Our rural candidate spotlight falls on Torcuil Crichton the Labour candidate Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Agriculture, in the form of crofting, is the backbone of communities in the Western Isles where Torcuil Crichton hopes to win back the seat for Labour.

The Gaelic titled Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency, 40 miles out in the Atlantic, was a Labour seat for a large part of its existence and their candidate is convinced it can be again.

Born into a crofting family on Lewis, the largest island of the 170 mile-long chain, Torcuil Crichton is familiar with the life and the rhythms of the agricultural seasons.

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A former political journalist at Westminster, he returned to the island last year to start his campaign and to reconnect with crofting communities.

He said: “My hands are soft from more than two decades of typing for a living but growing up rearing sheep, planting crops and harvesting hay were very much part of our family life.”

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Without crofting there would be few townships left in the Western Isles. Primarily agriculture is about is about food production, but it is also about keeping Gaelic culture alive and stewardship of the environment.

The big issues in crofting are housing and allowing new entrants to take up croft tenancies, both areas which need urgent reform according to Torcuil.

If elected he will also be pressing for a multi-annual funding settlement for agriculture and rural development. Crofters, like all land users, need to be able to plan ahead and there needs to be more clarity from both governments on that.