Nicola Sturgeon to pledge backing for islands on Shetland trip

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will visit Shetland as she takes her election campaign to the Northern Isles.
Nicola Sturgeon takes election campaign to Shetland. Picture: Jane BarlowNicola Sturgeon takes election campaign to Shetland. Picture: Jane Barlow
Nicola Sturgeon takes election campaign to Shetland. Picture: Jane Barlow

Ms Sturgeon will use the trip to underline the party’s commitment to giving island communities greater control over key decisions affecting them.

She will be joined on a visit to Lerwick by Islands Minister Derek Mackay before travelling to Orkney on Tuesday.

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The First Minister said: “Our island communities are part of the fabric of Scotland, and after years of neglect by the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive, the SNP Government has done everything we can to support them.

“I’ll be setting out key commitments for Scotland’s islands during my visit as well as learning more about what islanders want from their government.”

Wir Shetland, which describes itself as a multi-party group dedicated to securing self-governing powers for Shetland, said it plans to boycott Monday’s appearances by the First Minister “in protest at the Scottish Government’s unfair treatment of Shetland”.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will discuss her party’s tax plans on a visit to an Edinburgh cafe.

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Ms Dugdale will explain how proposals to ensure the wealthiest pay more will see the lowest earners better off than they are currently.

She said: “Labour’s plans are fair, reasonable and the only way to stop cuts to our public services.

“Under our plans for the Scottish income tax and our new fair property tax, the wealthiest in Scotland will pay more to protect our public services and to reverse Tory cuts.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will join South of Scotland candidate Jim Hume at Go Ape in Glentress Forest, near Peebles, where he is expected to focus on Scotland’s environmental commitments.

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Mr Rennie said: “With the Tories in Westminster slashing green budgets and the SNP taking their marching orders from airlines on an Air Passenger Duty cut that would mean big increases in emissions, the scale of the challenge we face to meet our green targets is clear.

“We need to see action across the board to help get Scotland greener.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will meanwhile campaign on ensuring young people get the skills and qualifications they need to get jobs.

She will speak to staff at Ritchies HGV training centre in Glasgow about  training and apprenticeships.

Ms Davidson said: “The SNP has raided Scotland’s colleges and it’s time we invested properly in skills training again.

“We would reverse the cuts to Scotland’s further education sector, increase the number of apprenticeships and create a new network of Skills Academies.”

At a debate hosted by the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie will call for a “fresh approach” to service provision for asylum seekers in Scotland.

Mr Harvie said: “If returned to Parliament, I will be calling on the Scottish Government to put together a bid to take over the direct provision of all devolved services for asylum seekers from the Home Office’s private sector suppliers.

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“Working with Scotland’s social housing sector, charities, and indeed church communities, we can provide the joined-up service that’s needed.”