Donald Crichton has launched his campaign for Holyrood, saying he would campaign for a new deal on public sector funding for the islands to protect jobs and services.
Speaking to a large audience of party members and supporters at Shawbost School Mr Crichton said he wanted the Labour Party to fight to win the trust of the Western Isles electorate on every doorstep.
Crichton said he wanted to restore strong and credible representation for the Western Isles at the heart of the next Labour Government.
He said: “We have to rebuild our relationship with the public, regain their trust and confidence so that they can believe in us to represent them again. We have begun to do this already in this campaign and we will be knocking on every door until the last minute.”
“We are motivated because Labour is the party of delivery here in the islands let’s not forget that or be afraid to remind people.
Between 1997 and 2007 we saw unprecedented levels of investment in the history of the Western Isles across education, health and our infrastructure. That didn’t come by accident it came by hard work, persuading government Ministers and government agencies of the case for the islands.”
Crichton promised that he would make protecting the public sector jobs in the islands his number one priority if elected to Holyrood.
He said: “Because of the financial squeeze our local situation is magnified compared to the rest of the country. I don’t believe the current funding formulas for local government and the health board will reflect the true nature of the economic challenges we face in the years to come.
“I will work for the Western Isles to be a specific case given its size and remoteness so that there is a public sector funding formula that recognises our unique status.
“We are facing a critical time where our public sector could be diminished so much that it will never recover to its full strength when the good times return. I will work to stop our public sector being further decimated in our community and build a close relationship with the Council, Health board and unions and be a channel for them to government ministers.”
“I believe there will be a restructuring of the way our public services are delivered after the election. We have to make sure that we get it right in the Western Isles so that local government and our health service operate effectively and we retain jobs and services. This restructuring must surely include a realignment of our economic development functions so that they are clear and fit for purpose.”
Mr Crichton said the Labour manifesto would contain a raft of initiatives that would appeal to all of the Western Isles voters. They included help for small businesses, creating new jobs for our young people, expanding broadband, support for first time buyers, and a commitment to make RET permanent in the Western Isles. Other commitments include no upfront tuition fees, the creation of a National Care Service and a guarantee on cancer waiting times.
He said: “Every commitment made in the Labour manifesto is costed and copper bottomed. We are determined to spend more wisely and prioritise with what we have. I will also be focusing on the important local issues such as fuel, transport, crofting, fishing, housing, land reform, broadband and renewables.”
He concluded: “The SNP experiment in Government has failed. The last four years have been wasted for this constituency. We have been running to stand still. The SNP has governed as an opposition we will govern as a radical government. Let them return to what they do best - being an opposition.”
Our people deserve better representation and better government especially in these times. I will be putting the case that it is only by having a Labour MSP and a Labour Government that our community will be better protected.”