Lib Dem candidate Molly Nolan hailed as 'shining example of the next generation of Highlanders'
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Molly Nolan has begun her bid to win back Caithness, Sutherland and Ross for the Liberal Democrats by accusing the Scottish Government of prioritising centralisation in Edinburgh over "dealing with everyday concerns".
Ms Nolan was speaking after being unveiled as the Lib Dem candidate for the far north constituency at the Holyrood elections in May next year.
She is seeking to emulate local MP Jamie Stone, who last year was re-elected to represent the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross seat at Westminster. He had previously served as MSP.
Ms Nolan, who lives in Evanton, says she will campaign to “protect jobs, safeguard our environment and ensure every young person across the Highlands has the opportunity to get on in life”.
She was a pupil at Dingwall Academy and Plockton Music School before going to Harvard University, where she graduated in 2019. Now back home in the Highlands, she works in communications and advocacy.
Mr Stone described Ms Nolan as a "shining example of the next generation of Highlanders”, while the party's Scottish leader Willie Rennie claimed that “only a vote for Molly can stop the SNP here”.
The Scottish Parliament seat in the far north was held by the Lib Dems between 1999 and 2011. It has been won by the SNP in the last two elections – Rob Gibson in 2011 and Gail Ross in 2016.
Mrs Ross announced in February that she is to step down as MSP next year due to the demands of travelling to Edinburgh and being away from home.
The Liberal Democrats have declared Caithness, Sutherland and Ross as their number one target at the 2021 elections, having won the corresponding Westminster seat in 2017 and 2019.
Ms Nolan said: “With the coronavirus crisis leaving so many Highland residents facing financial hardship, it is more important than ever to address the inequalities in our communities. We must ensure no-one is left behind.
“I know that challenges in the Highlands have never been more acute, from the fragility of our tourism industry to increased cuts in local services. These issues are not being addressed by the SNP government, which for the past 13 years has prioritised the centralisation of powers in Edinburgh over dealing with everyday concerns.
“I am determined to listen to as many people as possible and stand up for what matters. Liberal Democrats will protect jobs and services, safeguard our natural environment and ensure every young person across the Highlands has the opportunity to get on in life.”
Mr Stone said: “I am so impressed with Molly's passion for the Highlands and her grasp of the issues that matter most to local people. It is easy to see that she was inspired by my friend, the late Charles Kennedy.
“She is a shining example of the next generation of Highlanders – just as much at home performing at Fèisean as she is dealing with major businesses and institutions across the world.
“As soon as it is safe to do so, I can’t wait to go and knock on doors and get campaigning with her. People will take to her in no time.”
The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, said: “Molly has got a great chance of winning back Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. With our party’s deep roots in the Highlands and Molly’s fresh enthusiasm and energy, we are offering people the opportunity to do things better.
“With the contest neck and neck between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, only a vote for Molly can stop the SNP here and reject another divisive independence referendum. Caithness, Sutherland and Ross is our number one target seat and we are determined to win it back.”