The Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced that Neil Mitchison is to be the party's candidate in the constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar at next month’s General Election.
Neil, who stood as Liberal Democrat candidate for the Western Isles twice in the 1990s, 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."
The Labour Party on the The Western Isles already had a candiate in place before the announcement of the new General Election, the third in just over four years. At the start of her General Election campaign, Alison MacCorquodale 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."
The Labour candidate highlighted the controversy over convergence payments to crofters as an example of how the voice of the Western Isles is not being heard. "This was EU money meant to support crofters and hill farmers working on marginal land, yet the SNP is diverting it to the wealthiest farmers in Scotland. Put that alongside the fact that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has suffered far more severe cuts to its budget than any other local authority in Scotland, again without a word of protest from the MP or MSP, and it is clear that we need a representative who will put constituency before party."