Labour’s election candidate Mark Cooper said this week that with his family connection he understands the irritation and anger felt by motorists in Shetland at the premium paid for fuel. Yet in the next breath he voiced his opposition to the introduction of any kind of scheme to ensure isles and rural drivers (who have no train network and limited bus services) are treated equitably.
Perhaps Mr Cooper should brief himself better on what the Labour government has been up to on this recently. After years of pressure on the Treasury, minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry finally agreed last month to order an investigation into the operation of derogation or opt-out schemes in the Azores and Madeira, the Greek Islands and Corsica. That may or may not be the first step to some serious proposals, but it is at least a positive step forward; Mr Cooper is content to dismiss the idea as impractical without having heard how a scheme might work.
Mr Cooper’s suggestion of a fuel co-operative sounds more like the sort of idea that might emanate from the Big Society Tory leader David Cameron is urging voters to join when they are not busy in government. How, we wonder, might that work?
Meanwhile SNP candidate John Mowat, who had already made it clear that he was at odds with the Scottish government over the proposals for slow running on the NorthLink ferries, has put forward some concrete suggestions for alternative means of saving money. We await the government’s response to the consultation on this issue with interest. Perhaps it might be a little too much to expect any outcome prior to the General Election, but you never know.
Don’t forget that if you have any questions you wish the candidates to address, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass them on.