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Election / Campaign round-up 29 March 2021

LIBERAL Democrat candidate for Shetland in the forthcoming election to the Scottish Parliament Beatrice Wishart has today (Monday) kicked off her campaign with the release of a new video where she sets out her priorities and ambitions for the isles.

“For the last 18 months it has been a privilege to say that I am Shetland’s MSP,” Wishart said.

“When I spoke for the first time in Holyrood about how ambitious I was for Shetland’s potential, who knew that we would be entering this campaign in the midst of a global pandemic. I remain ambitious for all that Shetland can achieve.

“Shetland has a proud history of having parliamentarians who have always put these islands first. I have been that voice in Holyrood and hope that the people of Shetland will once again but their trust in me to continue to be that strong voice.

“This campaign should be about one thing. How we re-build after the devastating impact of Covid.

“Until polling day I will be talking about the issues that matter to Shetland, the issues that people have told me matter to them. Comprehensive mental health services, better and greener transport, acting on climate change and most importantly putting the recovery from Covid-19 first.”

Her campaign video can be found here. 

SNP candidate Tom Wills says he stands for putting more powers into local communities as prescribed by the Islands Act under which the Scottish Government must consider any requests for more powers to be devolved to councils.

In a blog published on Wills’ campaign website he argues that “local government here is not local enough”.

“The SIC is currently considering options for political and financial self-determination, but has yet to submit any specific requests for more powers,” he said.

“The areas that I think we should consider first are transport, fishing and seabed revenues.”

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He added: “I think we should explore whether community councils could own assets and how we can encourage younger folk to get involved. This really comes down to giving them more clout and more cash. That money will have to come from somewhere, but I think we should be putting put a higher value on this base layer of local democracy.”

The blog can be read at:

RESTORE Scotland’s candidate for the Shetland constituency, Brian Nugent, has criticised the government for “privatising further and higher education at Shetland College”.

Nugent, a former lecturer and union official at the college, has spoken in support of his former colleagues who, he says, have been denied a 12-week consultation into the ongoing merger process with the NAFC Marine Centre to form Shetland UHI.

“Shetland College is about to slip out of public control and almost everyone is turning their back on the situation. Having promised a 12-week public consultation on a merger through the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Government has now decided, effectively, to privatise education at Shetland College.”

He said there was a danger that lecturers’ position could be downgraded as part of the privatisation process.

Nugent added: “There may be suggestions that the new college is a charitable body and therefore is not a private body but the official status of Shetland UHI is a company limited by guarantee, therefore a private company.”

LABOUR’s Martin Kerr is the first of the local candidates to publicly comment on the emergence of the Alba Party which was launched by former first minister Alex Salmond at the end of last week.

“Scotland deserves better than Alex Salmond and the new vanity-project party he’s just launched. This Sturgeon-Salmond psychodrama is a glimpse of what the next five years will look like if people vote for either of them,” Kerr said on Monday.

“Scottish Labour are the adults in the room in this election. We will focus on the issues that actually matter to people: secure jobs, investment in the NHS and education.

“The next parliament has a responsibility to steer us out of Covid and should focus on a national recovery plan.

“If it is obsessing over another referendum, it will have one hand tied behind its back. That’s why people should be both votes for Scottish Labour on 6 May.”

CONSERVATIVE candidate Nick Tulloch has hailed the continued support being provided through the UK Government’s furlough scheme.

Latest figures provided by the UK Government show that around 1,000 people in Shetland are still in receipt of the support scheme.

Tulloch said: “The UK Government’s furlough scheme has protected thousands of jobs in Shetland over the last year and is continuing to do so.

“That support has been invaluable for individuals and businesses in this area. I am fully committed to fully focusing on our economic recovery and rebuilding our communities in Shetland.

“That’s in stark contrast to the SNP who only want to take us back to the politics of division and another referendum. Only a vote for me and the Scottish Conservatives in Shetland can stop an SNP majority and focus on local jobs and livelihoods.”

THE LIBERAL Democrats are making the case for raising the starting age for formal schooling to the age of seven which will transform how children learn in what is currently P1 and P2.

The party’s Scottish leader Willie Rennie said the longer early years phase would still be mandatory but it would focus on child development, social skills, outdoor learning, and physical and mental health.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will introduce a truly-play based education until age 7 to give every child a flying start. By learning together through play children develop the skills needed for trickier tasks and are better prepared to shine in areas like literacy and numeracy,” he said.

“The UK is almost unique in Europe in expecting children as young as 4 or 5 to begin formal schooling. By the age of 9, pupils in Finland have much higher reading levels than pupils in the UK, having started at the age of 7.

“In advance of this we would also immediately abolish the national testing of four- and five-year-olds introduced by the SNP and heavily criticised by teachers.

Parliament voted to halt them years ago but was ignored.”

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