My name is Robert Leslie. I am Orcadian by birth, although my branch of the Leslies came from Fair Isle and ended up in Kirkwall via Westray.
I have lived in Orkney for most of my 50 years so far. I am proud to be the SNP candidate for Orkney and Shetland, a constituency that needs change, having voted Liberal Democrat for my lifetime and more.
We need a strong SNP voice to send a message that Scotland is fed up with the broken Westminster system, which has side-lined the SNP and undermined claims that the UK is an equal family of nations.
Orkney and Shetland didn’t vote for Brexit and yet could suffer most if the UK crashes out of the EU.
Westminster policies do not serve these islands well. The opportunity for more powers to Orkney and Shetland would come through independence and renegotiating our relationship with the EU, at which time the islands could win greater autonomy. It is time to bring all the functions of government back to Holyrood – and outwards across Scotland.
In energy policy, for example, Orkney and Shetland are paying more for their electricity than any other area of the UK. At the same time UK energy regulations that aren’t fit for purpose hold us back by from maximising our renewable potential.
Coupled with our wetter, windier climate, this unjust extra energy cost to heat our homes can plunge folk into fuel poverty.
I therefore welcome Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a Green Energy Deal to ensure green energy schemes get the long-term certainty needed. It is time to overhaul energy regulations and ensure the Northern Isles can play their part in a fair transition to a low carbon economy.
No one in these islands should have to choose between heating and eating when we have so much renewable potential on our doorsteps.
Another issue hitting islanders hard is the roll-out of damaging Universal Credit.
The SNP will continue to push the UK government to stop ignoring the overwhelming evidence that Universal Credit is causing unnecessary hardship to thousands of families.
The austerity agenda driven first by the Liberal-Tory coalition and then by the increasingly right-wing Tories has damaged households across these islands, and inequality continues to grow, evidenced not least by increasing use of the foodbanks in Kirkwall and Lerwick.
I will always fight these harmful policies and seek a fairer future for all.
And the SNP will always fight to keep Scotland’s NHS safe in public hands – and away from damaging trade deals.
If elected I will stand up for every single one of my constituents and ensure the voices of Orkney and Shetland are heard at Westminster.
This is the most crucial general election in living memory. A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit, put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, and secure a better future – and a better environment – for all of us.