18th January 2020
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Poor show by local Labour (Brian Smith)

I have voted Labour at every election since 1970, except in those when I chose the Scottish Socialist Party. On this occasion I won’t, for several reasons.

1. The performance of Shetland Labour Party since 2014. Labour in Shetland used to be an active and vocal party. Three years ago, however, they shared a platform with the Tories and Lib-Dems, on the grounds that by doing so they were somehow showing solidarity with the working class in England.

2. Of course that wasn’t a tactic confined to Shetland Labour Party. The result of it was that vast numbers of voters abandoned Labour in Scotland.

3. (The tactic is still being pursued in some areas: consider the Aberdeen Labour councillors who have just gone into a coalition with the Tories – in the midst of a general election).

4. Since 2014 Labour in Shetland has said nothing publicly about anything, although much needs to be said. A few weeks ago one of their members, usually referred to as a Labour “activist” in the press, told me that he would rather “read a book” or “go to the pictures” than take any political action here.

5. Labour got seven per cent of the vote in Orkney and Shetland in 2015, two per cent more than UKIP – compared with the SNP’s 38 per cent. You don’t need to be John Curtice to spot that a vote for Labour in this constituency, or for the Lib-Dems, or the Tories, is a vote for the status quo, the dreary local politics of the post-1950 era.

As a result of these unfortunate circumstances, I am going to vote for Miriam Brett on 8th June. She has a chance of changing things. After all, the SNP’s policies in Scotland and at Westminster are much the same as Labour ones. And, curiously, I think that independence in Scotland would be more palatable to the working class than the perpetual Tory rule currently on offer.

Brian Smith


  1. John Tulloch


    Nicola Sturgeon shared a platform with the Tory government , Labour and LibDems in the EU referendum Remain campaign. Your point on sharing platforms is meaningless.

    You say “vast numbers of voters abandoned Labour in Scotland” and you bewail Labour’s low share of the Shetland vote so feel you must, trend-huggingly, follow the crowd.

    Whatever became of the old Brian Smith, the hard core Labour activist who apparently has been replaced by an impostor, now running with the pseudo-socialist herd to the “Tartan Tories”?

    At the very moment when Labour appoints a good old socialist leader with a manifesto of radical policies?

    Is this really you, Brian?

    • Brian Smith

      It’s good to be slagged off by the far right. 😉

    • Graham Fleming

      What became of old Brian Smith? Like a lot of people he can now see an unbroken stretch of 20 years of Tory Westminster rule at least.In a state which cares nothing for human rights, it’s victims of war, it’s senior citizens, the stockpiling of nuclear weapons( in its delusions of grandeur) and now wanting to rip foxes to smithereens with dogs again for entertainment.Sadly those of us born under the union flag and BRITISH who are also European citizens have had enough of this sickness and with the latest opinion showing 57% support for self government the opportunity of something near normal beckons for all Mr Smiths throughout Scotland.

  2. Johan Adamson

    Poor show by local Labour indeed. Defecting to nationalism instead of fighting for the many.

  3. Steven Cheverton

    Choosing this election (of any in the last 30 years!) to support the SNP against Labour, citing the reasons above, is disingenuous.

    Like the Tories, the SNP are mostly funded by wealthy private individuals whose own business interests have allegedly influenced their policies.

    Like the Tories, the SNP’s funding priorities, in areas such as education and healthcare, take money and resources from the poorest and recycle them as middle-class tax breaks.

    Like the Tories? Well, the SNP appear to. They happily stood on platform after platform with them during their recent minority government and implemented all of their budgets with Tory amendments.

    And who’ll ever forget how the SNP collaborated with the Tories in 1979 to bring down a Labour government, ushering in 18 years of Thatcherism? Odd that an historian and erstwhile Labour man should’ve.

    When Brian Smith says SNP policies are like Labour ones I assume he means Blairite Labour. I’d agree. But he surely can’t mean this Labour manifesto, can he?

    The best way to ensure a Tory majority in this election is to vote SNP.

    Voting Labour is the only means to defeat them.

    • Brian Smith


      Labour threw its Scottish seats away a few years ago. It will take decades, not days, to retrieve them.

      The question you need to ask isn’t whether or not you like the Labour manifesto, but if you want the Lib Dems in charge in Orkney and Shetland in 2017.

      • Johan Adamson

        A lot of people on here praise our current MP and MSP for their constituency work, so maybe people will stick with the Lib Dems, especially Orkney? Its a shame they are seen as Tories, their roots are much more left – in fact, that is why Labour activism did not work here when you were a member of Labour – the Liberals stole Labours thunder.

      • Brian Smith

        Words fail me. Johan Adamson’s contribution shows exactly what Shetland Labour Party has become.

      • Johan Adamson

        You mean preferring candidates who have supported the local community instead of nationalism?

        Obviously I want people to vote for Labour for change but I see no need to be negative about Carmichael in the process. Up until very recently, I distinctly remember you defending his infamous lie.

      • Johan Adamson

        I should have also apologised that you find us wanting. Maybe you should have stayed and showed us how it’s done?

      • Steven Cheverton

        I just don’t see a road that that can take someone from socialism to nationalism, Brian.

        It’s noteworthy that at the same time as the most left-wing Labour PLP in decades is in place, so many Scottish voters who publicly clamoured for such a Labour Party, have disowned them and turned to the three centre/centre right parties. Curious.

      • Brian Smith

        You can still admire the Labour manifesto and vote for the candidate in Orkney and Shetland who can defeat the Lib Dems.
        I take it you’re being facetious when you speak about the left-wing Labour PLP!

    • Brian Powell

      LOLZ, were Labour voters banned from taking part in the 1979 General Election, and the one after that and the one after that? Scotland voted Labour, England voted Tory, we got Tory in Westminster.
      During the 2007-11 minority SNP Government the Tories voted with SNP on some issues. Labour point blank refused to co-operate with the SNP on any issues.

      • Steven Cheverton

        Their working relationship was a bit more than ‘voted (togther) on some issues’. Why is political expediency acceptable for the SNP and ethically unacceptable for everyone else?

    • Rab Kay

      Mr Cheverton, did you forget about the 33 Labour MPs who voted Against their whip in the 1979 Election. Selective facts is it.

      • Steven Cheverton

        Not at all. That point concerned the obvious hypocrisy of the SNP when they criticize other political parties for working alonside Tories. They’ve done the same for their entire history.

    • Johan Adamson

      They want us to vote tactically, sorry didnt get the memo.

      Get rid of Carmichael at any cost (I used to feel like this too, but why?). Follow the Western Isles as they get more than us. Give up your principles for a totalitarian SNP state, but we will get nothing in return. Orkney wont go for it – most of the SNP vote last time was in Shetland, not Orkney. SNP have a long way to go, people do not buy indyref2, especially post oil. Lets see how Robina and Miriam get on in the hustings before you make up your mind. Do not write Labour off yet, in fact, a vote for Labour instead of the SNP would be better still – why vote for quasi liberal policies when you can vote for the real thing, without the nationalism?

      • Derick Tulloch

        “post oil”! I actually laughed out loud at that. There’s more oil in Scottish waters than we can ever safely burn without wrecking the climate. But of course it has many more uses than to be burnt as fuel.

        News for Johan. ‘Totalitarian states’ don’t generally have five political parties represented in Parliament, elected under a proportional electoral system. And at least another 9 who stood unsuccessfully in 2016 (these being UKIP, RISE, Solidarity, TUSC, Women’s Equality Party, Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Libertarian Party, National Front, Communist Party)

        The Liberal Democrat Party is a nationalist party. Do they stand outside the UK? No. Do they seek a ‘World State’? No. Ergo: British nationalist

      • Johan Adamson

        I said liberal with a small l. Labour with a large one. Are you talking Scottish Parliament in 2016? I was talking about all of Scotlands 59 mps in Westminster being SNP?

  4. Ian Tinkler

    “I am going to vote for Miriam Brett on 8th June. She has a chance of changing things. After all, the SNP’s policies in Scotland and at Westminster are much the same as Labour ones. And, curiously, I think that independence in Scotland would be more palatable to the working class”. Working class, “Wolfie Smith”, rides again hail to the “Tooting Popular Front”. Best laugh I have had in a long time!! Keep it up Brian, incidentally just what are the SNP going to achieve in Westminster, it is the SNP at Westminster and Corbyn’s idiocy which has so empowered Teresa May. Even Scotland is becoming more Torie by the day; I think most thinking people have had enough of the endless neverendum and INDY2 at any cost.

  5. Douglas Young

    All people are free to change their minds and should not be criticised for doing so, just like Tom Morton and Peter Malcomson etc

    • Gordon Harmer

      Not what you said when Mrs May changed her mind about having a snap general election Douglas. But hey we have come to expect these kind of double standards from you and the SNP.

  6. Morag McGill

    a sensible, probably inevitable move for anybody left wing who wants change. Well said.

  7. Michael Garriock

    The SNP have polices beyond Scottish independence and Scotland staying in the EU? I wish they’d hurry up and tell folk what they are them seeing as they’re courting folk’s vote.

    You’re right though, had Scottish Labour not made a stupid headlong ram-race to occupy the just barely left of centre political ground to keep up with their golden son in Westminster, and been amenable to possible Scottish independence, there would have been no need nor stomach for the SNP or SSP. As only how far left, and whether Scotland should remain in the union marks any discernable difference among them, the few other ‘policies’ they have commonality across all three.

    Finally, how would you know what is or isn’t palatable to the so-called ‘working class’, Brian? As a life long white collar man, you’re firmly placed within the so called ‘middle class’ demographic.

    • Reuben Quinn

      Education and academic pursuits are not reserved just for those in the upper and middle classes, it’s depressing that you would suggest so. The markers and outcomes of middle-class status are much more likely to be found in the home of your average wealthy ‘blue collar’ fisherman.

      Anyway, clumsy ad-hominem attacks on his understanding of the social climate are hardly substitutes for dealing with the central point or offering a constructive alternative view.

      • Reuben Quinn

        Upon coming back to this to check for a reply I’d like to add that I’m embarrassed by how pompous my previous comment was. Sorry.

  8. Gordon Thomson

    Labour in Shetland now have 94 members, more than twice the number we had two years ago. We also have 30 registered supporters. I’m not sure what influence we can have on Aberdeen Council. The electorate there will judge them on their performance, I’m sure. Gordon Thomson, Election Agent for Robina Randall Barton.

  9. David Spence

    I sincerely hope I am wrong, but I have a very unsettling feeling the Tories will get back into power, and enforce their agenda of having a trade deal with the USA, known as TTIP. Hence, I think, the rigged EU Referendum, and the farce of negotiating tactics this Government is doing with the EU.

    I suspect many people feel Labour do not have the influence they once had, and Jeremy Corbyn, comes over as not a strong leader or has ‘ the clout ‘ to push Labour into a position where they could be a credible opposition.

    The SNP, appear to be Scotland’s voice, but at the same time, they are more focused on Independence than bringing forward a manifesto which is for the greater good of Scotland.

    As for the Lib-Dems, what can you say when a political party commits suicide by going into bed with the Tories? It will be years and years before the Lib-Dems can heal their wounds from this affair.

    People are being told to vote for any political party to prevent the Tories getting back in, what value does this have if this country’s future has already been determined, lets say?

  10. John Farrell

    The influence of the UK mainstream media is apparently taken as gospel in Orkney and Shetland. You get a much clearer picture from here in Australia.
    Labour threw away any pretence of being a socialist party under the Blair and Brown regime (when I was still a resident of Scotland). I stopped voting Labour in 2007 after more than 10 years of self-loathing. Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn both have refused to outrightly condemn the Labour councillors collaborating with Tories to “prevent Indyref 2” in a political arena that has no influence on it. That really demonstrates they have lost all direction and claim to be the voice of the working Scot. They don’t even remember what the fight was for, or who the real enemies are.

    The Libdems have never had anything positive to add to politics or the future because they are too busy trying to get someone, somewhere to advance them some political acknowledgement by any means available – which usually involves doing deals with Tories, selling out their principles and lying through their teeth to the public at large. I’ll only minimally mention the Carmichael debacle to demonstrate the paucity of moral fibre in that party.
    The Tories, themselves, are so far removed from everyday people’s lives that they cannot understand what is wrong with charging the elderly so much for nursing care in their old age that they will have to surrender the one thing they worked all of their lives to pay for it: their house. Nor can they differentiate themselves from the UKIP/Britain First type of rank racist and fascist nonsense being proposed by T.May and Ruth Davidson (with the avid support of the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys of Derry) let alone the ridiculous notion the a PM who was staunchly remain during the Brexit referendum suddenly became Nigel Farage’s best pal on being unopposed as leader of the Tories.
    If you ask yourself one question, you will know what is best for the future of Scotland. The question is: Which party has, with sensitivity and compassion, done most for the poor, the sick, the vulnerable and those who have no control over decisions that directly affect their lives and which party has done most to protect these people against the worst effects of austerity and financial cuts to services? In truth, there is only one answer.

    • Johan Adamson

      Now is the time for all good former Labour voters to come back to the aid of the party.

      • Robin Stevenson

        Sorry, Johan, nice try but, wrong answer.

        Scottish politics have become a two-horse race between BNP Vs SNP. ….The BNP is made up of our red, blue, orange & purple right wing parties where their party will always come before the very people who elect them & each will take their orders from an antiquated system which is (and always has been) rotten to the very core.

        The SNP will continue to do what they’ve done to date, to protect Scots & Scotland from the worst that’s thrown at them by our London establishment of varying colours, however, there is only SO much that the Scottish Government can mitigate against the worst of Tory policies, beyond that, we have to keep the option open to give ordinary Scots the opportunity to become an independent country IF it is in the best interests of Scotland.

        I’m afraid Kezia & Corbyn are all over the place in this regard, Kezia, insists that under NO circumstances would she vote for independence, ‘regardless’ of how bad things were. Whereas Corbyn thinks that every other country on our planet should be allowed to be independent EXCEPT Scotland…. Confused? ..Aye…me too.

      • Johan Adamson

        We are voting for Westminster, for the government of the whole UK, not just for Scotland.

        Why have you written off Labour? Corbyn will look after all of the UK. 59 Scottish SNP MPs have very little chance of defeating anything May wants. People are just not going for Indy ref 2, especially Orkney, especially post oil.

      • John Tulloch

        Indeed, Johan.

        I see the new, left wing Labour has risen substantially in the polls and Shetland/Orkney Labour has an excellent candidate in Robina Barton.

        Unlike pseudo socialists who spend their time pontificating about Marx, Nietzsche et al, before jumping ship to the nationalists, she has spent her life working hard and consistently for her community, including working with those who need help most, the lonely, destitute, homeless people in major UK cities.

        A “real deal” Labour candidate who will attract the votes of people whose priority is social justice.

  11. George Pottinger

    “Not what you said when Mrs May changed her mind about having a snap general election Douglas.”
    Gordon – There’s changing your mind, then there is changing your mind.
    What about the change of mind from Mrs. May about the ‘dementia tax’ after only 4 days?
    What is the social care cap figure going to be and who is going to pay for it?
    It will cost a bob-or-two you know!

  12. Gordon Harmer

    You said it George, “it will cost a bob-or-two you know” as every thing does. Nothing is free, Scottish bridge tolls, Scottish prescriptions, university education, pensions, the welfare state, the NHS etc. But to hear the SNP you would think it all was free. Sometime we are going to have to take responsibility for our own care, education, and health because believe it or not there is no bottomless pit of government finance the national debt proves that. Yet there are clowns out there in never never land who condemn the government for the national debt and then condemn them when they ask us to take a bit of responsibility for ourselves.

  13. John Tulloch

    It’s amusing to see how the one-time ultra-left wing Labour candidates Jonathan Wills and Peter Hamilton, followed by fellow Shetland intelligentsia socialist ‘bulls’, Brian Smith and Tom Morton, have jumped ship to the SNP at the very moment when Labour has elected an old-fashioned socialist as leader whose radical, left wing manifesto has propelled them from 24 per cent behind the Tories to less that 5 per cent in the latest polls, with two weeks still to go and everything to play for.

    There’s a saying in the stock market, “When the last ‘bulls’ sell, buy!” – in this case, “buy Labour”.

    I must say, they all look rather silly, now.

  14. Ian Tinkler

    Could not make it up John, Shetlands hard left all leap SNP, just when Westminster may take a left turn. Very ironic and funny as this is a Westminster election. How to lose friends and influence no one. All this when the SNP may be about to take a hiding from Maggie May. As a Bob once sung “The Times, they are a Changing”. Thank god I am retirement age, triple lock pension and all, Whoop, whoop


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