WATCH: SNP candidate Miriam Brett believes pace of political change boosts her chances
After a disproportionate amount of time was spent trying to arrange a time and place – and then rearranging a time and place – to follow Miriam Brett canvassing, 9am in Scalloway was agreed.
A beautiful day and an early hour seemed like the perfect time for sticking leaflets through doors, but it was apparent from the outset that there weren’t likely to be many locals to speak to.
Hardly anyone was home at that hour, and only a few sparse tour groups meandered about the historic streets and castle.
Ms Brett didn’t seem fazed by this, and noted that much of Scalloway had already been canvassed.
Ms Brett said that the main issues she’s heard from voters over the course of this short election campaign have been mainly local ones – especially fishing in Shetland and farming in Orkney – but as ever, the shadow of Brexit has been looming large over all.
Many had worries about EU nationals, who Ms Brett described as “family, friends, neighbours, colleagues”. She said this issue was “important to many people”; and had heard teachers speak with concern about pupils from Eastern Europe whose whole lives were now up in the air.
Others had asked what would happen to their European-born spouses who, despite living and raising families in Shetland over the years, may now lose their right to remain.
The young candidate was passionate about pushing the UK government to secure the rights of EU nationals already in the UK, as well as lambasting “the lack of logic in the immigration system… It doesn’t take into account our need for skills or social diversity”.
Another issue, said Ms Brett, had been the Liberal Democrats, and what they meant to a once fiercely-loyal electorate in the isles. Many SNP supporters are recent converts, she said, disillusioned by the Lib Dems and turning to what they see as the only viable alternative.
The campaign has met with a good response: “[It’s been] pretty positive overall. A lot of people are still undecided. The pace of movement in UK politics just now is incredibly fast and I think that a lot of people feel overwhelmed.
“It’s been a really, really enjoyable experience.”
There was only one person who came to the door while Ms Brett was out on Wednesday morning – a lovely lady called Laureen, whose main issues were work and family. She was pleased to see that Ms Brett was a local girl, although visibly surprised to learn that she had been born in her parents’ house round the corner.
Despite being seen as an SNP stronghold by some in Shetland, there was little evidence of voters of any kinds while walking round Scalloway.
Doors went unanswered and leaflets slid through letterboxes without ceremony.
A house with a particularly boisterous terrier bounding around the front garden was, forgivably, skipped as Ms Brett continued her tour of what was beginning to feel like a ghost town.
Aside from Laureen, only one other person spoke to us, declining to give her name.
“We’re with you all the way,” she told the delighted-looking candidate, although seemed to remain cautious about making any predictions: “I think it’s going to be pretty divided in Scotland. People don’t have a lot of time to think about things. You just don’t know.
“U-turns are just happening and that’s not how it should be. If you think you’re doing a good thing, you should do it.”
Although she clearly had a bit to go before getting a bus pass herself, the anonymous lady mentioned significant worries about retirement age and pensions.
“This is such an important election for older folk,” Ms Brett said, citing the Conservative Party’s recent murmuring about the pensions triple-lock, and noting the opposition the SNP had made with regard to the recent raising of the retirement age for women. “Pensions are a right, not a privilege.”
Despite these concerns, the vocal supporter was clear that her main issue was what kind of future we were setting up for young people: “It’s the young people you have to think about… It’s the young people this is all affecting.”
She declined to give a photograph, but asked Ms Brett to give Alistair Carmichael, the incumbent Liberal Democrat candidate, “a good run”.
That was, sadly, all that sunny Scalloway had to offer. A few leaflets and a quick video later, and the SNP candidate had to head off to Unst for more campaigning where, hopefully, there would be some people to actually speak to.