16th August 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Carmichael: Promised powers will be delivered

3 comments, , by , in Headlines, News
Isles MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael arrives with his family to cast his vote at the polling station in Evie Primary school, Orkney, yesterday. Photo: Frank Bradford

Isles MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael arrives with his family to cast his vote at the polling station in Evie Primary school, Orkney, yesterday. Photo: Frank Bradford

Isles MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has welcomed last night’s no vote in the Scottish referendum and reiterated his promise to deliver more power to the Scottish government.

Speaking to The Shetland Times today Mr Carmichael said the convincing 27.4 per cent majority in the isles best reflected the views of Shetland’s population. During the count 9,951 votes were cast against independence, compared with 5,669 in favour.

Turnout in the isles reached a record 84.4 per cent, a figure similar to those recorded in other parts of the country. Nationally, the no side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for the yes campaign. The lowest turn-out was recorded in Glasgow, with 75 per cent.

Mr Carmichael said government faced the challenge of ensuring the impressive level of political engagement experienced during the referendum campaign continues.

“The turnout was absolutely phenomenal in Shetland and elsewhere. It’s a challenge for those of us who are in government and in politics. It’s important to ensure we continue to hold the engagement we’ve constructed already.

“I’d like to think it was a consequence of the role we all played on both sides of the campaign.”

He insisted Scotland will benefit from more powers as it moves ahead following the vote.

The three main UK parties have already agreed further devolution of powers to Holyrood should happen. During the campaign the parties signed a vow to devolve more powers in the event of a no vote.

“I would not have gone out on the campaign trail to promise more powers if I wasn’t intending to deliver them,” Mr Carmichael said.

“We have already made enormous progress with the Our Islands Our Future campaign. There are issues that could benefit from more progress, and I will work with the island councils to make that progress.”

Mr Carmichael said he would continue to vote on English matters at Westminster “for as long as that is the constitutional set up we have”.

But he said change across the UK was one of the “inevitable” consequences of the no vote.

“There is a sequence here: We give the Scottish parliament the more powers that we need, and that we want. As a result of that, I believe, you can unlock the door to much greater constitutional change across the UK.

“I’ve never particularly sought to have a say on domestic services in England that are devolved in Scotland,  but for as long as that is how parliament is constituted, I will play a part.”

Yes Shetland’s Brian Nugent thanked the 5,669 people who “voted for hope over fear”.

He said the isles had voted to stick with “foodbank Britain” and indicated the Scottish electorate may yet demand the issue is raised once more.

But he said the rival campaigns had amounted to a “good-natured contest”.

“I would like to thank the 5,669 voters who voted for hope over fear. Better Together have made promises about extra powers across Scotland, and in particular the promises made to Shetland, it is time to put up.

“So in Shetland, we have voted to remain in foodbank Britain, in austerity Britain, with a Tory government ably supported by its Liberal accomplices.

“See you in a few years when the people will demand we do this referendum thing all over again.

“Thanks to our Better Together opponents locally for a good-natured contest.”

However,  pro-independence SIC councillor, Jonathan Wills, went further. Commenting on The Shetland Times website he said “Scotshire” now faced being dragged out of the European Union against the will of its people.

“Don’t dump those Yes badges and bunting just yet. They could come in handy in a couple of years’ time, when the English nationalists hold their referendum on ‘should the UK remain in the European Union?’

“If UKIP and its fellow travellers win that poll of polls and try to drag Scotshire out of Europe against our will, then we really will face the prospect of the UK breaking up.”

He said the “energy” and “ingenuity” of young voters on both sides of the debate should be “harnessed” to force Westminster to deliver on its promises for more powers.

“In my view the best way to achieve that will be to send a large contingent of SNP members to Westminster at the UK General Election next May. If the SNP held the balance of power there it would concentrate minds wonderfully for, alas, I do not think we can trust the Lib/Lab/Tory MPs to keep their panic-stricken pledges.”

Local Better Together representative, Theo Nicolson, said the strong turn-out meant peoples’ views had been represented at the polls.

“When we have an 85 per cent turn out throughout Scotland, it’s a tremendous night for democracy.

“I hope the people can unite again after this period of division. Now, the main parties in Westminster, who have made these vows must deliver.”
He said the “weight” of the three main parties at Westminster would help deliver more powers north of the border.

“I think they have to try to do that now before the General Election in May.”

The no result may have come as a shock for some, given many tended to consider the yes movement as a stronger campaign than Better Together. Mr Nicolson defended the pro-union campaign.

“Because the yes campaign was looking for change, the no campaign was basically the status quo. The no campaigners were less vociferous as the yes ones were.

“The no side weren’t so much complacent, but they were quieter. The quiet majority came out.”

He said nationwide reports of intimidation in the run up to the vote had not been a factor in the isles.

“We certainly never had any intimidation from the yes campaigners, and we got on well with them.”

Local politicians have been taking to Twitter to express their opinions following the historic poll.

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell said the two campaigns could “set aside their differences”, while political leader Gary Robinson reiterated his plea for greater devolution. He also called on voting for 16 and 17-year-olds to become the norm.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

View other stories by »

3 comments

  1. Henry Condy

    Well Alistair,on that basis I hope the SNP rethinks their strategy,and follows suit remembering of course the SNP has never meddled in English issues, but times change. Interesting times ahead, after the general election, next year, on the same structure as now ,with the demise of the Tories in Scotland ,and also the extinction of the Lib Dems, from Scottish politics, the SNP in tandem with the government of the day, which I fervently hope will be Tory,we could well see a coalition government with the SNP, the latter basically running the country, fascinating stuff and very possible

    Reply
  2. Henry Condy

    Well Alistair,on that basis I hope the SNP rethinks their strategy,and follows suit remembering of course the SNP has never meddled in English issues, but times change. Interesting times ahead, after the general election, next year, on the same structure as now ,with the demise of the Tories in Scotland ,and also the extinction of the Lib Dems, from Scottish politics, the SNP in tandem with the government of the day, which I fervently hope will be Tory,we could well see a coalition government with the SNP, the latter basically running the country, fascinating stuff and very possible anybody sweating

    Reply
  3. David Spence

    Interesting…….a Tory promising to adhere to the bile they spewed out to the ‘ No Voters ‘ prior to the referendum, which, being a Tory, they will not comply with unless they, the vile Tories, will benefit more than the people of Scotland.

    When it comes to the vile Tories acting on behalf of the people, it is more than likely, they are acting in the interests of themselves and how they can benefit financially for it, to the cost to the people and not for the people (aka privatisation).

    Reply

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.