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Highlands and Islands Labour Party members place Ross-raised Holyrood hopeful on regional list; John Erskine is also party candidate for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch seat currently held by SNP's Kate Forbes

By Hector MacKenzie

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A ROSS-SHIRE born Holyrood hopeful has been selected as the second candidate on Labour's Highlands and Islands regional list.

John Erskine told Highlands and Islands party members who voted for him: "It is a huge privilege and I won't let you down."

The regional member votes determine in which order candidates are placed on the eight regional list ballots for the Scottish parliamentary elections taking place on May 6.

Mr Erskine, who is also Scottish Labour's candidate in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, received the second-place ranking previously held by David Stewart MSP through a popular vote, with members placing him behind sitting MSP Rhoda Grant, who once again tops the regional list.

Raised in Ross-shire, he attended Maryburgh Primary School and Dingwall Academy before going on to study for a B.A.(Hons) in philosophy and politics and a post-graduate diploma in strategic public relations from the University of Stirling.

He said: "The real work begins now though to ensure we return at least two Scottish Labour MSPs for the region at the next election, and I look forward to taking the fight to the SNP and Tories in every party of the Highlands and Islands.

"This election and the next Parliament must focus on securing a fair recovery from pandemic that works for everyone, investing in our NHS and public services, ending cuts to local government and returning Scotland's education system to its once world-class standard, not just the endless constitutional obsessions of the nationalists.

"I'll work hard alongside our Labour members and supporters for every single vote in the region in the run up the elections to secure the voices and representation our region needs in Parliament."

Mr Erskine stood as Highland Labour’s youngest candidate at the 2012 local government elections, narrowly missing out on election to the Dingwall and Seaforth ward, before then standing for Scottish Labour at the 2015 General Election in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, 2016 Scottish Parliament elections for the Highlands and Islands Regional List, and again in 2019 at the UK General Election in his home constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

After university, he worked for the Highlands and Islands Scottish Labour MSPs Rhoda Grant and David Stewart in the Inverness regional office between 2012 and 2015 before going on to work in the Scottish Parliament as an advisor to Iain Gray MSP and then Kezia Dugdale MSP, during her time as Scottish Labour Party leader.

In 2019, he left his job with the Law Society of Scotland to stand as a candidate against SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and is now seeking to be elected for Scottish Labour in the Highlands and Islands following the retirement of veteran MSP David Stewart. He currently works for Iain Gray MSP, David Stewart MSP and the Coop as a member pioneer for the Dingwall area supporting local good causes.

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