Tag Archives: Lallands Peat Worrier

Shetland and Orkney and Alistair Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael has been the LibDem MP for the Orkney and Shetland constituency since 2001. It’s been a distinguished constituency for the Liberal Party for over sixty years.

In 1950, Jo Grimond won the Orkney and Shetland constituency for the Liberal Party (defeating Sir Basil Neven-Spence, whose family had owned land in Shetland for generations and who had been the Unionist MP for twenty years). Grimond was one of nine Liberal MPs elected in 1950, and he was to hold his seat for thirty-three years: he stepped down in 1983. Jim Wallace succeeded him, and Alistair Carmichael succeeded Wallace in 2001. Jim Wallace went on to become the LibDem MSP for Orkney until 2007, when he was succeeded by Liam McArthur: Shetland has had one MSP since 1999, Tavish Scott. Jim Wallace and Tavish Scott were each at one time leaders of the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party, and Jo Grimond was twice leader of the Liberal Party. Alistair Carmichael is deputy leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and was Secretary of State for Scotland from 7th October 2013 to 8th May 2015.

“A LibDem, a Labour, and a Tory MP walk into a bar. Oh, says the bartender, this must be Scotland.”

The last time the Orkney and Shetland elected a parliamentary representative who wasn’t a Liberal / LibDem was in 1945 (Sir Basil Hamilton Hebden Neven-Spence, as one would expect, was standing for the Unionist Party). Orkney and Shetland local councillors are invariably independents.

The LibDems have had worse elections than in 2015, though not for some time. In 1951, Jo Grimond was one of only six Liberal MPs in the Commons: but from 1956 onwards there were nine, from 1966 twelve – and apart from a 10-month dip in 1974, they were never again in single figures until 7th May, 2015: when Alistair Carmichael beat the SNP surge by 817 votes.

Alistair Carmichael said (the Shetland Times reported)

it had been “quite a remarkable election campaign”. He congratulated the SNP on quite a remarkable political achievement. “We truly live in remarkable political times in Scotland.

He said it was a tremendous privilege to retain the seat and thanked the voters of Orkney and Shetland.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said he was relieved and delighted that Mr Carmichael had retained his seat and held off “the Tsunami” of SNP support that had been shown on Mainland Scotland.

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Filed under Corruption, Elections, GE2015

The Invisible Wings

Campbell Gunn emailJim Sillars writes in an open letter:

Bear this in mind: Scotland is involved in a great debate conducted democratically. That means freedom of thought has to be matched by freedom of speech, and that right respected by all. Freedom of speech does give licence to abuse. It is a wise person who does not use it for that purpose. Don’t start to respond by saying the other side are at it too. They are not going to get media coverage. You are.

In every campaign there comes a tipping point. Those of us engaged intelligently in this campaign, yes intelligently, can only hope that your stupid contributions through personal abuse do not lend themselves to a tipping point towards a Yes defeat. Stop playing the game that suits only the No side.

In this letter Jim Sillars recalls incidents of “false friends” – undercover policemen who infiltrated the independence movement and encouraged young enthusiasts to commit crimes with a view to making Scottish independence look like a bad cause. He says bluntly:

In 1979, with only a very weak assembly on offer, MI5 and special branch were involved, as was the CIA – with the US Consul in Edinburgh coming from the CIA stable. That was for a weak assembly, do you think that they will not be more engaged now that independence is on the agenda? Has it ever crossed your mind that by conducting a campaign of abuse, which plays into the hands of the No media, you are opening the Yes side to a dirty tricks campaign?

(There is a response to this letter from within the Yes campaign here.)
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Filed under J. K. Rowling, Scottish Politics

David Cameron: campaigning for a Yes vote?

Sammy Morse on Livejournal writes, I think quite accurately:

We are still somewhere between 2 and 4 years away from a referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland has never had a border poll before. Nobody knows how the referendum campaign will proceed, although given the radically different constellation of forces on the ‘Yes’ side, it will almost certainly be very different to the devolution campaign in 1997. Beyond that, a veritable horde of unknown unknowns lurk in the shadows. Only a fool or an owner of a crystal ball would attempt to call the result.

As I’ve noted before:

I’ve gone from being sure I would vote against independence to being unsure – is it really time to break up a 408-year marriage over a few unhappy years of Toryism? Can the damage the current Westminister government is doing be fixed once they’re out of power? How long can the Scottish Parliament hold them off? How soon will the UK be able to elect a better government? Above all: is it really right to end the union because of a temporary political fault? Has English politics really become so alien that we’ll never again be able to agree on a common government?

I suspect that it’s going to be one of those times I’m not going to be absolutely certain of my vote until I’m actually faced with the ballot paper and a pencil and the plain fact that I now have to put a cross somewhere, as I’ve never not-voted or committed spoiled-ballotry in my life.

But when the Conservative Party sends a press release to their favoured outlet for party churnalism, and the Torygraph publishes it under Alan Cochrane’s name, which includes the provocative declaration that:

A special Cabinet meeting in Downing Street this morning will be presented with legal advice from the Coalition’s most senior law officers — the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and Scotland’s Advocate General. It will declare that Mr Salmond’s plan to hold a referendum under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament would be unlawful.

It will confirm that under the terms of the 1998 Scotland Act — which set up Holyrood and decided its powers — any issue affecting the constitutional position of the UK can be determined only by Westminster. As a result of the Act, the law officers agreed, any attempt to hold either a binding, or even a consultative, referendum would be outlawed by the courts.

If Mr Salmond decided to defy Westminster, he would also be barred by law from using the electoral register, making it impossible for him to issue polling cards or post referendum literature.

Well. Are we to conclude that David Cameron really is that politically foolish north of the Border? That he honestly does not understand that – whether or not we intend to vote for independence, and whether or not we voted for the SNP – this is a Tory gauntlet in the face?

The SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament. That gives them a mandate to hold the referendum on Scottish independence at the date of their choosing. Cameron’s fancy that he gets to choose the date and dictate the content of the referendum is outrageous – his party has only 15 MSPs in Parliament, and only one MP in Scotland. He has no mandate to dictate terms north of the Border, and for him to so publicly claim that he does, is an outrageous foolishness if he really wants to preserve the United Kingdom with Scotland … and all of the Scottish Labour voters able to send Labour MPs to Parliament.

Cameron’s little brother Nick Clegg publicly declared supporters of independence “extremists” the other day. This is both absurd and derogatory, but I suppose not really important: it’s Cameron that’s clearly campaigning … for something.

Update: the question about whether the Scottish Parliament has lawful powers under the Scotland Act to vote for an Act declaring a referendum on independence, was ably and clearly discussed by Lallands Peat Worrier in November 2011.


Filed under Scottish Politics