It may come as a surprise to some that following the last Scottish Parliamentary election in 2007 we in Shetland were to be represented equally by no less than eight MSPs.
Apart from the Liberal Democrat constituency MSP we were also to be represented in parliament by seven regional list MSPs; ie three Labour, two SNP and two Conservative. Each one of these list MSPs, representing each of the main parties, had exactly the same voice and exactly the same parliamentary “clout” as our sitting Liberal Democrat.
These seven list MSPs have exactly the same duty of representation to Shetland as our constituency MSP yet have remained almost completely anonymous to Shetlanders during the last four years. Why should this be?
Perhaps it is due to the fact that the other main parties see Shetland as an ultra-safe Lib Dem seat and Shetland is not worth spending the time, effort and party funds on. Or in the case of the SNP government, Shetland is not a marginal seat so not entitled to the same concessions they fostered on marginal seats such as the Western Isles.
As far as Shetland is concerned the last four years have shown that there is little to be gained in having an MSP belonging to one of the main parties representing an ultra-safe seat. However, there is much to be said for the prospect of returning an independent MSP unfettered by the “party line” so better able to represent Shetland’s interests and negotiate on our behalf.
For the first time in several generations Shetland has a chance to break the mould of the same old tired political entrenchment by voting for a first class independent candidate. On 5th May Shetlanders have the chance to send a political message that will rattle cages not only in Holyrood but also Westminster.