Tories frozen out of union’s ‘Nationalise NorthLink’ meeting

The Tory party has been snubbed ahead of a public meeting planned to discuss union calls for the nationalisation of lifeline ferry services.

The RMT says it will “not share a platform” with the Conservatives, following a decision to exclude Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston from the list.

Mr Halcro Johnston has hit back at the decision, arguing Scotland’s “main opposition party” has wrongfully been excluded from the discussions, which is due to take place in Orkney next month.

Scottish government Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, has been invited to the meeting in Kirkwall on 7th February, along with Highland and Islands MSPs, Labour’s David Stewart and Green Party member John Finnie.

Managing director of Serco NorthLink, Stuart Garrett, has also been asked to attend, as well as a number of Orkney-based politicians, including the Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur.


We’ve invited a broad spectrum of MSPs. Tory party policy is clearly the privatisation of tenders. We know his view. We don’t need them. GORDON MARTIN


The meeting is being held as part of the RMT’s so-called Nationalise NorthLink campaign.

RMT spokesman Gordon Martin told this newspaper: “We’ll not be sharing a platform with Tories, that’s for sure.

“We’ve invited a broad spectrum of MSPs. Tory party policy is clearly the privatisation of tenders. We know his view. We don’t need them.

“We want the local MSP and list MSPs representing parties that may have a range of views. But we know, from experience, the Tory point of view.”

Mr Halcro Johnston said Scotland’s main opposition party had been excluded from the discussions.

“It’s extremely disappointing that the RMT appears to have chosen to exclude Scotland’s main opposition party by failing to invite any representatives from the Scottish Conservatives to this closed-doors meeting.”

• More reaction and background in Friday’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • January 16th, 2018 18:46

    It does not surprise me since the Conservatives, as a whole, only think of themselves and what they can gain from the mass privatisation of Government Responsibilities and Duties of Care, and where they themselves will benefit, but at the cost to the rest of the country.

    Unfortunately, Brex*hit, will give the Conservatives the greenlight to do as they please, and where the trade deal with the USA, will only justify mass privatisation, which will take place before their term is finished.

    Transferring Government Responsibilities to the private sector will be a disaster in the making, as most businesses, as has been proven with the privatisation of care towards the elderly, will cut services and cost much, much more.

    I just wish more was done to exclude the Conservatives from meetings, conferences or whatever, afterall, all the Conservatives do is put themselves first, second and anything else which is left over.

    They are a political party which does more harm than good. They may not be dictators, but with the present political climate of today and no credible opposition, they will be acting as dictators for sure.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • January 17th, 2018 12:40

      Glad to see the ultra-left fulfilling its stated aim of “inclusion” David.
      I have little time for the Tories, but I have even less for the loony democrats who only agree with democracy when it suits their ends, if the democratic result is “wrong” then “the people were duped,” lied too, or some other poor excuse for not getting the extremist version of life the left wants.
      Just to point out, historically, the wealth gap has grown under labour governments and has decreased under tory governments.
      One size fits all extremist left politics damages the poorest.

      • James Watt

        • January 17th, 2018 14:29

        “Just to point out, historically, the wealth gap has grown under labour governments and has decreased under tory governments.“

        Not for the first time Steven, you seem to be talking out of a hole designed for other purposes.

        “The proportion of property wealth owned by the bottom four-fifths of adults grew from 35% in 1995 to 40% in 2005.
        However, the foundation warns “that with home ownership steadily falling since its mid-2000s peak, the proportion of property wealth owned by the bottom four-fifths of the population has started to fall again”.

      • Chris Johnston

        • January 17th, 2018 14:35

        Steven, I suggest you use a more descriptive term than “democrats” – “socialists” is more appropriate.

      • David Spence

        • January 17th, 2018 21:55

        Actually Steven, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened to the greatest gap ever since such a statistic was created.

        Not only this Steven, but the economic philosophy of the Tories would only serve to widen this gap further until the whole of society is controlled by the elite few. Call it economic dictatorship by any other description.

        As said previously, the EU Ref. was acted out to suit the agenda of the Conservatives, and to justify the privatisation of most government responsibilities and duties of care without the interference of the EU. This deal being a trade deal with the USA, and where the only thing to offer the USA, is government controlled responsibilities and duties of care.

        Although China, is a socialist country (I now question this?) it acts very much like a country the Conservatives would love to have…plenty of cheap labour and where profits are huge due to very little production costs. Ironically, many western companies use China, purely for cheap labour and low production costs.

        The Conservatives would like the UK to be like China.

        It is disturbing how many products are made from China, would you not say?

  • Ali Inkster

    • January 16th, 2018 18:56

    Well it looks like we will be getting ferries to suit the rmt and the snp this time as opposed to the ferries that suited the rbs last time. Maybe in 20 years the tories will get a chance to decide, I wonder who the ferries will suit then?

  • Steven Jarmson

    • January 16th, 2018 22:35

    Did I miss the part where Tavish has been invited?

  • John Haswell

    • January 17th, 2018 0:12

    Carillion – Serco – Tories frozen out – anyone surprised?

  • Charles L. Gallagher

    • January 17th, 2018 15:36

    While I agree that the Tories are a bunch of greedy b*****d’s in the interest of true democracy they should have been invited, if only to hear what other people think of them, AGAIN. On the other hand I don’t want to see our vital life-line services being run by a Union/s for in my book some Unions have not advanced beyond the Dinosaurs that tried to hi-jack the country back in 50’s, 60’s & 70’s and who played right into the hands of the Tories, bringing us Thatcher and Blair (The Pink Tory).

    What we need is a wholly owned Public Company where the Unions are given their place but NOT CONTROL.

  • Ali Inkster

    • January 17th, 2018 17:42

    It was the SNP that handed the contract to serco nothing to do with the Tories. But the reason the like of serco, cerilion get government contracts are EU rules on the bidding process. Like everything else the EU does it is in favour of corporations at the expense of small businesses. Makes you wonder why so many like the snp are so in favour of remaining in.

  • John Jamieson

    • January 18th, 2018 13:29

    It makes no sense to bar Tory MSP because of his current views, although he may not contribute anything worthwhile he might hear arguments that would modify his opinion on the future of the north isles contract.
    The current Shetland MSP backing the case for taking the contract back in house was part of the Labour/Lib Dem Scottish Government that insisted on contracting out all of the Scottish ferry routes, in spite of evidence from Germany that such services could be run by government agencies.

    • Bill Adams

      • January 18th, 2018 19:15

      Is the “current Shetland MSP” backing the case for taking the contract back in-house ?
      I was under the impression he was pushing for a re-tendering exercise.

  • John Tulloch

    • January 18th, 2018 20:46

    The exclusion of the Tory List MSP is undemocratic – shocking, actually. No PC ‘doffing of caps’ to democracy/free speech here!

    It speaks volumes about RMT’s intentions and suggests an unscrupulous approach.

    • Graham Fleming

      • January 19th, 2018 16:12

      As a small business person myself and no real fan of large tracts of the public sector in Scotland.I particulary admire Ireland and Germany in how they have grown their own economies in recent years.The U.K model of perpetual violence be it in Northern Ireland, Iraq or elsewhere with the main vectors being the Tory party,should always BARR them in any normal discussions of government anywhere in Scotland .

  • John Tulloch

    • January 18th, 2018 20:48

    If the NorthLink ferry service is brought back “in-house” by the SG and handed to Cal-Mac, it will cost even more than now unless the service is cut or degraded. Higher costs will be cast up by the SG as increased subsidy to the isles whenever anyone protests about SIC funding cuts.

    Shetland should seek to ensure that subsidies are used with optimal efficiency as the pot is limited and it is essential to get the best out of what is available. Serco may not be the best available but Cal-Mac will be much worse.

    Cal-Mac must not get the contract. The SIC must block that.
    (Doubters are strongly recommended to read the excellent “Who pays the ferryman”, by Scottish ferries expert Roy Pedersen).


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