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Tavish backs embattled MP

Tavish Scott.

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott and the local Liberal Democrats have given their backing to embattled MP Alistair Carmichael over his decision not to stand down as the the MP for the Northern Isles because of his conduct in leaking a confidential memo.

Following five days of silence, the LibDem MSP said on Wednesday morning that he was “very disappointed” by his party colleagues’ actions but supported him in his attempts to regain the trust of local people.

Here is his statement in full: “I am very disappointed by Alistair’s actions. We have worked together for 14 years for Shetland. People come to see both of us to solve problems. I too feel let down. No wonder many people across the islands do too.

“But Alistair’s handling of this matter is not the Alistair I know.

“The Alistair I know worked with hundreds of Shetlanders to keep Sakchai Makao out of the hands of the UK Home Office and in his adopted home of Shetland.

“The Alistair I know worked with coastguard staff to save the Lerwick station.

“The Alistair I know was frustrated by high petrol prices at home and did something no one else had ever down – got petrol taxes cut for the Islands.

“So I have spent the time since last Friday wondering why he made such a serious mistake and one that he knows will cost him the trust of many people.

“There are two options. The first is he resigns. The SNP will have won. Few seem to see their abject hypocrisy. Salmond blatantly lied about legal advice on Scotland’s membership of the EU. The difference between Alistair and Salmond is Alistair has confessed and apologised.

“So Alistair could resign. Many are demanding that but the political motivation of the SNP and the yes campaign is obvious and increasingly personal and unpleasant. I detest mob rule and that is what this now looks like. It is not the Shetland I know.

“The second option is that he listens to his constituents, real Shetland folk who will give him a fair hearing.

“If he can demonstrate that he can get back to being a determined, effective local MP then people will accept that.

“Alistair has a long road to recovery with many people. But he should walk that road.”

The Shetland Lib Dems’ executive committee met to discuss Carmichael’s involvement in the leaked memo on Tuesday night.

Following the meeting, on Wednesday morning they issued a statement expressing “surprise and disappointment at Alistair’s actions and his lack of judgement”.

“However, the members agreed that Alistair has rightly taken full responsibility and has apologised to all concerned, not least to the people of Orkney and Shetland.

“The members agreed that Alistair is an excellent constituency MP. He has achieved much for Shetland in the last 14 years, particularly during his five years in government, where his experience and expertise were used to great benefit for the Northern Isles. He has reinforced his commitment to carry on representing this constituency, as he was elected to do, and he retains the full confidence of the executive.” 

Meanwhile, Shetland Green Party have voice their disappointment following Friday’s revelation, with members saying they feel Carmichael’s position is now “untenable”.

Local member Janet Morgan said: “We believe in the emerging new politics of Scotland based on honesty, fairness and social responsibility, and we fear that Mr Carmichael’s behaviour does not reflect that. We firmly believe that all the people of Orkney and Shetland deserve better from their elected representative.”

Another member, Vaila Holborn, said: “We add our voice to those from across the political spectrum who view his position now as untenable and call for Mr Carmichael’s resignation.”

On Tuesday the local Labour party condemned Carmichael’s actions but rejected calls for a by-election, heavily criticising the SNP’s role in trying to unseat the MP.

A local group, named ‘We the People of Shetland’, is circulating an open letter and planning a further protest against Carmichael remaining in place on Lerwick on Saturday.