WATCH: SNP candidate Miriam Brett believes pace of political change boosts her chances

Miriam Brett delivers another SNP election pamphlet on the general election campaign trail. Photo: Alex Garrick-Wright

After a disproportionate amount of time was spent trying to arrange a time and place – and then rearranging a time and place – to follow Miriam Brett canvassing, 9am in Scalloway was agreed.

A beautiful day and an early hour seemed like the perfect time for sticking leaflets through doors, but it was apparent from the outset that there weren’t likely to be many locals to speak to.

Hardly anyone was home at that hour, and only a few sparse tour groups meandered about the historic streets and castle.

Ms Brett didn’t seem fazed by this, and noted that much of Scalloway had already been canvassed.

Ms Brett said that the main issues she’s heard from voters over the course of this short election campaign have been mainly local ones – especially fishing in Shetland and farming in Orkney – but as ever, the shadow of Brexit has been looming large over all.

Many had worries about EU nationals, who Ms Brett described as “family, friends, neighbours, colleagues”. She said this issue was “important to many people”; and had heard teachers speak with concern about pupils from Eastern Europe whose whole lives were now up in the air.

Others had asked what would happen to their European-born spouses who, despite living and raising families in Shetland over the years, may now lose their right to remain.

The young candidate was passionate about pushing the UK government to secure the rights of EU nationals already in the UK, as well as lambasting “the lack of logic in the immigration system… It doesn’t take into account our need for skills or social diversity”.



Another issue, said Ms Brett, had been the Liberal Democrats, and what they meant to a once fiercely-loyal electorate in the isles. Many SNP supporters are recent converts, she said, disillusioned by the Lib Dems and turning to what they see as the only viable alternative.

The campaign has met with a good response: “[It’s been] pretty positive overall. A lot of people are still undecided. The pace of movement in UK politics just now is incredibly fast and I think that a lot of people feel overwhelmed.

“It’s been a really, really enjoyable experience.”

There was only one person who came to the door while Ms Brett was out on Wednesday morning – a lovely lady called Laureen, whose main issues were work and family. She was pleased to see that Ms Brett was a local girl, although visibly surprised to learn that she had been born in her parents’ house round the corner.

Despite being seen as an SNP stronghold by some in Shetland, there was little evidence of voters of any kinds while walking round Scalloway.

Doors went unanswered and leaflets slid through letterboxes without ceremony.

A house with a particularly boisterous terrier bounding around the front garden was, forgivably, skipped as Ms Brett continued her tour of what was beginning to feel like a ghost town.

Aside from Laureen, only one other person spoke to us, declining to give her name.

“We’re with you all the way,” she told the delighted-looking candidate, although seemed to remain cautious about making any predictions: “I think it’s going to be pretty divided in Scotland. People don’t have a lot of time to think about things. You just don’t know.

“U-turns are just happening and that’s not how it should be. If you think you’re doing a good thing, you should do it.”

Although she clearly had a bit to go before getting a bus pass herself, the anonymous lady mentioned significant worries about retirement age and pensions.

“This is such an important election for older folk,” Ms Brett said, citing the Conservative Party’s recent murmuring about the pensions triple-lock, and noting the opposition the SNP had made with regard to the recent raising of the retirement age for women. “Pensions are a right, not a privilege.”

Despite these concerns, the vocal supporter was clear that her main issue was what kind of future we were setting up for young people: “It’s the young people you have to think about… It’s the young people this is all affecting.”

She declined to give a photograph, but asked Ms Brett to give Alistair Carmichael, the incumbent Liberal Democrat candidate, “a good run”.

That was, sadly, all that sunny Scalloway had to offer. A few leaflets and a quick video later, and the SNP candidate had to head off to Unst for more campaigning where, hopefully, there would be some people to actually speak to.

Alex Garrick-Wright


Add Your Comment
  • Ivan Coghill

    • June 1st, 2017 18:11

    She is a rising star – already a senior economics adviser at Westminster. What a breath of fresh, clean air!

    • Gordon Harmer

      • June 2nd, 2017 10:44

      Ha Ha Ivan, that’s like you saying you are a senior spokesperson for the educated working man.
      We all know neither of you have the experience or qualifications to call yourselves senior anything, unless chancer was the selected career.
      Miriam is more a breath of hot air than fresh air, we have not heard one positive thing that she will do for Shetland. Nice person, rising star, Shetlander, young person, breath of fresh air have all been used to describe her but politician she is not and judging by her performance over the past weeks she never will be.
      Shetland is a place that is not even recognised by senior SNP MP Angus Robertson, he thinks Britain stops at Caithness. We need a politician who will put Shetland back on the map and vociferously fight for its place in the UK not someone who has a tittle that sounds good but no qualification or experience to back it up.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 2nd, 2017 11:48

        Gordon, the election in Shetland and Orkney is a straight fight between the SNP and the LibDems. It also looks like UK-wide the Tories will have a much-reduced majority. You are concerned about how much an MP can fight for their constituency in Westminster – so which party, LD or SNP, will have the most influence in Westminster, as that’s an important indicator of how much an individual MP can achieve for their constituency? The Electoral Calculus website is this morning predicting the LDs with 8 seats in the next UK parliament and the SNP with 56. It’s a no-brainer.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 2nd, 2017 13:00

        Of course its a no brainer, the MP with Shetland in their heart will do more for the islands not an MP who is hell bent on independence as Miriam so clearly is. To be quite honest even Stuart Hill if he won will not take up his seat will do more for Shetland than any SNP MP.
        All the SNP have done in Westminster is disrupt proceedings and cause grief and grievance. If Miriam is going to be the best to represent Shetlanders why has she not signed the fishermens pledge when a large part of Shetland communities are reliant on the fishing industry. She has not signed it because it would contradict her belief that Scotland should be independent, in the EU and signed up to the CFP, which is non negotiable.

      • Brian Smith

        • June 2nd, 2017 13:32

        It’s pretty clear that the Shetland Times’s four most garrulous contributors – Harmer, Inkster, Tinkler and Tulloch – are going for Stuart Hill. They almost certainly think that Miriam B. is Earl Patrick Stewart.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 2nd, 2017 17:42

        Poor old Brian, he’s a doity amnesiac,
        Turned SNP an old Labour throwback,
        Writes one liners with a pencil from crackerjack,
        Posts them on here as he is a habitual anorak,
        Uses Earl Patrick a known megalomaniac,
        As a poor excuse for a counterattack,
        But I am sure one day he will bounce back,
        With something closer to payback,
        Than his latest excuse for a wisecrack.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • June 2nd, 2017 23:02

        You really believe that Brian? No wonder the Labour party breathed such a sigh of relief when you turned SNP. Miriam must be delighted to have you, such a lucky young lady.

    • Ian Tinkler

      • June 3rd, 2017 8:43

      Just what did she do to become a senior economic adviser? No qualifications in economics, no experience of business or accountancy. Just what does one have to do to get a top job in the SNP? I do not see a breath of fresh clean air here, something manipulative and very strange from the higher echelons of the SNP, almost sinister and certainly very opaque. Reminiscent of the Clintons and Trumps of this world, all looks a bit iffy, promotion by PR imagery, favouritism perhaps nepotism.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 2nd, 2017 9:15

    How hilariously transparent:

    “After a disproportionate amount of time was spent trying to arrange a time and place – and then rearranging a time and place….., 9am in Scalloway was agreed.”

    “(It)….. seemed like the perfect time……but….. there weren’t likely to be many locals to speak to.”

    “Hardly anyone was home….” (however),….Scalloway had already been canvassed.”

    Why was it so difficult to arrange and what was the point of taking the Shetland Times to Scalloway at a time when nobody would be in and “much of Scalloway had already been canvassed”?

    Was it because it would be embarrassing for the Shetland Times to witness any doorstep grillings about the SNP’s grievously damaging track record in Shetland.

    • Brian Smith

      • June 2nd, 2017 11:58

      My God, John, whit aboot her shoes. You forgot her shoes.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 2nd, 2017 12:27

        Brian, don’t be silly.

        This episode will be far more to do with Ms Brett’s local advisers than with Miriam herself. It’s an appalling piece of campaign management.

        Who’s advising her on this, anyway, not Jonathan Wills, surely?

      • ian tinkler

        • June 5th, 2017 8:38

        The shoes were the best bit Brian, they spoke to as many folks as the rest of her did on her Scalloway walk about, none! or was it one!

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 2nd, 2017 15:27

    You could not make this up, Iv’e just re read the SNP manifesto and on page 31 it says the SNP will fight to protect the Barnett Formula. Now if everything is underfunded and it is all Westminster’s fault why fight to keep the very system which works out Scotland budget. The very budget the SNP constantly complain about.
    Well I suppose £1500 per person more than the rest of the UK is a good deal and worth fighting for, so why not say so.

    • Robert Sim

      • June 2nd, 2017 16:24

      Never mind the Barnett Formula, Gordon – try reading page 4 of the manifesto where you can see what a strong SNP presence in Westminster has achieved in the last two years. That’s why we need to continue that strong united presence in the next government, where they will be able to achieve even more with the prospect of a much-reduced Tory majority. Shetland can have an effective representative that way.

      What have the other parties done in the same time? Labour went into self-destruct mode; while the LibDems have done – what? With eight seats, I guess it was pretty impossible for them to do anything.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 3rd, 2017 8:30

    Notice how Sturgeon, lifelong CND and anti-Trident forgot all her principles to turncoat on anti-nuclear and endorsed Scotland going nuclear with Nato. Miriam follows the same policy I believe, anti-Trident if part of UK fleet, OK if part of a Nato fleet!! The present SNP policy would close Faslane and ban UK subs from Scotish waters. However, if the rUK was a member of Nato they could all come back, no questions asked, even to port in Lerwick!!

    • Robert Sim

      • June 3rd, 2017 12:33

      The point is that an independent Scotland would decide its defence policy for itself, Ian – not have a useless – and potentially dangerous – white elephant foisted on it costing around £2 billion per year to run. That’s about 1% of government spending on social security and tax credits in 2015/16, or the amount spent on the NHS every week.

      • ian tinkler

        • June 3rd, 2017 16:30

        Sure, Robert Sim, then why back Nato? Are you not aware Trident is part of Nato and by joining Nato, as Nicola Sturgeon has agreed to, you have Trident right back again, plus US and French SSBNs. You also commit 2% of Scotlands Gross domestic product, which on present performance would not be much!! Funnily enough, present UK growth covers that £2 billion many times over, Scotland is negative, perhaps that’s Sturgeon’s goal. Negative GDP Nato pays Scotland, perhaps Miriam’s advice!! lol. (Incidentally, did you see Russia’s Nuclear bombers overfly us last week? Sullom Voe would be a prime target for Putin)

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 6th, 2017 9:18

    I laugh at the usual crowd who defend Miriam and Nicola on here and say it is the unionists who are obsessed with independence. Not only is Sturgeon obsessed with indy ref 2 she is now going on about indy ref 3 if she (which she will) loses indy ref 2.
    “Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out trying for a third independence referendum within a short period if she lost her planned second vote.
    The First Minister was challenged twice during a special edition of the BBC’s Question Time programme in Edinburgh to promise that the result of a second referendum would be respected for a minimum period, such as a generation or 25 years.
    But, to groans form the audience, she argued it would not be right to tie the hands of the Scottish people by making such a pledge. Her answer raises fears she is pursuing a ‘neverendum’ strategy, demanding new independence votes until she gets the result she wants.
    However, during a difficult half hour, she was repeatedly lambasted over her refusal to drop her plans for another referendum and warned she was losing the support of even some SNP supporters.”


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