Voters go to polls in Shetland to elect new MSP
Voters in Shetland are going to the polls to elect the islands’ new MSP, with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP hoping to causing an upset by winning the seat from the Liberal Democrats.
Tavish Scott represented the area since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.
But the former Scottish Lib Dem leader and ex-Scottish transport minister has stepped down from Holyrood after taking up a position with Scottish Rugby.
At the time he said it had been an “enormous privilege and honour” to have served the area as an MSP.
With Mr Scott having held the seat for the entire two decades of devolution, and with voters in the Orkney and Shetland Westminster constituency having elected Liberal MPs since 1950, the Liberal Democrats selected Beatrice Wishart to contest the seat.
The SNP has been campaigning hard in the constituency, however, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon having made several visits to the islands in support of her party’s candidate Tom Wills.
Ms Sturgeon’s repeated campaign trips led the Tories to accuse the SNP leader of “only caring about Shetland when there are votes to be won”.
Ms Wishart said there were many in tShetland who were concerned the First Minister would use a vote for the SNP to “push for another independence referendum”.
The Liberal Democrat said: “I totally reject their plan. We voted to remain in the UK and I am committed to making Shetland’s voice heard.”
She added: “Tavish worked for Shetland every day in the Scottish Parliament and if I am elected I will do the same.”
Mr Wills said he believed “Shetland is ready for change” as he promised to reduce travel costs for islanders.
He vowed: “If I win on Thursday, I’ll be on the phone to Nicola Sturgeon on Friday morning and I’ll be meeting with SNP Government ministers next week to progress my plan to cut your travel costs.”
Other candidates standing in the by-election are Johan Adamson, who is contesting the seat for Scottish Labour; Conservative Brydon Goodlad, UKIP’s Stuart Martin; Debra Nicolson, of the Scottish Greens; Ian Scott, and independent candidates Michael Stout, Peter Tait and Ryan Thomson.
Polls open at 7am, with voters having till 10pm to cast their ballots before counting gets under way.