Tuesday 25 June 2024
 13.3°C   SSE Light Breeze

General Election 2024 / Shane Painter

Conservative

Shane Painter.

When I was 10, my family moved from Birmingham to Fetlar. I attended the local primary school, then the Anderson High School, and now I’m about to graduate from Aberdeen University. The Liberal Democrats have held Orkney and Shetland since 1950, while the SNP has governed Scotland since 2007. Both parties have consistently failed to deliver on the issues that matter most to islanders.

The SNP has been fixated on independence, neglecting every other area. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have made promises every election cycle to address our concerns, only to fall short time and again.

I am running to refocus the attention on the issues that matter most to you. Either the Conservatives or Labour will form the next Government, and I am determined to be a fresh voice for our islands at the heart of a re-elected Conservative administration.

My priorities:

Invest in infrastructure: The ferries are a lifeline, not a luxury. I’ll fight for better, more reliable links. The Conservatives have allocated £27 million for a new ferry for Fair Isle, demonstrating a clear commitment to upgrading our fleet. I’m also committed to supporting fixed links, like tunnels, to eliminate disruptions and unleash the economic potential of our islands.

End long NHS waits: The SNP claims the NHS is safe in their hands, but their record shows otherwise. They’ve cut the health budget by 0.7 per cent in real terms. When one in seven Scots are on waiting lists, we need to invest in the NHS, not cut its resources.

The SNP promised 800 new GPs in 2017, but we now have fewer GPs than before. The Scottish Conservatives will introduce a double lock on NHS funding and recruit 1,000 more GPs. We’ll protect local clinics and health centres by opposing centralisation.

Support farming, crofting and fishing: These sectors are the backbone of our island economies but have been neglected by Holyrood. The new subsidy system lacks detail, and the agriculture budget has been cut, leaving our farmers and crofters abandoned.

The Liberal Democrats once opposed HPMAs [highly protected marine areas] but now support their introduction with the SNP and Greens, threatening our fishing industry. I’ll always advocate for our fishermen’s interests.

Protect oil and gas jobs: Oil and gas is crucial for our energy security as we transition to net zero. It brings skilled, well-paid jobs to our islands and its continued extraction is vital to keeping energy bills down.

On climate change, the UK has a strong record. We are the first major economy to reduce emissions by half compared to 1990 while growing the economy.

Cut taxes: I’m committed to reducing the tax burden across the islands, returning money to hardworking people. We have cut £900 from National Insurance and aim to phase out this double tax on earnings. We’ll also introduce the quadruple lock, so you never pay tax on your state pension

These are my priorities. With a fresh voice for our islands at the heart of a re-elected Conservative government, we can deliver on the issues that matters to you.

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