Lamentable record (Jonathan Wills)

Charlie Gallagher’s disgraceful and unwarranted personal attack on Alistair Carmichael does him and his cause no credit. He has embarrassed his party and its candidate. He should apologise.

Like Mr Gallagher, I have my political differences with our Liberal Democrat MP, but I have never had any doubt about his commitment to the job of a constituency member. In my view, based on considerable personal knowledge of his casework, he has been an exemplary representative for his constituents in Orkney and Shetland,
both hard-working and effective. That is one reason why I voted for him in 2010.

I was surprised and disappointed when, after his laudable efforts to assemble a “rainbow coalition” (for the failure of which the blame lay with senior Labour figures, not Alistair), he agreed to become a government whip in the coalition with the Tories.

However, I accepted his explanation that he was doing so in the national interest and that the Liberal Democrats would be a brake on Tory extremism. Like many others who knew Alistair’s personal qualities, I was willing to suspend judgment until we saw the proof of the pudding.

Well, we see it fine now: the worst Tory government of my lifetime, and I was born the year before Attlee’s Labour government founded the NHS. I am sorry to say that I do not believe the Liberal Democrats curbed the excesses of David Cameron’s government. Their role in the coalition has been, on the whole, lamentable. I am sure Alistair did his best, behind the scenes, but it does not seem to have had much effect.

As the political heir of the late Jo Grimond, who was a champion of Scottish Home Rule, I expected Alistair to help deliver the “vow” made by the unionist parties when they promised Home Rule in order to win over the waverers in last year’s referendum.

It has not been delivered and the thin gruel offered by the Smith Commission is not acceptable.

So, much as I respect Alistair personally, I will not be voting for his party again. This time my vote will go to the Scottish National Party, although I am not a nationalist but rather an internationalist who believes in self-determination for all countries.

Demands for “independence” are rhetorical because no country in the European Union and/or NATO is truly independent; but Home Rule, with shared responsibility for foreign affairs, monetary policy and defence, is a realistic and workable compromise between the four nations of the UK. As far as I can see, the best means of achieving Home Rule is to send a large SNP contingent to Westminster next week, not to create chaos but to help draft a new British constitution that resolves the current difficulties.

The Scot-baiting and hatred we have seen from some English Tory and UKIP rascals during the election campaign has made this task harder, but still not impossible.

The SNP candidate for the Northern Isles is a decent, principled man who has demonstrated his commitment to our community; he would be a hard-working and effective constituency member, as Alistair Carmichael has been; but there is one thing Danus Skene would never do – help keep a Tory in Number 10, Downing Street.

Jonathan Wills


Add Your Comment
  • ian tinkler

    • April 27th, 2015 15:53

    For once I agree with some of what Jonathon Wiles has written, that must be a first ! “Charlie Gallagher’s disgraceful and unwarranted personal attack on Alistair Carmichael does him and his cause no credit.”. Having personally been subject to Charlie Gallagher’s wholly ignorant abuse myself, I would hate to think him typical of the SNP, sadly he is certainly in the same nasty club as so many NATS, death threats, Quisling jibes, traitors and all that divisive hatred. Vindictive and nasty insults thrown at all those whom do not share their narrow views.. Most of the UK would now rather have Scotland out, than have to suffer a SNP / Labour pact in Westminster. Is that perhaps the SNP master plan for Independence? Method in the madness of the nastiness perhaps, very sad that they may actually be stooping so low..

    • Michael Johnston

      • May 4th, 2015 9:17

      I think you have a good understanding of SNP . Their sole interest is independence whatever the cost to Scotland and they will use any means available to them.

  • Tim Parkinson

    • April 27th, 2015 18:01

    Very true!
    A Tory ex-prime minister ( who arguably bored many tory voters into voting Tony Blair in [as I did]) can decry and dismiss the First Minister of Scotland claiming they have no part in the UK government because they are not standing for election as an MP in Westminster…and get applauded by the other three contenders.

    This shows what the persistent attitude towards Scotland is from Westminster.

    Even after the referendum and increased devolved powers, the notion is that ” We will give you a bit more pocket money in exchange for a few more household chores; but you are not part of the UK government.”

    Perhaps it is time for a constitutional change as Mr Wills suggests.

    Before you become First minister of any of the devolved countries you have a bigger electoral mandate than any local MP or cabinet minister, so should not First Ministers be automatically part of the “Westminster UK government”, and powerful ones too?

    At least, for as long as anyone is trying to pretend that we ARE all together, and “better together” at that?

  • Brian Smith

    • April 27th, 2015 19:21

    Good letter, Jonathan, but surely Carmichael’s ‘laudable efforts’ should read ‘inaudible’?

  • Alan Skinner

    • April 27th, 2015 22:35

    Alistair Carmichael came into our gallery at Sellafirth yesterday, and spent half an hour there, with a couple of colleagues. He had just come from “Soup and Sweet” lunch at Cullivoe Hall, after spending time in Unst. He was interested and interesting. I have no admiration for what the Lib Dems have done in the last five years, and am certainly no supporter of their policies, but I will be voting for Alistair Carmichael as a man, not for his party. At least he visits the North Isles regularly, which is more than can be said for our SIC councillors. I am only aware of one SIC councillor having visited our gallery in four years, despite being one of the few new businesses in Shetland.
    I know politics should be about policies, rather than individuals, but Alistair Carmichael strikes me as a very regular, and straightforward, guy.

    Alan Skinner
    The Shetland Gallery

    • Charles Tait

      • April 28th, 2015 17:50

      Sometimes Jonathan speaks a lot of sense and sometimes a guff of fug emanates from his able mind. In this case he is talking utter nonsense. An SNP vote from the Northern Isles is a wasted one. Quite apart from the candidate himself, who is completely unknown in Orkney, the SNP are unlikely to be in a position to do anything whatsoever to benefit Orkney and Shetland.

      Ferry subsidies are the biggest and best example of their partisan approach. Obviously Shetland especially is a special case and Orkeny as far as the Aberdeen connection is concerned. The truth is that it would be very expensive as they would not just have to subsidise NorthLink Serco even more but also Pentland Ferries, John o’Groats Ferries, Streamline and others. Vastly more goods gets shipped in and out of Orkney and Shetland than the Hebrides.

      This is reason enough not to vote SNP, but the list of failures for the Northen Isles stretches much further. For example tourism, so important to Orkney and doubtless in Shetland once oil activity falls back too. VisitScotland is being shrunk to a tiny rump of what it was. HIE has been emasculated, the police are routinely armed, teacher numbers are crashing……

      So Jonathan vote SNP if you want. You have clearly been duped just as so many have. This surprises me rather a lot. I think Alistair Carmichael has dealt was well as he could with the cards dealt to him. The economy is in a vastly better position than 5 years ago. The deficit is falling, far more people are in work. Yes you will say, low wages, welfare, etc. But welfare had to be reformed and needs much more.

      What has the SNP done for the poorest in places like Gasgow or Dundee? Absolutely zilch, just like Labour before them. They have no track record in this as in so many other things. So vote Liberal and make a Labour/Liberal coalition more likely.

      Charles Tait

      • Laurence Paton

        • April 29th, 2015 6:59

        To mention self determination in the same sentence as the European Union is certainly one big guff of fug.
        Why is it that so many of our supposedly educated people are happy to have much of the law which governs our key industries and working lives decided by an unelected overseas politburo which has failed to sign off any financial account without serious amounts of money missing every single year.
        The common agricultural policy – The modern system of transferring money from the working masses to the land owning elite –
        The common fisheries policy – A system where all wild fish in the sea are already owned by somebody, and sadly as time goes on it will move out of the hands of the common man and into the hands of a smaller group of larger distant companies, it is reaching a point no ordinary man will ever afford to buy it.
        Yes the E.U. remains popular , particularly amongst politicians who enjoy riding the gravy train.
        And amongst other deluded persons who think it’s dishing out free money for absurd projects such as :-
        Please not this is merely a small fraction of the mebership fee returned.
        I will be voting for Robert Smith of Orkney , the only real working man in the bunch who clearly benefits from not having his head stuck up his guff of fug.

      • Johan Adamson

        • April 29th, 2015 8:51

        Danus knows the issues and can fight our corner on the fares. Tourism is not as big a deal in Shetland as it is in Orkney. It is prohibitively expensive to get here.

      • Robert Duncan

        • April 29th, 2015 10:02

        “…the SNP are unlikely to be in a position to do anything whatsoever to benefit Orkney and Shetland.”

        We have a head to head race between them and the Lib Dems and as things stand, whatever their place compared to the rest, the SNP are considerably more likely to be influencing government than Carmichael and co.

        I’m therefore not sure the above can be used as a valid argument against them.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 11:08

        You do realise, Johan, that under the SNP’s new standing orders, Danus Skene won’t be allowed to say anything out of turn and will have to do exactly as he is told?

        If Skene is elected, the SNP need do nothing, they will be in the ascendency.

        However, if he is not elected then, when ‘Mr Fixit’ MacKenzie takes the place of the ineffectual Jean Urquhart as SNP Holyrood candidate in 2016, things will have to change if he is to oust Tavish Scott as MSP.

        Possession of Shetland and Orkney is imperative for their independence plans and islanders mustn’t hand them over on a plate. Too many vital issues are at stake.

        If they want to win the right to Shetland and Orkney representation, let them earn it, first.

      • Robert A Duncan

        • April 30th, 2015 0:51

        So we shouldn’t vote SNP as they want to subsidise the ferries ? !
        We shouldn’t vote SNP as ‘VisitScotland is being shrunk’ – a look at the budget projections will soon tell you that funding to VisitScotland from The SG has increased.
        Councils are being given extra funding to protect teacher numbers.
        Police Officer numbers remain above the Scottish Governments pledged target and recorded crime at a 39 year low.
        All of the above despite an 11 percent cut in the Scottish Budget from Westminster.

        If your conscience won’t allow you to vote Conservative, vote LibDem and get Conservative lap dogs.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 28th, 2015 15:50

    The reason why Jonathan and other SNP supporters keep harping away about the Tories, ‘bedroom tax’, nuclear missiles and imaginary “privatisation of the NHS” is because they know they must, at all costs, keep the debate away from local issues.

    The Liberal tradition is strong in Shetland. Ever since Gladstone, their actions have been monumentally beneficial for the isles whereas the SNP’s track record – centralisation, council tax freeze, education under-funding, housing support grant cut, discrimination over RET, etc, – since they came into government in 2007 has been atrocious.

    • Grant Redfern

      • April 28th, 2015 23:41

      I would like to ask Charles and John if they think the progressiveness and values so many people in the Northern Isles voted for in the Liberal Democrats are still relevant today? As a former Liberal voter, I (like Jonathan) won’t be voting for them this time because of their record in Government over the last five years, they seem to have completely lost what they stood for? That was confirmed to me a couple of weeks ago when prominent figures in the party started to say they would rather another coalition with the Tories than with Labour, something I think would completely kill the party in Scotland, if they aren’t wiped out next week.

      I just feel uncomfortable when I hear the Lib dems speak about this governments economic success, can will call it that? I have to say the lib dems are starting to sound like Tories. The economy is barely growing and has slowed over the last three months. What is the use of this modest growth if you are destroying the countries public services, armed forces and victimising the poorest in society to achieve it? Yes, they tell us there are more people in work, but many can’t even feed themselves because their hours or rates of pay isn’t enough to live on. I don’t think that’s progressive or stands for what I thought the Liberal Democrat party stood for when I voted for them. Constuctive post and not a jibe.

    • Brian Smith

      • April 29th, 2015 6:51

      Liberals ‘monumentally beneficial’ for Shetland. Examples since World War One?

      • Ali Inkster

        • April 29th, 2015 9:46

        Name one time that your comrades have done anything of worth for Shetland Brian.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 10:50

        Here’a couple of big achievements, Brian.

        1. The ZCC Act, 1974 and more recently, by Alistair Carmichael, himself,

        2. Westminster’s official recognition of the substantially higher cost of living and providing services, and the shocking levels of fuel poverty, in Shetland and the other OIOF island groups.

        Even if the Liberals had done nothing at all, it would have been much less damaging to Shetland than the actions of the SNP Scottish government since 2007, which I’ve referred to in another comment, below.

      • Brian Smith

        • April 29th, 2015 15:03

        Creation of Welfare State and Highlands & Islands Development Board, Ali? But no doubt you think these are Communist conspiracies …

      • Ali Inkster

        • April 29th, 2015 17:53

        Those things you mention are not particular to Shetland Brian, so I will ask again what have your comrades done for Shetland?

      • Brian Smith

        • April 29th, 2015 20:08

        These things were ‘monumentally beneficial’ for Shetland, Ali, although you might not have noticed them.

    • Charles Tait

      • April 29th, 2015 8:35

      Exactly so. The SNP are not even slightly interested in the islands or indeed the Highlands and Islands, except where they might cream off some good PR. They are in fact an empty vessel with no ideas or policies to do anything except gain “independence” for Scotland, whatever that means. I am amazed that a highly inteligent, life-long socialist like Jonathan Wills has been so duped by the Pied Piper tune of the SNP. They are just salesmen selling a fake product, nothing more. And yes indeed, they are scared stiff of reality, especially in the form of their real record.

    • Johan Adamson

      • April 29th, 2015 9:02

      John, that is the problem, in history they have been good, but of late they have departed from their slightly to the left liberal roots. They weren’t strong enough to promote home rule (or federalism) and end tuition fees against the Tories, they did not even try to change the UK voting system to a fairer one (like the one used in The Scottish Parliament), they helped privatise the Post Office, etc, they gave up opposing Trident, slaves to what they think is the popular vote, left begging at Camerons table for the crumbs along with Scotland, all discussed on these pages before.

      I think you’re safe enough tho, although their vote will be diluted, I don’t think the Liberals can lose the vote here. There are very few floating voters, although I do think the rest of Scotland will return SNP MPs.

      • Ali Inkster

        • April 29th, 2015 10:52

        Johan, with all the hoo haa over the indy referendum you must of forgotten the earlier referendum on the UK voting system that the lib dems pushed through westminster.

      • Robert Duncan

        • April 29th, 2015 11:32

        The sad side of that is that their managing to push through a referendum on AV – a non-proportional system that I very much doubt was their preference – they have probably done more harm than good to the long term hopes of a better voting system in the UK. I’d sympathise with the view they have forced the Tories to do some good during this parliamentary term (the raised personal tax allowance for example) but they haven’t half had their pants pulled down on many other issues.

        In many ways a high number of seats for the SNP may well be a bigger catalyst than anything, as the thought of them getting 80+% of Scotland’s seats with 45+% of the vote will really make a mockery of FPTP supposed stability.

      • Johan Adamson

        • April 29th, 2015 13:13

        Well tell me what happened?

      • Ali Inkster

        • April 29th, 2015 13:48

        Same as the other one, democracy happened the people voted NO

      • Johan Adamson

        • April 29th, 2015 14:38

        I did forget. That must show the lack of importance it was given, and it was obviously too compromised, thanks Robert and Ali.

      • Johan Adamson

        • April 29th, 2015 14:38

        Why was it a referendum on the voting system?

      • Robert Duncan

        • April 29th, 2015 16:07

        It was in May 2011. Turnout was well under 50% so it’s not hugely surprising that it may have passed some people by entirely.,_2011

        We were asked to vote on whether the UK should introduce the “Additional Vote” system, where voters can rank candidates to indicate their preference (e.g. SNP first choice, Greens second choice and so on / UKIP first choice / Conservatives second choice and so on). It is similar to the Single Transferable Vote system used in our local authority elections but as it only comes in to force if a candidate hasn’t reached an outright majority, it’s only marginally more proportional than FPTP.

        The Lib Dems campaigned for reform to a proportional system, compromised on this, and clearly lost the support of even those who would like reform as people were worried voting Yes to this would lock it in for many years and remove the chance to have something better in the medium-term.

      • Johan Adamson

        • May 1st, 2015 10:02

        Thanks Robert. Its a shame it did not get more priority, I would blame the Tories. I take it back then, they did try to reform the voting system. But they did not try hard enough and I would have thought it was not a referendum matter, but a matter they could have voted for themselves within parliament.

  • Sandra Parker

    • April 28th, 2015 22:58

    You know it never ceases to amaze me how deluded the people on Orkney and Shetland are, you are so well looked after with subsidise that you have not a clue how the rest of the country lives and all I have ever heard the majority of you do is harp on about how badly treated you are. The Liberals look after you how? one man can do nothing to help you no matter how much he shouts but from what I have seen of Mr Carmichaels attendance at Westminster and his non appearance at most debates and votings on anything beneficial to Scotland he certainly wasn’t doing it for you, and as for Liam McArthur I bet most folk wouldn’t know him if they fell over him.I lived for many years in Orkney and only when I moved back to the mainland did I realise how well looked after you are, you should be thanking the Scottish government not denigrating them, you have better schools with smaller classes, better NHS, better transport, better housing and you think all that is down to Alistair Carmichael, as I say you never cease to amaze

    • Ali Inkster

      • April 29th, 2015 9:54

      My dear deluded Sandra We here in Orkney and Shetland subsidise you in the UK including Scotland, If we ever decide to withdraw that subsidy you will know about it. And what exactly should we thank the Scoti government for? Higher ferry fares? Underfunded education? the bloody windfarms? The theft of the housing support grant? I can’t think of anything we here in the isles should thank the scoti government for so maybe you should give us all a laugh and enlighten us.

    • Robert Duncan

      • April 29th, 2015 10:04

      “You know it never ceases to amaze me how deluded the people on Orkney and Shetland are, you are so well looked after with subsidise that you have not a clue how the rest of the country lives and all I have ever heard the majority of you do is harp on about how badly treated you are.”

      Change a few words around and this is like listening to Phil Nuttall of UKIP talk about Scotland.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 29th, 2015 10:37


    You and Grant Redfern have just perfectly exemplified my point regarding the evasion of local issues and when Sandra Parker boasts of the SNP’s achievements in Shetland’s education, she hasn’t a clue – thanks to the SNP’s cosy little arrangement with COSLA, Shetland’s education has been under-funded by £19.3Mpa, 40 percent of total spend.

    That has been reduced to £10Mpa, thanks to swingeing SIC education cuts – still a 33percent overspend on received funding of £29.3Mpa.

    The 2010 education act has prevented SIC from making further cuts by closing rural schools, forcing them to, either, cut other services or fill the funding gap from their oil reserve fund, so “living off their capital” – Route 1 to bankruptcy.

    Using oil money to fund ‘revenue’ spending instead of investing for the future is something the SNP has repeatedly castigated Westminster for doing, yet they are forcing the same misguided behaviour on to the SIC.

    This comes as little surprise, the SNP’s ‘stock-in-trade’ is humbug, in every department of their game. Pure, unadulterated humbug.

    • Grant Redfern

      • April 29th, 2015 12:18

      I am looking more nationally and at the wider Liberal Democrat record over the last five years, which Alistair Carmichael has been a key figure in; chief whip to his party and junior whip in coalition. And I didn’t mention the SNP, I was talking about the Lib Dem record, which has been promoted to be positive above, something I’m struggling to see.

      I disagree with Sandra mostly, but, a lot of people may not like me writing this, we do have it easier up here than the majority of the country; low unemployment and homeless, higher pay and greater public services. And yes, so we should with what the islands contributes. But it means there is less appetite for change and why we may return the only Liberal Democrat back in to Westminster from Scotland. I think about the million people that have been pushed into poverty by this coalition, a figure which is set to rise dramatically if we have another CON/LIB coalition, with an economic plan that is failing itself. That is why I won’t be voting Lib Dem.

      I have no doubt Alistair is a fine, decent man, but that is not enough. He stands for a party who have-in my view- let themselves and most of their voters down after 2010. We were promised a change to the status quo and something better. The reality for a lot of people is the complete opposite, all we got was backward politics and u turns

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 13:31


        There you go again, trying to divert attention away from the things that matter most to Shetland voters, namely:

        1. Rural schools, they want their kids to stay at home with them – education under-funding!
        2. The cost of ferry travel, between islands and Shetland/Aberdeen – RET formula manipulation!
        3. Wind farms being rammed down their throats – undemocratic planning system!
        4. Etc..

        The SNP needs to wake up to the fact that the presence or absence of nuclear missiles on the Clyde and whether Shetland is governed by Holyrood or Westminster will make no difference to the lives of Shetland voters, it is the things that impact on their and their families’ daily lives that count.

        No amount of rose-tinted spectacles can change the appearance of the SNP’s track record in Shetland.

      • Grant Redfern

        • April 29th, 2015 15:46


        I’m not trying to divert away from local issues. What I am saying is that the problems that so much of the country has-including Orkney and Shetland- have been caused by this awful CON/LIB coalition, those problems are filtering down to local issues throughout the UK. Cutting the country to pieces without making sensible investment, while so many people suffer for it, is not the way forward. Since you keep bringing the SNP up, even though the SNP aren’t perfect, I think their record in government and their plan in how to take the country forward is far more responsible and better for the whole of Scotland and the rest of the UK than the CON/LIB one of the last five years. If the Lib Dem’s had done a better job I might have considered voting for them again.

        I don’t think voting another Lib Dem MP in will benefit the Isles much, if at all, if they get what they want and cosy back up with the Tories and their continued austerity. I don’t think the country will get back onto its knees let alone its feet if we continue the way we are going. The Tories told us the economy would be fixed by this election, now they say it’s half done and they just need a couple more years of severe cuts, what happens in two years if they still haven’t met their targets? Oh yeah, more cuts and on and on it will go

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 20:13

        Not at all, Grant, Shetland’s problems with funding stem from lack of recognition of the special difficulties faced by remote rural authorities which have severely affected Shetland’s education system – the distribution of education funding takes no account of geographic and demographic factors, only the numbers of children on the school rolls.

        These difficulties have been recognised, thanks to Alistair Carmichael, by Westminster.

        The Scottish government has been forced to admit that NHS Shetland has been underfunded since 2009/10 and have altered their own (2009/10) funding formula to take account of geographic and demographic factors, resulting in an increase of funding for Shetland of £4Mpa.

        This is precisely the problem suffered by Shetland’s education system which is being under-funded to the tune of £10Mpa, even after £10Mpa cuts!

    • Johan Adamson

      • April 29th, 2015 13:35

      I dont think education is a local issue, I think The Scottish Government have underfunded education in the rest of Scotland as well. They need to increase the allocations to education and make councils use it for education rather than other things in this new year. This has nothing to do with this election other than the fact that this money ultimately comes from Westminster and there have been austerity cuts to the amount allocated to Scotland as a result, so something has to give.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 14:43


        Scottish education funding, per Gary Robinson, is distributed according to “the number of young persons in an area”. It takes no account of the additional difficulty of providing sevices faced by remote rural authorities due to geography and population density factors.

        That has resulted in Shetland’s education being under-funded by £19.3Mpa (40 percent of spend), latterly reduced to £10Mpa by swingeing SIC cuts, and the acrimonious, damaging, controversy over the SIC’s drastic rural school closure plans, forced on them by government policy, in a desperate bid to achieve financial sustainability.

        Alistair Carmichael has seen to it that Westminster now, officially, recognises the exceptional difficulties in providing services faced by remote island councils.

        If the SNP did likewise, the education under-funding issue would be, immediately, solved.

  • ian tinkler

    • April 29th, 2015 11:51

    What a hypocritical epistle from Sandra Parker, in typical NAT style, she insults and denigrates us all with the her comment; ” it never ceases to amaze me how deluded the people on Orkney and Shetland you are so well looked after with subsidies that you have not a clue how the rest of the country lives and all I have ever heard the majority of you do is harp on about how badly treated you are.” Sandra, how very rude and patronizing, you sound just like the little Englander talking about the Scots!! Now all peoples of Shetland and Orkney, here you have a true view from an SNP, YES, advocate. She sounds positively malign when compared to Alistair, he may not be the most charismatic MP ever, but his views and representation are far more benign and kinder than this ladies attitude. How clear it is becoming the hostile and unpleasant feelings the Nationalists have towards all those whom may not share their divisive views., Sandra, after 8 miserable years, of the SNP, why should we be thanking the Scottish Government? We are having are schools being closed and the devolved NHS on Shetland, is an absolute shambles. You truly never cease to amaze SNP, with your partisan and prejudiced views and carping criticism of all but yourselves.

    • Charles Tait

      • April 29th, 2015 14:48

      “Tourism is not as big a deal in Shetland as it is in Orkney. It is prohibitively expensive to get here.” What a negative comment indeed. In fact under the SNP marketing by VisitScotland has greatly reduced in amount and quality. The last tourism surveys of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides were very revealing. Orkney has flatlined for the last several years, which means a reduction in revenue after inflation. The Outer Hebrides has rocketed ahead, while “real” tourists to Shetland have fallen dramatically. You only have to look at ferry fares for the explanation. Never mind all the RET nonsense. It is completely inequitable for fares to Orkney and Shetland to be vastly greater than to the Outer Hebrides. Even the most addicted SNP person cannot deny that. It is not hotel prices, which are even dearer over there than in Shetland. In fact they are even building new ones!

      Tourism is a very important part of Orkney’s economy which is also much more diverse than Shetland’s with agriculture being the other huge part. Fishing should be big here too but is not. Oil has pretty much gone for us but will last in Shetland for a while yet. There will come a time however when tourism will be seen as an industry with huge potential for Shetland.

      My point here is that the policies and actions of the SNP are having a hugely detrimental effect of one of Orkney’s main industries and ensuring that the already fast declining industry in Shetland does not recover any time soon. Voting SNP for Westminster is just a completly wasted vote. They could not care less about the Northern Isles.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 15:39

        Absolutely, throw in an industrial-scale wind farm or two and Shetland’s tourism will head South, towards zero.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 29th, 2015 14:14

    Looking through the report on the BBC’s ‘Hustingss’ event at Shetland Museum, it appears the only candidate interested in issues of importance to local people was Alistair Carmichael.

    Funny that. I ‘d have thought, after eight years of SNP government at Holyrood. Danus Skene would be bursting to tell us about all the good things the SNP has done for Shetland?

    There’s can’t be much to brag about before he’s shying away so assiduously from local issues?

    • Gordon Harmer

      • April 29th, 2015 16:54

      I was at the hustings John and what you say is is bang on. What Carl Pickard has said in his last sentence is a good description of some SNP members, especially one very vocal member right at the end of the hustings who I could not see from where I sat.

    • Robert Sim

      • April 29th, 2015 18:19

      John, you persist in trying to muddy the waters in your efforts to see Shetland return what would be in all probability Scotland’s lone LibDem MP. Quite simply, the SNP’s record in the Scottish government is not at all the issue here: that’s next year’s election. We need an MP here who not only understands the local issues but is also able to influence UK-wide policy in favour of the Northern Isles. We have an excellent local candidate in Danus Skene and all the polls tell us the SNP will be in a powerful position at UK level after May 8th – certainly a much more powerful position than the LibDems.

      You should also note (as I see you mention it in another post) that the SNP rule regarding its MPs criticising party policy applies only to them critising it in public. Danus Skene will be perfectly free to argue whichever way he wants within meetings of its MPs etc.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 19:42

        No Robert, quite the reverse, my interest is in clarity and what matters to local people and their families, in their daily lives. Missiles on the Clyde have little relevance to people who wish their children to be educated in their home districts

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 19:45

        Robert Sim,

        You say: “We need an MP here who not only understands the local issues but is also able to influence UK-wide policy in favour of the Northern Isles.”

        Alistair Carmichael is just that and has demonstrated the fact during the last five years.

        He has arranged for Westminster’s official recognition of the special difficulties faced by the ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ local authorities. i.e. he has “influenced UK-wide policy in favour of the Northern (and Western) Isles”, as you demand.

        You may think Danus Skene is Carmichael’s equal, however, the only evidence we see is his involvement in the vexed debacle of the Mareel project and an apparently opportunistic switch of party from the Lib Dems to the SNP.

        I don’t see or hear him talking about local issues, as Carmichael does, for the simple reason that he can find nothing positive to say about the SNP Scottish government’s actions in Shetland, during their term of office

      • John Tulloch

        • April 29th, 2015 19:54

        @Robert Sim,

        The SNP may or may not be in a “powerful position” on May, 8th, however, had they been in such a position during this last term, Our Islands, Our Future (OIOF) would have achieved nothing because the SNP would have blocked Westminster from outbidding them in the negotiations.

        Then there would have been no Westminster recognition of OIOF’s special remote island difficulties.

        Whatever the outcome on May 7th, Danus Skene will not become Secretary of State for Scotland, so forget that.

        The SNP having power in the UK, far from being desirable for Shetland, would be a disastrous result for the OIOF island groups who would, in one fell swoop, lose all their negotiating leverage.

        Shetland and Orkney voters are not so dull as to allow that to happen.

      • Ali Inkster

        • April 29th, 2015 20:13

        Free to argue in private, get outvoted and told to shut up. Not much use at all really.

      • iantinkler

        • April 29th, 2015 21:03

        Robert Sim, Danus can only give his true opinions to other SNP MPs in private, is that what you are saying, and you think that is OK? If he is victorious he represents us, surly we should know how he really feels on real issues. It is quite morally reprehensible for him to be gagged by his master and mistress, a truly fascist like policy that gagging order is, no apologies for using that word, it fits well!. It is understandable the SNP hierarchy would like to gag their more load mouthed members, Salmond and Sillars being a good examples, but a bit late there (“Day of Retribution, writing Labour’s budgets etc.) Not surprising the more obnoxious candidates go anonymous on Twitter(Quisling, Traitors, to senile to hold an opinion etc). How long before they put a gagging orders on their supporters. For example; Sandra Parker, “how deluded the people on Orkney and Shetland are”. Carl Pickard “blinkered, out-of-touch, inward-looking rednecks of the British Isles”, and there talking about us Shetlanders, how very nice, true ungagged SNP opinions for once, does it not give you a warm glow?.

      • Robert Sim

        • April 30th, 2015 18:28

        @John T., with the word limit, I can only answer your main points. You say that “… Missiles on the Clyde have little relevance to people who wish their children to be educated in their home districts.” The point is that not renewing Trident means more money to help ordinary people in their daily lives.

        You then say that Alastair Carmichael’s record is excellent as an MP for Orkney and Shetland and that you don’t see Danus Skene talking about local issues. It is a fact that Alastair Carmichael’s record happened when he was a minister in the coalition government. There is no chance of that this time round were he to be re-elected. However Danus’s printed campaign leaflet (which of course you don’t see) has plenty of references to local issues, such as his commitment to “much greater self-management of the isles”, which includes meeting all the demands of the OIOF initiative. This is in contrast to Alastair Carmichael’s printed leaflets, which appear to be 90% negative campaigning against the SNP. Danus has also spoken thoughtfully in public meetings about the key local issues.

        The bottom line, John, is that it would be detrimental to Shetland’s interests for our MP to be sitting on the sidelines while a strong bloc of SNP MPs helps to set policy at UK level. There is every chance that your local MP in Argyll and Bute will be part of that bloc – do you want something inferior for Shetland?

  • Carl Pickard

    • April 29th, 2015 15:09

    To summarise:

    – The Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael is responsible for all the good things.
    – The Evil SNP are responsible for all the bad things.

    I love Shetland dearly, but given the blinkered, out-of-touch views expressed in these comments it’s not difficult to see why some on the mainland view us as the inward-looking rednecks of the British Isles.

    • John Tulloch

      • April 29th, 2015 15:46

      Perhaps, they’ll be glad to let Shetland and Orkney have autonomy, like Faroe, then, Carl, just as we hear the English will, allegedly, be glad to be rid of the “inward-looking, whingeing Scots”?

  • Iantinkler

    • April 29th, 2015 15:49

    To quote Carl; “I love Shetland dearly, but given the blinkered, out-of-touch views expressed in these comments, it’s not difficult to see why some on the mainland view us as the inward-looking rednecks of the British Isles.” Carl Pickard, thank you so much for proving my point! “You truly never cease to amaze SNP, with your partisan and prejudiced views and carping criticism of all but yourselves.” quod erat demonstrandum.

  • Robert A Duncan

    • April 30th, 2015 1:07

    The majority of comments on here make for depressing reading, the rationale being that, ignoring the fact that the Liberal Democrats have abandoned any principles they may have had, jumped into bed with the Tories and helped them inflict their cruel, failed ideology on the most vulnerable members of society under the guise of ‘austerity’, since we in The Northern Isles are ‘alright Jack’ we’ll vote them in again.

    • John Tulloch

      • April 30th, 2015 8:33

      “The Northern Isles are NOT alright”, Robert A. Duncan, thanks to the actions of the SNP Scottish government who have systematically discriminated against them over the last eight years.

      You claim to have read the posts here, however, you have clearly not understood them and would benefit from re-reading. Once you’ve done that, come back and tell us about all the good things the SNP Scottish government has done for Shetland – it won’t take up much of your time.

      • Carl Pickard

        • April 30th, 2015 14:32

        How about looking *beyond* Shetland? At the devastation wrought on communities the length and breadth of the UK? Isn’t that important?

        Before voting for Carmichael, please think of what this man has overseen. It is despicable.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 30th, 2015 15:03

        Do you mean the “devastation” caused by the global financial crisis of 2008/9 which was presided over and exacerbated by, the actions of the encumbent Labour government?

        The devastation from which the coalition had to pick up the pieces and try to join them back together again, as best they could?

        Cuts are everywhere,mthere’s no escape, however, Shetland and Orkney folk are suffering from the SNP Scottish government’s lack of recognition of the high cost of living and providing services in remote rural communities.

        Thanks to Alistair Carmichael, that has been recognised, officially, by Westminster.

        You say you live in Shetland, why won’t you talk about issues that are important to Shetlanders?

    • Johan Adamson

      • May 1st, 2015 10:07

      I agree, very depressing. Getting our oil money and making sure the northern isles are ok seems to be the biggest priority.

      At least Nicola has passion. This was totally missing from the 3 leaders at question time last night. I feel sorry for anyone in England with no one to vote for.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 30th, 2015 5:27

    Can the large swathe of SNP supporters on this forum please explain to me, what, if they hold the balance of power in Westminster, they will do to benefit the UK as a whole? After all it is a UK election. Can any SNP supporter also honestly say to me, that they believe that as an elected member of a UK Election, they will act in the interest of the UK, and having had a failed referendum, how they can serve both masters of an independence agenda, and also act in responsible Government for the UK, off the back of a UK election?

    I would expect rhetoric, “Well Westminster has ruled against our wishes”, and “Scotland has a voice”, but if you are not acting for the greater good, and for your own vested interests, are you not becoming the very thing you profess to despise?

    • Robert A Duncan

      • April 30th, 2015 9:37

      BBC News 20th April 2015: “SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon promises to represent people across the UK, if her party … saying it is “bursting with ideas and ambition” for all of the UK … could use its influence to make a Labour government “bolder and better”.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • April 30th, 2015 12:58

        Robert I am sure you were not taken in by that for one minute. What if we get a Tory government?

      • John Tulloch

        • April 30th, 2015 14:27

        My advice to Labour would be “Beware of ‘Greeks’ bearing gifts!”

      • Robert A Duncan

        • April 30th, 2015 17:28

        I believe the question was: “if they hold the balance of power..”.

      • Robert A Duncan

        • April 30th, 2015 17:36

        Tory Government/Labour Government – there’s little difference.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 30th, 2015 13:18

    “Nicola Sturgeon promises to represent people across the UK, if her party … saying it is “bursting with ideas and ambition” for all of the UK … could use its influence to make a Labour government “bolder and better”.
    Anyone considering changing their mind next week? Thought not. Me neither. While Mr Sillars (along with Mr Salmond) are almost certainly considered the elephants in the room by SNP hierarchy, Mr Sillars has insisted quite categorically that the “first line” of the 2016 manifesto will be to demand another referendum.
    In stark contrast to what Ms Sturgeon has publicly stated, this typically arrogant lashing out from Mr Sillars, which we’ve come to expect from him, will likely cause huge consternation and a seething embarrassment from Ms Sturgeon and her party so close to the Election. Truth has a funny way of manifesting itself; just listen to the likes of Jim Sillars, Alex Salmond, Tommy Sheridan and Mhairi Black, just to mention a few and you will see into the SNPs crystal ball.

  • Iantinkler

    • April 30th, 2015 15:58

    Carl Pickard, “How about looking *beyond* Shetland? At the devastation wrought on communities the length and breadth of the UK”?? You must be on a different planet to me Carl. Maybe 8 years of SNP has devastated Scotland, but I think not,. Certainly the UK is doing rather well on the world scale.. Look to socialist countries to see a real mess, perhaps you are too blinkered to see that. Such a shame the SNP is doing the Tories such a favor in splitting “The Socialist” vote. I never thought Sturgeon would be such a help to Cameron! Lol


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