A CHANGE in West Dunbartonshire’s position on independence helped secure two Tory wins in the local election, the party’s parliamentary candidate for the area said.
Penny Hutton will face Labour’s Jean Anne Mitchell and the SNP’s Martin Docherty for the MP seat for the area.
Despite losing out on a seat in the Clydebank Central ward just two weeks ago, the Gartocharn resident said she was “pleasantly surprised” with her fellow Tory candidates Sally Page and Brian Walker’s success in the shock Lomond and Dumbarton ward results – and she expects it to carry on in the General Election.
Ms Hutton, who lives with her husband and children aged 20 and 18, said: “I don’t think I had any wounds to lick, my vote went up in that ward and we got two councillors elected. We knew that things were changing so we were definitely pleasantly surprised.
“I think our message and Ruth’s [Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader] that we don’t want another independence referendum is resonating with the voters.”
She added: “In areas like my constituency they (the SNP) have got a solid base but I think the unionist votes are coming across to the Conservatives.”
In 2015, the SNP dominated the West Dunbartonshire ward, crushing a once 17,000-strong majority for Labour which led to the end of Gemma Doyle’s Westminster career and the introduction of Martin Docherty.
However, Ms Hutton believes the Conservative’s commitment to creating jobs and improving the economy – a fundamental part of their manifesto since gaining power in 2010 following the 2008 crash – will see the party claw back some of the 58 seats the opposition held in the UK Government.
She’s backed an expansion of the Clyde’s naval base and a clear focus on the Glasgow City Region City Deal proposals, including the controversial development of Bowling’s Exxon Mobil site, will ensure job creation in the area.
And Ms Hutton says her past as an entrepreneur in marine and retail business in nearby Argyll before moving on to advise young people how to establish their own companies as part of the Scottish Youth Business Trust will see her best placed to improve local unemployment levels and the economy.
Ms Hutton added: “People are coming to settle in Clydebank and West Dunbartonshire and we need to encourage more jobs in to the area.
“It’s all about encourage jobs and secure jobs for young people.”
The other issue to feature on that manifesto for Ms Hutton is transport within West Dunbartonshire.
Having already previously pledged to resolve the problems of potholes, the candidate would also like to see a rise in public transport.
She added: “Public transport needs to be looked at. Roads are getting busier and busier so it’s important to encourage the use of public transport.”
Despite staunch rivalries between the three main parties, Ms Hutton said she plans to work with local MSPs – Labour’s Jackie Baillie for Dumbarton and SNP’s Gil Paterson for Clydebank – to help implement her manifesto.