The heart of this election should be how we tackle together the future of our islands
and, in particular how we retain our young people. Ealasaid MacDonald is standing
on a platform to kick start the islands’ economy and she must be applauded for it.
It is no coincidence that the only periods in the last 100 years in which the islands’
population grew were under a Labour government. For two all-too-brief periods,
first in the 1970s and then for seven years in the early 2000s, the remorseless trend
of depopulation was reversed by Labour government policies that created hundreds
of new jobs (mostly in health and education) in the Western Isles.
Letter: SNP “worse than the Tories” on health and education
31 May 2017
If you open a factory with 400 jobs, everyone notices. But if the new jobs are in
existing hospitals, social care, schools and nurseries, then nobody notices – until
they start to disappear and the whole isles’ economy starts a downward slide.
That slide began in 2007 with the deadly combination of a Tory government in Westminster
and a SNP government newly elected in Edinburgh. It is no coincidence in my view
that depopulation started the following year and has continued in every year since.
The SNP claim to be anti-austerity and to help people on low incomes. But in fact
they have cut health and education even more deeply than the Tories have done. Their
populist priorities are skewed to favour the middle class and not people on working
I have no objection to helping the better off when it is affordable – but not when
it is at the expense of the people on lower incomes as it has been under the SNP
Labour’s policies have always been directed at helping the most marginalised regions
as well as the worst off in society. That is why, just as in the 1970s and the 2000s,
Labour will work to redress the imbalance in our society by taking the poorest regions
of Britain as their first priority.
In contrast, the attacks on the poor and the elderly by the Conservatives, and the
further strangulation of spending on education and health by the SNP, will disproportionately
affect the islands, where life is already difficult.
Regardless of party philosophy, we should choose the person who will work hardest
and best for every community in our islands. Elasaid MacDonald is that person and
I urge everyone to support her on the 8th of June.