Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has reiterated his longstanding support for the provision of Gaelic-medium education.
Mr Cameron said: “Personally, I support the decision of the Comhairle to change the default position to Gaelic at P1, not least because parents can still opt out and choose English medium education for their children if they so wish. Ultimately, this is a matter for the local authority taking into account the specific, indeed unique, circumstances in the Western Isles.
“Bilingualism is plainly beneficial. We are all aware of the mistakes of the last century, where one language was promoted at the total exclusion of the other. In terms of this policy, I am very confident that council officials will ensure that parents who do “opt out” are not marginalised in any way.
“It’s also important the policy is deliverable across the Western Isles in light of the challenges we face in recruiting GME teachers on a national level.
“The Scottish Conservatives have long supported Gaelic for over 40 years both in government at UK level, and latterly in the Scottish Parliament, where MSPs such as Liz Smith, myself and others regularly promote the language.
“As the Vice-Convenor of the Cross-Party Group on Gaelic, I’ve frequently argued for the need to depoliticise the language, given the ongoing threat to the very existence of Gaelic itself.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has been invited to visit Oban Police Station after the minister dismissed claims by the Scottish Police Federation that a quarter of the police estate in Scotland is in poor condition.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron issued the invitation after Mr Yousaf described the claims as “hyperbole” during a debate in the Scottish Parliament earlier today.
Mr Cameron, who visited Oban Police Station last year after it was branded the worst in Scotland, said: “It is quite clear that police officers serving in Oban, and some other stations in Argyll and Bute, have had to make do with unsatisfactory conditions for too long.
“While some improvements were promised at Oban and other stations, it simply isn’t right for Humza Yousaf to dismiss the concerns of the Federation. He would be much better advised to say what he is going to do about the problem which is widespread across the Highlands and Islands.
“As a first step I would be delighted to invite him to Oban, or another station of his choice in Argyll and Bute, to learn first-hand about the working conditions of local police officers who operate outside the Central Belt. That may energise him to do a bit more to address the problem.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron is urging NHS Highland and the Scottish Government to respond to calls for a purpose-built helipad to be built adjacent to Campbeltown hospital.
Mr Cameron has written to Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, and NHS Highland Chief Executive, Iain Stewart, urging them to fast-forward a proposal to upgrade a water-logged playing field adjacent to the hospital so that it can safely host helicopters.
Mr Cameron said: “I was contacted by a concerned member of the public, Stuart McLellan, who has consulted many of the relevant agencies, including Argyll and Bute Council which owns the land but is happy to make it available, the Civil Aviation Authority which has given the proposal the green light, and local health practitioners who are very keen to see progress.
“And no wonder: presently, the air ambulance has to land some 20 minutes away from the hospital. If we can cut the delay in getting emergency cases to hospital I firmly believe we could save lives.
“I was therefore very surprised to learn that despite the widespread support for the proposal, and the prospect of financial support from a third party, NHS Highland appears to be very slow in moving the project forward. I want to get to the bottom of this and am asking for an explanation from the very top.”
Mr McLellan, who has relatives living near the hospital, said: “I am very grateful to Donald for intervening and I hope he is successful in injecting a bit of urgency into NHS Highland.
“This is a golden ticket on a plate offer that NHS Highland are about to throw away and lose if they don’t get a move on.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has said that the Scottish Conservative proposal for a new medical school in Inverness will benefit the entire Highlands and Islands region.
Mr Cameron, who is responsible for co-ordinating policy development for the Scottish Conservatives, said that the proposal will be included in the party’s manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. The new facility will aim to train 750 doctors over the next parliament.
“Our proposal for a new medical school based at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness is designed to address the NHS recruitment crisis which is affecting communities across our region including Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles.
“We are sending a clear message to people planning a career in the NHS that we take their ambitions seriously and will provide first-class professional development opportunities in the heart of the Highlands.
“We want our future doctors and nurses to see that there is a bright future serving our local communities and that the necessary investment will be made to ensure that they can develop their careers without having to move to the Central Belt or further afield.
“For too long the SNP Government has mismanaged NHS workforce planning and the Scottish Conservatives will put that right.”
Confirmation that a General Election will now take place on 12th December has been welcomed by Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Donald Cameron.
Mr Cameron said: “This election provides us with an opportunity to get Brexit done, reject the SNP’s calls for a second independence referendum, and get on with tackling the issues that affect people’s lives.
“Above all, we need a majority Conservative government that will chart a positive course and remove the threat of more referendums.”
Mr Cameron confirmed that the Scottish Conservatives will be targeting the Argyll and Bute seat which the SNP hold with a slim majority of 1,328.
“Just two years ago we very nearly won Argyll and Bute and the SNP MP was lucky to hang on.
“The seat is a two-horse race with the LibDems relegated to a distant third place.
“With most local people opposed to re-running the independence referendum, the Scottish Conservatives have an excellent chance of achieving the very modest swing needed to return an MP.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron is urging the American ambassador to intervene in the trade war between the EU and the US which has led to a 25% tariff being placed on Scotch whisky exports to the United States.
Mr Cameron has written to Ambassador Woody Johnson expressing his concern for the local whisky industry, particularly small distilleries.
The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “The bonds of family and friendship between the United States and the Highlands and Islands go back many generations.
“And that enduring link is very well symbolised by the enduring popularity of Scotch whisky with many millions of discerning American consumers.
“It is therefore hugely disappointing that a trade dispute with the EU over airliners is threatening to put this fantastic product out of the reach of some of those consumers.
“I very much hope that the ambassador is able to make representations so that the tariffs can be withdrawn and our friends across the water can continue to enjoy a dram at a reasonable price.”
Scottish Conservative members in Argyll and Bute have chosen Donald Cameron to be their candidate for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021.
Mr Cameron, who has been a Highlands and Islands regional MSP since 2016, said he was delighted to be the party’s standard-bearer in the seat again.
He said: “I am delighted to have been reselected by local party members and look forward to the election campaign with relish.
“The Scottish Conservatives are the only realistic alternative to five more years of Nicola Sturgeon and the grievance politics of the SNP.
“Here, in Argyll and Bute, we have an excellent chance of winning and the feedback I am receiving from local people is very positive indeed.”
Local party chairman, Alec McNeilly, said: “Donald has established a formidable reputation as a local campaigner and as a parliamentary performer. He will be a great candidate and make a fine MSP for Argyll and Bute.
“At the Westminster election, in 2017, we slashed the SNP lead to just over a thousand votes in Argyll and Bute. Next time I believe we will do even better.
“We are up for the fight and will be taking the Scottish Conservative message to households across the length and breadth of Argyll and Bute.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has welcomed an announcement from Ofgem today (Wed 23rd October) encouraging revised proposals for transmission links to Scottish islands.
Mr Cameron, who wrote to the energy regulator earlier in the year about the interconnector for the Western Isles, said: “This clearly shows that, as I argued in August, a 600MW interconnector for the Western Isles is still to play for.
“I look forward to continuing my work with local groups to ensure Ofgem fully understands how important this is for the future of our communities.
“The door is open and it is imperative that we get behind a renewed proposal that secures approval for a 600MW transmission link.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has challenged the SNP Government on its looming failure to meet its own target for delivering broadband to Scotland’s island communities.
In response to a Scottish Government statement on the National Islands Plan today (Tuesday 8th October), Donald Cameron highlighted the disproportionate impact the delays would have in the Highlands and Islands region.
Speaking afterwards, the Scottish Conservative MSP said: “The R100 superfast broadband project has been subject to numerous delays and is a standing rebuke to the SNP’s claims to be delivering for our communities.
“In this day and age, residents and businesses rely on decent broadband: none more so than people living in our island communities. There will be bitter disappointment across the islands at having been so badly let down.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s government needs to get on with the day-job of delivering these vital infrastructure projects.”