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.