WATCH: Tories are the only party supporting unionist values, candidate says

Fresh from a difficult debate at the Brae High School Tory candidate Jamie Halcro Johnston took to the doorsteps of Brae to drum up support for his party.

Just an hour prior Mr Halcro Johnston had told an audience of young political observers that the constituency was far from a two-horse race. As we dropped flyers through letter boxes in Brae’s Ladies Mire he reiterated his belief that “anything could happen”.

Unfortunately, a dearth of people home at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon, made it difficult for The Shetland Times to judge the merits of this claim.
At one of the first houses we spotted an SNP sticker but the candidate, undeterred, chose to knock on the door anyway.

Explaining his decision Mr Halcro Johnston said that he had been hearing from many SNP voters ready to make the switch to voting Conservative. He spoke of a person he flyered in Vidlin who had told him that they voted “yes” in the referendum and SNP for the Holyrood elections but that there was “no way” they would vote SNP again.

He said: “What we’re seeing is SNP voters who aren’t nationalists or were soft nationalists leaving the party in droves.”

At the next house a rather formidable dog greeted us at the gate, shouting to the owner at the porch Mr Halcro Johnston explained why he was there only to be unceremoniously told to “take a running f***.”

“What we would normally do is put him down as a ‘maybe’,” the candidate joked as we carried on to the next house.

Asked whether Tories, with their reputation as the “nasty party”, were often impolitely turfed off doorsteps by disgruntled voters Mr Halcro Johnston said “no, I really don’t”.

He said: “I’ve campaigned in rough parts of Glasgow and even there where they have real social issues people were polite. They didn’t always agree with you but regardless of what party you’re with they listen to what you have to say. It’s courteous.”

Since 2014, however, politics in Scotland has become more “confrontational”, he feels.

“The SNP have made politics in Scotland binary”, he says, “you’re either a unionist or a nationalist.”

Finally, after some 20 minutes of trying, we found a house occupied by someone willing to talk politics. Unfortunately for Mr Halcro Johnston, the house was a holiday home and the man inside, Robert Lugtenburg, votes in Aberdeen.

But at least he has gained a vote for a colleague on the mainland Mr Halcro Johnston reflects, after Mr Lugtenburg assured him he will be voting Conservative.

Accosting Shaun Manson as he exited his car following a gym session we learned that he intends to vote in his first general election on Thursday and so far he hasn’t made up his mind. Identifying himself as a leave voter Mr Manson said that the SNP were “sticking out for [him] at the moment.”

But overall he felt he needed to weigh up his options – did he favour an independent Scotland in the EU or Scotland in UK but out of the EU? The candidate, upon handing over his flyer, felt we could chalk that one up as a maybe.

As we attempted, unsuccessfully, to find more voters to speak to Mr Halcro Johnston spoke about the Conservative Party’s surge in the most recent Holyrood election and the reasons behind that increased support.

He said that Labour’s inconsistent position on another referendum, with an apparent disagreement between party leaders north and south of the border, was the main reason for the gained votes.

The candidate pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn would entertain discussions on another referendum and asked “how can Labour supporting unionists vote for that?”

“Does anybody know if Labour support or are against another referendum. You certainly can’t trust them. The Conservatives are the only party standing up to Nicola Sturgeon.”

The Liberal Democrats too were frustrating voters tired of referendums in their pursuit of a second EU plebiscite he said and were at risk of becoming a non-entity as the fourth largest party in both Holyrood and Westminster.

This meant, Mr Halcro Johnston said, that both “leading candidates” for Shetland and Orkney want more referendums. The only way to avoid that? A vote for the Tories of course. Finally, with the BBC Radio Shetland hustings approaching, we greeted one final voter outside his home.

“Hello, I’m the Conservative candidate” Mr Halcro Johnston tells him. “You can keep walking,” came the response.


Add Your Comment
  • Brian Smith

    • June 3rd, 2017 17:30

    I am surprised by the word ‘we’ in the second paragraph of this report.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • June 4th, 2017 16:27

      Oh there are plenty of we’s Brian, that’s because “we” know our political minds and have not absconded to another party enmasse. Not only do “we” know our own minds but “we” are loyal to our beliefes and “we” cannot be turned by a pair of rose tinted saltire sunglasses given away free at the Toll Clock centre from a group claiming the grass is greener where the unicorn roams.

      • ROBERT SIM

        • June 4th, 2017 20:20

        Which other parties are out canvassing in Shetland as visibly as the SNP, Gordon? You should have no problem seeing since you eschewed the sunglasses. Voters appreciate parties which are out there engaging with them.

      • Graham Fleming

        • June 5th, 2017 4:47

        Aye, far from the prying eyes of international law- free to rip foxes to smithereens and build glorious British Empires. I really thank my optician that I can see the wee ‘we’s of this world- the grass under their feet died a long time ago!

    • Neil Dunlop

      • June 5th, 2017 9:54

      What a helpful bunch at the Shetland Times! It does make it sound rather like the reporter was stuffing flyers through the doors along with Mr. Halcro.

      I’m vexed I missed out on the free sunglasses at the Toll Clock though. I doubt rose tinted ones would make grass look any greener though. Surely Saltire glasses should be blue tinted? That wouldn’t work either. Hmmm…

    • Bill Adams

      • June 5th, 2017 12:47

      I’m perturbed by that word too Brian.
      Furthermore Mr Halcro Johnston seems to have run out of fingers
      when totting up the number of LibDem and Green MSPs at Holyrood.
      The Greens have 6 but the LibDems only have 5.
      That demotes the LibDems to fifth party in the Scottish Parliament.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 5th, 2017 13:08

    Is this your SNP ? This shows the real Miriam Brett. Indoctrination of children there is no place for this in British politics.,

    • Robert Sim

      • June 5th, 2017 15:13

      So you won’t agree with 16-year olds voting, Ian? And doubtless you think that the recent candidate hustings at Brae High School was a bad idea? Do you think that the only people who should be able to think about politics are middle-aged folk and older? I am afraid that you and Graham trying to spin this photo into something sinister plumbs new depths of pre-election desperation.

      • ian_tinkler

        • June 5th, 2017 17:15

        There is a world of difference between sixteen and six, Robert Sim. Are you so blinkered as not to see that, look at Miriam’s picture, just what age do you think those children are, why do you think in UK law we have an age of consent? Also, the Brae hustings were not aimed at “Politicising” anyone.

  • John Irvine

    • June 5th, 2017 13:45

    Typical SNP Ian, trying to brainwash as many as they can, even the young and innocent!

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 5th, 2017 16:16

    Astonishing of Miriam, one with an honours degree in Political History, not to see parallels from the past, from this picture. These children look about six, carrying Nationalist insignia at that age is hardly something to be inspired by.
    Perhaps she is really showing her true colours, very sinister, very silly or both.

    • Ray Purchase

      • June 5th, 2017 18:31

      And anyone with even a cursory knowledge of political history would know that drawing any sort of comparison between any modern British mainstream political party and the Nazis is utterly ridiculous. It’s also incredibly disrespectful to the victims of the holocaust.

    • Graham Fleming

      • June 6th, 2017 4:43

      There not coming back -( the victims of the British state that is),as we put our crosses onto the ballot, maybe some of us,will remember them, as human beings with hopes and dreams, ambitions and purpose in their lives,- take that and we take it in ourselves . Government should be about the positive ways for its citizens,their families and communties not looking for excuses for war and perpetual conflict -Scotlands( and the rest of the British isles) place is in a modern democratic Europe, on Thursday- make it so!

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 5th, 2017 21:32

    The Tory candidate insists the choice is between unionist and nationalist but Miriam Brett is an outward looking internationalist who recognises Westminster will not reform and therefore holds Scotland back from creating a fairer society. She is far from being an inward looking UKIP style British unionist nationalist.

    Welfare policy remains set in Westminster. But for the SNP Shetland and Scotland would have been subjected to Cameron and Carmichael’s Bedroom Tax. Who knows what more May is planning?

    It is not clear on what issues Carmichael would support a minority Tory government. This is because the self-styled LibDems favour the freedom of business above the freedoms people should enjoy, except on the occasions when it suits them. Remember Alistair and Tavish failed to press for proper local consultation over Viking Energy. Had they even been democrats…

    That Ian Tinkler can make a link between a social democratic party in one country looking to break from a union that requires it to participate in wars without clear UN backing and host weapons of mass destruction on the one hand and Nazi Germany on the other sadly tells us more about him. What new lows will he achieve before polling day?


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