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Election / Youthful perspective on the general election

Anderson High School pupils learn about local news by quizzing some of the candidates

ON THURSDAY adults can vote for Shetland and Orkney’s new MP. This person will go to London and represent Northern Isles where our laws are made.

This is an extremely big deal, and the new MP will have a big impact on our islands. A lot of people will be affected, including us, the young people.

Anderson High S3 pupils Rajeev Prasad and Rasmie Coutts contacted all the candidates, but only two replied in full by their deadline which was last Thursday.

This article has some information about some of the people wanting to be our MP, and their thoughts.

Alistair Carmichael  

Alistair Carmichael wants to be MP and is from the Lib Dem party. These are his replies to our questions for him.

What are your top five biggest issues?

  1. Cost of living:
    Alistair said that the high prices of food and power are being felt.
    He said: “The government needs to continue support so that people who need help can get it.”
  2. Climate change:
    Alistair said in Edinburgh the SNP and Green Party couldn’t do what they wanted to do, for their climate goals.
    “We need to move away from using oil and gas and rely instead on renewable energy.” Alistair said we need to be more careful with energy and build more electric car chargers.
  3. Transport and fixed links:
    Alistair said that if we get good transport for our isles, everything else will fall in place and that we should start designing replacements for our ferries. Our isles linked by tunnels is something Alistair is looking for as well as putting more pressure on the Loganair so that we get reliable flights on time.
  4. Better digital connectivity:
    Alistair said good broadband and phone coverage is really important. It will make our isles better to live in.
  5. Taking down plastic pollution:
    “We need to eliminate the use of single use plastics and get serious about the amount we are able to recycle,” Alistair said.

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What sets you apart from other candidates? 
Alistair said he has a proven track record of hard work and helping the community. He said he makes an effort to be spoken to by locals.

What are your plans for sport and culture? 
“I am a strong defender of things like instrument tuition in schools which are central to maintaining Shetland’s musical heritage.” He also said that people and clubs who want to play sport outside Shetland needs good transport.

What changes do you want to make in schools? 
Alistair said that he “would be keen to see good industrial relations restored so that we do not see more strikes by teachers in the future”. He said we need the government in Edinburgh to act quickly as Scotland’s education outcome has dropped.

What are your plans to improve life for young people in Shetland and Orkney? 
Alistair stated: “The first thing I will do is to continue to listen to the young people of Shetland and Orkney”. He has met Joe Smith and Bertie Summers, who are the members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, both from the Anderson High School.

Thoughts
Alistair has done well with our community and engaged in it. I do like his plans to construct tunnels for Shetland as it would help link our islands even more. I think these are very safe policies that aren’t huge or completely different, but it will probably help Shetland as Alistair has a good record and reputation in Shetland.

Alex Armitage  

Alex Armitage wants to be MP and is standing for the Green party. These are his replies to our questions for him.

What are your top five biggest issues?  
Alex’s top five biggest issues are:

  • Stop climate breakdown
  • Abolish poverty
  • Create peace, justice and freedom across the world
  • Autonomy for Shetland
  • Mental health and wellbeing for all.

What sets you apart from other candidates?
Alex said he has “a focus on taking action on climate and protecting nature. Redistributing wealth; taxing billionaires and redistributing the wealth to bring people out of poverty”.

What are your plans for sport and culture?
Alex said: “Continued funding for culture and sport in Shetland is under huge threat” and that “we have benefitted hugely form the money from oil and gas coming through Sullom Voe, however this is in decline now”.

He also said: “We have funding for a new 3G pitch to enable year-round outdoor sport (many of our playing fields become unplayable because they’re waterlogged)”.

If elected, he says he would be “proposing a wealth tax on billionaires so we can properly fund our NHS, council services and cultural facilities”.

What are you hoping to change in our schools?
Alex is hoping to “see a radical reform of our education system”. Right now, the system we have works well for some people, but for others it really doesn’t work.

He said: “I’m a doctor for children and young people, and I meet so many people who have amazing talents, but they find school really impossible perhaps they struggle to concentrate or because they feel overwhelmed with having to work in a noisy environment”.

Alex thinks that “an academic education is great for some people, but we should be able to provide a much more technical education for people who have a different kind of intelligence.

“The people who are going to fix climate change are going to be engineers, fishers, farmers, divers, joiners – and we need to make sure that our education system prepares people for the needs of the future.”

Alex thinks that there needs to be “improvements in sex and relationships that would help create a society where people can have healthy fulfilling romantic relationships”.

What are your plans to improve life for the young people and children in Shetland and Orkney?
Alex said that “climate change is the issue that will dominate the rest of the 21st century. The faster we act on climate change; the least bad outcome will be in years to come.

“Shetland will play a huge role in the green industrial revolution: there will be many jobs here in renewable energy, and fishing will continue to be a massive industry.

“My concern is that large corporations will try and extract as much profit from the opportunities available.”

Thoughts:
On balance, Alex’s answers make him a candidate worthy of consideration. As a doctor working with children and young people, he knows the importance of looking towards the future and the issues that affect young people.

He wants to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to learn in a way that suits them during their education. Alex feels that there is a need for practical skills to be taught to help support Shetland’s industries.

However, a strong focus on climate change may not appeal to voters whose prime concerns are not climate-related issues.

Robert Leslie 

Robert Leslie wants to be MP and is standing for the Scottish National Party. Here are some of his policies.

  • Scottish independence
  • Public ownership of energy
  • Rejoin the EU
  • More power to the islands
  • Stop fuel poverty

Conor Savage 

Conor Savage is hoping to be MP and is from the Labour party. Here are some of his ideas.

  • Fixing cost of living
  • Better transport for Shetland and Orkney
  • Making sure there is affordable housing in Shetland and Orkney
  • Better support for local NHS
  • Developing our energy industry, while keeping our fishing industry safe
  • Making sure the locals have skilled and safe jobs

Robert Smith 

Robert Smith is a candidate from Reform UK. Here are some of his party’s ideas.

  • Restore law and order
  • Repair public services
  • Cut taxes
  • End government waste

Shane Painter 

Shane Painter is the candidate from the Conservative party. Here are some of his views.

  • Invest in infrastructure
  • End long NHS waits
  • Support farming, crofting and fishing
  • Protect oil and gas jobs
  • Cut taxes

Conclusion

We, students at Anderson High School, think that this is important to all of us.

There are definitely interesting candidates and policies here in our islands.  We hope that this article can help people choose who they want as MP for our islands.

Anderson High S3 pupils Rajeev Prasad and Rasmie Coutts


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