There is now just one week to go until Renfrewshire residents head to polling stations to elect the area’s MSPs. Today, The Gazette focuses on the battle to win the Paisley seat, which has been held by George Adam, of the SNP, for the past decade.

Neil Bibby, who finished runner-up in the constituency when the last Scottish election was held in 2016, is again representing Labour. Meanwhile, former journalist Russell Findlay hopes to turn the seat blue by winning for the Scottish Conservatives. And flying the flag for the Scottish Liberal Democrats is experienced councillor Eileen McCartin, who also stood five years ago, when she finished third. Completing the five-way fight for votes on May 6 is Scottish Greens candidate Scott Bevan.

The Gazette:

George Adam describes being Paisley’s MSP as “the perfect job” – and is hoping to remain in the role after May 6.

The keen St Mirren supporter has represented the town at the Scottish Parliament for a decade after first being elected on a SNP ticket back in 2011.

And he is confident his “glass half-full” attitude will get him over the line to secure another five years in the chamber.

Mr Adam said: “I’ve often said it’s been the perfect job being Paisley’s MSP because I feel it’s the job I was designed to do.

“I love this town and it’s made me the man I am today.

“I was lucky in 2011 when the Boundary Commission changed the area from two Paisley seats to just one because it gave me the chance to do a very positive campaign for the whole of Paisley.

“I feel that positivity has now taken a life of its own. You only need to look at the 2021 campaign for the UK City of Culture. That’s something we never would’ve done if I hadn’t managed to get us into that positive space.”

Mr Adam admits there is “work to do” if Paisley is to prosper in the post-Covid era.

He added: “My family are from Ferguslie Park, so I know all about the challenges this town faces, but I’m a glass half-full sort of person and I think that’s what sets me apart from the other candidates.”

The Gazette:

The recovery from Covid is the focus of Labour candidate Neil Bibby as the election approaches.

Mr Bibby has spent the last decade serving as a West Scotland regional MSP but hopes to win the Paisley constituency this time around, having secured second place in the 2016 election.

He has pledged to “give a voice” to local people who have endured some of the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In Paisley and Renfrewshire, we’ve sadly had one of the highest death rates from Covid anywhere in Scotland,” said Mr Bibby.

“We’ve seen our unemployment statistics increase, we’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of jobs go in aerospace and aviation and we’ve seen our children lose out on months of education.

“These are the issues people are really concerned about and that is what is motivating me to stand in this election. I want to give a voice to the community.”

Mr Bibby has also vowed to fight for more funding for Paisley.

He said: “Paisley is Scotland’s biggest town and it’s about time we got the investment we deserve from the Scottish Government.”

The Gazette:

Conservative candidate Russell Findlay has pledged to be a voice for victims if elected.

The former journalist, who was subjected to a doorstep acid attack in 2015, said becoming a MSP would help him tackle organised crime.

“Being exposed to the attack and the criminal justice system did nothing to dissuade me from how appalling it is and how lacking in empathy and understanding it is towards crime victims,” added Mr Findlay.

“That’s been a bit of motivation for me to get involved with politics, as I think tackling organised crime is important.”

“We don’t hear politicians talking about it too often because it’s such a dangerous entity but the reality is, in my street or in anyone’s street, there will likely be someone who is involved in it.”

Mr Russell has also voiced his opposition to another referendum on independence.
He said: “I want to be a strong voice for Paisley at Holyrood and, as a party, we want to block an independence referendum.

“The primary motivation for me getting into politics really was I have become increasingly concerned about nationalism and how anyone who doesn’t believe in what the SNP believe is regarded as some sort of traitor.

“I don’t like the division this is bringing to Scotland.

“The other motivation was I took on the authorities and stood up for people as a journalist and I hope this would be beneficial in parliament.”

The Gazette:

Veteran councillor Eileen McCartin is keen to offer voters a choice as she stands for the Paisley seat for a third time.

The Liberal Democrat stalwart admits she has low expectations of winning but hopes she will appeal to those who aren’t buying into what the ‘bigger’ parties have to offer.

“With the greatest will in the world, I probably won’t win this election,” she said. “But I believe people have a democratic right to vote for the party of their choice.

“If people only stood because they thought they would win, it wouldn’t be a proper democracy.

“Of course, I also believe I am a good quality and able candidate who can go forward and represent the people of Paisley should a miracle happen.”

Ms McCartin has vowed to “put recovery first” and help Paisley rebuild after the Covid pandemic if she is elected.

She said: “Our education system was a mess before the pandemic and we want to make sure we get our education services back to being the best again.

“We want to work with teachers to raise literacy and numeracy standards, to expand in-class support for children who need it and to guarantee a job for every trained teacher in order to cut class sizes.”

The Gazette:

Scottish Greens candidate Scott Bevan has urged Paisley people to “vote like your future depends on it” when they go to the polls next week.

Mr Bevan believes his party offers “a truly transformational alternative.”

He said: “Greens will always put people over profit and planet over plunder. That’s why, over the past five years, we have achieved many things to help alleviate the economic burdens on the people of Scotland.

“These include lowering the income tax threshold for most people, so that the working class pay less, banning winter evictions, delivering free school meals for all primary pupils, free bus travel for all those under 22 and securing pandemic relief payments.”

Mr Bevan, who backs calls for Scottish independence, is campaigning for tighter rent controls, a Universal Basic Income, a one-off tax on the super-rich, new ‘green’ jobs and the end of the council tax.

“These things only happen with Green representation,” he said.

“Poverty is not inevitable. We pay far more as a society in coping with the effects of poverty on health, crime and homelessness than we would in fixing it.”