THE SNP might have a 14,000 vote majority in West Dunbartonshire but that isn’t putting Labour off trying to retake the seat on June 8.
Linnvale-raised Jean Anne Mitchell is determined to win the seat with a businesswoman’s drive and focus, particularly on healthcare issues.
Labour lost a more than 17,000 vote majority two years ago as part of the Scotland-wide sweep by the SNP, with Martin Docherty taking 59 per cent of the vote in West Dunbartonshire.
Ms Mitchell said the SNP win was understandable.
“I think people we disaffected after the referendum and there was very much a backlash,” said the 57-year-old mum of three.
“I have become involved because I have been so dissatisfied with the representation since that last election. I have raised a number of issues with SNP politicians, particularly around baby network charities and I have had out of office replies and requests fall on deaf ears.
“My dad always said if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.
“I know a lot of people have turned away from Labour since the referendum, but I believe it’s worth fighting for and can best represent people, looking after everyone.”
She said the SNP will never be big enough to form a government in Westminster and so Labour is the logical choice.
“What I have heard on the doorstep is people don’t know their MP, that their MP is the invisible man,” she continued.
“I know I have a long way to go but I will be a voice for all. I’m intent on winning.
“I will be at the heart of the community. You have two ears and one mouth - always listen twice as hard as you talk.”
There is politics in Ms Mitchell’s blood, with her dad, Bill Lyden, having taken on Donald Dewar as an SDP candidate in the old Glasgow Garscadden constituency in 1983.
She worked as a nurse in the plastic surgery unit of the former Canniesburn Hospital before changing direction and working in newspaper ad sales and then setting up her own business and consultancy.
Some of her more recent work has been with the charity Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death), after she lost a child. Reducing the number of stillbirths in the UK continues to be one of her passions.
She became involved in a petition to fight for more support for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, which she said is the most under-funded in Scotland.
Ms Mitchell, who lives in Wemyss Bay, went to meetings every few weeks to get the health board to justify why they weren’t supporting the hospice in the same way as other services.
“I’ve always been a people’s champion,” she said. “I’m encouraging government to do things to reduce the number of stillbirths.
“Every week we have neonatal ambulances to move babies from one unit to another because they don’t have the staff to run them. I have been campaigning to have that issue resolved.
“My dad was a politician and always standing up for the underdog, always helping other people. My children say I’m always helping people and I’m a problem solver. I always go on to resolve the issue. I know the difference between right and wrong.”
Labour are behind in the polls and some of their own MPs blame leader Jeremy Corbyn, though he has been elected twice by the membership with overwhelming majorities.
Ms Mitchell, who was born in Dumbarton, admitted she didn’t support Mr Corbyn but has since come round to him as leader.
“It’s taken me a long while to give him a chance,” she said. “I believe his intentions are entirely honourable and he can deliver, given the opportunity.
“Labour are looking out for all different things where the SNP are hell bent on a second referendum. Our health services have been starved of staff. I have a lot of friends who are nurses and midwives who do their best but there’s not enough of them.”
Ms Mitchell is utterly opposed to spending money to bring private health care workers just to preserve the health service.
And despite healthcare being devolved to the Scottish Government, if constituents aren’t getting the services they need, Ms Mitchell said she will take Edinburgh to task on their behalf.
“It doesn’t have to be like this,” she added.