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Viewpoint / Election: ‘Don’t play games with your vote’

Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for orkney and Shetland Gerry McGarvey.

The Scottish Labour party’s candidate for Orkney and Shetland, Gerry McGarvey, sets out his stall ahead of the general election on 7 May. The other four candidates’ contributions will be published here in the coming days.

I have a clear understanding of what my candidacy is about, and it is this, life changing stuff that WILL make a real difference to the lives of people on these islands.

Clearly I don’t currently live on the islands, but based in the rural village of Gartmore, I am more than familiar with, and understand, the issues which concern local people, and in particular the specific needs of rural communities.

Your situation is unique and your needs distinct, requiring a voice prepared to focus on your situation and needs as well as being part of the solution and not part of the problem – as displayed by the incumbent MP.

However, embarking upon my campaign as the Scottish Labour candidate for Orkney & Shetland in May’s General Election, I think I have some insight into how Andy Murray must have felt every time he walked onto Centre Court for a Wimbledon final.

If he paid any attention, all he would hear was the pundit and commentators saying that it’s been over half a century since a Britain lifted the trophy, and with that thought, promptly turned round, walked off the court and gone to visit his grandparents in Dunblane and watch the whole thing on TV.

There is a similar sense when I look at how Orkney and Shetland have voted since 1951 with the Lib Dems taking the seat each time, but I believe that such traditions are made to be broken, and that the voters in Orkney and Shetland should have the opportunity to vote for a Scottish Labour candidate who does not see the lives and politics of the islands as a middle class parlour game, and it is certainly not playing games with people’s lives.

I am fully conversant with the nature of the issues you are experiencing as a direct consequence of the double whammy of Scottish Government cuts, particularly the rate support grant, and those created by Westminster directly as a result of Tory policy on issues that have not yet been devolved.

I am aware of the resultant effect and stresses placed on council services, especially those such as subsidies, schools, and inter-island ferries.

Given the lack of investment to business and infrastructure development there are threats to island life which ought to have been a priority for the incumbent MP long before the recent destabilisation of the oil industry highlighted by the drop in oil prices.

The over-dependency on oil revenue is not good for the island economy, and that over-dependency now reveals a potential for further destabilisation of the local economy, not only with oil-related jobs, but also ancillary or secondary services dependent on the oil industry.

A vote for Gerry McGarvey is a vote for:

  • More nurses
  • Capping energy prices
  • Developing a strong economic power base to avoid an over dependence on the oil industry
  • Promoting job-creating powers for the local authorities – giving Shetland Islands Council and Orkney Islands Council the powers they need to get young people back to work
  • Scrapping the bedroom tax completely
  • Challenging the SNP’s A&E crisis and protecting vital services
  • Dealing with the cost-of-living crisis by pushing for the introduction of fair pay with an £8 minimum wage
  • Freezing fracking and make sure residents always have the final say with a local referendum
  • Letting locals decide about whether or not they want to have a windfarm in their neighbourhood.
  • Creating the infrastructure for building new homes to deal with the SNP’s housing shortfall, which has seen housebuilding at its lowest level since the 1930s
  • Cutting cancer waiting times – with a one-week guarantee for a cancer test and result
  • Banning exploitative zero hour contracts ensuring that those working regular hours have the right to a regular contract.

These are the positive policy positions I would promote if elected.

…but back to the game analogy for a moment.

Unlike the SNP who are promoting a candidate to try to shape their one firm policy – that of separating the islands from the larger mainland, and bolstering their preferred part of the mainland, they see themselves, mistakenly I believe, as the power-broker pawns playing to bring down the queen as in a game of chess. Their policy, their one policy is superficial narrow parochialism.

…and as for the LibDems and Tories? Well, the opportunism of the LibDems needs no further elaboration as we see that the people of Orkney and Shetland – although the majority voted LibDem – ended up with a Tory Government, and make no mistake, it really wasn’t a coalition, but the LibDems were simply there to make up the numbers and give the Tories free rein to crush the most vulnerable over the last five years.

If you want to make a real difference to your life, the lives of your relatives, friends and those you care for, don’t play games with your vote on 7 May – vote for a party and someone who takes this seriously and is not playing games or bound by tradition.

Vote Scottish Labour!
Vote Gerry McGarvey!

Gerry McGarvey’s campaign can be followed on Facebook and on TwitterThe other candidates are Donald Cameron (Conservatives), Alistair Carmichael (LibDems), Danus Skene (SNP) and Robert Smith (UKIP).


Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021