NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael said he would relish a contest with a locally selected Yes Shetland candidate at May’s general election.
The local branch of the SNP is currently looking for a suitable candidate to stand against the Lib Dem MP of almost 14 years, and have said they would welcome nominations from the wider Yes movement.
And Carmichael insisted that his party, currently polling as low as seven per cent nationally, would do significantly better than forecast.
The Liberal Democrats have 57 MPs at Westminster, 11 of which represent Scottish constituencies. Orkney & Shetland is generally regarded as the safest of these seats.
Speaking at the weekend, the 49 year old MP, who has been the Scottish secretary since October last year, said he was looking forward to a wider debate following the single-issue referendum campaign.
“I would relish that challenge. If Yes Shetland wants to bring forward a candidate who presumably will have support from both the SNP and the Greens, then I think local people will want to know what is the energy policy of that candidate.
“The SNP put great reliance on oil and gas, while not that long ago I shared a platform with Patrick Harvie of the Greens, where he described oil as the new weapon of mass destruction, that we should have nothing to do with it.
“That didn’t matter during the referendum campaign but a general election is different, in that you have to come forward with a coherent manifesto of policies to have any credibility,” he said.
He said he had a strong track record both nationally and locally, citing the retention of the Lerwick coastguard station and the emergency towing tug, but also the state pension and the increase in the personal tax allowance.
And while the coming months were “challenging” for the Lib Dems, he said he was “fairly confident” that we would do “much better than the pundits and the clever people are predicting”.
He added: “Headline national polls are not great for us. But on a constituency by constituency basis, where we have a sitting MP and a campaign organisation capable of getting the Lib Dem message out to the voters, our support remains strong.”
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