, maintaining Quick Reaction Alert at all hours of the day, a squadron from the Royal Air Force Regiment and 2 further specialist reserve units which employ thousands of people, putting hundreds of thousands of pounds into our economy each year. Not to mention the hundreds of skilled Army personnel based at Kinloss as part of the 39 Engineer Regiment. Yet, there are people who would risk all this in pursuit of a weak, unproven, narrow minded ideology of an independent Scotland. The fact is this, if Scotland votes for independence, every military resource and all the associated personnel will leave Moray. No honourable nation will leave prime assets in a foreign country and yes, there are some who genuinely believe everything currently on site at military bases is ‘Scottish’ and will remain in an independent country. I would suggest they see a GP, but given the absolute mess the SNP have created in Moray’s NHS, I highly doubt they’d even get an appointment!

Moray is a Brexit supporting area. In 2016, on a turnout of 67.4%, Moray voted Remain but only by 122 votes. In 2017, also on a turnout of 67.4%, Douglas Ross was elected to Westminster with a majority over the SNP’s Angus Robertson of 4,159 votes. Douglas stood on a clear manifesto commitment to leave the European Union. The SNP would quite happily keep us in the EU, and as a consequence we would have to accept an assortment of things like joining the Euro, the European Defence Force *shivers* and accept the tariffs imposed on Bourbon, which would decimate the world class, world famous and simply unbeatable whisky industry. Since 2016, the Moray Conservatives have won every election and by-election. Voters know what they are voting for, and despite the SNP’s most personal and vicious campaigns to date, the Conservatives are still winning. We are running a variety of positive campaigns in Moray, and in 2021 we plan to elect an excellent candidate in Tim Eagle, who is the walking model of what modern conservatism is all about.

With only a matter of hours before voters up and down the country head to the polling stations, minds in Moray are focused towards more than the usual independence and Brexit debate. The Moray Growth Deal will invest £65 million to the community to support a variety of projects. It has publically been said that this deal is at risk if the Conservatives fail to win the seat and more importantly, a majority government on Thursday. Why? Unbelievably, after the UK Government signalled it was going to be ready to sign the Heads of Terms in October, both the SNP led Moray Council and Scottish Government asked for more time. Now, everything is completely up in the air with this General Election. So many businesses, projects and people are relying on this deal. The work so many local representatives have done on the deal, it would be devastating for this to be ripped up at this stage.

As a young person, what does Moray offer? Not a lot, that’s why I was knocking doors at 17! There is a single nightclub, a relatively insular social scene and you cannot go into a supermarket without seeing at least a minibus load of people you know. But, Moray lacks a young political scene – and you’ll understand why shortly. You could probably fill a rugby team with the amount of young people, from all colours you see. Interestingly, Brexit doesn’t often come up and if it does, the young people I speak to want it completed so we can move on, and we can plan our future. The delay and uncertainty is far worse for them. It’s a sad day when teenagers understand democracy more than adult politicians and political members. Most of the youth are disengaged though, and vulnerable to influence of fake news, direct lies to spread hate and a variety of other things you find on your Facebook timelines. My personal favourite is “Tactically vote SNP, to kick the Tories out to save the NHS.” When, the Scottish NHS and all its failings lie dormant on the doorstep of Bute House and Nicola Sturgeon’s notorious blind eye.

The local SNP can’t find it in themselves to publically express outrage at their government that allow pregnant mothers in labour to find their own way to Aberdeen or Inverness, often in the back of a taxi, to give birth. One damming article appeared only the other day, when an expectant mother, in labour, was told she had to go to Aberdeen but got stuck in traffic. This is horrific. No wonder Moray has an issue in recruiting new professionals to the area. Then again, most professionals do not want to come to an area that; doesn’t do next day delivery, doesn’t have a functioning maternity or paediatrics department, has a poor social scene, isn’t connected by a reliable dual carriage way network or takes hours and sometimes hundreds of pounds to visit the capital on a roundtrip, and has transport links that are hardly the envy of the developed world! This would be greatly helped if the Scottish Government had managed to dual more than 8 miles of the A9 in all the years they’ve been in government. When we do manage to find people willing to relocate or come back from university, we face a mammoth uphill struggle to keep people. A lack of local progression and opportunity can often make people look elsewhere, sometimes we lose talented individuals out of the country altogether because the opportunities simply aren’t here. There are reportedly 5,300 workless households in Moray (Nomis data, Jan-Dec 2018), and in all the years we’ve had SNP representation, not once have we seen any incentive from them to do anything about it. The Conservatives have invested; most notably the investment by Boeing in Lossiemouth will create hundreds of new jobs and opportunities Moray has never seen before. It’s sad that Moray, its people and infrastructure is being failed by the SNP and its pointless centralisation agenda.

The SNP have been running the council for nearly 18 months now. For all the spin, the reason they do is the fact the Council body and some Councillors refused to back a Conservative management review as part of the budget – instead resulting in vital services being cut whilst the Council body advertised for 2 management roles costing £180,000 a year. The Conservatives couldn’t continue if the Council body would not cooperate with the review. However, in the 18 months we’ve been scuppered by a lazy SNP Council administration that would prefer to run their mouths on Twitter rather than get down to do the work, we’ve heard nothing about getting more money from the Scottish Government. The most trivial but most disastrous idea the current SNP council came up with was a decrease in the grass cutting services. Our beautiful area looked awful, absolutely awful. Yet, the minute the Scottish Finance Secretary visits Elgin, the grass in the town is miraculously cut! The Leader of Moray Council is a well-known and well respected SNP party member, what is going on in their party if he cannot speak up for his own people? I know. The SNP are not allowed to speak out against the party. Moray is falling foul to the SNP constitution.

We have a ferocious and unkind political debate. I have many friends in the SNP, but unfortunately for all the good they do – and I do not discount their integrity, beliefs and honour - they are let down by the atrocious manner fellow activists and members behave. I have spoken at length to people up and down Scotland who have never heard anything like it. In my view; if you wear a badge, have a Twibbon on your social media or claim to be a member of a party, that party is responsible for you and your actions. By my 18th birthday, I had been spat at, sworn at multiple times, threatened and had 3 death threats by people associating themselves with the SNP and Yes movements. You’ll be pleased to know, I haven’t been spat at since 2016, sworn at since Friday and the death threat total is up to 8. We have a culture where it’s okay to tell people to “take a candle light bath in petrol” and “Tory Scum” whenever we do anything. Only on Saturday, I was told on the local High Street that I should be ashamed because I’m a Tory. We have campaigners who cannot go out after dark because they fear for their safety. This is wrong and sadly, it is one-way traffic.

So, on Thursday, the choice in Moray is clear. Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, who actually managed to find Moray this time, are not going to win and a vote on them is wasted. The pro-union, pro-democracy, pragmatic, sensible voter will chose Douglas Ross. Douglas is an excellent local candidate having served in; Council, Holyrood and Westminster. He has a phenomenal track record of pushing issues such as unfair delivery charges into the heart of Westminster and being a well-known, reliable and approachable MP having held over 200 surgeries since 2017 in every single corner of the constituency. The alternative is an unproven SNP cheerleader, who is unable to back the constituency when Nicola and the whips call. Moray is a complete split, the UK government, thanks to Douglas, is investing and supporting us. The SNP is centralising, cutting and dividing us.

Surely, who should win here is a no brainer?

By Craig Stewart-Toner