Sunday 1 May 2016

Question time, part 5

My letter concerning the threat to Orcadian wildlife from stoats, which was sent to the candidates for the Orkney seat in the Scottish Parliament, received various responses (here and here). After a short period of reflection and deliberation, I think I can now summarise the experience as being reasonably positive:

  • Four of the five candidates responded, the exception being the Conservative one;
  • Not all candidates had been aware of the problem;
  • Unsurprisingly, from the responding candidates, only the previous MSP (Liberal Democrat) had direct experience of the issue;
  • Only one candidate mentioned seeing a stoat (SNP);
  • All responding candidates were appropriately concerned about the possible ramifications for tourism in Orkney;
  • All responding candidates stated that they would listen to expert advice (mind on, I'm not sure that I fall into this category, as suggested by some candidates, but I would hope that 'expert' means scientific data and not circumstantial hearsay);
  • All responding candidates thought that more funding was both essential and urgently required.
So, Thursday's election will very likely see an Orkney MSP who is already aware of the stoat problem, as the probability of the winner being Conservative is quite small (and I suspect there will be an amount of tactical voting for either the Lib Dem or the SNP candidate).

Admittedly, knowing about the problem and actually doing something about it are two different things. However, the candidates state that they are open to listening to the views of the electorate which, if followed through, has to be a good thing.

It will be interesting to note the proportions of each party in the new parliament, as this may well have a bearing upon the chances of successful lobbying for more funds for a stoat eradication campaign. It should be noted that there is no Green Party or RISE (Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism) candidate for the Orkney constituency, though there are candidates on the regional lists for all Scottish regions. These regional candidates could well pick up secondary votes for the allocation of proportional representation seats.

What ever your political persuasion, please do vote on Thursday.

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