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Election / Candidates respond to Sturgeon visit

Conservative candidate Brydon Goodlad, independent Ryan Thomson and Tom Wills, the SNP candidate.

INDEPENDENT by-election candidate Ryan Thomson says he would be “free to campaign against any decisions the government may make that might damage us” if he was elected – suggesting that an SNP MSP would have to toe the party line.

It comes after SNP candidate Tom Wills told Shetland News that while he agreed with almost everything Thomson is saying on the many transport issues Shetland faces, solutions could be found and implemented more easily with an MSP that was a member of the governing party.

Challenging that view, Thomson said Shetland needed a MSP who could stand up for Shetland.

As chairman of the council’s environment and transport committee, Thomson has been closely involved in the negotiations with the Scottish Government over the ‘fair funding’ of internal ferries.

“While an MSP having a direct line to the first minister may have its benefits, on the flip side to that is if the SNP government take a decision that is ultimately detrimental to Shetland, an SNP MSP will be manacled and unable to effectively challenge the government,” he said.

“The SNP are known for their very strict party discipline, I’m not sure I can recall any kind of rebellion by an SNP MSP in recent years.

“I’m against that kind of dogmatic, combative politics that exist in both Holyrood and Westminster.

“I want to provide Shetland with a candidate who is willing to work with the Scottish Government in Shetland’s best interests, unlike a Lib Dem MSP, but also free to campaign against any decisions the government may make that might damage us, unlike an SNP MSP.”

Meanwhile, Sturgeon’s visit to the isles has drawn the wrath of Conservative candidate Brydon Goodlad, who accused the first minister of being in the centre of a “flag-waving circus” while neglecting her core duties.

“It’s a great shame that Nicola Sturgeon didn’t provide Shetland’s fishermen with an explanation for how re-joining the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy would help them move towards a brighter future,” Goodlad said.

“Nor did she bother to speak to representatives of Shetland Islands Council about how services across the islands are suffering from the unfair financial settlement imposed upon us by her government.

“We didn’t even hear any acknowledgement about the scandalous failure to address the often-promised never-delivered improvements to the ferry service.”

Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, Jamie Halcro Johnston, added: “She [Sturgeon] appears unwilling to learn anything at all about the real issues people in Shetland care about, instead focusing on pet interests like a second independence referendum.

“Shetland doesn’t need an MSP obsessed with another divisive referendum, it needs one who will deliver for the islands and put the needs of the local community first.”

Responding to Goodlad’s comments, Tom Wills said: “It was fantastic to have our first minister in Shetland speaking with local folk – I am however surprised to see Brydon Goodlad referring to members of the public at the Cunningsburgh Show as an ‘unrepresentative bubble of SNP supporters’.”

There are ten candidates contesting the Shetland by-election on 29 August.

They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Michael Stout (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).

Read more about all ten candidates at our special Shetland by-election page at: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/features/election-2019/