I represented Argyll & Bute in the House of Commons for fourteen years. This is a constituency with many islands and so I am familiar with the issues that arise on islands.
Liberal Democrats want to concentrate all our efforts on recovery from the Covid pandemic. It will take all our combined efforts, ingenuity and commitment to recover from the pandemic. It will take our undivided attention and a needle-sharp focus.
The last thing we need in these circumstances is another independence referendum which would be very divisive and take up all our attention.
We want to see a green recovery from the pandemic. To this end, we will support new, green businesses and train people in the skills required for the green economy. A programme for warm homes to cut carbon emissions from heating and tackle fuel poverty is needed. We will develop hydrogen power and green electricity to replace fossil fuels for heating, roads, ferries and aviation.
We support a circular economy, cutting down resource use and businesses using waste products creatively.
We will give a job guarantee to every 16-24 year old. We will also create grants for retraining and new graduate internships in small businesses.
More support should be focussed on childcare and education. All qualified teachers will be guaranteed a job.
There was a mental health crisis in Scotland even before the pandemic struck. The Liberal Democrats secured an increase of £120 million in the mental health budget during this year’s Scottish Budget negotiations.
We propose to use this extra cash to double the number of specialist psychiatrists in training for young people, increase the number of mental health professionals working at GP practices and provide more walk-in services at mental health emergency centres – similar to A&E – to meet the needs of people in mental health distress or crisis.
Scotland has become a far too centralised society. Powers must be given back to communities throughout the Highlands & Islands.
Connectivity is important to island communities. For Shetland that means completing the roll-out of superfast broadband to all premises and action on fixed links.
When I served as an MP, I kept in regular contact with all the communities, including the many islands, in my constituency. The Highlands & Islands is a vast area to cover, but, if you elect me, I promise to serve assiduously the whole community from the Mull of Kintyre to Shetland.
This election is about electing MSPs committed to serving their communities and focussing on the challenges of recovering from the pandemic.
Liberal Democrats will put recovery first.