Scottish Parliamentary Election - SNP candidate hopes to keep voters’ trust

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At the last Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2011 Alasdair Allan won a landslide victory to take the Na h-Eileanan an Iar seat for the SNP.

Five years later and the SNP candidate is out and about on the campaign trail looking to persuade Island voters to stick with the party.

He said: “The campaign has been going very well, but I am keen nobody’s vote is taken for granted. That’s why I am trying to meet as many people as I can on the campaign trail.”

The SNP Government at Holyrood has taken criticism in recent months in regards to transport issues, centralisation of services and payments to crofters.

Whilst in Barvas recently Mr Allan addressed crofting issues by calling for a new crofting Bill and for future CAP payments to be made in a more timely manner.

He said: “There is no doubting how complicated crofting law has now become, and I would say there is now a appetite for a further crofting Bill, both to simplify some of this, and also to address anomalies.

“For instance, when a community buys an estate, it should not, in my view have to re-register all its crofts again, a point I have made recently in the context of recent community buy outs of estates such as Carloway. I also think it’s time to look at reintroducing a loan scheme to supplement the croft house grant scheme.

“Although this year saw a new payment regime, which is also causing delays in England and Wales, there is no excuse to be made for the late payment this year of CAP grants and the Government have acknowledged this.

“Next year’s basic payments have to be made in the winter when crofters have come to expect them.”

On transportation Mr Allan continued: “The SNP in government has brought RET fares to the islands, and these have been extended recently to inter-island ferries. Improvements have been delivered to all ferry routes, with a new vessel built for Stornoway, and another on order for Tarbert and Lochmaddy.

“Since the SNP came to office the Western Isles has seen a 60% drop in the crime rate, a 33% budget increase to NHS Western Isles, and doubling of social sector homes built.

“Prescriptions are free, as is university education. I believe the SNP has a positive record of achievement in government.

“I hope that, whether people agree with me on everything or not, they will recognise I have been a hard-working MSP, accessible to people across the islands, and always willing to speak up for the Western Isles.”

This current election campaign is shadowed by the referendum campaign on whether on not the UK should leave the European Union.

Asked if the SNP would call for another Scottish Independence referendum if the UK votes to leave the EU, Mr Allan said: “The First Minister has recognised another independence referendum will only happen when there is a clear public demand for it.

“There is little doubt though that, if Scotland ends up being taken out of the EU against the wishes of Scotland’s voters, that will strengthen the arguments for independence further.”

Pictured above - On the campaign trail Mr Allan met with Barvas crofter Norman Kerr, who commented: “As an active crofter I recognise the Scottish Government has done many things to help try to bring new people into crofting, most recently by increasing the maximum grant available under the croft house grant scheme. One of the issues facing crofting just now is the difficulty many crofters have in obtaining a mortgage, which is why I am pleased to see Alasdair Allan calling for the reintroduction of the loan element of the Croft House Grant.”