WATCH: Lib Dem hopeful Carmichael finds support in Whalsay

A bonnie day in the Bonnie Isle saw Lib Dem candidate Alistair Carmichael argue his case between the rattle and hum of lawnmowers and folk pegging out their washing.

Alistair Carmichael hands over a campaign leaflet to Whalsay man Paul Wishart. Photo: Adam Guest

Speaking on the rather bumpy ferry journey, he expected fishing to be high on the agenda in Whalsay, calling for fishing rights to be ringfenced in future Brexit negotiations.

It was an argument the former Shetland and Orkney MP continued to make as he took to the doors.

Having recently signed the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation pledge on the future of the industry, he was “astonished” that the SNP candidate Miriam Brett hadn’t done the same.

Straight off the bat, he told Symbister resident Paul Wishart the CFP had been ” a disaster from the start” and stressed the importance of listening to fishermen.

The dumping of fish and the discard ban needed to be addressed, Mr Wishart said.

“Good fish are being dumped and then they’re complaining there’s no fish in the sea,” he said.

“As for this independence, I’m not for it,” he added when asked by Mr Carmichael.

“We’ve done it once. Just leave it for another 20 or 30 years and then think about it again.”

Armed with copies of the Northern Isles Gazette, Mr Carmichael’s campaign stated “only Alistair Carmichael can beat the SNP here” with a graph showing a 41 per cent victory over the SNP with 38 per cent of votes in 2015.

He believed there was little appetite for another referendum on Scottish independence in the isles and made no bones about it.

With 817 votes between them last time out, he argued to Whalsay voters it was a two-horse race with the SNP for this election campaign.

At another home the anti-SNP message seemed to have been laid on a bit too thick, causing some frustration with one of his campaign leaflets. “There are other ones”, he said, adding “there’s nobody else in the race”.

Mr Carmichael argued he could be a voice for Shetland at a time of uncertainty “when Shetland’s voice could be squeezed out”, nodding to his 16 years experience.

“I think you can probably bet on a cross in the box from this household,” the householder replied with a smile.

Within the first hour, a pattern most definitely seemed to be emerging, with not one resident we spoke to in favour of voting SNP.

“Two years ago you didn’t get the same [anti-]SNP and anti-independence sentiment,” Mr Carmichael said.

“The [independence] referendum experience was not a happy one for a lot of people and it did leave a lot of divisions between families and communities. When it was over the 55 per cent thought ‘that’s over, thank goodness and it’s politics as normal.

“The 45 per cent thought ‘one more heave and we’re there’. Once the no voters realised this was not a question that was going to go away their views started to harden.”

Lib Dem candidate Alistair Carmichael speaks to fisherman George Andrew Williamson. The words might be in vain, however, as Mr Williamson disclosed that he had never voted. Photo: Adam Guest

Concerns about the future of the fishing industry continued to be raised as we hit the road once more.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott had joined for the day of campaigning and was out delivering leaflets and knocking on doors to support his political compadre.

Fisherman John Pearson said: “I sincerely hope you win. The fishing is everything in this island,” he says.

Like others we had spoken to he was not a fan of the SNP.

“I really don’t like the SNP and I didn’t want devolution in the first place,” Mr Pearson added, believing Scotland was better with England.

“We really don’t feel Scottish up here. [But] I will certainly be supporting them when they are playing England.”

Heading back towards the pier one woman said she would not be voting Lib Dem, after voting for the party all her life.

“I don’t want another referendum on the EU,” she explained, explaining she planned to vote Conservative because she doesn’t want to go back into Europe because of the fishing community.

Mr Carmichael says he could understand her concerns about a referendum on a deal when leaving Europe. However, he warned: “The chances are if you vote Tory you could end up with a Tory SNP.”

Walking away he stressed to me: “It’s not a second referendum, it’s a referendum on the deal.

“The purpose of the referendum on the deal is that the government has to come back and face people and they have to say, ‘we promised you this and here’s what we’ve got you’.”

It was about “bringing the 52 per cent and the 48 per cent back together”, he added.

Leek and potato soup and a sizeable wedge of cake awaited at a pop-up cafe in Livister Hall.

Like a lot of residents in the isle, folk were reluctant to give their name when quizzed.

Among the busy kitchen with soup and sandwiches on the go one woman said she would be voting tactically, and it wouldn’t be for the SNP.

She said: “I would be surprised to find anybody that’s voting for them … they have absolutely no consideration for the isle or the livelihoods. They would sell it out [the fishing] if they got their independence and get back into Europe.”

For an island “which does pretty well with the fishing”, she said that would be “a kick in the tots”.


Add Your Comment
  • Johan Adamson

    • May 29th, 2017 12:54

    Two years ago he might have been able to ignore Labour. But I think he is ignoring the national picture today with Labour doing well and the Lib Dem and Tory vote in the doldrums.

    • Robert Sim

      • May 29th, 2017 13:45

      The LibDems had 9 MPs at the dissolution of the last UK parliament a few weeks ago – the SNP had 54. It used to be said that a vote for the SNP was a wasted vote but now it is very much the other way round. A vote for Labour in Shetland and Orkney is unlikely to be much use either. If you want a strong voice that can stand up to the Tory government that is going to be in place on the 9th of June, it makes sense to vote SNP. The SNP is also the only party that sees things through a Scottish lens.

      • Robert Thomson

        • May 29th, 2017 22:23

        Robert Sim a vote for Labour in Shetland and Orkney that helped secure as Labour victory would surely be a good thing? The Tories are going to pay precisely zero attention to the SNP.
        Well those are my thoughts.

      • Graham Fleming

        • May 29th, 2017 23:33

        Loads and loads of support, shame the mass hoards are all camera shy?Maybe the truth is out there – without Ian Tinklers support – that gives anybody a fighting chance!

    • John Tulloch

      • May 29th, 2017 16:57

      Indeed, Johan. And ‘Peak SNP’ is well past, too – they peaked at the 2015 General Election and have been slipping, ever since.

      The SNP needs voters to believe that Labour is a spent force however the polls tell us different. In fact, Labour is enjoying a huge surge in popularity with ten campaigning days to go.

      If Scottish Labour wins back even half the seats lost to the SNP in 2015, it will give Mr Corbyn a massive boost towards either winning outright or providing strong opposition to the Tories.

      A large number of prominent SNP MPs – Salmond, Robertson, etc., are among the vulnerable ones which is why they are so desperate to sustain the fantasy that only they and not Labour, can “stop the Tories.”

      • Robert Sim

        • May 30th, 2017 12:28

        “If Scottish Labour wins back even half the seats lost to the SNP in 2015” – you really are living in fantasy land, John. The SNP may lose seats in this election but they are still likely to be by far the biggest Scottish party; and the seats are unlikely to go to Labour. The only sensible vote to keep a strong Scottish voice at Westminster is an SNP one.

      • Johan Adamson

        • May 30th, 2017 14:45

        Robert Sim – that is only if you want an independent Scotland. If you don’t, and can’t bring yourself to vote Tory, then vote Labour, and also look after the whole of the UK.

      • Robert Sim

        • May 30th, 2017 15:17

        Johan – I respect your views and I think it is laudable to want to look after the whole of the UK. However historically it hasn’t worked the other way round; and it seems that the only time that attention is paid to Scotland is when the SNP is strong. That is something the Scottish electorate recently appears to have realised with its choice of the SNP in Holyrood and at the last UK election. Labour has to experience a huge mindshift to recover any ground in Scotland.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • May 30th, 2017 17:12

        What utter tripe Robert Sim. The UK as a whole has performed superbly since the banking collapse and the referendum. It is only Scotland under SNP care which is on the edge of recession. Scotland’s economy is way down underperforming Greece’s as a matter of fact. If it were not for huge sums from the rest of the UK and the UK bailing out RBS (Salmond’s bank) Scotland would be bankrupt long ago. As usual, you, like nearly all the SNP blame Westminster for all ills. The SNP have had ten long years, the only thing they are performing well in is rhetoric, all devolved matters have been a cock up, just the endless Independence mantra, we are all getting sick to the core of that. Whatever happened to snoopers charter? Robert, you were all for that a while back.

      • Robert Sim

        • May 30th, 2017 23:30

        Ian, you say “It is only Scotland under SNP care which is on the edge of recession.” How much control does the Holyrood administration have over the Scottish economy versus the control that the UK government has?

        You say the UK economy is performing superbly but at what level does UK debt currently stand?

        And you may not have noticed but the RBS is a bank with branches all over the UK and thus was dealt with quite rightly by the UK government.

  • Brian Smith

    • May 29th, 2017 19:35

    The woman who thinks that Whalsay ‘does pretty well with the fishing’ in the EEC really needs to explain why she wants to leave the EEC.

    • John Tulloch

      • May 30th, 2017 11:03

      No, she doesn’t need to explain anything. She’s not asking for anyone’s vote.

      However, the SNP does need to explain why they are continuing to tell Shetland voters they will rejoin the EU and “renegotiate” or “scrap” the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), when it has been confirmed by the EU that the CFP is outside the scope of EU entry negotiations.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • May 30th, 2017 11:44

        I would like the SNP and Miriam Brett to explain why they and she, endlessly critique, Torie austerity, yet happily, accepting Brussels invlcted austerity on poor Greece. Greece now has 50% youth unemployment with no end to hardship in sight!. Due to Scotland’s stagnating economy, if a newly Independent Scotland joined the EU, Brussels would inflict far worse on Scotland than Greece has ever suffered. Happy thoughts, EU austerity, an economy in recession and no Barnet money!!

      • Jimmy Sandison

        • May 30th, 2017 12:23

        Mr Smith , Whalsay does pretty well with the fishing despite the Eu , not because of it . Their splendid fleet did not drop out of the sky , it was built up over many years with many millions of massive bank loans and not a bean of Eu funding .Untill you have been a fisherman and experienced the many highs and lows , you can not have a clue what it’s about

      • Robert Sim

        • May 30th, 2017 15:08

        @Ian T – how’s the crystal ball doing, Ian? Seems to be firing on all cylinders. The SNP can criticise the policies of the UK government because they are a reality people are living with every day. Your fantastical speculations about how an independent Scotland would fare in the EU are just that – speculations; and seem designed to divert attention from the actions of the Tories. Looks like you are happy with the way the UK is being run.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • May 30th, 2017 17:54

        I am certainly not happy with the way the SNP runs Shetland, Robert Sim. I am also not a Tory. You do not need a crystal ball to see how the SNP run things, in Scotland. Sadly that is self-evident, and it must be obvious, even to you! There is precious little faith in Sturgeon’s endless quest for independence. Especially as is her wish if she were ever to get it, to promptly lose all control by joining the EU. No crystal ball needed to spot the idiocy of this woman, just a nationalist; nothing matters beyond independence to her. Indy2, what an absolute waste of time and money.

      • Robert Sim

        • May 30th, 2017 23:11

        Ian, the SNP doesn’t run Shetland – the SIC does that.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • May 29th, 2017 19:38

    The SNP is also the only party that sees things through a Scottish lens. Well said, Robert Sim. Now, why not vote for someone looking through a Shetland and Orkney lens. Not just an inexperienced young woman, promoted, selected and groomed by the SNP machine, who is for Independence and an Indy2 referendum and appears to know little, or care less about anything else.

    • Robert Sim

      • May 30th, 2017 12:53

      I think a local candidate brought up in Shetland doesn’t need any lessons about how to see things from a Northern Isles viewpoint, Ian. And in spite of your continuing and transparent attempts at patronising putdowns, a candidate who is able, intelligent, honest and knows the way Westminster works – which is where she has to argue her constituency’s case. The point about “the Scottish lens” is that the SNP looks solely at what’s best for Scotland – and that includes Shetland and Orkney – and not what’s best from a Londoncentric point of view – which is the case with the UK parties.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • May 30th, 2017 14:30

        Sure, Robert Sim, Miriam has loads to say about Westminster imposed Torie autonomy, but appears wholly ignorant about Brussels imposed autonomy. How about the Brussels-imposed stranglehold on Greece? 50% youth unemployment and the Greek democratically elected Government crushed, ridiculed and dishonoured by Merkel et al. Now we have the Brett / Riddoch pair up looking outside the EU at Faroe’s constitution! Exactly what Wir Shetland advocated as a way forward for Shetland. Stone a Crow’s copying Wir Shetland ideas are the greatest form of flattery, but that is not in the SNP manifesto. Miriam is on the wrong side it is about time she realised that.

    • Graham Fleming

      • May 30th, 2017 22:01

      Most people in the northern Isles see life through a Scottish lens – 60% at the last census.Most people also voted to BE European citizens in the islands.Its the British vision that is badly out of focus with fewer and fewer seeing that relevant at all to their lives and sense of normality. -billions spent on holding weapons of mass destruction and the poisoning of our seas by radiation does nothing for the septic Isles’ image.

  • Shuard Manson

    • May 30th, 2017 21:25

    So who should the stupid vote for to make everything perfect?


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