Candidates make their case ahead of polling day

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Polling day on May 5th to decide the next Scottish Government grows ever nearer and we present the candidates’ final case to voters.

Scottish National Party Candidate Alasdair Allan

On May 5, Scotland will decide who it believes will be stronger for Scotland. We need a Scottish Government to stand up for Scotland’s interests at a time when the UK Government clearly doesn’t care. We need real powers for Scotland. And we need someone who will speak up for the islands too.

That’s why, in this election I have been campaigning on issues such as the reliability of air services, an increase in carers’ allowance, and ensuring that everyone in the islands benefits from superfast broadband, following the First Minister’s recent announcement on this.

We need an interconnector to the mainland to allow our renewable potential to be realised, and we need to ensure the Comhairle and NHS work better together to deliver care packages for our elderly and disabled folk. They deserve nothing less.

The SNP in Government has a record of achievement. RET ferry fares have been established, along with improvements to all ferry routes. We have a new vessel for Stornoway, and another on order for Tarbert and Lochmaddy.

Since 2007 we have seen a 6% drop in the rate of crime, a 33% increase in the budget to NHS Western Isles, a doubling of the number of social sector homes being built, and £7 million worth of relief for island businesses through the small business bonus scheme.

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 isands, and always willing to speak up for island communities.

With your support I would seek to work again for you on all of the issues crucial to the lives of islanders, and to keep ensuring the islands’ voice is heard in Holyrood.

Scottish Labour Party Candidate Rhoda Grant

I have a track record of fighting for our islands. Gaining area protected status for Stornoway Black Pudding and securing an MS nurse for the islands are examples of some of my work.

I stand on my record and offer a different future – we will stop the council cuts and invest in our services. We offer the only alternative to continued austerity.

These islands need jobs and better services. Our young people need to be able to choose to stay without losing out on education and opportunities. We need to back our local businesses helping them to survive and grow. Every home and business needs access to good quality broadband and reliable transport links - we will deliver these.

While we need to grow our economy we also need to improve services, build world class education and childcare. We will fund a breakfast club in every primary school, provide £100,000 to every secondary school for after-school sport, pause the Named Person Scheme and have it reviewed.

We need to provide quality care for our elderly. Our home carers are exceptional as are the staff that work in our care homes, however we need more. We pledge that people will not wait longer than a week for a care package – this will mean people are no longer stuck in hospital with no hope.

We will improve conditions for paid carers, both in wages, working conditions and giving them the time to care.

We will support unpaid carers, who currently have very little help and have to go it alone. They need to be supported in their caring role while being supported to live their own lives.

I cannot do all this alone; We need to have Scottish Labour in Government to make these changes. We need your vote to do this.

Scottish Conservative Party Candidate Ranald Fraser

It has been an honour for me these last few weeks to have travelled the length and breadth of our islands and to have met so many of my fellow Hebrideans as part of this year’s Scottish parliamentary campaign.

If one thing has been made clear to me throughout all my campaigning and meetings it is that during the last nine years of SNP government we have seen too much centralisation of service provision and decision making, to the detriment of the Outer Hebrides and the Highlands as a whole.

As a Scottish Conservative, I believe that it is the role of government to protect the freedom of the people so that individuals and families can pursue their own goals and desires, a simple right which I believe is being eroded by this present administration, examples ranging from the ‘named person’ law, which I will campaign to abolish to the imposition of ‘Marine protected areas’ on our local fishermen, which will have adverse effects on the industry locally. The government does not appear to be concerned. Even salmon and fresh water angling which many of us enjoy and which benefits our local economy is in peril, as the SNP government now sees fit to fine anglers £2,500 if they are within ‘spitting’ distance of a dead salmon. Next they’ll be charging us for catching cuddy’s off the rocks!

If you seek representation with a truly local slant and a different viewpoint, then give me your vote and I will do my best for you.

Scottish Christian Party ‘Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship’ Candidate John Cormack

It’s increasingly difficult to know who to vote for when all parties seem to have the same policies. That’s why I am involved with the Scottish Christian Party. I believe we offer something totally different. You don’t have to be a Christian to see that Christian principles like justice and compassion are being eroded by an aggressive and empty secularism which is devoid of hope.

One issue that really troubles me is the SNP’s Named Person scheme. It undermines the family unit, weakening the influence of parents whilst increasing the control of the state (I am not here referring, of course, to situations in which there is real cause for concern of abuse or neglect).

The family is the bedrock of our society and our children are our responsibility. The scheme seems utterly irrational and ridiculous - the majority of health visitors themselves are even opposed to the measure - and will absorb money which could be used elsewhere.

We will soon have to vote on membership of the European Union. With £350m being paid to the EU weekly there is scope for some of that to be invested in Scotland and, closer to home, in this constituency. I believe our Parliament should be sovereign.

When it comes to local issues, coming from a remote highland farming community I understand the challenges facing the Western Isles. Opportunities and facilities taken for granted on the mainland are a huge deal when you are living in a place where flights are erratic and jobs are scarce. Were I to be elected these are concerns I would tackle as priorities.

The SNP voice is being heard to the exclusion of all others. I would urge you to consider voting for the Christian Party, a party motivated by making a difference in people’s lives.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Candidate Kenneth MacLeod

I was born and brought up in a crofting township in Wester Ross before becoming a solicitor.

I am a member of the Crofting Law Group and have represented crofters in a number of high-profile Land Court cases in the Western Isles.

I am married with three adult children and am a keen sportsman. I have a third dan black belt in judo and I am a senior examiner of the British Judo Association.

I am a committed Christian and am a member of the Free North congregation in Inverness.

I believe I am the best person to represent the Western Isles because of my political experience.

I have spent much of my life representing rural and remote communities, both through my job and as a long-time liberal politician (I am now in my second term as a Liberal Democrat councillor on the Highland Council).

From the Butt of Lewis to Barra Head and through the Highlands right down to the Borders communities across Scotland have been stripped of control of the local services they need.

I want to take a stand against that and firmly believe the Scottish Parliament needs more liberal voices to stand up against the increasing centralisation of our services.