ALBA Party have today announced that local man and former senior councillor Chris McEleny will contest the new Inverclyde and Renfrewshire West Constituency at the general election.

Mr McEleny served as an elected member for Gourock between 2012-2022 and became the longest serving Inverclyde SNP leader.

But he quit the party in 2021 to join Alex Salmond’s new rival organisation, saying that the SNP had failed to prioritise independence. He now serves as Alba’s general secretary.

Greenock Telegraph:

The former St Patrick’s Primary and Notre Dame High pupil left school at 17 and served an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter and first entered the world of politics after being inspired by his role as a trade union shop steward.

The Alba Party candidate has today told the Telegraph that his three priorities for the area are bringing higher paid jobs here, winning greater funding to improve access to health services and securing a pension uplift for the district's 17,000-plus senior citizens.

He has written off the SNP's chances of holding onto the local seat, but says he wants to lock a resurgent Labour out of regaining it for the first time in almost a decade.

Mr McEleny said: "It is vital that people reflect that as the SNP continue to spiral downwards they can no longer win in Inverclyde.

"If you are an independence supporter then I would urge you not to go back to voting Labour because the SNP have let you down.

"Rally behind me and let’s ensure Inverclyde keeps Labour out at the general election.”

Mr McEleny established a reputation as a campaigning councillor when he sat on the local authority and spearheaded moves for the local authority to roll out free school meals to every primary school child.

In 2022 campaigned for the implementation of cost of living support, with one-off payments of £350 later made to almost 10,000 households by the local authority.

Since leaving elected office in 2022 he has continued to campaign on local issues and recently pushed for a council tax freeze for all properties in Inverclyde.

He said: “ At the general election people have a choice - go back to a Labour Party that have let this area down for decades or keep the Labour in the past where they belong.

“I take no satisfaction in the demise of the SNP. Many of their public scandals that are only now coming to light are the reason I left the party three years ago.

"Put quite simply, with support for the SNP dropping so sharply, they can no longer win in Inverclyde. However, 50 per cent of the people of this area still support independence. My message to them is let’s keep Labour out and and rally behind me as the only candidate that can build support across the Constituency to do so.

“If elected my three top priorities are bringing more, better-paid jobs to the area and campaigning hard to to get more money for our services so that people can access a GP, or a dentist, or any other NHS treatment when they need to instead of being forever forced to wait.

"And I will also campaign to ensure that Inverclyde’s pensioners get the uplift to their pensions that they deserve. Far too many women in the area have been robbed of their pension entitlement because of changes designed by the Labour Party and rolled out by the UK Government without notice. They deserve immediate compensation.

"But for too many, the state pension is not enough to get by on. It is absurd that we are an energy rich country but we have pensioners living in fuel poverty. It’s time for a rise in the state pension and this is something I will campaign to deliver.

“Better pay for people in work, good timely access to health services and lifting pensioners out of poverty are three ambitions that will put more money into the local economy and tackle all of the interconnected drivers of poverty, deprivation and poor health.

"Inverclyde needs an MP that will get things done. That’s the job I pledge to do.”