One of the unknowns worrying the political parties about this Thursday’s election is voter apathy.

However, last Friday’s hustings for the Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency relieved some of this apprehension, with a healthy audience gathering at the Howard Centre – albeit one swelled by supporters of the parties taking part.

Incumbent SNP member Alan Brown was joined by Labour’s Lillian Jones, Jordan Cowie of the Conservatives and Bex Glen of the Scottish Greens.

Neither the Lib Dem, Reform UK or Independent candidates attended.

READ MORE: Kilmarnock and Loudoun election candidates make last plea to voters

The pattern of the event did not provide many, if any, surprises, as candidates fell back on the well rehearsed party manifestos.

Alan Brown, who has held the seat since 2015, played upon his experience as an MP, hitting out at both Conservatives and Labour, the former on their record in government and Labour over claims of £18bn in cuts should it come into power.

Lillian Jones used Labour’s role as opposition in both Holyrood and Westminster to slate the SNP and Conservatives while making a range of promises to the electorate, emphasising the belief that she would be a member of a party that will be in government.

Conservative Jordan Cowie sought to balance a softer approach while maintaining  fundamental party positions such as oil and gas licenses, He also argued that the economy and business need to be strengthened in order to pay for public services.

Bex Glen of the Greens laid out her party’s traditionally progressive views on the environment and gender issues.

And your Kilmarnock and Loudoun candidates ahead of Thursday's vote...👇

Posted by Cumnock Chronicle on Tuesday 2 July 2024

A number of subjects were broached by the audience, although one did pointed out late in the evening that a lot of what was said involved the Scottish Government which was ‘not what we are here for’.

Most of the questions from the floor took the familiar tack of asking candidate for their views on subjects and how the should be tackled. What was often missing was whether they, as a Westminster MP, would actually be able to do anything.

The four candidates were asked for their position on climate change, how they thought the potential for towns and villages could be ‘unlocked’, how the least supported children can be helped in education, and suggestions of affordable housing in town centres.

The positions on climate  change ranged from the Conservative’s insistent that oil, gas and nuclear are required to bridge the gap with power from renewables through to the unequivocal opposition to fossil fuels from the Greens.

The SNP and Labour sat in between, with Alan Brown emphasising his view that there should be no new licenses for oil and gas.

The attention turned to some of less tangible issues, including the loss of trust in politicians, the division of the gender identity debate and the claim that Scotland faces a ‘democratic deficit’.

READ MORE: Kilmarnock and Loudoun candidates set out their local priorities

One audience member said: “Trust in politicians is at rock bottom. Tell me what would you do, if elected, to raise standards?”

There was little said on the broader picture, with the candidates simply extolling their belief in their own integrity rather than how they would raise standards more broadly.

However, Ms Glen did elaborate on the system which she said precludes a lot of ‘average’ people from pursuing a political career. She said that the example of this snap election meant people were unable to miss a pay check or pay for childcare, making it difficult to make a serious go of it.

The candidates were also quizzed over the way they would reverse austerity.

Alan Brown said that he could not pledge to reverse austerity directly, but said he would raise the matter and would oppose the £18bn the SNP says will be enacted by a Labour government,

He added that he would oppose the two child benefit cap which he said Labour will refuse to scrap and would support the Scottish child payment being taken up in England.

Jordan Cowie said that a strong economy is required to spend on public services. He argued that increasing taxes resulted in lower revenue and said that ‘removing barriers’ to work was essential.

Bex Glenn said the Greens had a fully costed plan to raise funds and supported a universal income.

Lillian Jones said that Labour would bring in a new living wage that would improve finances for 130,000 Scots. She also responded to the criticism of a Labour government keeping the two child cap, saying that the party would only promise what it could deliver financially.