WATCH: Freedom fighters battle at Althing

It was perhaps a badge of honour at the Althing debate tonight [Saturday] that all four speakers went over their allotted time limit.

Up for debate was the motion Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose – a line taken from the famous Kris Kristofferson song Me and Bobby McGee, and perhaps sung most famously by Janis Joplin.

But it was the sentiment, rather than the song, that formed the debate at the Lerwick Town Hall.

Speaking for the motion was head of the council’s infrastructure department, John Smith, who was supported by Ryan Taylor.

Speaking against were Shetland Central councillor Moraig Lyall and Donald Anderson.

Early indications showed a slim lead for the motion, with the pre-debate vote showing 4-3 in favour.

But the real story was in just how undecided the audience was at the beginning of the night. With 13 people undecided, it was going to be all to play for.

By the end of the night, there had been debate, discussion and an impromptu performance of the very song that gave the debate its title by a guitar strumming Mr Anderson.

And the debate certainly helped an initially unsure audience make up its mind. By close of play only four were undecided.

There was still a slim majority, but this time against the motion rather than for it. The final vote saw eight hands raised in favour, and nine against.

Chairman for the evening was SIC councillor Stephen Leask, who was readily on hand with his scribbled “one minute left” warnings for the panel of speakers.

He finished with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The Althing will return on 16th March, when a panel will debate: “The school year is too short”.


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