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Letters / Why Tavish won

I have been musing about the 2016 election result in Shetland. I think the following are the main reasons for the LibDem resurgence here.

  1. The Lib-Dems fought a skilful campaign – much better than the SNP;
  2. Tavish Scott was not tarred with the LibDem/Tory coalition brush in the way that Alistair Carmichael had been at the general election;
  3. The SNP candidate had had an unfortunate time – although I don’t think that was too important, since the SNP did equally badly in Orkney;
  4. The excitement of the referendum campaign had more or less dissipated, allowing most voters to revert to the LibDem fold here;
  5. Some of the gloss has gone off the SNP claim to be a left party. After all, they went into the election with a tax policy rather like the Tories’;
  6. The Wir Shetland intervention in favour of Tavish Scott had no effect – except in one area. They kept plugging away about the alleged SNP conspiracy against Shetland Islands Council and with regard to ferry fares. Foolishly, the SNP didn’t bother to rebut these claims, as they could easily have done. As a result, both narratives became received wisdom;
  7. Finally, the campaign about Alistair Carmichael went on for a year too long. Voters got sick and tired of it. But the SNP imagined that it was a winner: as somebody wrote, ‘If [Carmichael] clings on, and I find that hard to imagine, the Lib Dems will be unelectable for a generation or more in the Northern Isles.’ The Orkney Four and their funders played their own little part in the Lib-Dem resurgence.

Brian Smith