Anything good that the SNP offer is automatically “dismissed” by the Lib Dems out of hand. The latest being the island bond which would offer young families £50k to stay, or come to live, in Shetland. (Proposed island bond a ‘bribe’ or a much needed ‘fresh idea’?, Shetland News, 16 April 2021).
Ms Wishart negatively calls this incentive a “bribe” designed to entice “folk to come and stay in our islands”. Of course we need to help our own young families stay here, but why would we not also want to entice young families to come here and settle?
Are crofting grants and loans from the Scottish government also bribes? What about the Scottish housing grants that were critical to helping folk stay in places like Fair Isle?
We have a shortage of qualified people in planning, mental health, medical and dentistry to name a few and we have difficulty retaining them when they come here. Surely an incentive like this could form part of the solution to some of the problems she complains about?
If we want more young, qualified folk with skills and experience to return to Shetland after university, or after moving away for work, we have to compete with the careers and lifestyles they may have to give up to come home.
Better still, if we can offer some of our young folk an incentive to stay here in the first place, surely that’s a good thing. Some Shetland families could be reunited through this scheme.
Other measures in the SNP manifesto include a rural tourism infrastructure fund, a rural entrepreneur fund, £20 million to improve mobile coverage in remote rural and island communities and powers for local authorities to manage the number of second homes.
This island bond is not isolated, as Ms Wishart tries to make out, it’s part of a growing package of tools at our disposal to help grow our population and shape the future communities.