The news of a snap general election to be held on June 8th has sparked a flurry of additional activity in the political landscape of the Western Isles.
Political observers had been concentrating on the candidates’ battling for a place at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar table on May 4th.
However this morning’s surprise announcement from Westminster has shifted focus from the local political agenda to the national scene.
With the news catching many on the hop and only seven weeks until ballot day, the local parties will have to react quick to select their candidates, and give them time to make an impact on the campaign trail.
The Gazette caught up with the Chairman of Western Isles Labour Party, Matt Bruce (on the road to Glasgow) for his reaction, he said: “The Western Isles party will be holding a selection process and then running a campaign fighting for the Isles where the last decade has not seen any track record of delivery.”
Sitting Island MP Angus MacNeil posted on his Facebook page, comments made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon:
‘Commenting on the announcement from the Prime Minister that she is to seek the dissolution of Parliament to call an election, First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country.
“She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.
“That makes it all the important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the UK further to the right – forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process.
“That means that this will be – more than ever before – an election about standing up for Scotland, in the face of a right-wing, austerity obsessed Tory government with no mandate in Scotland but which now thinks it can do whatever it wants and get away with it.
“In terms of Scotland, this move is a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister.
“It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories’ narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.
“The SNP will always put the people of Scotland first – and between now and June 8th we will work harder than ever to retain the trust of the people.’
An official response from Mr MacNeil to the announcement is expected later.