Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 11:41 UK

Jobs key issue in Berwickshire tussle

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

For once it appears all the main political parties are in agreement - at least in the Scottish Borders.

Eyemouth is one of the towns in the constituency

The candidates for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency have highlighted jobs as a key issue.

It is hardly surprising, given the problems the region has suffered.

A string of high-profile redundancy announcements, particularly in the textiles industry, has hit the area hard.

Everyone bidding to become MP has recognised that fact.

It was underlined just last week with coat-hanger firm Mainetti announcing plans to cut 64 jobs at its Jedburgh plant.

Lib Dem Michael Moore took the seat at the last election with a majority of nearly 6,000.
He said the downturn had hit the Borders hard with unemployment rising to levels not seen for a "decade or more".

"The challenges facing the Borders are so serious that now, more than ever before, the same old national politics and 'business as usual' will not do," he said.

Berwickshire const map
Chris Black - Scottish Jacobite Party [The]
Sherry Fowler - UKIP
John Lamont - Conservative
Ian Miller - Labour
Michael Moore - Lib Dem
Paul Wheelhouse - SNP

"On the economy, defence, public spending and a range of other issues only the Lib Dems have the policies to deliver the changes that are required at a price the country can afford.

"Fairness is at the heart of all our proposals at this election - a fair start in schools, a fair future for jobs, a new fairer politics and fair taxes."

Tory rival John Lamont said that coming from a Borders farming family he understood the issues affecting the community.

He pledged to fight for the "best possible deal" for the area if elected.

"Everything must be done to attract investment to our region and secure the employment that already exists here," he said.

"There has been far too much debt, tax and waste in the past 13 years and the government must take a more responsible approach when spending our money.

"I want to do all I can to protect our rural way of life."

Ian Miller, of the Labour party, said the area needed "good well-paid jobs".

Hi-tech jobs

"There are far too many basic jobs that have been for many, many years within the Borders throughout the service industry," he said.

"We need hi-tech jobs within the Borders and Labour's broadband programme is ideal for this."

He said Gordon Brown was widely recognised as the right man to sort out the economic situation.

Michael Moore (Lib Dem) 18,993
John Lamont (Con) 13,092
Sam Held (Labour) 7,206
Aileen Orr (SNP) 3,885
John Hein (Lib) 916
Graeme McIver (SSP) 695
Peter Neilson (UKIP) 601

"Before we can do anything we must get the economy correct and we cannot allow novices to deal with the economy at this point in in the world recession," he said.

Paul Wheelhouse, of the SNP, said his party could provide a "strong voice for our fishing and agriculture sectors".

He said they could offer an alternative to the "London parties' cuts agenda".

He added that they would protect farm income and also maintain a commitment to a rail link to the Borders.

"This is an essential first step, if the railway to Hawick is ever to be restored as has been recognised as a valid long-term aspiration by SNP transport minister Stewart Stevenson," he said.

"The people of the Borders can choose to elect a local champion and national champions in the SNP, who will win a better deal for our nation."

Also standing is the UKIP's Sherry Fowler who promised withdrawal from the EU would allow investment in public services.

Chris Black represents the Scottish Jacobite Party, which also has the economy at the heart of its campaign to see the money used to save UK banks "taken back" to help industry and business.

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