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Election / Wills picked as SNP by-election candidate

Tom Wills.

TOM Wills has been selected as the SNP’s candidate for the forthcoming Scottish Parliament by-election.

He was picked on Friday after a vote by members of the party’s local branch.

Wills, born and raised in Shetland, works in offshore operations for tidal energy company Nova Innovation, including at its array in Bluemull Sound.

He is the son of well-known local political voice Jonathan Wills, who joined the SNP in 2017 after previously standing for election for Holyrood and Westminster as a Labour candidate.

Wills said: “I am honoured to be standing as the SNP candidate in Shetland – it’s a great privilege to be given the opportunity to represent the community that I call home.

“Growing up in Shetland was a fantastic experience – this is where my wife and I want to raise our family and I would love to help ensure that Shetland continues to provide a great start for future generations.”

He said “Shetland is ready for change”, with the isles needing an “MSP who will work constructively with the Scottish Government to ensure that our voice is heard loud and clear”.

“The SNP has been working hard for Shetland: building more houses, increasing the size of our NHS workforce and improving local schools,” he added.

“But, of course, I know there’s more work to do to improve local ferry services, raise attainment in schools, protect the most vulnerable in our society and help local businesses to thrive.

“I am convinced that offshore renewable energy projects – particularly floating offshore wind and tidal – can bring a green jobs boom to the isles. With more local control of the seabed, the benefits to our community could be enormous. We can be a global leader in fighting climate change.

“This election is also an opportunity for the people of Shetland to send a message that we won’t stand for this Brexit process that completely ignores the needs of our islands and threatens to devastate our local economy.

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“I’m ready to stand up for Shetland at every turn and I know that by working constructively with the Scottish Government we can build a very bright future for these islands.”

There is understood to be a sense of opportunity within the SNP ranks following the resignation of Tavish Scott, who is taking up a new role at Scottish Rugby after 20 years as an MSP.

The SNP received around 23 per cent of the vote in the last Scottish Parliament election in 2016, although in the Westminster election a year earlier the party won 37.8 per cent in Shetland and Orkney – nearly ousting Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael.

Friday’s news means that a record seven candidates have now been confirmed for the by-election, which is taking place on 29 August.

They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Conservative), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Ian Scott (Fight Austerity, Save Our NHS, Save Our Welfare State), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP), Beatrice Wishart (Liberal Democrats).

The Scottish Greens, meanwhile, are expected to announce news this evening (19 July) regarding the by-election.

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