22nd April 2018
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Labour candidate Barton believes party values set parties apart as she campaigns in Lerwick

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Political campaigning in pea soup-like fog was the job in hand for Labour candidate Robina Barton on Friday.

There was confusion surrounding a post-Brexit Britain although the haar on Staney Hill started to clear on as Ms Barton began knocking on doors.

Leaflets in hand, she hit Commercial Street first, giving fliers to shoppers and those waiting at the Bressay ferry terminal.

Ms Barton says she is standing “for the many and not the few”, is opposing a hard Brexit and wants to ensure crofters and fishermen don’t lose out.

She has also been banging the drum for schools funding, hospitals and care services and is against a second independence referendum.

“I have felt there is a genuine sense of uncertainty about who people are going to vote for in this election,” she said.

“It’s really not a forgone conclusion. There’s definitely a lot of people that are angry with Alistair Carmichael for the lie that he told but they are not people that feel they particularly want to vote SNP either. So I think there is a vacuum.

“Obviously one of the other really big issues is Brexit and where that is going to leave our island economy and of course we have two big industries in terms of fishing … but also agriculture.

“Their perceptions of EU membership and its benefits or otherwise are quite different. It’s quite a difficult election to try and please all the people.”

Ms Barton felt that on a lot of issues parties were going to be saying the same thing. For example, all would be pushing for cheaper travel costs to the mainland.

“Ultimately what makes the parties different is the values behind them,” she said.

Walking towards the Market Cross, she argued Labour was gaining momentum.

“Labour is saying things people want to hear. Labour cares about trying to make things better for people.

“Not just the few people who are very rich and not just a few people that live in Scotland, but everybody.”

Like Lib Dem candidate Mr Carmichael she talked about securing a good deal when leaving Europe.

Asked if there would even be one, she replied: “I think the trouble is nobody has a clue what’s going to happen. We’re all hoping we’re going to get a good deal.

“Certainly it’s not in the interest of the EU to make it attractive for people to leave. We can only do our best.”

Outside High Level Music, Matt Maloney said he would be voting Labour.

Robina Barton listening to the views of Matt Maloney and dog Sasha at the Market Cross. Photo:Dave Donaldson

“I like Jeremy Corbyn,” he said. “He’s the most honest. That’s the main reason.”

Mr Maloney also had concerns about the gap between the wealthy and the not so well off.

“That Lib Dem guy wants to legalise cannabis but he’s got a long way off,” Mr Maloney said.

He also spoke about the benefits of decriminalising cannabis and noted the decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal.

“I think addicts need treatment, not incarceration,” he said. “If Labour stuck that in I would get all my mates to vote too.”

Ms Barton said she was not quite clear where she stood on legalising cannabis, though she said legalisation for medical purposes could be justified.

There was plenty of talk about Ed Miliband and a bacon sandwich too. “I follow politics, not people eating sandwiches,” said a pal of Mr Maloney’s.

After a quick stop at the Staney Hill shop for some Irn Bru it was back to knocking on doors. On the way, Ms Barton stopped to speak to a woman painting her fence.

“No thank you,” she said. “I know nothing about politics”.

“I’ve spoken to a few folk that are saying they’re just not going to vote because they think ‘what’s the point?’ which is a bit sad,” Ms Barton said.

She had more luck further down the way, however, speaking to mum Leanne Anderson.

Ms Anderson said her partner was much more into politics, particularly on the back of the Scottish independence referendum.

Locally, she said that “personally I don’t think there’s that much wrong with where I live. I go through my day to day happily. This area is a really good area to live.”

But she added more could be done to help provide transport for bairns to get to school.

Asked about the cost of travel on and off the island, she suggested a discount being introduced for folk travelling further than the mainland.

“That’s a very sensible way of trying to reduce costs,” Ms Barton said.

Meanwhile, another resident Neil Anderson invited the Labour candidate in for a chat.

He had not decided which way to vote, but having spent five years in the fishing industry felt it was time to be out of the EU.

“I speak to the fishermen and they say ‘we are piling more good cod over the side than we’re landing’,” he said.

Ms Barton said despite being saddened by the Brexit vote “we are where we are and we need to get the best results for people as possible”.

Mr Anderson felt “we have got to stand up to Europe. We’re absolutely nothing now. We can’t even say we’re standing up to Europe.”

Talks then moved onto wind turbines and looking to tidal energy.

Ms Barton felt “appropriate local projects” were a good idea but admitted she was not a fan of the Viking Energy windfarm.

“I don’t think Shetland should go independent. That to me that is completely and utterly barmy,” Mr Anderson said.

In the broad-ranging discussion, Mr Anderson also believed Scotland needed to stay in Britain as if not it would “finish” it.

He argued there should be more apprenticeships, scrapping of zero hours contracts and, he argued, locum doctors should be paid less.

They also agreed on the notion of public services being taken under control of the government, as mooted by Jeremy Corbyn.

For Ms Barton getting out on the doorsteps certainly gave her lots to think about.

“It’s been really interesting, there’s been quite a range of ideas,” she said.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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