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Election / Campaign round-up 23 April 2021

SCOTTISH Labour’s Highlands and Islands lead list candidate Rhoda Grant said she remains very concerned at the way the Shetland College merger has been handled without parliamentary checks and balances over its proposed privatisation.

Grant has supported the EIS-FELA union and those in the community who want the merged college to be ‘incorporated’ and to remain in public hands. The merger is set to go ahead on 1 August.

“It certainly sounds like a done deal now with no scrutiny of the college’s governance arrangements and of how privatisation will affect the staff and future monitoring of the public finances which are invested in the college despite it being a private limited company,” Grant said.

“The new merged college will be funded predominantly from public funds and therefore needs to be subject to democratic public accountability and the scrutiny of Audit Scotland, in line with public sector finance requirements.

“I think there should be further scrutiny for a project which has caused such a major rift in Shetland and I will push for that if re-elected.”

MEANWHILE, local Labour candidate Martin Kerr has welcomed the release of his party’s manifesto which promises a guarantee of a job for every young Scot.

At the heart of Scottish Labour’s plans are some transformative policies designed to change lives – in ways big and small, Kerr said.

“On the NHS, we need to get cancer treatment back on track, improve mental health, and give carers the pay they deserve,” he added.

“On climate recovery, we will be investing in green jobs and seizing Scotland’s hosting of COP26 to champion an ambitious climate justice plan.”

SNP candidate Tom Wills has published a blog on growing Shetland’s population at a time of climate crisis and recovery from the pandemic.

In it he makes the case that a larger population could help sustain public services such education and health care more easily and more cost effective.

He said Faroe’s population has grown significantly over recent decades while Shetland’s has been stagnating for the last 20 to 30 years, and points out that Faroe, though much smaller than Scotland, has its own parliament that has more powers than Holyrood.

His blog can be read at https://tomwills4shetland.org/toms_blog/growing-shetlands-population/ 

THE SCOTTISH Greens have been calling for politicians standing in the May election to listen to climate strikers.

The party’s co-leader Patrick Harvie paid a visit to climate striker Dylan Hamilton who has spent the last week on a vigil outside Edinburgh’s City Chambers calling for this to be a climate election.

But taking up the Greens on their support for an independence referendum, the chairman of the Scottish Liberal Democrats election campaign, Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, accused the Greens of “fiddling with the constitution while the planet burns”.

“Independence sucked up all of Scotland’s attention and resources in 2014 and the same will happen again if we rerun the referendum. In order to put recovery first, we need to put all our focus and resources on that,” he said.

“The Green party should look to the future, not back to 2014. Scottish Liberal Democrats will put the recovery first, not five more years of arguments over independence.”

RESTORE Scotland candidate Brian Nugent has dipped back into the 70s by quoting from the classic song Hotel California by American west coast band The Eagles when talking about the European Union (EU).

He of course is drawing attention to the European Union and his party’s stance that the EU can’t be reformed.

“In terms of rules and legislation, it’s a bit like Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave…you can never repatriate tasks to the national level.”

LIB DEM candidate for Shetland Beatrice Wishart has congratulated both Brynn Hauxwell and the Chillax group on their achievements at the Young Scot awards. 

“In a year that has been incredibly difficult it is all the more inspiring to see people like Brynn and the Chillax group lead the way on how we can all contribute to our community. Young people in Shetland truly led the way for the rest of the country last night,” she said.

The Scottish Parliament elections take place on 6 May. There are six candidates contesting the Shetland seat. They are in alphabetical order: Martin Kerr (Labour), Brian Nugent (Restore Scotland); Peter Tait (Independent), Nick Tulloch (Conservatives), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Liberal Democrats).

To find out more about all the candidates standing in the election, including those on the regional Highlands and Islands list, visit our Scottish Parliament election 2021 page below.