GENERAL ELECTION: Your candidates views on....

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  • Foreign policy
  • Europe
  • Which candidate do you agree with?

The Stornoway Gazette is asking the candidates for the Western Isles constituency to give us their views on a range of topics.

We want to find out what the five candidates’ positions are on the subjects which are of huge importance to the region.

Today’s topic is Foreign Policy and Europe.

An extremely important issue for Westminster, foreign policy is a crucial issue which often leads to disagreement amongst the main parties.

Their positions on the UK’s role in Europe are also significant in terms of the country’s future economy and its place in the global society.

Alasdair Morrison - Scottish Labour Party

Britain has a unique influence in the world. We are the only state that is a member of the UN Security Council, NATO, the G7, the G20, the Commonwealth and the EU.

Britain’s response to threats to our security should be based on enduring principles.

We will protect our national interests and strengthen our long-standing international alliances in particular, our membership of NATO and the European Union.

We will advance our international engagement rather than retreating into isolation.

The rise of ISIL, an aggressive Russia threatening its neighbours in eastern Europe and the continuing economic uncertainty in the Eurozone, are each a challenge to our national security.

We will strengthen our national security, stand up for human rights, highlight and work with other countries to tackle the persecution of Christians, and help eliminate extreme poverty globally.

From an island perspective, the economic case for membership of the EU is overwhelming.

Hebridean products are consumed right across the EU and our reforms of the EU will help deliver a Europe focused on jobs and growth.

An in-out referendum is not needed – it will act as a block and hinder development. The EU needs reform – sitting outside the door is not Britain’s place – we have to be at the top table, not carping from the side lines.

Angus Macneil - SNP

If opinion polls are correct, Scotland looks to be returning a high number of SNP MPs to Westminster.

Not only will this give Scotland’s’ needs a higher prominence than ever, but I would ask people to imagine in such a scenario in 2003, if the SNP had been there in large numbers then, Tony Blair would not have managed to take the UK to war in Iraq and sully the reputation of the Labour Party forever.

A friend of mine, who is a Labour MP in the North of England told me that he recently told his constituency association that a large SNP grouping would help him and other similar back bench Labour MPs keep the Labour leadership under control.

So when it comes to matters like Iraq, the SNP would be a calming influence.

We are committed to being a normal member of NATO and 90% of NATO members do not have nuclear weapons.

The SNP feel that it is a waste of money to spend £100billion to upgrade a weapons system that could destroy all of creation in the blink of an eye.

On Europe, the SNP wish to remain members of the European Union but would like to have a voice there, to bring about much needed improvements.

We understand that independent nations need to cooperate with one another and intergovernmental forums such as the EU and NATO and others are ideal for this.

Ruaraidh Ferguson - Scottish Liberal Democrats

UK foreign policy and international aid should seek to promote peace, advance human rights, democracy and trade throughout the world, and counter the global threat of climate change.

We believe all people – regardless of ethnicity, disability, gender or sexual orientation – deserve a freer, greener and more prosperous world.

This is why the Liberal Democrats met the UN target of committing 0.7% GNI to overseas aid - which we fought for against opposition from many Conservative MPs. The foreign policy of the previous Labour Government has proven to be disastrous for the UK, and the rest of the world, leaving millions more living in fear and poverty, is it any wonder that these conditions give rise to more and more extremism.

Liberal Democrats want Britain to remain a member of the EU because we are fighting for a stronger economy and British jobs. Being in Europe allows Britain to project strength in the world when negotiating climate change agreements, in trade talks with global players like the USA and China and when introducing sanctions against countries like Russia.

As a strong partner in Europe we see many people in the Western Isles benefiting from European legislation which allows them to be employed in good jobs throughout Europe, any changes to our status in Europe could be very damaging to the economy of the Western Isles.

John Cormack - Scottish Christian Party

Foreign policy begins at home: those living on British soil are our first priority and their protection is paramount.

This means having strong military resources and a nuclear deterrent.

Furthermore, if the armed forces are to protect us, those on the front line must be properly equipped.

When it comes to foreign aid, just as the abuse of the welfare state has created dependency here, there is ample evidence that financial support abroad has led to an unhealthy reliance.

We do not, therefore, support monetary assistance to other countries but will instead provide help in the form of material goods, products, medicines and services.

Our aid will not be linked to promoting a LGBT agenda but will instead be dependent upon need.

On the subject of the European Union, we hear the concerns of the British public who did not vote for and do not want a European superstate with 75% of our laws being imposed from Brussels.

The public should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not they wish to remain members of the EU and the Scottish Christian Party would support people being given that choice in a referendum.

Mark Brown - Scottish Conservative Party

The UK has a positive role to play in the world and our international influence far exceeds our size.

This influence is linked with our national interest – we must have continued full engagement in world affairs.

It is a proud achievement of the UK to reach spending 0.7% of GNI on aid, and welcomed that the Conservative-led Government enshrined this into law.

This is transformational for countries who rely on developed countries like ours to lend a helping hand.

We must be ambitious for trade too, and the goal of doubling UK exports to £1 trillion shows the importance of this.

It is right that the Conservative Party has pledged to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

Anyone aged below 58 has never had the opportunity to make their voice heard on our relationship with Europe.

Although I think that reform from within in the most positive way forward, the huge changes which have taken place since 1975 mean it is time to have this debate.

We need to stick with the vision of Britain as an international force for good.

The Conservatives have the track record and interest in our national interest to continue this.