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Labour selects Michael Perera as the party’s Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire candidate

By Scott Maclennan

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Labour candidate in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire Michael Perera with Anas Sarwar.
Labour candidate in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire Michael Perera with Anas Sarwar.

Scottish Labour has confirmed Michael Perera as the party’s candidate for the Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire seat in the general election as he launched a stinging attack on the Scottish Government.

Mr Perera will be familiar to some voters in Tain and Easter Ross after he stood for election there last September – not to be confused with the upcoming by-election in June.

The Labour man started his campaign with a litany of criticisms about how the SNP has handled NHS in the Highlands, pointedly referring to former health secretary Michael Matheson.

Holyrood’s standards committee recently recommended a 27-day ban and a 54-day salary withdrawal for Mr Matheson over an £11,000 iPad as First Minister John Swinney continues to back him despite acknowledged wrongdoing.

But Mr Perera believes that Mr Matheson’s most serious offence was his handling of the NHS in the north.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I am stunned by Matheson’s brass neck and lies, and Swinney’s partisan defence, calling the committee decision ‘prejudiced’ – but it’s Matheson’s failings in his health brief that are even more egregious.

“On his watch, healthcare services in the Highlands have deteriorated. Hardworking staff across NHS Highland have been let down.

“We have had: recruitment and retention crisis; patients forced to make longer journeys for treatment; only one acute bed for every 507 Highland residents (Glasgow 1:299) and bed occupancy rates at 90 per cent - unsafe for infection control.”

He continued saying there is an “unresolved bullying scandal – nearly £3 million paid out in compensation but the problems are still there, according to UNISON; people protesting inadequate out-of-hours health services in Skye.

“Downgraded maternity services; GP contracts which disadvantage the Highlands over other areas; the lowest MMR vaccination rates in mainland Scotland; the statutory Treatment Time Guarantee – that no inpatient or day case patient should wait more than 12 weeks - has been broken 15,875 times.

“The iPad story is a disgrace. Swinney’s leadership is weak and unprincipled. But as Rhoda Grant MSP has repeatedly said, the SNP has been failing the Highlands for a long time.

“We need a change.”

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