Shetland is ready for change – it’s time for a strong SNP voice

Tom Wills is the SNP’s candidate in the by-election for the Scottish Parliament’s Shetland constituency, which takes place on August 29th.

The tide is turning and Shetland is ready for change. It’s time for a strong SNP candidate who can sit down and work constructively with the Scottish Government – ensuring that Shetland’s voice is heard loud and clear at the heart of Holyrood.

While in power, the SNP have helped shape a fairer, more prosperous Shetland where people want to live, work and raise a family. We’ve delivered over 300 baby boxes to local families, committed £3 million this year alone to increasing the hours of free childcare and invested more than £37m in refurbishing local schools – including the bulk of funding for the new Anderson High School.

Growing up in Shetland was an amazing experience and thanks to large-scale investment we’re building a community that continues to provide a great start for future generations. Since 2007, 1300 new homes have been built on Shetland – including nearly 380 properties available through housing association rent. The Scottish Government has also handed the local council almost £11m over the next two years to develop more affordable housing on the islands.

Since the SNP came to power, our NHS workforce in Shetland has increased by 25%, crime has reduced on the islands by 50% thanks to more local police officers and our employment levels sit at 84%.

The SNP have invested millions to improve energy efficiency in existing homes too and Scotland recently became one of a handful of countries with a legally-binding commitment to tackle fuel poverty.

And since the SNP came to power, our NHS workforce in Shetland has increased by 25%, crime has reduced on the islands by 50% thanks to more local police officers and our employment levels sit at 84%.

But I know there’s more work to do. With more than £20m spent in support for internal ferry services in the Northern Isles since last year, the Scottish Government is fighting to improve transport on the islands.

Yet, as a local, born and raised in Bressay, I know first-hand that we need to keep working if we are to improve affordability and ensure these services are accessible to everyone. Sadly, regardless of how far we’ve come under an SNP Scottish Government, Brexit puts all of this progress at stake – promising to set us back years.

Like the rest of Scotland, Shetland voted to remain in the EU. Yet we are faced with two would-be new prime ministers who are committed to forcing through Brexit regardless of the consequences to livelihoods in Scotland. In Shetland, we’re most at risk, with economic experts estimating that upwards of 25% of our local workforce face exposure to the devastating impact of a no-deal Brexit.

The Tories’ plans to slash migration from Europe would also be catastrophic for Shetland – bringing our NHS and other vital public services to its knees while wiping out businesses in the tourism, seafood and farming sectors.

Of course the EU isn’t perfect. The SNP have consistently opposed the Common Fisheries Policy, which needs to be scrapped or fundamentally reformed so that local boats have more preference, our fisheries protection fleet is strengthened and unsustainable practices are controlled.

But being part of Europe is much more than that and to prosper our industries depend on EU market access, workers, standards and brand protections. The SNP are the strongest pro-European party – a vote for the SNP at this by-election will send Westminster a message that Shetland will not stand for Brexit. We deserve better.

Shetland can become a global leader in the fight against climate change. Having worked in the renewables industry for more than 10 years, I know that with the security and market access of EU membership we can ignite a green jobs boom in the isles. Next month, the people of Shetland have the opportunity to choose a different path and secure a brighter future for generations to come.