FOR Morag Fulton, the prospect of winning a seat on Stirling council isn’t just about party success.

One of the reasons the SNP candidate says she decided to stand in May’s election is to improve the representation of disabled people in politics.

The party says it is fielding a record number of disabled candidates next month – with around one in five of the SNP’s candidates having a recognised disability.

Fulton, who is contesting the Stirling West ward, says it is welcome progress on an issue which she and others have been campaigning on for a number of years.


“It is one of the reasons I decided to stand – we can’t ask other people and push other people [to stand] if we are not willing to do it ourselves,” she says.

“It is very important that all levels of government should reflect their constituents that they represent.

“If you can see someone doing it, you think maybe I can too. If you can’t see anyone leading the way then it is just not going to happen. I think that is important.”

The National: Morag Fulton wants to see more disabled politicians in governmentMorag Fulton wants to see more disabled politicians in government

Stirling Council, which takes in populated areas such as the city of Stirling, Bridge of Allan and Dunblane along with more rural communities, has been ruled by a coalition between the SNP and Labour since 2017.

The current political makeup is six SNP, eight Conservative, four Labour, one Alba, three Independent and one Green representatives.

Recent local issues which have caused controversy include plans for £20 million retail park for Stirling, which has been called in for review by the Scottish Government.

The issue of waste collection has also sparked a row, after some bins were changed to four-weekly collections.

Stirling recently bid to become the next UK City of Culture for 2025, but missed out on the shortlist.

However the area is set to benefit from a £214 million investment through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, made up of funding from the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as regional partners.

READ MORE: On the campaign trail with Chris McEleny: How will Alba fare in Inverclyde?

Fulton is one of 14 SNP candidates standing for Stirling Council next month.

Labour has seven hopefuls, while the Conservatives have 11 candidates.

The Liberal Democrats also join those parties in contesting every ward, together with the Scottish Family Party.

The Greens are standing five candidates – enough to create what would be their first group of councillors outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Alba has one representative, while four independent candidates are standing.

The election of 2017 saw the Tories significantly increase their vote share and representation on the council, gaining five seats – while in contrast Labour lost four. The SNP saw most success in urban Stirling, while the Tories won votes in more rural areas.

Council leader Scott Farmer, who is also standing in Stirling West for the SNP, says the “first and foremost strategy” for his party this year is to win the council outright.

“We are the only party standing enough candidates to take the administration outright and that is our intention,” he says.

But he adds failing that the SNP would be open to “looking at the options” once the election is over – although he rules out a deal with the Tories.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has previously rejected the idea of his party forming coalitions with the SNP or Tories to get into power in local government.

The National: Anas Sarwar's Unionism has led to him rejecting the idea of Labour teaming up with the SNP at a local authority levelAnas Sarwar's Unionism has led to him rejecting the idea of Labour teaming up with the SNP at a local authority level

But Farmer says: “They are hoping if you say you are not going to go into coalition with anybody it is going to maximise your vote.

“Since they are not putting enough candidates to even take the administration [in Stirling], then that sounds a bit hollow in terms of the realpolitik.”

Labour’s Chris Kane, the depute leader of the council, did not respond to our request for an interview.

When it comes to what matters to voters in Stirling, Farmer says national issues such as the cost of living crisis are being raised along with more local concerns such as public transport, particularly in rural areas.

He says the Tories are trying to make the changes to bin collections and new charges for waste into a “big issue”, but argues residents understand the reasons behind it.

“We had to take action in order to improve our recycling rate and reduce our landfill, and obviously the reduced number of collections is contributing to our target of net zero in terms of the climate change agenda,” he says.

Farmer adds: “We are getting a very positive response on the doors in terms of what our priorities are.

“It is an exciting time for Stirling going forward with the City deal coming into fruition.

“In terms of public transport, we have already had a transport connectivity commission which was orchestrated with the University of Stirling to look at how we could have a more integrated public transport approach across the three authorities of Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Stirling.”

READ MORE: May elections 'make or break' for Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross

As both SNP candidates get ready to go out together knocking more doors in their ward, Fulton says the support of her family and party has been vital in enabling her to stand in this election.

She praises the support provided through the Scottish Government-funded Access to Elected Office fund, which has provided finance for a personal assistant to help push her wheelchair while out campaigning and for some taxi journeys.

Fulton says she is enjoying a positive response on the doorsteps, but is open about being initially hesitant to go back into the fray of politics after experiencing mental health issues two years ago.

She says: “I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough, especially with the toxicity that goes around about anyone who is a public servant or in the public eye or in government of any type. So I was very wary of that.

“But I think that is important to remove the stigma and say – look two years ago I couldn’t get out of bed.

“I couldn’t speak to anyone, but now I am out knocking on doors and speaking to people, trying to make life better for them and let their voice be heard.”