Scotland politics

Moulding the future of North East Fife

North East Fife, including Crail, was once a Lib Dem stronghold
Image caption North East Fife, including Crail, was once a Lib Dem stronghold

Few parties were more excited about the prospect of an early general election than the Liberal Democrats. Senior party figures thought their opposition to Brexit - and the offer of second referendum on leaving the EU - would be a vote winner.

But, if the polls are to be believed, that appeal could be limited, at least when compared to their pre-coalition support.

Here in Scotland - they are concentrating resources and attention on key target seats. One of them is North East Fife - for years the constituency represented by former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

Image caption Nick tries his hand at pottery in Crail

We visited the pottery in Crail, where Ben Grieve's family have run a family business since the 1960s. A man used to moulding the ceramics he sells in the family shop, what does he think of Scotland's future political shape?

"I'm undecided really - I'm swaying between a few parties," he says.

So what are his options?

Image caption The SNP's Stephen Gethins has had a busy few weeks

One is to stick with the man who won here last time - the SNP's Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins.

Mr Gethins has had a busy few weeks - his second child was born a couple of weeks ago. But his focus when we spoke to him in Leven was on politics.

He said: "I think that we need a strong voice at Westminster for North East Fife and a strong voice on Europe.

"I've worked in the European institutions - I know the European question. There are very few constituencies that the European issue affects more than this one."

Image caption Anstruther is one of the town in the North East Fife constituency


Mr Gethins won with a majority of 4,344 last time, in a seat that had been held by the Lib Dems' former leader Sir Menzies since 1987 (he didn't seek re-election in 2015).

This time the party is looking to another party veteran in the area - Elizabeth Riches - to try to win it back.

Image caption Elizabeth Riches is trying to win the seat back for the Lib Dems

But with the Conservatives claiming they are in with a shout here too, is she worried about losing the unionist vote?

"There's far more at stake here than just unionists," she says, opposite the famous Anstruther fish bar.

"Going around the doors local people have their own concerns - it might be the lack of broadband in very rural areas, it might be the lack of properly-insulated rural houses. All of these are issues that need to be addressed. We've got policies to deal with these."

Image caption Tony Miklinski is buoyant about his party's chances

Before the Lib Dems became dominant here between 1987 and 2015 it was a Tory seat. As in many areas across Scotland, the party is more confident here than it has been for years. As in many areas, its message is focused on opposition to another independence referendum.

Tony Miklinski is their candidate and is buoyant, despite the party winning just 16.3% of the vote last time.

"There's a unionist majority in North East Fife," he says. "The Lib Dems are relying on Menzies Campbell - a historical figure - their only argument is to re-run Brexit which would disastrous for our economy and the constitutional crisis it would cause.

"The polls are showing us in second place - a touch behind the SNP. And we've got a real chance at this, it's a really interesting fight."

Image caption Labour's candidate Rosalind Garton thinks constituents want to hear about more than just the constitutional question

But Labour's candidate Rosalind Garton thinks constituents here want to hear about more than just the constitutional question though.

She says: "I think more particularly young people are concerned about a decent job and decent pay and getting a home of their own, whether it's rented or bought, than they are about Brexit."

A full list of candidates is available here.

More on this story