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.