Candidates state their case in final election debate

In the third and final hustings before next week’s election, four of the six candidates vying for a spot at Westminster battled it out.

But it was very much a case of preaching to the converted at Thursday night’s Althing with a quick show of hands before the debate revealing that only a handful of the spectators were yet to decide who to vote for.

This was a real shame for the candidates, who all had stirring moments and hard hitting soundbites which could have swayed the undecided, if more than five had been present.

Before the debate could begin there was the small matter of the empty chair to address. Stuart Hill, who has complained of being sidelined in previous debates, failed to arrive on the night despite indicating that he would attend.

But perhaps, with so few undecided voters in the room, his evening was better spent flyering and doorstepping.

Incumbent Alistair Carmichael kicked off proceedings with his opening statement by echoing Theresa May’s sentiments about this general election being the most important of our lifetime.

He said that “some of the decisions made by the next parliament will set the pace for a generation” before speaking of his record of getting “results for the local community”.

“I believe I can offer you a record of which I can be proud,” he said.

In her opening statement Robina Barton said that she was standing for Labour because of their “socialist values.”

She took aim at the SNP and said that they “may have some socialist policies but they don’t have socialist values at their heart”.

She also urged voters to remember that austerity was not just handed down from the Tories in Westminster but also from the SNP in Holyrood, before referencing Labour’s “for the many not the few” mantra.

SNP hopeful Miriam Brett spoke of her anger with the UK’s “entrenched inequality” and Conservative policies which continue to “scar our society and damage our economy.”

She also spoke of years of Liberal Democrat dominance in the constituency before expressing her belief that that party does not “represent us the way it once did.”

Jamie Halcro Johnston was at pains to point that his party was the only credible option for unionists before listing some Conservative achievements.

He boasted of a national minimum wage increase and of low levels of unemployment. He also pointed out that he was the first candidate to sign the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation’s Brexit pledge.

One of the first questions of the night came from independence supporter Brian Nugent who asked about increased foodbank usage under the coalition and the most recent Tory government before inviting the Labour and SNP candidates to use this as a stick to beat Mr Carmichael and Mr Halcro Johnston with.

Mr Carmichael said that complex issues were behind the increased usage and pointed out that many of us are now “just one or two paychecks from disaster.”

He then took issue with what he perceived to be a flippant attitude from Mr Nugent, saying: “It’s not a stick with which to beat people with Brian because that doesn’t help anyone.”

This response drew applause from a large portion of the crowd, many of whom had turned out to support the long-time MP.

Ms Barton also drew a large applause when she spoke of spending a Christmas period 25 years ago volunteering at a homeless shelter.

“I was thinking at the time that we’re going to end this nonsense,” she said before expressing her disgust that word foodbank is now “commonly used”.

Ex-councillor Jonathan Wills asked about the SNP’s detailed plan for Scotland to stay in the UK and the single market, which was disregarded by the Prime Minister.

He asked to hear “what was wrong with it?”

Mr Carmichael said that the plan proposed by the SNP would have been a “bureaucratic nightmare” but Ms Brett referred to it as a “brilliant response to what had just happened” following Scotland’s overall vote to remain in the European Union.

She also criticised Theresa May for her “very stupid” and “arrogant” move to exclude devolved powers from the Brexit process.

On the topic of which parties the candidates would be willing to work with in the event of a hung parliament Ms Brett said that Labour stuck out for her while Mr Carmichael said the Liberal Democrats would not join any coalition but would work with other parties on “an issue by issue basis.”

Ms Barton said the recent coalition “wasn’t that great” and that she would not want to see another one formed. She also ruled out work with the SNP, perhaps unaware that The Times was to run a story on the front page the following morning with the headline “We will use SNP to give us power, Labour says.”

In his closing statement Mr Halcro Johnston said that in Brexit he saw “positives for the fishing industry”. He said that under the Tories voters would continue to see a decrease in joblessness and an increase in employment and also said that they were the only party who could guarantee no more referendums in the near future.

Ms Brett said that the SNP had a proven track record of providing a strong opposition to the Tories and for “fighting on social justice issues left, right and centre.” She said voters had an “incredible opportunity to make history” by ousting the Liberal Democrats.

Ms Barton spoke of her values and her desire to “make the world better for everyone”. She also sought to assure any anti-Tory leaning SNP voters that the only way “to get the Tories out” was to “getLabour in.”

Finally, Mr Carmichael spoke of the many problems discussed during the evening and told voters to be “suspicious” of any party offering a simple solution. He then spoke of people throughout the UK who share the same problems and in an attack on the nationalists said that nobody “is ever going to persuade me to turn my back on those people who we share those problems with.”


Add Your Comment
  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 2nd, 2017 22:48

    “Ms Brett said that the SNP had a proven track record of providing a strong opposition to the Tories and for “fighting on social justice issues left, right and centre.” She said voters had an “incredible opportunity to make history” by ousting the Liberal Democrats”. Is that it! All Miriam has to offer! “ousting the Liberal Democrats, strong opposition to the Tories”. Miriam have you anything positive to offer, if not, why are you standing?


      • June 3rd, 2017 12:41

      Have a read of the SNP manifesto, Ian, easily found online. You’ll see there what the SNP is promising to do in the UK parliament. It includes plans to end austerity; ensure fairer taxes; and protect the NHS, among other things. But why should I tell you it all when you can read it all for yourself? It’s irritating online manners to repeatedly post links so I am sure that you can find the SNP website for yourself. You will find the manifesto there. Happy reading!

      • ian tinkler

        • June 3rd, 2017 16:37

        The last one proved such a fantastic work of fiction what guarantees are that this one is any more truthful? Heard the one about ferries and fares, once in a generation, improving education, the police, the health service, our islands are future? I could go on but even you Robert probably get my point, just must mention Human writes, was it not treading all over human writes by the SNP that stopped the Snoopers Charter in its tracks?

      • Robert Sim

        • June 4th, 2017 0:27

        Ian, I see you (and you are not alone in this) have no response on the SNP’s UK manifesto and so resort to the well-tried tactic of trying to divert attention onto the the performance of the devolved government, when this election is about the performance of the UK government. Remember, that’s the government that, up to a couple of weeks ago, continued to run a massive deficit; punished the poor and disabled; encouraged xenophobic attitudes; and had absolutely no plan for brexit. The next Tory government will be no better. The silver lining is that they will likely be on a very much smaller majority and so will be easier for a strong opposition to reign in.

        The most important thing, therefore, is to return an MP locally who will be able to have an influence on legislation and policy at Westminster and thus benefit their constituents. With the SNP likely to return a group of 50+ MPs, there is only one logical and sensible choice.

      • ian tinkler

        • June 4th, 2017 12:28

        What response do you expect, Robert Sim? It (SNP manifesto) is just political PR, speculative nonsense. I judge political parties on their past integrity and proven competence. I am afraid the SNP score very badly in both fields. On all devolved issues the are hopeless, (NHS, Education) on a Shetland level they are plain nasty. On a Westminster level they are an expensive joke, just look at M Black’s record. Cost the taxpayer £150,000 and spoke in only 15 debates, waste of money time and space. Her financial adviser Miriam Brett!! That tells its own story.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 4th, 2017 15:59

        “What response do you expect, Robert Sim? It (SNP manifesto) is just political PR, speculative nonsense.” Pity, Ian. Because then your vote in Shetland is restricted to the LidDems (a token presence in Westminster); Labour (a party which won’t be in government and is perenially at war with itself), the Tories (more of the same austerity punishing the less well-off), or Mr Hill. Come to think of it, I believe you did say recently you were in favour of the candidate who, if elected, won’t take up his seat. Hardly worth turning up to vote, then.

      • ian tinkler

        • June 4th, 2017 16:15

        You have convinced me, Robert Sim. 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!

      • Robert Sim

        • June 4th, 2017 20:17

        “You have convinced me, Robert Sim. Too precious to waste ones vote. I will go tactical to try and keep the the Scottish Nastys out. ” Gosh, Ian, I am flattered that I have that much influence over you. Clearly, as we know from all your past posts on here, you have been a dispassionate observer of the political scene with no particular dislike of the SNP – and I have changed all that in a moment! I must get a begging letter off to Bill Gates…

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 3rd, 2017 14:20

    There is one Lib fib I’d like to nail which is Alastair Carmichael’s repeated assertion that the Tories would have done more harm had the Liberals not been holding them back. This is false. Had Tories led without the Liberals they would have done so in a minority position and would have had to win each policy vote by vote. LibDem participation in the coalition secured a Thatcherite agenda which has continued to this day, hence the privatisation of the post office Alastair swore to protect.

    As for why so many rely on food banks, it is not complex. That’s another Lib fib. It is a result of the Thatcherite policies the Liberals allowed.

    A third fib is that Alastair would’ve turn his back on people whose problems he shares. Hello? Didn’t he turn his back on them by embracing an austerity agenda which has failed to deliver the promised reduction in national debt.

    The SNP cannot form a majority government in Westminster. Their offering is to be a cohesive opposition promoting the interests of the people of Scotland just as the Liberal Democrats offer the same for the people of the UK – no different and certainly no worse.

    • ian tinkler

      • June 3rd, 2017 16:42

      Not the Lib Fib soundbite again. I am surprised the SNP muzzle is not out again for you Peter Hamilton. I heard they stuck it on or up the SNP former convener. No problem with Miriam breaking any pledges, she has not made any or outlined any commitments pertinent to Shetland.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 3rd, 2017 17:06

      Peter Hamilton,

      Having conducted, in conjunction with Jonathan Wills, a vitriolic campaign against Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) during which you blasted the LibDems but refused to criticise the SNP for not supporting you, you finally come out telling us that, a year earlier, you campaigned for Labour in the Scottish Election (2016) but voted for Danus Skene.

      Aren’t you the wrong person to be delivering a sermon about political honesty?

    • John Ridland

      • June 3rd, 2017 17:36

      What , Wir Ali telling fibs..? Never………….

      • ian tinkler

        • June 3rd, 2017 22:10

        Medical and Dental care, free! You pay for what you get, no more no less just as long as the service is cheap most people are happy to die under the NHS. How long is it now to see a specialist, have a cancer diagnosis and get it treated in Scotland? good old devolved Scottish NHS. Ask Miriam Brett, she would not have a clue. (What, Wir Ali telling fibs..? Never. What a pointless observation!)

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 3rd, 2017 20:13

    Shetland Liberal Democrats should have ensured Shetland Charitable Trust was properly reformed years past. Instead they have sat on the fence. They have been totally useless at standing up to vested interests taking control of SCT just as they were when Shetland Development Trust was hijacked previously.

    There was a brief prospect of all local political parties condemning SCT but the Liberals hobbled it. Tavish’s pronouncements on the need for reform for what should be Shetland’s Charitable Trust have been pathetic.

    Millions of pounds of Shetland’s oil money has been squandered time and again to the benefit of a handful of folk whilst Shetland Liberal Democrats have looked the other way.

    Shetland needs a shakeup and will have to be watchful to ensure future opportunists do not again call the tune.

    I remain a Labour at heart and think Barton is a good candidate but I urge folk to police their politicans – no one else will do it for them – in this case by voting tactically against the thoroughly unreliable so-called Liberal Democrats.

    Brett is an internationalist through and through and is committed to doing the best for her community. I hope she gets the chance to deliver.

  • Rosa Steppanova

    • June 5th, 2017 2:08

    Not having had sufficient time to pay much attention to local and national politics in the run-up to this election, and uncertain of who to vote for, I am immensely grateful for the guidance provided by Messrs. Tinkler, Harmer et. al. Their concerted vitriol and venom geared towards one individual has convinced me that the only candidate worthy of my vote is no other than Miriam Brett. I am deeply indebted to the above mentioned gentlemen for their wise counsel.

    • Ian Tinkler

      • June 5th, 2017 10:30

      Well said Rossa, I notice you have not mellowsed with age. “vitriol and venom”, since when has honest criticism been construed as “vitriol and venom”. Just how your SNP overblown rhetoric highlights the “Nasty bit” of the SNP. well done.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • June 5th, 2017 20:49

      Oh dear Rosa I do not know what to believe now, as the word on the street is that you sent in your postal vote weeks ago.
      I must admit I am flattered that someone can claim that I have influenced the way they vote. Knowing you and your views I am pleased you have not voted as I will but for a party I hold in utter contempt, you have not disappointed me.
      Your statement also tells me your principles are somewhat lacking, as the SNP are 100% in favour of windfarms and you oppose them vehemently. Which when all taken together says you are pulling our legs, messing with our heads, trying to influence others, or just having a laugh. But no hard feelings and I hope you get what you vote for you most certainly will have earned it. I mean that in the nicest possible way 😉

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 5th, 2017 8:57

    While looking at Miriam Brett’s Twitter feed I was shocked to see a photo of an 8 to 10 year old child stood next to a poster of Miriam and an SNP poster saying vote for Miriam Brett. What made this photo even more abhorrent was Miriam’s tweet next to it which read, “one of my favorite photos from the northern isles campaign so far. There are few things more inspiring than politicised young people”.
    I would expect to see this kind of thing in North Korea or 1930s Germany but not in today’s Scotland. Politicising young children should be a crime it is brain washing them into the way you think so they vote the way you want them to when the time comes. Sturgeon did the same when she was in Shetland; selfies with children wrapped in the Saltire and holding SNP banners. Why are the social services and the police not getting involved with this it must be a crime to indoctrinate children of such a young age. If this is all the SNP have left to ensure their wish of independence it just shows the desperation and the low levels they will stoop to get it.

    • George Pottinger

      • June 5th, 2017 21:32

      See Godwin’s Law, Gordon.

      • ian tinkler

        • June 5th, 2017 21:44

        “Goodwin’s law”, hardly applies here. Unless Goerge Pottinger you are seeing a lesson from past Political History. After all, Political History, that is Miriam’s only formal qualification!!

      • Robert Sim

        • June 6th, 2017 9:08

        “After all, Political History, that is Miriam’s only formal qualification!!” More snide and unpleasant personal comments aimed at someone you claim you knew when she was growing up, Ian. You must fairly be piling up votes for Miriam! At least one person on here has said that they are now going to vote SNP because of the personalised attacks on the candidate by you and a couple of others. You don’t seem able to help yourself; but keep going – you and your mates are doing a great job for the SNP!

      • ian tinkler

        • June 6th, 2017 9:31

        Robert Sim, Miriam’s only higher education (honous degree) is political science. A simple fact, what is snide, unpleasant and personal about that. If as some claim, by pointing out the truth about Miriam I am piling up votes for her, just why are so many of her and SNP supporters, including yourself, becoming so agitated?

      • Robert Sim

        • June 6th, 2017 14:41

        I am not in the least agitated, Ian. Actually, you have now totally lost me: do you think that someone having a degree – or only an undergraduate degree? – is a mark of shame? Or is it the subject in which she is qualified? What on earth do you mean (if you know yourself) by “Miriam’s only higher education (honous degree) is political science. “?


      • June 5th, 2017 23:01

      “Why are the social services and the police not getting involved with this it must be a crime to indoctrinate children of such a young age.” Have you reported it to the police, Gordon? Or have you not, because you are aware that this is a democracy and there is no law against children of any age being involved in the democratic process of an election campaign? Awareness of the political process and democracy is in fact part of the curriculum for primary schools in Scotland. Maybe you should complain about that?

      • ian tinkler

        • June 6th, 2017 9:22

        Robert Sim, There is a world of difference between, using politicised six year old infants sporting party insignia, in your campaign propaganda, then teaching political awareness in primary schools!… Miriam claims to find the politicising of these very young children and using such imagery inspirational. Miriam has an honours degree in Political History; she knows exactly who’s propaganda she is emulating. In a modern democracy, there is no place for the indoctrination and blatant use of children like this. Nicola Sturgeon wraps kids in flags, Miriam is happy to have them parade party insignia. On her Twitter link, she repeats such imagery more than once. We have one child whom can not be more than three years old. I wonder how much that inspired her!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 6th, 2017 11:57

        Robert I have kind of refrained from commenting on your comment because the Times would not have printed my reply. Now I have counted to ten I will reply. This part of your comment sickened me ” there is no law against children of any age being involved in the democratic process of an election campaign”. Children are children and need to be allowed to be children until that are old enough to understand for themselves. To involve children as young as the ones on Miriam’s photo is sick, sticking Saltire’s and SNP election propaganda on them and using them in an election campaign is stooping to a level unheard of before.
        Children become adults and that is the time for them to make up their minds politically, not to be indoctrinated at an early age and used by politicians to be future voters of the party they represent. I consider this tantamount to abuse and am truly offended by it as it is nothing more than grooming children politically.

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 6th, 2017 16:36

    Aye Gordon, fir a’ yer attempts tae harm her it gets wirser still. Hoots mon and jings, even the BBC are indoctrinating bairns wi leading questions and normalising comformism within the capitalist system – Whit a conspiracy!, Whit abuse! Feast yer sair eyes on today’s “General Election Latest” for the item, Political Primaries at 15.26. The laddie sat to the teacher’s right could easily be a future Ian Tinkler.

    Shocking, shocking, shocking. De they no ken ony restraint? And watch your ears, fir the deil lurks in sik a place as oeer cheerie music ye ken. These are desperate times indeed…

    • Ian Tinkler

      • June 7th, 2017 14:28

      Robert Sim, my critique of Miriam is that someone with her knowledge of Political History should know better than to use political imagery of very young children for propaganda purposes. To claim politicising children and then to publish images of children carrying party insignia, is inspirational is very troubling indeed. Miriam must have knowledge that she is mimicking the propaganda of the most brutal socialist regimes in history (Soviet Marxist, Chinese Maoist, Cuban Communist).

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 7th, 2017 15:39

    If anyone needs a reason not to vote SNP boy do they have one now. Queen Nic has betrayed Ms Dugdale by disclosing a private conversation during the last Scottish Leaders debate to gain a political advantage. Betrayed Ms Dugdale is claiming the First Minister is wrong and she did not say what Sturgeon claimes. Talk about dirty tricks, they do not come much dirtier than this. So if you want dirty tricks, broken promises and the like, vote SNP.

    • ian tinkler

      • June 7th, 2017 18:28

      Nippy Sweety is one of two things, either a blatant liar or someone who cares nothing of breaking private confidences to gain a personal political advantage. Her timing is impeccable, just designed to hurt labour because she wants May to do well. That would help her Independence campaign loads. It looks like the infamous Ali C memo may well have been true. Either way, this woman can not be trusted, just what Scotland does not want as a leader, liar or untrustworthy? Opportunistic certainly, indeed may be a liar and untrustworthy. Now, Sturgeon shows her true colours.Happy voting folks

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 7th, 2017 15:44

    What do we need to stop Ian’s constant OTT hyperbole? The poor fellow lacks all proportion. Yes Ian, Miriam Brett is as bad as (insert name of deranged dictator here).

    Bring on the result, whatever it is and lets pray he is happy for once.


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