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Politics / Campaign round-up

One-time Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Malcolmson has called on islanders to support SNP candidate Miriam Brett.

THE SCOTTISH Greens have confirmed that they will not be fielding a candidate in the Northern Isles for next month’s general election.

The party is only fielding around 10 candidates across Scotland’s 59 constituencies, and has heavily criticised Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May for calling the election for “naked party political purposes as the Tories attempt to crush Labour in England and Wales”.

Highlands and Islands convener James MacKessack-Leitch said such “immature behaviour has no relevance in the Highlands and Islands, let alone Scotland or Northern Ireland, but will only serve to increase voter apathy and anger at the way politics is conducted in this country, at a time when there are far bigger issues at stake”.

The Greens are not contesting any of the five constituencies in the Highlands and Islands, and nor will they be endorsing any candidates, MacKessack-Leitch added.

A former Liberal Democrat councillor in Shetland has endorsed SNP hopeful Miriam Brett ahead of the 8 June poll.

Peter Malcolmson, whose son Iain was recently appointed as the party’s convener in the isles, said that the Lib Dems had deserted him and not the other way around.

“Most folk would think that Peter Malcolmson is a Liberal Democrat,” he said. “I was. I didn’t leave the Liberal Democrats. They left me. They left me behind when they joined with the Tories, and I simply could not thole [abide by] that, and I resigned forthwith.”

He said Shetland was on the wrong side of the Brexit vote despite 62 per cent voting Remain. Malcolmson fears an increased majority for the Tories in England and in such circumstances “I can only think people south of the border will have decided their own future, and their own destiny… Scotland must do the same.”

He added: “The only way, I think, we can preserve the future for ourselves is to look at independence. And to do that, we must support our local candidate. Miriam Brett is a young, able, knowledgeable and very well connected young person, and I think she is the one who will help secure Shetland and Orkney for the future of this constituency.”

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Meanwhile, Conservative candidate Jamie Halcro Johnston has accused both the Liberal Democrats and the SNP of “the height of arrogance” for what he describes as the parties’ “respective plans to rerun the EU and the Scottish independence referendums”.

Brett is widely expected to present the only serious challenge to Liberal Democrat incumbent Alistair Carmichael, who holds an 817-seat majority in the Northern Isles.

Halcro Johnston said it was time both parties “learnt to respect the democratic decisions of voters as reflected in the results of the EU and Scottish independence referendums”.

He said the SNP wanted to “tear Scotland out of the UK’ and then “without any mandate to do so, they would then seek to take us straight back into the EU, regardless of how damaging the terms of that entry could be”.

The Tory hopeful voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum, but said he respected the decision of UK voters – including over 9,000 in Shetland and Orkney – who voted to leave and recognises that “we now need to work together to negotiate the best possible Brexit deal”.

“So, at this election, voters in Orkney and Shetland can elect a Scottish Conservative MP who respects the results of both the referendums on Scottish independence and on EU membership,” Halcro Johnston added.

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