SHETLAND Labour Party could field a locally-based candidate for next May’s Scottish Parliament election should Robina Barton be successful in being selected by the island membership.
The geology officer with Shetland Amenity Trust has put her name forward along with May’s general election candidate Gerry McGarvey to stand next spring.
The last time a local Labour candidate contested an election in Shetland was in 2003 when Peter Hamilton came fourth in the fight for the Holyrood seat.
A spokesman for the local branch said membership had grown by around 20 per cent from 45 to 55 since the UK leadership election, adding that the election of Jeremy Corbyn appeared to be a major factor for people joining or re-joining the party.
“The party is now keen to encourage more people to join and is going to set up a Facebook site for Shetland Labour, in a bid to recruit more young people to the cause,” secretary Gordon Thomson said.
“Labour has to be seen now as the only realistic alternative to austerity across the UK – members felt the SNP could make a case for Scotland but that we were the only party to do so UK-wide.”
He added that during a party debate last week members were broadly supportive of Corbyn and his cabinet, and wanted to see a Labour party that was going to take a stand against further cuts to benefits and working tax credits, as well as opposing the Trade Union Bill.
“Members admired the respectful way that Corbyn had begun his campaign and welcomed the chance to debate the big issues – austerity, Trident, local authority cuts and EU membership, to name but a few.
“Not everyone would agree with every Labour policy – Trident nuclear weapons being a particular example where views were divided – but there will be time now to debate that and to try to reach a consensus,” Thomson added.
Earlier this summer the SNP selected Danus Skene, who finished second behind Alistair Carmichael in the Westminster election, ahead of list MSP Mike Mackenzie to fight incumbent MSP Tavish Scott, who has held the seat since the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999
The surge in support for the nationalists in the wake of last year’s independence referendum, coupled with the adverse publicity Carmichael generated for the Liberal Democrats following the election, means incumbent Scott is expecting his toughest battle yet to retain the constituency.