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New SNP MP for Nairnshire Graham Leadbitter looks ahead as he takes on new Westminster role


By Federica Stefani

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SNP Graham Leadbitter wins.Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey Election Count at Elgin Town Hall. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
SNP Graham Leadbitter wins.Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey Election Count at Elgin Town Hall. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Pushing for investment to unlock funding for the dualling of the A96 and other key developments will be among the top priorities for Nairnshire’s new SNP MP.

Graham Leadbitter took the new seat of Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey for the SNP last week, narrowly beating Conservative candidate Kathleen Robertson.

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Mr Leadbitter received 14,961 votes while Ms Robertson polled 13,960.

They were followed by Labour candidate James Hynam (8259), Neil Alexander from the Lib Dems (3785), Steve Skerret representing Reform UK (3490), Green candidate Draeyk Van Der Horn (1676) and Euan Morrice of Scottish Family (423).

Mr Leadbitter is one of only nine SNP MPs to win the race to Westminster.

“Obviously it was a challenging night overall for the SNP, but in a number of areas of Scotland we have returned MPs including, obviously, here,” he said.

“I know a lot of the MPs that didn't return to their seats and the members of their staff so, on a personal level, it's hard: you are losing people that I know have represented their constituents really well, it’s difficult in this aspect.

“At the same time, the local campaign team here have worked incredibly hard all the way through the campaign and I am grateful for their support.”

SNP Graham Leadbitter wins.Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey Election Count at Elgin Town Hall. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
SNP Graham Leadbitter wins.Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey Election Count at Elgin Town Hall. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Looking ahead Mr Leadbitter said he will be campaigning for progression on A96 dualling, looking to unlock Westminster funds for the effort.

“Now that Labour has a ‘landslide’ majority in parliament they will be able to get the legislation through quite straightforwardly, he said.

“This means that, as an opposition MP, along with SNP colleagues, we need to make sure that the legislation they put in place and the budgets they are servicing are the best that we can possibly get for Scotland.

“Challenging them on austerity has the potential to release more funding for the Scottish Government, and enable them to take forward major infrastructure investment like the A96 and the A9 more quickly.”

Other key areas of the SNP’s manifesto he is keen to pursue are thoseaddressing soaring energy costs, including proposals for a “social tariff” for utilities.

“Particularly in the Highlands and Moray prices are through the roof,” he said. “We pay the highest prices for energy in the UK despite being one of the areas that produces the most.

“That's a really unacceptable and unfair situation.”

And on a more positive note he added: “There's some some really big opportunities out there with the Freeport and as the new MP it's something that I'll be championing, seeking to work with the companies that are investing in the area and working with the public bodies including the local authorities to make sure that we are responding to those opportunities in the best possible way.”

Also planning to meet with the Scotch Whisky Association to discuss its priorities, with distilleries an “enormous employer” locally, also at the top of his ‘to do’ list is the task of establishing a new parliamentary office.

“It helps having worked for MPs previously, but this will be an interesting week,” he said of the immediate days ahead. “This constituency is very large and it would be beneficial to be represented in more than one location, but I still need to find out what we can do.

“In the coming two to three weeks, I will do my utmost to get back to constituents who get in touch as quickly as possible, but I'm sure people will appreciate that this time will be very busy going through the setting up process.”


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