Labour election candidate in favour of saving coastguard station and building windfarm

Labour’s newly-announced Holyrood election candidate for Shetland has backed the campaign to save the isles’ coastguard station and reaffirmed his party’s support for Viking Energy’s contentious windfarm.

Central belt lawyer Jamie Kerr, 27, was confirmed as the party’s candidate this week. He told The Shetland Times he was looking forward to taking on Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott and began by calling on the MSP to clarify his position on the 127-turbine Viking project.

Mr Scott has said he wants energy minister Jim Mather to call a local public inquiry, but he has been accused by some of fence-sitting over an issue which has split the community. Mr Kerr, a specialist in human rights law, said he expected the windfarm would form a major part of the campaign along with fishing, agriculture, jobs in rural areas and mainstream national issues.

He recognised that taking a pro stance would “obviously alienate a lot of people”, but called for Mr Scott to make his feelings plain too: “Obviously it’s a hard thing to do with an issue that divides the community, but he’s got to come out with a position.

“I’m willing to hear what people have got to say and I’m open to discussion on it. But, on the whole, when the economy is looking for alternative energy sources, wind is a major one. I think the opportunities it will bring Shetland to lead the country in this field are too good to miss.”

Mr Kerr sits on the Law Society of Scotland’s constitutional law committee and tutors human rights law to postgraduates at the University of Glasgow. He has previously been nominated as “up and coming lawyer of the year”.

He believes the campaign will inevitably hone in on the Liberal Democrats’ performance as coalition partners with the Tory party at Westminster. “I think the coastguard campaign is an interesting one,” he said. “It’s shocking how the two stations are being pitted against each other. Again, Tavish’s position on that: I can’t really see where he’s coming from, because it’s his party’s government that are cutting the funding.

“I think they’re the same party [in England and Scotland], and therefore the Liberal Democrats in Scotland cannot say ‘that’s Westminster’, because issues like coastguard cuts are the result of Liberal Democrat actions in reserved areas at Westminster.

“I think there is going to be crossover whether we like it or not, because the economic problems of the moment come down to the government at Westminster.”

Mr Kerr is planning to visit Shetland early in March, before stationing himself here for the entire campaign when it kicks off in around a month’s time. He added: “I think the campaign will be a good one, and I want to send out the message that I’m there, and I’m keen to listen to what people have got to say.”

So far, Mr Scott is the only other confirmed candidate. Tory party chairman Maurice Mullay said he “sincerely hoped” there would be a Conservative candidate, while the SNP has not responded to an enquiry. The Scottish Greens will not be contesting the constituency, instead concentrating on getting MSPs elected under the regional list vote.


Add Your Comment
  • Rob Marrs

    • February 23rd, 2011 20:34

    I’ve known Jamie for a very long time including being involved at various campaigns at University. I don’t agree with him on many political issues these days but would say I can think of few people I’d rather have representing me in Parliament.

  • ali inkster

    • February 24th, 2011 10:48

    How about a Shetlander Rob, Someone who comes from here and has our best interests at heart and not just using us a political jumping off point, What exactly gives him the right to support or not the windfarm it is not going to affect him in the slightest except for helping his cronies in Edinburgh meet their ridiculous carbon targets. While I may have little faith in tavishes abilities at least he is from here and as such is entitled to an opinion on things that will affect these islands. jamie on the other hand does not, if he wins (I am fairly confident that he wont) his decisions could affect Shetland for years to come while he lives his life well clear of the consequences of his actions safe in the central belt of Scotland.
    Just another example of the contempt that labour have for Shetland and the folk that live here.

    Ali Inkster

  • Katja Rekonen

    • February 24th, 2011 15:04

    Global environmental problems and sustainable energy issues affect all of us despite where you live. To call future carbon targets ridiculous is a very irresponsible statement and I do hope that the people we will elect to represent us in the parliament will take these issues more seriously than you do Ali.


    • March 3rd, 2011 2:22

    Mr Jamie Kerr maybe will be the new face in politics for Shetland people. but he is the young energetic and active lawyer to playing his role always for public welfare. he have a good vision for the future of Shetland. therefore the party command decided to given him a vital role to play his active part for interest of Shetland community. now he start his Campaign in early march. he wanted to close contact and consulted the local community regarding the issues of Coastguard station, fisheries sector, agriculture and build the wind farms. the Shetland community should be given him more confidence and elect him in coming election.


  • Billy Fox, Quarff, Shetland

    • March 3rd, 2011 20:43

    Aqrar, your man has made a poor start on consultation, I don’t believe he has set foot on the islands yet but he has come out pro Viking Energy wind farm. A listening candidate?

    We could use a human rights lawyer however with the abuse currently going on up here.


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