By Bill Heaney  

Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2023

People in the Western Isles have been taken for granted by the SNP government and deserve political champions willing to speak out on ferries, the economy and environment, Anas Sarwar has said today.
The Scottish Labour leader hit out at the SNP government’s handling of the CalMac ferry crisis and promised that Labour would offer islanders and effective and campaigning voice in the next general election.
Speaking on a tour of the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency with Torcuil Crichton, the prospective Labour candidate for the islands, Mr Sarwar lambasted the SNP government’s handling of the ferry crisis.
Catastrophic delays in building two new ferries on the Clyde and a lack of effective political oversight on maintenance and a proper ferry replacement programme have left parts of the Western Isles without a functioning ferry service over the Easter period.
In South Uist islanders are being offered a once in a week service for the next month due to the ongoing breakdown crisis which has knocked out three major vessels and left gaps across the Cal Mac’s west coast service.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar,  pictured left with candidate Torcuil Crichton, said: “The SNP’s neglect of the islands and their vital ferry services are coming home to roost with a broken down timetable that leaves islanders with only a once in a week lifeline to the mainland. That is simply unacceptable.
“If there had been effective political representation from the islands day after day on this issue in Westminster and Holyrood the situation would not have come to this.
“The people of the Western Isles deserve so much better than they have had from the SNP. Scottish Labour is ready to provide the change that the Western Isles need.”
Torcuil Crichton, Labour’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said: “The ferry crisis in the Western Isles has gone from farce to despair. People are already angry that the SNP government has shown so little effort to resolving the issue. The latest development makes some people question whether the SNP government have any long term commitment to the islands.”
Mr Crichton added: “The lack of oversight that led to this shows how crazy it was that no one from the Western Isles was on the board of Cal Mac or CMal as this situation developed. The public appointments system has to be shaken and islanders must be given a voice in running the ferry service.”
Mr Sarwar and Mr Crichton are due to meet a number of community and business representatives over the next three days as they travel through the islands accompanied by Labour Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant.
Mr Crichton said: “Labour will listen and Labour will raise a voice for the islands. We will hold a Scottish government in Edinburgh to account and we will connect the islands directly to an incoming Labour government at a general election.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Scottish Labour gave details of the visit.

The next Labour government will ensure the Western Isles leads the way in the jobs-first transition to green energy, Anas Sarwar said today.

The Scottish Labour leader said that Labour’s bold plans to create GB energy and at least double the number of clean energy jobs in Scotland would benefit the people of the area.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has pledged that Labour’s world leading plan to make Britain a clean energy superpower by 2030 will be “made in Scotland”, with double the number of jobs in the clean power sector.

Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan includes:

  • doubling the number of jobs in low carbon sectors in Scotland, by creating over 50,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Scotland in a decade in the clean power sector alone.
  • setting up the public energy company that the SNP failed to deliver in 2017. GB Energy would have a specific remit to invest in all nations of the UK – helping the Scottish people benefit from the natural resources in their own nation.
  • driving forward with creating a clean power system by 2030 which will save Scottish households £8.4bn over the rest of this decade – equivalent to cutting £475 off bills for every family in Scotland every year to 2030.

Today, Anas Sarwar has said that a future Labour government – with a Labour MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar – would give the Western Isles a leading role in the move to green energy.

Anas Sarwar said: “For too long, the people of the Western Isles have been left behind by an uninterested UK Tory government and an incompetent and complacent SNP government at Holyrood.

“The Western Isles are rich in potential and have a skilled workforce that needs a Labour government to unlock their prosperity.

“Labour has bold plans to double the number of green jobs in Scotland and the people of the Western Isles can be central to that project.

“A Labour government could deliver jobs and prosperity to this area and end years of SNP and Tory neglect.”

One comment

  1. So why all of the chaos with ferry services.

    Why are the services failing so badly.

    Our inability to be able to build two ferries reflects our ultra low levels of skill so extant in Scotland.

    But we can get technologically and engineering skilled countries to build ships for us. That’s what you do when a country has a poor or non existent industry.

    Indeed that is exactly what the corporate energy giants are doing right now in the booming offshore renewable energy sector – jackets from Dubai and China whilst our rig fabrication yards sit empty. Turbine blades from Denmark. Turbines from Germany. Even much of the labour working on these projects is from abroad since the UK government have granted visa exemption rights to foreign workers.

    Ah, the Republic of Jockistan, once built ships and a lot more.

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