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General election: In the marginal seat of North East Fife, it’s all to play for | Politics News

In the marginal seat of North East Fife in this election, it is not a straight fight between red and blue, but shades of yellow too.

In 2017, the SNP won here by just two votes ahead of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. That astonishing two-vote tipping point made it the UK’s most marginal seat at the time.

But in 2019, the Lib Dems won it from the SNP, giving the party one of its four MPs in Scotland.

Today, Lib Dem posters line the winding road that takes you to Anstruther’s waterfront.

It’s a charming fishing village and overlooking the harbour are quaint restaurants and gift shops – handmade soap, whisky and fresh fish – it’s all on offer.

With this allure comes a melee of tourists who join us as we hop to each business, talking to them about how the campaigns have resonated with them here.

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“The tourists are a big part of this area for us,” says Tom Cooper, who’s owned his whisky gift shop for over six years.

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Whisky shop owner Tom Cooper wants the main parties to offer more help to small businesses

He’s even had a few celebrities pop by.

“We get up to eight to nine tourist buses each day in the summer, if we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t survive,” he adds.

He loves having them dropped off outside his door, but the tourist season isn’t long enough to make the off-season easier.

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“When it’s very, very quiet, you’re talking maybe four months of the year with maybe a six or seven hours a day, that you’re not doing very much. And you can’t really drag people in the door.

“We need to bring people in. The villages needs money. You know, that’s that’s where the economy lies, I think, in the future.”

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And when at the ballot box, Tom says it’ll be his shop at the forefront of his mind.

“I look for somebody that’s going to help businesses like myself, small businesses, and keep the high streets going, get people out,” he says.

This is one of the constituencies to have had its boundary lines redrawn.

Changes have now led to areas with higher levels of deprivation being added to the North East Fife seat.

Away from the picturesque coastline, further inland there are signs of a lack of investment and care.

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Glenrothes shopping centre stands partially derelict.

“That’s been like that for about six years,” someone comments, as we look on at the peeling sides of a building and faded shop signage.

This constituency has one of the highest levels of child poverty.

“People are struggling, there are a lot of people not in work,” Chris Lewis, a business owner, tells us.

Chris runs an ice cream parlour, fish and chip bar and waterfront restaurant.

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Chris Lewis believes politicians have broken their past promises

“Employment is what I care about, we need to lift people back to work on a decent wage,” he says.

“I would like to see everybody getting a job, then everybody could work hard and get people off benefits.”

Chris says he has been burnt by past promises.

“This area – whether Lib Dem and SNP – to me it seems they never seem to deliver.”

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Chris adds: “There’s just so many promises and you think, you’ve had your time, can someone else do more for the country. We’re a very tourist-heavy area and we can’t afford to lose that. If Scotland loses its attraction, you know, we failed.”

The national narrative and the polls are having an impact on how he is feeling.

“I never thought I’d say it, but Labour are coming to mind, I think they’re going to do more for the country than the others.

“But who do you believe? There’s always promises. And when it comes down to how many are delivered, usually very few.”

We’ve met those across this constituency who intend to back Reform, SNP and Labour throughout the day.

A sign that even the most seemingly straightforward of seats is all to play for.

The list of candidates standing in North East Fife are:

  • Conservatives – Bill Bowman
  • Liberal Democrats – Wendy Chamberlain
  • Labour Party – Jennifer Gallagher
  • SNP – Stefan Hoggan-Radu
  • Scottish Green Party – Morven Ovenstone-Jones
  • Reform UK – Matthew Wren

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