JOHN Lamont has put employment and improved transport links at the top of his agenda after sweeping back into Holyrood in emphatic style.
The Conservative politician saw off the challenge of the all-conquering SNP and forced the once mighty Liberal Democrats into third place in the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency.
From a 53.23 per cent turnout, Mr Lamont polled 12,933 votes, Paul Wheelhouse (SNP) 7,599, Euan Robson (Lib Dem) 4,990, Rab Stewart (Labour) 2,986 and Jesse Rae (no ticket) 308.
The 35-year-old told the Hawick News: “Obviously I’m very pleased to be back and very grateful for the tremendous support I received from the people of Hawick and District.
“When I was speaking to people on the doorsteps their concerns were about jobs and keeping young people in the area. We need to be doing more to bring long-term employment into the Borders.
“When I spoke to businesses, what they want is a proper transport network. The government must spend tax payers’ money properly so that it is bringing investment and jobs to the area.” Mr Lamont said he would also continue his fight to ensure transport improvements didn’t end with the resurrection of the Waverley Line to Tweedbank.
He said: “The railway might be helping Galashiels but in terms of Hawick there needs to be investment into roads, that’s what people want to see.”
On what was an historic day for Scottish politics last Thursday, Alex Salmond’s SNP achieved an unprecedented overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, taking 69 of the 129 seats at Holyrood.
And he has since said he is keen to work with all the other parties. Ahead of his official induction on Wednesday, Mr Lamont admitted it was the dawn of a new era at the Parliament.
He said: “We’re now into the great unknown. In the last four years we’ve been able to negotiate extra police numbers and business rates reduction.
“They (the SNP) say they want to work with other parties but in reality they can do what they want.
“My job, as an opposition member, is to hold the government to account while also trying to get things done.” And he stressed his focus will always be on his constituents. He added: “I’m very happy to be returned as a member for Hawick, that’s always going to be my first priority.”
n Talking Point, page 9