Rather than referendum reruns it is roads, schools and hospitals that are uppermost in the minds of voters in the Ross Skye and Lochaber constituency, said Liberal Democrat candidate Craig Harrow as he campaigned in the area earlier this month.
The former election agent for Danny Alexander dismissed the prospect of a second poll on Scottish independence, though he conceded that his party would need to secure another referendum on EU membership if they were to achieve their aim of stopping Brexit.
Despite the high-profile constitutional issues, Harrow insisted it was domestic matters – many of them devolved to Holyrood – which were still vexing voters on the doorsteps of the north-west Highlands.
“I’m hearing a lot of concerns about education – and of a record that is getting worse after 12 years of SNP government,” he said.
“The key issues I am hearing about are things like bus services, the condition of the A82 and broadband and mobile phone coverage.
“This constituency has the worst mobile phone signal in the UK, and people are wanting something done about it.”
Another concern he had been made aware during a visit to Skye, he added, surrounded the design of the new hospital being built in Broadford, which some residents had told him was not sufficiently equipped to help patients with mobility problems.
Harrow is trying to win back a seat which covers most of the area represented by Charles Kennedy for 32 years, before Ian Blackford won for the SNP in 2015 and again in 2017.
Harrow – who also previously worked for former Argyll and Bute MP Ray Michie – said the LibDems had suffered at the ballot box for their decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. But he believed the agreement did bring some positive consequences for the Highlands, the biggest of them being the reduction in petrol prices for island areas.
“I’m campaigning to get the voices of the Highland people heard again in the UK Parliament,” he added. “The way to do that is not by shouting for another independence referendum, but by working to improve infrastructure, secure jobs and investment and in campaigning for better mobile and broadband services.
The Free Press wants to hear the views of all political candidates in our circulation area in the run-up to the UK General Election on Thursday 12th December.
Article by Keith MacKenzie.