Over the next few weeks, we will be giving each local candidate in the Scottish Parliament elections a chance to have their say. We will be questioning them on a range of topics of vital importance to the Scottish public.

This week, the candidates will be giving their views on the topic of the constitution and telling us their plans if elected to Holyrood on May 5.

Standing for the Cunninghame South seat in this election are Ruth Maguire, SNP; Louise McPhater, Labour; David Rocks, Conservative, Tom Armstrong, Liberal Democrat and Maurice Campbell, independent.

Ruth Maguire (Scottish National Party) on constitution

Irvine Times:

THIS election is one of the most important in Scottish history. It is about how we recover as a nation, who voters trust to lead that recovery and what we want our country to look like moving forward. Every single vote will count.

I want us to build a fairer, greener, healthier country, and crucially, I want decisions that affect Scotland to be made in Scotland, by a government elected by our citizens.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and has been treated with contempt by Westminster dragged out of the EU, against our will, with devastating consequences for Scottish jobs and businesses, at the worst possible time and in the process, witnessed the Tories aggressive bid to strip Holyrood of powers and to trample over devolved competence.

With devolution we have taken different decisions for the benefit of our country but without the full powers and responsibilities of a normal independent country too often we are running to stay still. We must aspire to more than mitigating the worst excesses of Boris Johnson’s government.

Independence is not a distraction from recovery it is essential. If you agree please cast both votes SNP on May 6.

Louise McPhater (Scottish Labour) on constitution

Irvine Times:

LAST week, a poll found that only 19 per cent of Scots believe independence to be the most important issue at this election and yet for the last seven years it’s the issue that has divided people into camps and shaped their voting intentions.

Whilst all this bickering has been going on, Scots are suffering from a whole plethora of government failings including Scotland’s NHS breaking our legal waiting time targets 400,000 times, one in three local children are living in poverty and the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe.

The old constitutional arguments are the biggest barrier to us making progress. It allows the SNP to avoid scrutiny of their record and it has allowed the Scottish Tories to run the same campaign year after year.

I do not support independence nor will I advocate for another referendum, but it is not the issue that defines me or my politics. I am standing to make a difference to the lives of people in our communities. After 7 years, it’s time we stopped voting based on the division of the constitution and instead made a positive vote for the person who will best represent our area -that’s why I am asking for your vote on May 6.

David Rocks (Scottish Conservative) on constitution

Irvine Times:

THERE is a stark choice for voters in Cunninghame South. You can focus on recovery and say no to indyref2 with me and the Scottish Conservatives or you can choose to divide our country all over again with another referendum under the SNP.

I am a proud supporter of our United Kingdom and make no apologies for that. The last year has shown how we work best as a united country. From the furlough scheme protecting thousands of jobs in this area, to Scotland benefitting from being part of the UK vaccination programme, the Union has stepped up to protect us. As we look beyond the pandemic, the last thing Cunninghame South needs is another divisive referendum. We should be looking to build up our communities, rather than trying to break them up. The independence referendum was anything but a pleasant experience. We should not be looking to pitfamily members, colleagues and communities against each other all over again. The biggest threat to our recovery is Nicola Sturgeon’s threatto hold another referendum. Only a vote for me and the Scottish Conservatives can stop an SNP majority and get us focused on recovery.

Tom Armstrong (Scottish Liberal Democrats) on constitution

Irvine Times:

AFTER the year we have all endured, we need to bring our country together and Put Recovery First. We need to move on from the divisive arguments of the past. People deserve better than the false choice of independence and the status quo offered by the SNP and the Conservatives.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have a third way with a comprehensive package of reforms to give Scotland a bigger say in a reformed UK. Scottish Liberal Democrats were central to the foundation of the Scottish Parliament, fair votes in council elections and more powers for Holyrood.

Now we want to go further with a federal UK, a reformed House of Lords, a written constitution and power devolved across the nations and regions of the UK. This is a positive programme for reform for improving our democracy. That’s how we bring our country together.

Maurice Campbell (Independent) on constitution

Irvine Times:

UNFORTUNATELY, as an independent, I will have no say in constitutional matters. The other parties have the majority, so I concern myself with local matters, matters that concern the local population, Firstly South Cunninghame, and then Ayrshire, and then the West of Scotland.

I am sure the vast experience over the last few decades will allow the major parties to make a sensible and moral decision on this.