Maree Todd: The Shetland By-election has been “overwhelmingly positive and civilised”

Maree ToddIt was longer coming during the present Holyrood recess period than I had first planned, but I did make it to Orkney for a couple of days last week, either side of another visit to Shetland, from where I am writing this latest piece for the Orkney News.

You may already have been following what has been happening in your neighbouring islands, but the Holyrood by-election campaign has certainly hit the headlines – sometimes for the wrong reasons – in the past few days and weeks.

While there have been a couple of acrimonious online clashes and the odd negative interjection from south-based LibDem politicians, I can vouch for the fact that the tone of campaign on the ground in Shetland has been overwhelmingly positive and civilised, and there is a clear feeling among many that it is time for change. This comes as no surprise to me after many visits to both Orkney and Shetland over the past three years.

As we move towards the vote in Shetland on Thursday there is no doubt that there has been a shift in attitudes among undecided voters towards the SNP, largely based around the fact that Tom Wills and his team have run one of the most energetic campaigns I have had the pleasure of being involved in. Whether that has been enough to overturn decades of Liberal and LibDem domination in these islands will only be discovered in the early hours of Friday morning.

No doubt there will be a fair few folk in Orkney keeping an eye out for the result to see if the tide really has turned. If Tom does win he has pledged to get to work on behalf of his fellow islanders first thing on Friday morning. I suspect Nicola Sturgeon’s phone number will be among the first he will dial if successful!

While being involved in this election campaign in Shetland has been an invigorating experience, casting an eye south can be somewhat dispiriting.

As much as Tom Wills has campaigned hard to deliver a message to stop Brexit, the dealings of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his right-wing cabinet give great cause for concern.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, has led calls for MPs to stop Brexit, but Scotland must also have a choice if plans fail.

The SNP will play our full part and do everything we can to stop Brexit – but Scotland’s future will not be left in Westminster’s hands.

Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process, our interests have been sidelined, and we have been treated with contempt. Brexit has shown beyond doubt that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK.

It’s now clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an equal and independent European country – and the people of Scotland will get the chance to choose their future in a fresh referendum, for which the SNP has a strong mandate.

This is a regular column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP. All list MSPs in the Highlands & Islands have been offered the same regular space to share their own views. 

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