So, here we go again – at various times this General Election was forecast to be in October, November, Spring 2020, but has now been set for a pre-Christmas vote on Thursday, 12th December.
There was no Halloween exit from the European Union, and this election is Scotland’s chance to escape the Brexit chaos by voting SNP and putting Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.
While this is a contest that is seen by the UK Tory Government as a way of breaking the Brexit stalemate, from a Scottish point of view it may well herald the end the UK as we know it.
The Tories want to impose Brexit on Scotland against our will, which will hit jobs and living standards. In Orkney the agriculture sector is particularly threatened – and news that the Tories would like to impose a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter is also ringing alarm bells in the islands, given the sea journeys currently required for Orkney’s livestock.
When a party in power is so out of touch that it doesn’t recognise the potentially devastating impact on farmers in the Northern Isles of such proposals, it calls their judgement into question.
At this election,the SNP will set out how we can build a better Scotland as an independent European country, free from Brexit and Tory governments for whom we don’t vote.
The focus of media attention is currently on the early campaign skirmishes, and it is already clear that two very different contests will take place north and south of the border. While pro-Brexit parties and candidates dance around the dividing lines in England, in Scotland voters really have an opportunity to send a message to broken Westminster that they have had enough of being side-lined and ignored.
And in a contest where the Lib Dems have already started to overplay their status to a shocking degree – looking to jump the SNP in the queue to make it onto the TV leader debates – voters in Orkney and Shetland will have an opportunity to break with history and send an SNP MP to Westminster. The truth is that the Lib Dems under Jo Swinson simply cannot be trusted – they have put a right-wing Tory government into power before. Having welcomed numerous former Tories into their ranks, they are even more deserving of the Yellow Tory moniker than ever.
As Westminster gets ready to break up for the election campaign, the Scottish Parliament carries on with its business. On Thursday, for example, following First Minister’s Questions, we will debate a Members’ Business motion from my SNP colleague George Adam. This motion focuses on the veterans who served in the Ministry of Defence atmospheric nuclear test programme in the 1950s and 1960s, recognising that 22,000 veterans took part in the programme, of which, around 1,500 survive today. The UK is the only nuclear power to deny special recognition and compensation to its test veterans – a fact worth thinking about as we head towards Remembrance Sunday.
This is a regular column by local SNP MSP Maree Todd. All list MSPs for the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same opportunity to publish their views