A row has erupted as islanders accused a mainland MP of downplaying Scotland’s ferries crisis.
Alyn Smith, the SNP MP for Stirling, spoke during the Break Up of Britain conference in Edinburgh this weekend.
He gave a speech that highlighted the SNP’s dedication to independence and rejoining the EU.
But it was a comment he made about his campaign for re-election that has drawn the ire of many islanders.
‘People in the real world’
He described talking to “people out there in the real world” who “want to know that politics isn’t all about WhatsApp messages on iPads and ferries”.
“It’s about bigger stuff than that – it’s about dealing with the priorities of the people of Scotland.”
A now-deleted clip of the speech drew dozens of comments on social media. Many saw it as downplaying the importance of the ongoing Covid inquiry and the ferries crisis that has devastated Scotland’s island communities in recent years.
‘It is all about ferries to us’
“Wow,” said Torcuil Crichton, Scottish Labour’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, on X (formerly known as Twitter). “Note to Alyn Smith – it is all about ferries for us.”
“Might not matter to him, but a reliable ferry service is crucial to us,” said writer Mòrag Anna NicNèill in response to Mr Crichton’s post.
We were unable to get our calves to last Monday's livestock sale in Lochboisdale due to a broken down ferry. Others in Barra and Vatersay in a similar position. Might not matter to him, but a reliable ferry service is crucial to us!
— Mòrag Anna NicNèill (@mogibarra) November 20, 2023
The ferries crisis has seen countless cancellations hit lifeline ferry services, and has cost the Scottish Government hundreds of millions of pounds.
Clip ‘a gross misrepresentation’, says Alyn Smith
“This is utter nonsense and a gross misrepresentation of what I said,” Mr Smith said in response to the criticism.
“Anyone knows I’ve worked with and for the islands since 2004 as MEP and know well how important ferries are, which is why independence getting us back into the EU will boost our connectivity in every way.”
More local reporting from the Western Isles: