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Barton for Labour

Robina Barton.

THE LABOUR party looks set to unveil Robina Barton as its candidate for Shetland in next year’s Holyrood elections. 

Bressay resident Barton is still to be formally adopted by members in Orkney and Shetland to the position, but is likely to be the fourth candidate – along with incumbent Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott, the SNP’s Danus Skene and the Conservatives’ Cameron Smith – to join the race.

Barton attended and spoke at the Scottish Labour party conference in Perth earlier this month. The first gathering since Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale were elected as UK and Scottish leaders, the conference was “characterized by a spirit of openness, discussion and positive action for change” that has returned to the party in recent months.

Barton was one of several first time delegates and speakers, and she seconded a motion by the party’s Inverness and Nairn branch on the issue of a lack of GP cover in rural areas.

Other issues with particular resonance for Shetland that were debated at the conference included air and ferry transport, broadband provision and fuel poverty.

The conference resolved that Scottish Labour should campaign to keep lifeline ferry routes in the public sector, and committed to ensuring that air services provided to all parts of the Highlands and Islands are “affordable, regular and reliable for all”.

“This was my first experience of a Labour party conference and I left energised and inspired,” Barton said. “I believe that party politics is really about values. In this, I was particularly impressed by Kezia’s keynote speech. It left me in no doubt that the values of social justice, decency and community responsibility that I believe in are very much alive throughout Scotland and indeed the wider UK.”

She added: “The SNP have done a great PR job but their record in office belies their left wing posturing. They have been utterly ineffective in tackling such important issues as health, education and law and order. Empty-headed rhetoric is not what anyone wants from a government.

“Kezie Dugdale has asked people to take a fresh look at the Labour party and I would ask everybody in Shetland to do just that.”