ABERDEEN DONSIDE CONSTITUENCY (Scottish Parliament)
Mark McDonald is the SNP's prospective candidate for the Aberdeen Donside by-election on June 20. He was elected as MSP for the North-East in 2011, and is aiming to succeed the late BRIAN ADAM as the constituency MSP for Aberdeen Donside.
Born 1980 in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. Educated at Dyce Academy, the Univ. of Dundee (MA in Politics) and Univ. of Aberdeen (MLitt in Strategic Studies), and worked as a personal assistant to three SNP MSPs in 2003-11.
Mark served as an Aberdeen City Councillor for Dyce, Bucksburn & Danestone in 2007-12. He became a North-East MSP on 5 May 2011, and was a member of the Parliament's Health & Sport Committee; a sub. member of the Local Government & Regeneration Committee; and a member of the Cross-Party Group on Oil & Gas and eight other Groups. Lives at Dyce in the constituency with his wife and two children.
BY-ELECTION CAMPAIGN OFFICE
825-827 Great Northern Road Aberdeen AB24 2BR
Tel.: 01224 699096. If your call is unanswered, please leave a Voicemail message.
Open: Monday - Friday, 10.00am to 9.00pm. Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm. Sunday, 12.00am to 5.00pm.
The office is near the A90/A96 Haudagain junction. Parking is available in Logie Avenue (behind the office).
Anything you want to know about the SNP and its policies? Please e-mail us at email@example.com If your query relates specifically to your own locality, please tell us your ADDRESS so that your message can be forwarded to the appropriate MSP, Constituency Branch or Councillor. We also welcome comments and suggestions regarding this website.
FORMER LABOUR COUNCILLOR BACKS MARK
CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES
Parents group Education or Bust, which is fighting the proposed merger of MIDDLETON PARK and GLASHIEBURN Primary Schools wrote to all of the by-election candidates, asking for their views on the plans of Aberdeen City Council.
Only Labour's Willie Young declined to provide any clear answer on where he stood on the issue. It has been revealed that, earlier this year, Mr. Young had interfered in the recommendations on school closures that were presented to Aberdeen City councillors --- to 'make sure' they matched the requirements of his Labour-led administration.
On May 23, Mark McDonald commented: "Mr. Young's response to Education or Bust does nothing to answer their questions, and he is very much mistaken if he thinks this issue will simply go away. He was caught out earlier this year. His fingerprints were all over the proposals to close Middleton Park, yet he seems to think he can continue to hide on this issue. He was asked by these parents to clearly state his views, and instead he has simply resorted to a nonsensical attack on me. How can he possibly think that this is an adequate response for parents fighting for their kids' education? I am clear that these closure plans are simply wrong, and will continue to work with parents to fight them -- as I have done since they were first raised. If the Labour-led administration can realise it has gotten it wrong and drop plans to close libraries in Aberdeen, there is no reason why they cannot do the same with these daft plans to close schools in Aberdeen Donside.”
Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, has called on Aberdeen City Council to lift its threat to close libraries in the city.
The Labour-led administration apparently wants to close eight of the city's 17 libraries, with the aim of saving £450,000 over the next five years. In the Scottish Parliament on May 15, Mr Stewart drew attention to the potential losses, and added that the Council "should axe hypocrisy and not libraries, and apologise for threatening these vital services." Cllr.Willie Young, who is now the finance convener, had stated in the 8 January 2010 issue of the Press & Journal that “local libraries allow everyone to access the information they need, from the news of the day to the latest novels. Internet facilities in libraries are more popular than ever." As with other actions, the Council coalition seems to be beset by U-turns and indecision -- apparently incapable of formulating and sustaining key policies which would benefit the infrastructure of the city.
FIRST MINISTER IN NORTHFIELD
First Minister Alex Salmond and Mark McDonald inspected newly-built council houses in Northfield, and took the opportunity to speak to some of the tenants.
These homes had been made possible by the action of the SNP Government, and delivered while Mark was vice-convener of housing at Aberdeen City Council. The SNP abolished the right-to-buy for new council houses, which had been introduced by a UK Conservative administration.
The decision provided the impetus for the building of a new generation of council homes in Scotland. This included 155 newbuilds in Aberdeen. Incredibly, Labour only managed to build a total of six council houses in the entire country between 2003 and 2007 !
On May 17, Mr. Salmond commented: “These houses are a bricks-and-mortar testament to the SNP's track record of delivering for Aberdeen. It will be an inconvenient truth for Labour. Where they failed utterly to build new council houses, we have made a new generation of construction possible. A vote for the SNP on June 20 will ensure that we can continue to deliver for Aberdeen Donside, and I know that Mark will be a strong local voice for residents of these communities."
COMMUNITY PROJECT VISIT
Mark McDonald and Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson called in at the Middlefield Community Project in Logie Place on May 16.
The organisation plays a key role in engaging with young people and parent groups. Mr. McDonald commented: “Brian Adam was a huge supporter of the Middlefield Project throughout his many years as MSP for the area. He valued its work very highly, and helped to raise funds for its various activities. I was proud to have been able to introduce the Minister to the project's staff and highlight the fantastic work they do. Just as Brian did his best to support initiatives like Middlefield Community Project, I am looking for the chance to ensure that organisations like this in Aberdeen Donside continue to be represented by someone who will stand up for them against every challenge.”
LABOUR MAN WANTS HIGHER COUNCIL TAX
The Labour candidate for Aberdeen Donside is in favour of being able to increase Council Tax bills, and refuses to say whether or not he supports his party's policy of re-introducing tuition fees for university students*.
Asked by STV News if councils should have the ability to increase the Council Tax, Cllr. Willie Young said "ABSOLUTELY WE SHOULD". The Labour hopeful, who is also the finance convener of Aberdeen City Council, may have forgotten that the city already has the highest Council Tax in Scotland, with an average Band D household paying £1,230.39. The tax rose by 72% while Labour were previously in power at Holyrood. In contrast, the SNP Government has frozen Council Tax bills since 2007, resulting in Aberdeen residents saving £815.06 on average.
A preliminary opinion poll on the subject was conducted by the SNP in Aberdeen Donside on May 18-19. Of the 2,107 residents asked, 84% declared their support for the Council Tax freeze. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was one of those who took part. She commented: “These figures show overwhelming support in Aberdeen Donside for the SNP's pledge to continue the Council Tax freeze, and overwhelming rejection of the Labour candidate’s wish to be able to increase it." In order to obtain a wider picture of public opinion, party workers will be delivering returnable survey cards on the issue to all residents of the constituency.
Mark McDonald said: "The continuation or ending of the Council Tax freeze is now right at the centre of this by-election campaign. Brian Adam and the SNP Government were elected on a strong mandate to freeze the Council Tax for the duration of this Parliament -- a policy I am pledged to support if elected. Mr. Young has indicated that he thinks Aberdeen's Council Tax should increase. Obviously, this is the last thing that people in the city want or need. Rather than listen to me, he may prefer to hear the views of the voters. We will be giving the people of Aberdeen Donside the opportunity to say whether they want the freeze to continue."
*The Labour Party in Scotland has set up a "cuts commission", whose remit will be to find some way of abolishing some or all of the most popular measures introduced by the SNP Government at Holyrood. These include: the Council Tax freeze, ending of university tuition fees, free medical prescriptions, free personal care for the elderly and concessionary bus passes.
MARK WILL 'FOLLOW IN BRIAN'S FOOTSTEPS'
On May 13, Aberdeen Donside Constituency Association selected North-East MSP MARK McDONALD as the SNP's candidate for the by-election on June 20.
Mr. McDonald paid tribute to the late Brian Adam, and said his priority if elected as MSP for Aberdeen Donside would be to follow in Brian's footsteps -- as a strong local voice that the community could trust to fight their corner locally and speak up for them nationally.
He said: “Brian Adam was my friend, my colleague and my mentor. I owe a huge amount to him, and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to continue his legacy of achievement for the people of Aberdeen Donside. One of the things Brian always said was 'never promise to do anything other than your best'. I wholeheartedly make that pledge to the people of Aberdeen Donside, and if elected I will do my very best to live up to the outstanding representation they received from him. Brian Adam played a central role in the successful campaign to retain neuro-surgery and children’s specialist services at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and helped deliver millions more funding for the city. He was an outstanding politician, with a lifelong commitment to independence, and a true servant of the people. Over the next few weeks, I intend to speak to as many residents of Aberdeen Donside as possible, and to ask them to place their trust in me to stand up for them and be a strong local voice at Holyrood.”
### Christian Allard, a seafood exporter and part-time constituency assistant to Dennis Robertson (SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire West), was sworn in as the new SNP MSP for the North-East region on May 15, and took the oath dans le français. Christian was born in Dijon in 1964, and came to Glasgow over 25 years ago. He and his Scottish wife, who died some years ago, had three daughters. He now lives in Westhill, Aberdeenshire. He said: "I'm proud to call Scotland my home. It's a wonderful welcoming country, with such huge potential." Christian made his maiden speech in the Parliament on May 22.
EXPERTS SAY BY-PASS MUST COME FIRST
The news was welcomed by Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central. He commented: " Capping the cost of contributions from councils will provide the certainty our local authorities need to budget their money wisely. As a former finance convener of the City Council, I appreciate the importance of clarity in managing large projects, and the protection being given by the Scottish Government. Announcing the bidders is another important step in the by-pass becoming a reality. Regardless of which bidder wins the contract, the SNP is delivering jobs and infrastructure for our city.”
Various road experts have consistently advised Keith Brown that work on improving the notorious A90/A96 Haudagain junction could only be undertaken after the AWPR was up and running. Alas -- obviously for political rather than pragmatic reasons -- two of Labour's North-East regional MSPs decided to attempt to put the Haudagain "cart" before the AWPR "horse", in a Scottish Parliament debate on May 22. Their bluster and posturing was ridiculed by Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, when she said: "I cannot understand the thought process that went through the heads of the Labour Party members who thought that this would be a good subject for debate for them. It begs the question that if making improvements to the Haudagain roundabout before completion of the AWPR was such a good idea, why was it not taken forward by the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration in Scotland any time between 1999 and 2007?"
"Why does the Labour Party think that it knows better than NESTRANS*, Transport Scotland and the local authorities’ infrastructure departments? Labour members must understand that the AWPR needs to be in place before work on the Haudagain roundabout can begin, otherwise the congestion and disruption to commuters will be much worse than at present. Perhaps Lewis Macdonald can tell us on what basis he claimed this morning on the radio that the building work at the Haudagain can happen without any traffic disruption. He said in his speech that there would be no traffic disruption because of lane closures. I do not know how often he goes to the Haudagain roundabout, but if even one car breaks down anywhere near the junction, there is massive traffic disruption! Where else in Scotland can he demonstrate that roadworks have not disrupted existing traffic flow." *NE Scotland Transport Partnership
### See also SNP Pressure Ensures Third Don Crossing by 2015 on the ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL page..
BRIAN ADAM MSP (1948-2013)
Brian Adam died on April 25, following a long illness. He was 64.
Born in 1948 and educated at Keith Grammar School and Aberdeen University. Formerly principal biochemist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Brian was an Aberdeen District Councillor for Middlefield (& Heathryfold) 1988-95 and an Aberdeen City Councillor in 1995-99. First elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a Regional List MSP for the North-East, he gained ABERDEEN NORTH from Labour in 2003. He won the seat again in 2007, with a majority of 3,749, and was re-elected (for ABERDEEN DONSIDE) on 5 May 2011, when his winning margin was over 7,000. Brian served as Minister for Parliamentary Business & Chief Whip from 20 May 2011 to 5 Sep. 2012. His responsibilities included the maintenance of focus and discipline in the party's Parliamentary group, Parliamentary reform, freedom of information, group matters, and liaison between the group and Ministers. He was married, with four sons and one daughter.
MAUREEN WATT, MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine; KEVIN STEWART, MSP for Aberdeen Central and MARK McDONALD, MSP for North-East Scotland, spoke of their sadness at the passing of BRIAN ADAM, MSP for Aberdeen Donside, and paid tribute to their friend and colleague. Each had a close relationship with Mr. Adam, having worked together as councillors in Aberdeen and as members of the Scottish Parliament. The three MSPs expressed their sincere condolences to Brian's wife and children, and spoke of their fond memories of him.
Maureen Watt said: "Brian was a wonderful friend and colleague, going right back to our school days. He was a significant influence on myself and many others who had the pleasure of knowing him. It is clear that Brian’s hard work on their behalf meant a great deal to the people of Aberdeen Donside, who he served for a quarter of a century. Brian was always selflessly willing to help his constituents, friends and colleagues and will be sorely missed.”
Kevin Stewart said: “Brian was the most honourable, trustworthy, gentle man and a true friend to all. He cared passionately about doing what was right for his constituents and for Aberdeen, and he bent over backwards to help people. He always said 'never promise to do something that you know that you can’t, but promise to do your best'. He always did!”
Mark McDonald added: "Brian Adam was a friend, a colleague and a mentor to me. He taught me so much during my time as a councillor and helped me become a better representative. Brian made friends across the political divide because he was a gentleman. I am saddened by his passing but thankful that I was able to count him as a friend."
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Brian was an exceptional MSP, and was one of the crucial people who as Chief Whip sustained the minority government between 2007-11. I was delighted to see him serve as a minister in this Parliament. Of course, his greatest service was to the people of Aberdeen for a quarter of a century -- first as a councillor and then as an MSP. I’m proud to say I’ve known and admired him over that entire period as an outstanding politician, a fine human being and a dear friend. My condolences go to Brian’s wife Dorothy and his five children -- Neil, Jamie, Sarah, David and Alan -- and the wider family at this very difficult time.”
### About 400 people attended the funeral service, on Friday, May 3, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Mastrick, Aberdeen. Among the mourners was the First Minister, who said: "Brian Adam was a loving family man, a loyal friend, an outstanding politician, an exceptional human being, and someone of steadfast faith. He was also a plain-speaking man, who did not need to use flowery language -- because the passion of his commitment, loyalty and love spoke for itself." The service was followed by interment in Dyce Cemetery.
WINNING FOR SCOTLAND!
The SNP won all three ABERDEEN constituencies in the General Election on 5 May 2011.
Election Result: ABERDEEN DONSIDE
Brian Adam SNP 14,790
Barney Crockett Lab. 7,615
Ross Thomson Con. 2,166
Millie McLeod Lib. Dem. 1,606
David Henderson Ind. 371
Chris Willett Nat. Front 213
SNP Hold Maj. 7,175 Turnout 47.6%