Carmichael comfortably sees off SNP challenge
Alistair Carmichael has been returned as Shetland and Orkney MP in a landslide victory.
Mr Carmichael secured 11,312 votes, nearly half of all votes cast in the constituency, while the SNP’s Miriam Brett took second place with 6,749 votes.
The result comes as a blow to the SNP’s Miriam Brett who had hoped to cause an upset in the seat by ending over seven decades of Liberal Democrat dominance in the constituency.
But the SNP could not capitalise on a narrow victory of 817 votes in 2015, despite Mr Carmichael becoming embroiled in the “Frenchgate” scandal after his success that year. Instead Mr Carmichael nearly quadrupled his majority.
Nationally the SNP had a poor night. They remain the largest party in Scotland but lost key figures including former First Minister Alex Salmond and Westminster leader Angus Robertson. In his acceptance speech Mr Carmichael said that this showed there was no desire for a second independence referendum.
During the campaign Mr Carmichael had previously admitted that the Lib Dem and Tory coalition formed in 2010 had alienated many of the party’s “progressive” supporters.
Public opinion seems to have softened in the two years since, however, with the party regaining seats lost in 2015 poll. Sir Vince Cable reclaimed the Twickenham seat he lost two years ago as the party looked on course to double their total at Westminster.
Locally, the party increased its votes by around 2,000, while the SNP secured 2,000 fewer votes than they did in 2015. Labour’s Robina Barton came third, with 2,664 (around 1,000 more than in 2015) while the Conservatives’ Jamie Halcro Johnston gained 2,024 (just one less than the party received in 2015).
UKIP’s Robert Smith got just 283 votes and independent candidate Stuart Hill received 245.
In his acceptance speech Mr Carmichael, who has served as Orkney and Shetland MP for 16 years, thanked voters for embracing the “warm” and “outward looking values of liberalism.”
He said: “On a personal note can I thank all those across those islands who have demonstrated such tremendous friendship and support, not just to me but to my wife and family in recent years.”
Mr Carmichael added: “Across the United Kingdom, I think it’s fair to say that the people have spoken but it’s not yet clear what they have said.
“One thing I think is clear though, as we see seats changing hands across Scotland, there is no appetite now for a second independence referendum and that is an idea which should be taken off the table.
“We don’t yet have all the results but it is likely I believe that there will be a parliament where everybody is a minority and nobody will be able to get their own way in the years to come. That is going to require good faith working from all parties in the House of Commons as we face the challenges of the next few years.
“I pledge myself to be part of that good faith working. I believe my party will also be part of that good faith working because, at the end of the day, the security and prosperity of our future generations will depend on it.”