BORDERS voters tuned into an online hustings last week featuring candidates in the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency.

The Scottish Parliament elections take place on Thursday, May 6.

And last Tuesday (April 27), West Linton resident John Birchmore chaired a hustings featuring candidates from the five main parties.

The candidates in attendance were Christine Grahame (SNP), Shona Haslam (Scottish Conservatives), AC May (Scottish Liberal Democrats), South of Scotland list candidate Laura Moodie (Scottish Greens) and Katherine Sangster (Scottish Labour).

Mr Birchmore began the meeting by saying: "Can I ask the candidates not necessarily to just regurgitate the manifesto but tell us a bit about yourselves and what you can do for the constituency.

"That's really what I'm hoping to do – to find out more about some of the candidates, how they are going to look after us."

Ms Grahame began proceedings by saying that although she has "fallen out" with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, she has "huge admiration" for Ms Sturgeon's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which she said was in "stark contrast to the bungling and it seems callous Boris Johnson [Prime Minister] who has repeatedly said, and I quote, ‘No more lockdowns, let the bodies pile high in their thousands’, after they agreed to order a second England-wide shutdown in November last year."

Ms Grahame said her scathing remarks came as Scotland "moves toward recovery" and that the country cannot "return to the old ways".

She added: "Without the choice of independence our democratic wishes count for nothing."

In AC May’s opening statement, he said: "It's inevitable that this [independence] is what the election is going to be about.

"I would very much like to talk about other things, I would like to talk about recovery."

Mr May added that the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 was an opportunity for a new kind of democracy, which he said has been a success when the parliament has not been used as a "boot camp for independence".

Ms Moodie, who came next, asked voters to "vote like our future depends on it", highlighting the climate crisis as at the heart of all Green policies.

Ms Moodie said: "We want to invest at least £895 million in the restoration and protection of Scotland's green spaces and natural environment.

"All while creating over 6,000 green jobs, predominantly in rural areas.

"The science is really clear, we have until [the] 2030s to tackle the climate emergency and keep our planet safe for us, our children, and future generations."

Mrs Haslam, of the Scottish Conservatives, referred to her party's "laser focus" on post-COVID recovery, and said it was "time for change".

"At this election it is time to choose change, to say no to 14 years of division and taking the eye off the ball when it comes to our public services," she said.

Scottish Labour’s Katherine Sangster likened the Tories and the SNP to Punch and Judy.

She said: "I want us to elect MSPs who are prepared to go in [to parliament] and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to make things better.

"We can't go back, after the collective trauma of COVID, we cannot go back to the old arguments and we can't get stuck in this kind of Punch and Judy show of the Tories saying, ‘No, you can't,’ and the SNP saying, ‘Yes, we can’.”

To view the full hustings, you can visit this link to YouTube.