Time is running out for the Scottish Greens if they are to put forward a candidate to contest the Orkney & Shetland Constituency for the General Election to be held on Thursday June 8th. So far 5 political parties have announced candidates for the islands. They are:
- Robina Barton (Labour)
- Miriam Brett (SNP)
- Alistair Carmichael (LibDems)
- Jamie Halcro- Johnston (Conservatives)
- Robert Smith (UKIP)
Alistair Carmichael has held the seat since 2001 and it has been Liberal/Liberal Democrat continuously since 1950. The stakes are very high for Carmichael who only held onto the seat in 2015 by 817 votes and became the only LibDem MP in Scotland. In an unusual legal challenge to the result 4 constituents proved that Carmichael had lied in order to affect his election but because this was a political lie the potential By-Election was averted. Carmichael’s majority had reduced drastically from 9,928 to just 817 no doubt also as a result of his participation as a Coalition Government Minister where he had voted for welfare cuts (including the bedroom tax) and in favour of bombing Syria. Many people in Orkney & Shetland seeing this as a betrayal of traditional Liberal values.
Robert Smith for UKIP has stood as a candidate in 2010 and 2015 and is well known in Orkney.
Jamie Halcro-Johnston for the Conservatives is also well known in Orkney but took a severe bruising when he stood in the Orkney elections to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 when he lost his deposit.
Robina Barton for Labour is well known in Shetland where she contested the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election. Labour’s vote has declined consistently at each election in the constituency only achieving 7.1% in 2015.
Miriam Brett for the SNP is well known in Shetland but less so in Orkney and at 25 is by far the youngest of the candidates. She does have experience of working in Westminster, however, as the senior economic advisor to the SNP Group.
For Carmichael and the LibDems Orkney & Shetland must be won and they will campaign hard to make that happen. In 2016 in both Orkney and Shetland the LibDems campaign for the Scottish Election was extremely successful but also significantly expensive almost spending more money than all the other parties put together.
Carmichael has already declared that the fight for the seat will be between him and Brett for the SNP. The electorate of the Northern Isles have always prided themselves on voting for the person not the party. The LibDems are hoping to overcome this by pitching their vote as an anti SNP vote. It will be interesting to see if the islanders go against their tradition of voting for a person and instead go down the route of voting for ,or in this case against, a political party.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame