Enterprising islanders are being let down by SNP - Ian Murray

Sunlight over the historic seaside Gearrannan Blackhouse Village on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer HebridesSunlight over the historic seaside Gearrannan Blackhouse Village on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides
Sunlight over the historic seaside Gearrannan Blackhouse Village on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides
On a bright morning last week, I was staring out at the beautiful sight of sandy beaches and clear blue water.

Despite what my brain was telling me I wasn’t, in fact, arriving on a Caribbean Island, but the Isle of Lewis.

Outstanding natural beauty might be the first thing that springs to mind when the Western Isles are mentioned, but my visit last week has opened my eyes to the scale of world-leading industry that we have in this breathtaking corner of Scotland and just how unrecognised it is by those in power.

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Edinburgh is, of course, the powerhouse of the Scottish economy, but as a nation we all benefit when every part of Scotland succeeds.

My good friend Torcuil Crichton, who is the Scottish Labour candidate for Na h-Eileanan Siar, acted as my guide throughout the trip and was so eager to showcase the place he has always called home.

The islanders are immensely proud of their salmon and I had the pleasure of tucking into some of the best on the planet, the UK largest food export.

The more we spoke to the workers at the salmon and Harrris Tweed businesses, the global scale of their products became clear. Their salmon was being devoured and Tweeds being worn in Europe, North America and the Far East.

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At a public meeting later that evening I also heard from islanders about the challenges

their communities face.

Many of the issues are also being felt by my constituents in Edinburgh South - rising bills, inadequate public services, cost of living and a mental health crisis.

Put simply, failures of the Tory and SNP Governments are being felt nationwide. Most of all, however, transport connectivity is so poor islanders are fed up talking about it. They feel badly let down.

The ferry fiasco is impacting Scotland’s entire economy. However, it is remote communities like those in the Western Isles that the Scottish Government is failing the most.

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The SNP doesn’t have the moral impetus or political will to make things right for the people of the Western Isles and from what residents told me last week, the chickens are now coming home to roost.

It’s a similar story with the GP crisis in Edinburgh – they simply aren’t interested.

The ingenuity and expertise of these islanders is bursting at the seams, and I was lucky enough to witness it first-hand. And yet there remains the huge opportunity for the islands to be at the centre of the global green energy race.

But it’s the same old story of the SNP selling out Scotland and the party’s lacklustre net zero strategy couldn’t make this any clearer.

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SNP ministers have sold on the cheap the right to profit from Scotland’s energy transition to multinational companies who are creating all the new jobs in other countries.

We need to urgently jumpstart a green jobs revolution in Scotland, which is why Labour is committed to creating 50,000 clean-power jobs, here with our Green Superpower mission delivered by a publicly owned GB Energy company HQ’d in Scotland.

Examples of Scottish ingenuity and enterprise are never hard to find, but my visit to the Western Isles left me agog at the potential.

We just need a government that can realise it for our island communities and the rest of the country.

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