Election is wide open (John Tulloch)
The would-be main contenders like, predictably, to characterise the Orkney and Shetland election as a “two-horse race”. However, I’m not so sure.
Both Labour and the Tories have been rising in the polls, Labour particularly rapidly from a low base, and the overarching political backdrop of Scottish independence and Brexit have produced a situation in which the constituency election is potentially wide open.
For example: If the 36 percent who voted for independence all vote SNP, the SNP might win however, if pro-EU unionists unite around the LibDems, Mr Carmichael could hang on. If Labour’s national resurgence is reflected locally, they could also do very well and if the 43 percent who voted for Brexit all vote Tory then a Tory win is perfectly feasible, too.
This is obviously dawning, doubtless as a result of doorstep canvassing, on the SNP. They are frantically trying to divert attention from local (toxic) issues, back to their old favourites, tired old UK national sound bites like, “Tory austerity”, “Scotland never gets the government it voted for”, “we want Indy”, “media bias”, etc.
Six of the last eight letters in The Shetland Times online have been from pro-SNP sources, with no less than four from local SNP spin-doctor and former arch-school closer Jonathan Wills. The sense of panic is palpable. You can smell it.
The SNP’s track record in Shetland is atrocious. Notable local issues include:
• 23 per cent cut in SIC funding since 2011, while the SNP Scottish government received an increase;
• False claim they will “radically renegotiate” the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) on rejoining the EU, knowing it to be non-negotiable;
• SNP candidate Miriam Brett’s refusal to sign the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) Brexit pledge to fight for full abrogation of the CFP;
• Reneged undertaking to fund Shetland’s inter-island ferry funding deficit (£6.5 million per year subsidy by SIC);
• Reneged pledge to cut NorthLink ferry fares;
Shetlanders who still want to vote SNP on Thursday should do so and if instead they want to vote for whatever other party/candidate combination they believe will best represent Shetland’s vital interests then they should vote as they see fit.
The Orkney and Shetland election is wide open and tactical voting may lead to the disappointment of a narrow defeat for your preferred candidate.