Maree Todd: “It is time to decide our own future.”

Maree ToddAs the dust settles on a General Election that saw the SNP winning 47 out of the 59 Scottish seats there is no doubt that the people of Scotland have spoken and it is time to decide our own future.

Even the 11 SNP candidates that weren’t elected saw increases in the share of SNP votes in their constituencies. This includes Robert Leslie in Orkney and Shetland, who increased the SNP share by 5% to 34%, while the Lib Dems dropped by 3.8% to 44.8%.

The fact that SNP MPs now represent 80% of the constituencies in Scotland, including the seat formerly held by Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, signals an overwhelming endorsement of our campaign and message.

The Tories stood on a single pledge of blocking an independence referendum and suffered a thumping defeat – losing more than half of their seats.

The kind of future desired by the majority in Scotland is different to that chosen by the rest of the UK. Scotland has rejected Boris Johnson and the Tories and said no to Brexit. This stunning win for the SNP renews, reinforces and strengthens the mandate we have from previous elections to offer the people of Scotland a choice over their future.

The SNP will continue to work every day to earn your trust – however you voted last Thursday – both in government at Holyrood and in opposition at Westminster.

We will focus relentlessly on building a fairer and more prosperous country for everyone who lives here; we will continue to promote the outward-looking, internationalist values that are so firmly at the heart of the SNP’s vision for Scotland;and we will do whatever we can to protect Scotland from a deeply damaging Tory government.

We will stand firm in our defence of our NHS; resist to the best of our ability the ultra-Brexit Tory ideology that threatens a race to the bottom on issues like environmental protections, food standards and workers’ rights; and stand up for the rights of those from other European countries who have chosen to live here and to enhance our communities.

Focusing back on Holyrood issues, it was announced at the end of last week that, under the national Less Favoured Areas Support Loan Scheme (LFASS) 2019, eligible farmers and crofters will be offered up to 95% of their Common Agricultural Policy LFASS payment from January.  The loans will provide them with financial support and certainty in the New Year.

A similar scheme in 2018 delivered payments worth more than £52 million to more than 8,400 hill farmers and crofters.

With Scotland closer to being removed from the EU against our wishes than ever before, I would encourage any eligible hill farmer or crofter to return their loan acceptance as soon as possible to enable the Scottish Government to get their payment out as quickly as possible.

Since this is my last Orkney News column of 2019 – I wish you all a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year when it comes!

This is a regular column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP. All list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views

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