Vote for change (Iain Malcolmson)

The arguments for who should represent Orkney and Shetland at Westminster can be split into two headings: the record of the incumbent MP and his party; the possibility of change to a local candidate and her party.

The latest YouGov poll puts Liberal Democratic support at a pitiful six per cent. How can the people of Orkney and Shetland possibly have effective representation when there is little prospect of a Liberal Democrat MP having any power at all?

The catastrophic reduction in their numbers was brought about by their decision to become a crutch for an ineffectual Tory Party. It allowed the Tories to heal themselves and grow stronger despite introducing the most draconian of austerity measures.

I reflect on Mr Carmichael’s record with some sadness.

In his brief moment of power, he was complicit in delivering some of the worst Tory policies in living memory. Turning his back on the fundamental Lib Dem policy of tax and spend he was the whip who persuaded his own MPs into voting for austerity measures which hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

He helped introduce the “bedroom tax”, privatise the Post Office and introduce tuition fees in England and Wales – despite the opposite being his flagship manifesto commitment. I could go on.

Our incumbent is powerless, but this is deemed to be a blessing. How can this be classed as good representation?

The only real alternative is Miriam Brett of the SNP.

During the last Parliament, the SNP were the third largest party at Westminster and have received plaudits from all sides for their hard work and dedication to protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in society from the worst of the Tory austerity agenda.

They have been able to punch above their weight and make serious changes to legislation. They have stood up for Scotland’s, and our, interests where previously, the Labour Party and the Lib Dems have not. In short, they are doing a good job.

There has been a tendency in this campaign to concentrate on devolved matters despite the fact we are electing a Westminster MP. I can understand this because they are still important issues and need to be addressed.

Since the 2008 banking crisis and crash the SNP has been in government in Scotland whilst the purse strings have been with an austerity-driven Tory Party at Westminster. Despite the reduced budget, and with one arm tied behind their back in terms of legislative power, they have been able to make a difference, cushioning the impact of austerity in Scotland.

Tuition for students in Scotland is free, prescription charges are free and will stay that way, the NHS is being protected from privatisation, the bedroom tax has been offset, and the SNP government have consistently called for the reform or scrapping of the common fisheries policy (whilst highlighting we do not have direct representation at the negotiating table in Europe).

Locally, the Scottish government has provided funding for the new Anderson High School, a project which would not be happening without their support.

Miriam Brett is a breath of fresh air. She is a local woman, born and bred in Bressay, so she understands these islands implicitly. She is bright, articulate, informed and honest.
She is not afraid of hard work, and neither is she afraid to speak her mind when local issues do not chime with national ones.

When we look at the two possibilities, it is clear there is no contest. It is time to grasp the nettle of change and vote in a new generation of representation. It is time to vote for Miriam Brett.

Iain Malcolmson

Convener, Shetland SNP



Add Your Comment
  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 30th, 2017 17:49

    Nae mention o da fishing again I see, even Ian is toeing the party line, so afraid to even give it a mention. Not even a positive letter, knocking Alistair and the Tories, Miriam’s positive campaign out of the window. Reads like last minute desperation, the signs are there.

    • Robert Sim

      • May 30th, 2017 23:10

      Not a positive letter? Didn’t you read these paragraphs, Gordon?

      “During the last Parliament, the SNP were the third largest party at Westminster and have received plaudits from all sides for their hard work and dedication to protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in society from the worst of the Tory austerity agenda.

      They have been able to punch above their weight and make serious changes to legislation. They have stood up for Scotland’s, and our, interests where previously, the Labour Party and the Lib Dems have not. In short, they are doing a good job.”

      I think your comment is indeed the epitome of last-minute desperation.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • May 31st, 2017 11:35

        New analysis examining the performance of SNP MPs at Westminster shows 33 of the 54 SNP MPs are ranked in the bottom half of all MPs for response rates to constituents.
        They also totted up huge amounts in expenses, with Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry the second most expensive MP in the UK.

  • John Tulloch

    • May 31st, 2017 9:16

    The reason why Iain Malcolmson and other pro-SNP correspondents have to talk up Ms Brett’s personal qualities in such glowing terms is because, unlike all the other candidates, she has no track record of ‘real life experience’ to speak for itself.

    Her short career has been spent, almost exclusively, inside the “Westminster Bubble” and unlike the late Danus Skene whose ‘real life’ track record and views conferred a degree of personal independence, her future is inextricably tied to her SNP bosses at Westminster. She will do as she is told by Salmond, Robertson and Co.

    Evidence? “Exhibit A, your honour: Ms Brett’s refusal to sign the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation pledge.”

    Shetlanders need an MP who will put constituents’ vital interests before party politics and sadly, Ms Brett’s candidacy is a creation “OF the SNP, BY the SNP, FOR the SNP.”

    • Robert Sim

      • May 31st, 2017 14:52

      We get that you hate everything SNP, John. I also know that because you won’t have seen or met Miriam in person at any of the events up here it must be a lot harder for you to judge properly. However what you omit to mention is that Miriam is a born-and-bred Shetlander who knows both here and Orkney exceptionally well. A local candidate is a huge plus. She is intelligent and hard working into the bargain.

      What level of life experience do you think fits someone to be an MP? 40 years? 60? 90? Miriam will an excellent, dynamic, honest MP who will represent all her constituents equally.

      • ian tinkler

        • May 31st, 2017 17:18

        Robert Sim, does the sun shine from her fundamental also, like it does with Nicola and Alex? I do know her, she went to school with my children. She is pleasant knows little about the EU and CFP and mentions not a single policy or view in her manifest, beyond the negative (wicked Tory austerity, yet again, how original). It contains Just a series of sycophantic neo-worshipful recommendations by hard-line Nationalists. Rather like your glowing endorsements, Robert Sim.

  • Johan Adamson

    • May 31st, 2017 9:45

    Its the things the Lib Dems didnt get as part of the coalition that annoys me – they should have achieved a PR voting system and free university tuition. They totally blew it.

    Yes, vote for change – vote for an undivided country and a party who cares for the many, not the few, vote for our local dedicated candidate with her own well thought out opinions, Robina Barton, Labour.

  • Michael Garriock

    • May 31st, 2017 13:15

    “Vote for Change” is a tired decade old cliched catchphrase which got Obama elected, and we know how much “change” he achieved…. Is the SNP so devoid of ideas that they have nothing better to offer than geriatric and failed transatlantic imports.

    Whoever we send to Westminster will be largely impotent to do us a great deal of good, for that is the nature of the constituency in relationship to the whole, but the most impotent must be an SNP MP, being as they are both a regional and anti-Unionist party.

    What does the SNP have to offer Shetland nationally anyway that we could not also reasonably expect to achieve with an MP from any of the other three? They’ve delivered nothing of worth to us from the Scottish Parliament while their word there has been law, so why would anyone suppose they would achieve more in Westminster where they are a despised minority.

    • Graham Fleming

      • May 31st, 2017 23:14

      Everybody that doesn’t follow Westminsters, delusions of grandeur- is a despised minority – many many many minorities ,make a very Big majority. It’s time Europe brought wee Westminster into line!

  • John Irvine

    • May 31st, 2017 14:03

    I`ve always wondered what on earth that SNP symbol signifies?

    It looks like crossed fingers? or is it a hangmans noose?

    Either or both might sum up the SNP, or is that the SIP (Scottish Independence Party)

    • Brian Smith

      • May 31st, 2017 14:33

      This reminds me of the symbol Ted Heath introduced during the Tory Party campaign in 1970. It seemed to represent water going down a plughole.,

      • Gordon Harmer

        • May 31st, 2017 21:33

        You are confusing that symbol with the one which represents old doiters flip flopping from Labour and the Lib Dems to the SNP.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 1st, 2017 11:26

        Indeed, Gordon, at the very moment when Jeremy Corbyn’s new “Old Labour” is running neck and neck with the Tories in the polls with their radical left wing manifesto.

        This will not be lost on Scottish Labour voters who have been viewing the SNP as the only alternative to the Tories and will lead to gains for Scottish Labour, especially, now that ‘Peak SNP’ has passed and their fortunes are clearly on the wane.

        And it won’t be lost on local Labour voters, either, who have a true socialist candidate with wide-ranging ‘real life experience’ in Robina Barton, as opposed to one whose candidacy is a creation “OF the SNP, BY the SNP, FOR the SNP”.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 1st, 2017 12:43

        @John T – wishful thinking as usual, John. Most polls today show a sizeable gap still between the Tories in the lead and Labour. Even more exaggeration when it comes to the fortunes of the SNP – gaining round about 50 of the 59 Scottish seats, which is the current forecast, will be another remarkable result for the party. Labour is a UK-wide party which will put Scotland well down its priority list – especially when it will have virtually no seats here.

        And when it comes to the quality of the local candidate, the SNP has someone born and brought up here who has proven her abilities in the pressurised environment of Westminster. She will be a breath of fresh air. Voters in Shetland will not be fooled by comments on here which emanate from an almost vitriolic hatred of the SNP. It’s a pity that some folk don’t have open minds, because they are the only party which is foursquare behind Scotland.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 1st, 2017 14:07

        Robert Sim, the “wishful thinking” is yours, alone. Re Labour ascendency, here is the latest YouGov poll – Tory lead = 3 percent – “hot off the press” (The Independent, “15 mins ago”):

      • Robert Sim

        • June 1st, 2017 17:27

        If there’s a hung parliament, John, all the more reason to have a strong SNP bloc in Westminster able to look out for Scotland’s interests alone.

    • Robert Sim

      • May 31st, 2017 15:33

      It’s a combination of the saltire (the diagonal cross from the Scottish flag) and a thistle (national flower of Scotland).

      • Allen Fraser

        • June 1st, 2017 14:17

        A combination of the drunkenly leaning cross and an invasive red-headed aggressive weed.

      • Michael Garriock

        • June 1st, 2017 19:21

        Who’d have guessed…..a blue and white flag and a purple and green weed, when crossed, become a black ‘swag bag’ on a yellow backing.

        Call me old-fashioned/stereotypical, but I can’t say yellow is a colour that inspires confidence and trust, or one I feel comfortable to stand behind.

    • Brian Nugent

      • June 4th, 2017 3:40

      SNP symbol signifies the top of a thistle.

  • ian tinkler

    • May 31st, 2017 17:56

    It is rather unfortunate it looks rather like an upside-down version of “The Othala Rune”. I suppose it is only coincidental the two political movements using variants of this symbol were both born in the 1930s.

    • Shuard Manson

      • June 1st, 2017 23:31

      Your Rune looks exactly like Arianna Grandes logo. Without the bunny ears. What does it mean……?

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 1st, 2017 9:17

    Vote for change says Ian; well last night I watched the leaders debate and was not surprised to note that nothing has changed as far as the SNP go. Angus Robertson when mentioning the whole of the UK said from Cornwall to Caithness. Cornwall to Caithness, just where do Orkney and Shetland come in the UK then; oh yes Shetland is the cash cow somewhere out in the North Sea. No deal in ferry fares, massive cuts in Shetland’s budget, no signature on the fishermens pledge, no policies for Shetland in Miriams manifesto so where is the change Ian Malcolmson speaks of? Listening to the Shetland hustings I was aware the only change Miriam, Ian and the SNP on the whole are interested in is independence. This wolf in sheep’s clothing has been shorn and over the past weeks we have seen her true colours, Miriam is SNP through and through and like Sturgeon, neither Scotland or Shetland matter as long as independence is their goal.

    • Robert Sim

      • June 1st, 2017 12:57

      “oh yes Shetland is the cash cow somewhere out in the North Sea.” Care to explain what massive additional funds from Shetland go direct to the Scottish Government, Gordon?

      Some of the rest of your post (eg the exaggeration about Shetland’s budget which Jonathan Wills recently debunked) deals with devolved matters even though this is a UK election. But the biggest exaggeration of all is the nonsense that the SNP is obsessed with independence at this election. The only parties obsessed with the next independence referendum and the only ones which bang on about it endlessly are the Tories, Labour and the LibDems. That is to cover up the fact that they have nothing to offer Scotland. The Guardian commented on the fact that in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech launching the SNP manifesto the other day there were no references to the word referendum and only one to independence; but there were four references to austerity, eight to poverty and 12 references to the Tories. This election is about the performance of the Tory government and in particular Brexit. The Tories have no plan for Brexit and are likely to sell Scotland down the river as has happened in the past. What we need is a party committed to protecting Scotland’s interests. That has to be the SNP.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 2nd, 2017 9:19

        Robert read your own manifesto, it states Sturgeon wants indy ref 2 straight after the Brexit negotiations are completed. Shetland contributed more per head of population than anywhere else in Scotland and if Scotland were to become independent it would be a cash cow out in the North Sea. Looking at the polls there will be a Tory replacing Angus Robertson, a Tory who has been to Shetland many times, a Tory who knows where Shetland is, a Tory who will unlike the SNP will fight for a great deal for Shetland fishermen. Unlike the SNP who have MPs who know nothing about the fishing, unlike the SNP who have candidates in fishing communities who will not sign the fishermen’s pledge.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 2nd, 2017 10:43

        If Scotland becomes independent, Gordon. it will be because the Scottish electorate want it that way. It’s called democracy.

        You’re also very optimistic (or naive?) in thinking that a Tory MP from another constituency will spend any time at all on a different constituency!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 2nd, 2017 11:46

        Dear dear Robert getting a bit confused, I said he had been in Shetland and knew where it was unlike the leader of the SNP in Westminster.
        Just because the Scottish people want independence does not mean the Shetland people want it, in fact the Shetland people do not want it and that has been established. If they are dragged screaming into an independent Scotland, Shetland will most certainly be the cash cow I speak of.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 2nd, 2017 13:15

        The Shetland people didn’t want brexit either, Gordon.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 2nd, 2017 13:47

        And Robert! You are the one who seems unable to grasp things not me

      • James Watt

        • June 2nd, 2017 20:49

        “a Tory who will unlike the SNP will fight for a great deal for Shetland fishermen. Unlike the SNP who have MPs who know nothing about the fishing,”

        A Tory who has previous for putting his lucrative refereeing career ahead of the day job?

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 4th, 2017 9:47

        And how many debates and important parliamentary events has Salmond missed to do book signings and appear on his radio show on LBC. As if he does not earn enough from his five state pensions. Get real James it is endemic though all parties, but Ross has been to Shetland and knows where it is unlike Angus Robertson.

      • James Watt

        • June 4th, 2017 14:33

        It’s just a shame Ross isn’t standing against Salmond then isn’t it Gordon, but let’s say that Ross does win the Moray seat and the Conservatives win the election, if the Brexit negotiations don’t return control of fishing waters as promised do you think Ross would?
        a) Get support from his fellow Conservative MPs then go to the PM and demand they get a ‘great deal’ for the fishing industry
        b) Support the PMs negotiations regardless of how damaging they are to fishing or any other industry while ensuring the PM appears ‘Strong and Stable’

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 4th, 2017 16:14

        He will be judged on the outcome James, all you have is speculation. Whereas what the SNP want to do will mean Shetlands fishing industry will be stuck with the CFP and being told how to fish from Brussels. I would sooner trust someone who has been to Shetland to see for himself than listen to Robertson who thinks Scotland ends at Caithness.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 1st, 2017 14:22

    Robert Sim, please spare us the Bull s@!t. Nicola never stops waffling on about independence. The only time that is off her agenda is when she churns on about Tory austerity ad nauseum, just as it is with Miriam Brett. Incidentally, all Johnathan Wills has debunked recently is his credibility.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 4th, 2017 14:45

    “Time for change.”?

    Readers of Iain Malcolmson’s upside down logic may wish to consider that voting SNP will, in fact, only help to keep things exactly as they are i.e. a Tory government at Westminster with a rabble of SNP MPs, keeping octogenarian MPs out of their seats while baying for Indyref2.

    He rails against the Tories, calling for an SNP opposition but, logically, the only way to change the Westminster government would be for Scots to vote Labour. Labour is the only party capable of ousting the Tories and are still surging in the polls – now only 6 percent adrift (average).

    Their chances of winning outright will surely be greatly enhanced if Scots return Labour MPs in place of SNP ones.

    Vote SNP, get Tories.


      • June 4th, 2017 16:12

      Good try, John, but no prize. While Labour are doing well in the rest of the UK, it is an entirely different story in Scotland. The latest YouGov polling figures for Scotland show the SNP on 41%; the Tories on a greatly increased figure over 2015 of 28%; and Labour down six points to 18%. A vote for Labour in Shetland and Orkney would therefore be throwing your vote away because Labour not only isn’t going to be in power but won’t have any sort of credible mandate in Scotland – much the same as now, in fact.

      The only party which can both speak for Scotland and have a large-enough number of seats (probably 50+) to make a difference within the context of a very small Tory majority is the SNP. You should be advising all your Shetland contacts to vote for them.

      • ian tinkler

        • June 4th, 2017 19:51

        Too precious to waste ones vote. I will go tactical to try and keep the the Scottish Nastys out. They after all, are the only party founded for the very purpose of division for entirely selfish and nationalistic reasons. Well done, Robert Sim , you have convinced me not to waste my vote. Keep up the good work. I wonder how many others you have convinced to follow the same path, it is amassing what your negativity and fawning comments of blind devotion can achieve!

      • John Tulloch

        • June 4th, 2017 20:31

        Robert, you are taking the Scottish electorate for granted, very unwise.

        Labour is surging in popularity and is the only party capable of ousting the Tories. They need a strong complement of Scottish MPs and if they don’t get them, the Tories will likely remain in power.

        It follows that voting SNP helps to keep a Tory government at Westminster.

        Vote SNP, get Tories.

      • Lynette Peterson

        • June 5th, 2017 0:10

        Must try harder Robert as SNP are going down in the latest Scottish polls while Labour are going up everywhere as people realise that we need Jeremy Corbyn to get rid of Theresa May and that by standing together and voting with head and heart ,we will succeed and save the NHS and everything else the Tories are destroying .So time for real change ,vote for Labour , back Barton!

      • Robert Sim

        • June 5th, 2017 12:11

        “Robert, you are taking the Scottish electorate for granted, very unwise. Labour is surging in popularity and is the only party capable of ousting the Tories. They need a strong complement of Scottish MPs and if they don’t get them, the Tories will likely remain in power.” You really made me smile there, John. I am not taking the electorate at all for granted – I am simply going by the polling evidence. Do you have your own way of divining how everyone is going to vote? There is nothing to tell us anything other than that the SNP is going to take the vast majority of Scottish seats. Labour will be lucky to get a few. The responsibility for that lies squarely with the Labour party itself. It has lost the confidence of the Scottish voter.

        It is also complete tosh (and a very hoary lie) to claim that voting SNP keeps the Tories in power: in another post in this thread I give you the evidence that how Scotland votes is irrelevant when it comes to deciding the Westminster government. We will however have a strong bloc of SNP MPs standing up for Scotland; and it makes sense for Shetland and Orkney to be at the forefront of that group, arguing the case for this constituency.

    • Robert Sim

      • June 4th, 2017 20:25

      And as for “Vote SNP, get Tories”, you should know by now it makes no difference to the outcome of a GE which way Scotland votes.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 5th, 2017 10:06

        I don’t have time to check the stats so I’ll leave it to journalist Drew Ratter to correct you (Facebook, yesterday):

        “Drew Ratter: Scotland has had the government it voted for majority of post war elections, so on the whole no, England does not decide as often as you might expect
        Like · Reply · 22 hrs”

      • Ian Tinkler

        • June 5th, 2017 10:15

        Usual negative and stupid tripe from Robert Sim. Remember Gordon Browm, Labour PM, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. Voting Torie in would not have got that Scotish gentleman into Westminster. You have a very selective memory Robert Sim, or you just brainwashed SNP and out of touch with reality?

      • Robert Sim

        • June 5th, 2017 11:54

        @John T – You should have made the time to check the stats, John. Scotland has voted Labour at every Westminster election since 1955 but, up to the 2015 GE, had Conservative governments they didn’t want for 38 of those 60 years. 85% of the population of the UK lives in England, and that means that in practice England always decides what government everyone else gets.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • June 5th, 2017 15:39

        Vote SNP gets your children politicised. Miriam finds that inspiring!!! all ties in with the State controlled Gaudians.

      • Ray Purchase

        • June 5th, 2017 18:03

        Yea Ian, disgraceful, and no other political party in the history of Britain has ever even considered doing something similar. Oh, hold on…

  • John Tulloch

    • June 5th, 2017 15:07

    “The Scottish government is awash with money.” (Brian Wilson).

    NHS Scotland funding has reportedly increased by only half that of England over the last 10 years. Iain Malcolmson and the SNP seek to blame “Westminster austerity” for all ills however the appropriate sum is paid automatically by Westminster, via the Barnett Formula. The problem is, we don’t get to see what happens to that money. Former Labour minister Brian Wilson (“The Scotsman”) writes:

    “Let me share a closely-guarded secret: the ­Scottish Government is, by any reasonable standard, awash with money and has been from the outset of devolution. Before anyone plans to raise more, there is an ­obligation to question how cash is currently spent.”

    “Holyrood has no Public Accounts Committee and even if it had, it is doubtful if sufficient competence or political freedom of thought exist to make it operate effectively. Experience of government reinforced my view that no Minister should be entrusted with signing off millions or billions until they have demonstrated an ability to utilise thousands effectively. In Edinburgh, there has been no such requirement because money is generally plentiful and any scarcity can be blamed on someone else.”

    • Robert Sim

      • June 5th, 2017 18:10

      You are getting muddled up, John – this is a General Election, not a Holyrood one.

      And while it’s fascinating to read yesterday’s very bitter man Brian Wilson’s thoughts, you merely remind us why the Labour Party achieved a woeful solitary Scottish seat in the last Westminster election. Labour has spent its time attacking the SNP in Holyrood while having nothing itself to offer to Scotland; and most of those attacks have been around the notion of an independence referendum, not the main concern of voters. Thanks for reminding us how and why Labour have lost their way, their principles and their ideas. And you advocate voting for them!

      • John Tulloch

        • June 7th, 2017 10:41


        Brian Wilson’s article is particularly relevant in Shetland where the NHS must find another £4.7 million per year of cuts.

        I note you don’t dispute any of what Mr Wilson says. Is that because it’s true?

        Isn’t it true that NHS Scotland funding has increased at half the rate of England while the appropriate money has been received by Holyrood, via the Barnett Formula?

        Isn’t it true that we don’t know where the rest of that money went?

        Don’t you think we’re entitled to know?

  • John Tulloch

    • June 10th, 2017 9:16

    Iain Malcolmson,

    Pollsters reportedly had Miriam Brett in the lead at the start of the campaign but in the end, her bid was crushed, following a particularly lacklustre SNP campaign, the nadir of which was the Scalloway canvassing fiasco with the Shetland Times.

    As SNP Shetland convener during the election, the buck stops with you. Will you be stepping down?

    • ian tinkler

      • June 10th, 2017 18:09

      John, Miriam had four or five backers, writing daily to the media. Such a load worshipful exultation was gushed out about Miriam, her credibility was seriously damaged!
      I think the high (or low) spot was Wills’ many letters, the gave her opponents an absolute wealth of ammunition to use against the SNP and Miriam. An old phrase comes to mind, with friends like that!


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