The battle for your votes in the General Election on December 12th starts in earnest in the Islands this week as the Scottish Liberal Democrats announced their candidate.
The party has chosen Neil Mitchison to be their candidate in the Na h-Eileanan constituency.
Neil, who stood as Liberal Democrat candidate locally in 1990s, has spent 25 years working for the European Commission, including several years as European Commission representative in Scotland.
He twice stood as Liberal Democrat candidate for the European Parliament and is, also, a familiar voice on Gaelic radio.
Neil said: “I am honoured to be chosen again to represent the Liberal Democrats. Let us be clear: this election is all about Brexit, and every vote for the Liberal Democrats counts towards our objective of stopping the damage Brexit has already done to our economy and our society.
“Only once we get Brexit out of the way can we address all the other urgent matters which need attention, including the NHS, education and social policy - all of which have suffered from the Tory Government’s austerity.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie said: “Neil Mitchison would be an excellent MP for the Western Isles, replacing the divisive Angus MacNeil.
“Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats have shown a clear leadership in fighting Boris Johnson and Theresa May’s Brexit disaster and campaigning for a People’s Vote on the terms.
“Longstanding Labour and Conservative supporters are disenchanted with their leaders and are looking for something better, while too many have been let down by years of SNP misrule. Liberal Democrats like Neil can offer a brighter future.”
Also kicking off her campaign this week is Scottish Labour candidate, Alison MacCorquodale, who said: “We need an MP whose main priority is this constituency, not the constitution.
“These islands have very distinctive needs. Unless there is a constant focus on the issues that affect us most, then there is no chance of our voice being heard.
She said that the Brexit negotiations were a case in point. “Labour will give the people the final say on Brexit, but whatever the outcome, I will fight to ensure that the opportunities for the islands are grasped and damage limited.
“Unless there is someone arguing the detailed, specific cases for the Western Isles in a way that commands respect, then our interests will be sidelined.”
In relation to another Scottish independence referendum, Ms MacCorquodale said: “With all the challenges Scotland faces, the last thing we need is another divisive referendum.
“There is so much to be done to address issues directly affecting the lives of the people of the Western Isles which are already devolved to Edinburgh. We need better government, not more years of argument about how to break up the UK without any certainty about what would follow.”
Talking about the start of his campaign, the SNP’s candidate, Angus MacNeil, said: “It is a privilege to have been chosen by local SNP members to stand as candidate for the 2019 Election.
“For Scotland this Election is about choosing our own future – about what kind of country we want to be and about taking control of our own affairs.
“For the United Kingdom the Election is about Brexit – breaking away from our European partners and exiting the free trade deals we currently enjoy.
“As Chair of the International Trade Committee, I have seen the World Trade Organisation(WTO) tariffs and how countries try to join together in blocs to prevent having to pay the higher rates attached to WTO deals. There is no good Brexit – no other trade agreements will give the UK the benefits it currently enjoys.
“The current Labour Party are in disarray as they have been for a number of years – not sure if they support Brexit and the Tories or if they are a Remain Party ready to propped up by the Lib Dems. In Scotland a lack of leadership has left Labour a poor shadow of a once proud party that could claim to speak for the people.
“I would encourage everyone to vote SNP on December 12th and allow me the honour of representing you in Westminster where I will Stand Strong in the interests of Na h-Eileanan and Scotland.”