Mrs MacDonald also highlighted the role of the Crofting Commission had to be seriously
She continued: “We need to stand back, with everyone working together, to recognise
our natural assets, which are enormous, and then adopt a strategic approach to their
“It should be seen as a great challenge which I want to be part of. In recent years,
we have had a lamentable lack of co-operation between the MP and the comhairle. That
is pure stupidity and must end.”
She said that the “Islands Deal” which Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been working
for and which both UK and Scottish governments are being asked to support could be
the platform for a new approach to promoting island produce.
Mrs MacDonald said: “We now have well over half of the Western Isles in community
ownership. That creates potential for a far more strategic approach to land use,
food production and marketing.
“I strongly believe in promoting the Hebridean brand but that requires facilities
within the islands so that we are exporting finished products, with value added,
from both the land and the sea.
“If we get the basics right then there could be more livestock, a year-round slaughterhouse
as well as fish processing to create products which are truly Hebridean, traditional
skills would be maintained, and so on. But none of it will happen without a fresh,
The Labour candidate said: “It is a source of great frustration that we have so many
world-class assets, including our pure environment, yet we also have population decline
and, in some parts of the islands, barely enough people to sustain basic services.
“It need not be like this but I believe political leadership, with a small ‘p’ and
working across all boundaries, is desperately needed. That is the approach I would
take and it is one that offers Western Isles voters a very clear choice.”