NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has been confirmed as the Liberal Democrats’ candidate for June’s UK general election by the party’s local branch.
Carmichael won an 817-vote majority over the late Danus Skene of the SNP back in 2015 – a result which was subject to a legal challenge in the Court of Session – and will seek to retain a seat he has held since 2001.
The Liberal Democrats, and their predecessors the Liberals, have held the seat since 1950.
Following meetings in both Kirkwall and Lerwick this weekend the Orkney and Shetland Liberal Democrats unanimously confirmed Carmichael as their candidate for the 8 June poll.
He said: “It has been an enormous honour and a privilege to serve as MP for the Northern Isles and I am looking forward to contesting this election campaign. Our country faces a number of enormous challenges at the moment and I believe that I can use my experience to protect the best interests of the isles at this time.”
The party’s Shetland chairwoman Brenda Wilcock said: “Alistair is hard-working and dedicated to the Northern Isles. He has achieved a good many things for our local communities and will continue to do so – better broadband provision, cheaper ferry fares, the interests of local crofters, farmers and fishermen.
“The choice is simple – a hard-working, dedicated MP with our interests at heart or an SNP MP unable to get on with the day job or thinking about another independence referendum.”
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said Northern Isles voters faced a “clear choice” between his party and the SNP.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said the islands’ economic future would face “great pressure in the coming years”.
“Agriculture has depended on the EU for both markets and money,” he said. “Both are now in question. The Tories have form on selling out our fishing industry.
“The Northern Isles need an MP who will focus on local jobs, the needs of local businesses and the future of the islands’ industries. A vote for the SNP is a vote for independence and a vote for the Tories is a vote for a hard Brexit. A vote for Alistair is a vote for the future of the islands.”
The other main parties have yet to announce their candidates in the Northern Isles constituency for the election, called last week by Theresa May.
Carmichael served as a government minister during the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, which lasted for five years from 2010.
In May 2015 he won the constituency with 41 per cent of the vote – a much reduced share on the 62 per cent he claimed five years earlier.
Following the election, a legal challenge against its legitimacy was heard at the Court of Session after it emerged Carmichael had lied about his knowledge of a leaked memo relating to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during the campaign.
Judges ruled that, while he had told a “blatant lie” about his knowledge of the memo on television, it had not been proved that he had committed an illegal practice.