The SNP will give Scotland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar the voice it needs at Westminster says Angus B MacNeil.

As the SNP launches its manifesto today (Tuesday), SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has outlined that SNP MPs will focus on tackling inequality and pursue a plan to end Tory cuts and protect Scottish jobs against the prospect of a hard Brexit.

Mr MacNeil said: “While we are currently going through a difficult time in the islands, post Manchester, there is still an election ongoing.  On June 9th we may wake up to the reality of a further five years of increasingly hard line Tory Government at Westminster and it is more vital than ever that Scotland’s voice is heard.

“For the election the SNP has set out an anti-austerity plan which will support investment in public service, people and household incomes. 

“The SNP have a proven track record as the real effective opposition at Westminster and have pulled up the Tory Government on a diverse range of issues including tax credit cuts, cuts to women’s pensions, the appalling rape clause and ongoing austerity measures which hit the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“We want to see a fairer more progressive society and one where Scotland has a voice and a right to choose its own future.

“Thankfully Scotland is already protected against some of the Tory party’s plans to penalise the elderly. Take the Winter Fuel Payment for example, over 6,000 pensioners in Na h-Eileanan an Iar received this payment in 2015-16 – they will continue to do so in Scotland because this is being devolved to the Scottish Government. Pensioners in England and Wales will be subject to means testing and thousands will lose out.

It is important at this vital time to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland and preventing the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster.”

Speaking ahead of the SNP’s manifesto launch in Perth, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Now, more than ever, we need strong SNP voices at Westminster standing up for Scotland against an emboldened Tory government.

“While the polls have narrowed, the Tories are still on course to win the election.

“Labour proved beyond any doubt that they were unable to provide the opposition needed to keep the Tories in check in the last parliament.

“Only the SNP can provide the strong opposition that Scotland needs to protect our schools, hospitals and vital public services from deeper Tory cuts and further damaging austerity.

“And if the SNP win this election in Scotland, it will strengthen the country’s hand when it comes to opposing cuts, defending our place in Europe and on choosing our future as a nation.”

The First Minister added: “Central to our manifesto are three core pledges which underpin why it is so important for people across Scotland to get out and vote for the SNP next Thursday.

“SNP MPs will always be a strong voice for Scotland, standing against Tory cuts. We will set out a clear plan to end mindless Tory austerity across the UK and to invest in public services.

“While the Tories are set to plunge Britain into Brexit without a clear plan, a vote for the SNP will give us a strong hand in the Brexit negotiations to ensure Scotland’s interests – on jobs and our economy — will be heard at the top table.  Regardless of whether you voted leave or remain, a vote for the SNP at this election is a vote to ensure Scotland’s interests are protected throughout that process.

“And the SNP will always make the case that Scotland should have the right to make our own decisions on Scotland’s future — and stand against any Tory attempts to diminish the powers of our Scottish Parliament or reverse the gains of devolution.

“Today’s manifesto launch will set out the real alternative to Tory cuts and Brexit chaos. That is the positive case we will take to voters next week.”