Having read the recent Shetland Times article (“Inkster comments give Wir Shetland a headache“), which references comments I have made over Facebook, I feel I must release this statement telling my side of the story.
Given that I have thrust myself into the public eye via my involvement with Wir Shetland and more recently by standing for the council I fully expect to take criticism and have things written about me I don’t like; sadly that is the nature of the job.
I do, however, want to elaborate on a few of the points in the article.
Firstly, I refute The Shetland Times claim that “Mr Simpson viewed the event as nothing more than an unnecessary outburst of ill feeling against a democratic election”. That is not what I said at all.
I actually said: “People have the right to free assembly and to express their feelings of course but what exactly are they protesting? Whether folk like him or not he won a fair and legal democratic election in a free country.”
The headline run by The Shetland Times referenced “Anger over Trump” being voiced as well as “40 folk being united against Donald Trump”. So of course, I thought it was an anti-Trump march.
Well-meaning people later informed me that it was about showing solidarity with women and minorities across the globe. To this I said that was fair enough and that was a “noble cause”.
I went on to reiterate that the purpose of my post was not to criticise the marchers. I tried to explain that I was simply wondering why opposing a democratic election result in a foreign country gets Shetlanders out and marching while there are many other relevant and just causes which never get much attention.
Others questioned why I didn’t organise a march for any of these other causes if I felt strongly about them. To this I would say I have decided to fight for my chosen causes by putting myself forward for election. Sadly, given the apathy towards many local issues I suspect anyone organising marches would see a poor turnout.
I feel The Shetland Times may be trying to link my comments, which were always respectful and polite, with some of the more extreme and abusive content from others. Other commenters were also accusing me of telling women what to do (I never mentioned anything about gender or what anyone should do).
Anyone who knows me will attest that I am not a misogynist. I was simply expressing my view which is my right in the same way as the marchers have the right to express theirs.
As for my fellow North Isles candidate Ryan Thomson’s comments on Wir Shetland, I disagree with his assessment of the current nature of the group and would refer anyone who is interested to read our chairman’s recent statement addressing such perceptions.
Myself and Mr Thomson have ongoing dialogue and still intend to co-operate both during our campaign and if we have the honour of being elected. If anyone was hoping our differing opinions on Wir Shetland would drive a wedge between us, then they are out of luck. Perhaps an early indicator of our ability to work together even when we disagree.
Given that anything I say online now has the potential to be twisted or taken out of context to use against me, I will be more careful how I word myself.
I will not, however, be afraid to let people know what I think or stop fighting for the causes I believe in. I would rather be honest about my views and not be elected than hide them to gain some votes.
Shetland Islands Council candidate (North Isles) 2017
Wir Shetland membership mecretary