Campaign group Wir Shetland this week gave its backing to Liberal Democrat candidate Tavish Scott for the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections.
The endorsement came in the same week that Mr Scott, who has represented Shetland since the parliament was formed in 1999, launched a campaign seeking re-election on Thursday 5th May.
A Wir Shetland statement issued this weeks states: “We are neither a political party in our own right, nor in a position to field a candidate in the forthcoming Scottish parliamentary election.
“Which leaves the options of supporting a candidate from one of the existing political parties; an emerging independent candidate; or remaining neutral.
“Given our well-documented opposition to the treatment of Shetland by the incumbent SNP Scottish government since 2007, remaining neutral would be neither a realistic nor a credible position.”
The statement continues to criticise the SNP and explains why Wir Shetland cannot back Danus Skene’s party before going on to say that “the Conservatives and Labour have shown little interest and at best, lukewarm support” to the idea of Shetland self-government.
Wir Shetland goes on to say that “Tavish Scott, by contrast, in the tradition of Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties, has long supported the idea of greater local powers”.
Group chairman John Tulloch said: “Tavish is miles ahead of the other candidates in making the case and fighting for Shetland on local powers, education, transport subsidies, NHS funding and we must return him to Holyrood as ‘wir MSP’.”
Mr Scott, speaking to The Shetland Times on Wednesday, said he was “pleased to be endorsed by Wir Shetland”.
Asked about about launching his campaign for the upcoming six weeks he said: “My commitment to the people of Shetland is simple.
“I will put our islands first if I am re-elected to serve Shetland. Reversing the cuts our schools face, reducing the pressure on our GPs, nurses and health staff and cheaper fares on transport are my priorities for Shetland.
“I will fight for our local crofters and fishermen. I will make their case with all the energy that is needed.”
Mr Scott also vowed to employ new techniques in order to compete on the ever-changing terrain on which election campaigns are now fought.
He hopes to run an “open and accessible” campaign which will employ regular online video clips, and actively accept opinions via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
In doing this he hopes to engage the younger voters in an election which will see 16 and 17-year-olds voting for their MSPs for the first time, a move which Mr Scott says he has “long supported”.
Mr Scott said he was looking forward to his campaign. He was “happy it will get him home for six weeks” without needing to twice-weekly get an oft-delayed plane to Edinburgh.