So Liam did it, both Tavish across the water and himself managed to increase their majorities on an increased poll – well done them both – voles retreat into their burrows to have a good think and accept the gratitude of those tweeters who are grateful to us for the increased LibDem vote here. Liam was far more gracious, his election speech and subsequent interviews were pretty balanced.
What happened here?
I suspect a lot of people south are rather confused about our results and, of course, it is a good idea for losers in an election to think about how their opponents did it.
The LibDems’ weakness was Carmichael – and indeed Tavish’s bizarre behaviour in Court – he really seemed to believe that all of our work was against him personally – nonsense. Their party did the only thing they could – the Westminster MP was airbrushed from history – gone – forgotten – I have no idea where he has been, but its not here in the islands. There are rumours he is spending time on Mars.
The SNP did not focus on him because we did not want a negative campaign. This, whilst not political sense,was the right thing to do – to argue about polices and records in office. This was not a rerun of the Westminster Election of 2015. So, it was appropriate to go for Liam on his record in office, not Carmichael’s; on Scottish election issues, not Westminster ones.
So we lost. Obviously. The LibDem campaign was straight from Chris Rennard text books – be local – attack every cut, focus on the person, concentrate on very, very local issues. Leaflet everything that moves. Don’t waste time with people you cannot change. They did it well and to order. Their liability will be their expenses, it will be fascinating to see how much they spent – all those leaflets will not come cheap – but let’s not be petty. They won.
RET won them a lot of support. The fact that our current system is the abiding legacy of one Tavish Scott is neither here nor there. It is a hearts and minds issue – most of us know very little of what is happening in the other island groups and don’t care that much. I have no idea how long it would take me to get to Barra, certainly over 24 hours, even if I fly. The simple argument, ‘its not fair – they hate us because … the Hebrides are better off helped tip the balance – our answers are honest and technocratic, the problem is that no one believes them. Let’s face up to it, we lost on that one. Most people in the Northern Isles want RET, yes, we would be worse off, but its what people want, who are we as democrats to oppose?
Liam being elected is not bad news for anyone much apart from Donna, a candidate who I like enormously and admire very much. Liam is appreciated by many and has a track record of standing up for what he sees as the constituency’s needs. No one has a bad word to say about him personally. I pretty much disagree on most political points but this morning, thats my problem, not his.
One other issue here – the unspoken one – is the constitution – Orkney and Shetland voted against. The votes of the other Unionist parties collapsed and went in an anyone but Donna or Danus poll. I would be interested to see how that played out in other seats – the SNP is now the party that suffers from tactical voting.
Elsewhere in Scotland the LibDems were thrashed – only in 24 seats did they get more than 5% of the vote – some comeback! I am not surprised their tweeters are out against us, they have nothing else to celebrate. Their overall share of the constituency vote went down a fraction.
They are missing the point of course. None of my colleagues have been particularly active in this campaign – we were rather tired – also, our campaigning was never about the SNP, but about the honesty of Alistair Carmichael – no one else.
Liam deserves his win. Good luck to him!!!