Former Edinburgh Tory Councillor Stands as Independent in Scottish Parliament Elections

A former Tory councillor who quit the party saying the UK government's policies on disability and social justice were "incompatible with her beliefs and conscience" is to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament as an independent on the Lothian list.

Ashley Graczyk was elected as Conservative councillor for Sighthill/Gorgie in 2017 but resigned from the party a year later and has served as an independent since then.

She said: “I’m now heading for the biggest job interview of my life as an Independent MSP candidate for Lothian region in the May 6 Scottish elections, as I make a bid to become the first deaf MSP and the second Independent MSP for Lothian in the tradition of the previous MSP Margo MacDonald.”

Ms Graczyk said she was “pro-Independence and pro-European” and urged voters to back her “to knock out a pro union candidate”.

She listed her top five priorities as Scottish Residency Cards for EU citizens to protect their rights; ​an Edinburgh Citizens’ Charter; a directly-elected Edinburgh Mayor to replace the Lord Provost; an urgent review of rent control legislation; and advocating for an independent Scotland in the EU.

When she quit the Tories she said spoke of the problems disabled people had dealing with the DWP and said she had seen people reduced to tears because of difficulties with Universal Credit and other benefits, including Access to Work.

Outlining her campaign to become an MSP, she said: “One of the things I believe Edinburgh really needs, is a citizens’ charter with fundamental components of our citizens’ ‘right to the city’. The rights, needs and wellbeing of local citizens should be the top priority guiding decisions on the use of public services, space and assets by local government officials.

"If elected, I will push for an urgent review on the current unworkable rent control legislation early in the next parliament to enable a workable system which allows proper rent control on both private and social lets in local hotspots.

"The role of the Lord Provost is an outdated, ceremonial role that should be replaced with a directly-elected Mayor accountable to the people, and providing vision and leadership for the capital city of Scotland. The role of mayor should aim to improve life for citizens and visitors by offering practical support for local businesses and promoting local initiatives to ask people to use our capital city to its full potential.

"Since the whole Brexit and settled status shambles from the UK Government, I have become even more conscious of my Polish roots and the urgent need to facilitate deeper political, cultural, economic and community links between Scotland and the EU, including Poland, and to recognise the positive contribution of EU citizens, including Poles, who choose to live, work, and study in Scotland.

“I’m determined to do everything I can to help support EU citizens, including Poles, to feel as welcomed and settled as possible in Scotland; hence one of my five key priorities is to put forward a bill in the Scottish Parliament to give EU citizens the right to have physical proof of their pre-settled status rights, such as a Scottish Residency Card.”

Published in the Edinburgh News | 11th March 2021