24th February 2018
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Tory leader visits to find ‘Friends of the Union’

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has been in the isles to gather support for Friends of the Union, an organisation that argues for Scotland to be kept in the UK.

Ms Davidson said around 12 people had come forward in Shetland who were willing to get involved in the pro-union campaign ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014.

She has already staged similar visits across Scotland, where she said she had been “bowled over” by support from over 50,000 people.

Ruth Davidson.

Ms Davidson insisted many people had serious concerns about the prospect of Scottish independence, particularly on issues such as 16-year olds voting, and defence.

Many she had spoken to, she said, saw fishing as a key local issue as an area of concern.

“It was being looked at through the viewfinder of the European Union, and how could a Scotland with a reduced footprint at the table be able to shout the corner for local fishermen?”

Ms Davidson highlighted the debate in recent times over whether the isles could “opt out” of independence should folk here vote “no” while the rest of Scotland supports the SNP’s referendum.

“[People here] do have a different voice, and I think what has been really marked has been the SNP’s unease when they have been questioned about whether Orkney and Shetland will have an opt-out, if they vote no.

“They haven’t been prepared for it. They’ve not wanted to engage at that level. And I think that people across Scotland have to recognise that there is a different position for Orkney and Shetland.

“I am slightly worried that the SNP is not even willing to consider that there should be a special status for Shetland and Orkney, because I think they are special.”

Ms Davidson said she hoped the question over an opt out would never become a reality. She was encouraged by recent polls which had supported retaining the union.

“First and foremost I hope that [the opt out] doesn’t happen. I’m looking at all the polling and research that’s been done this year, as well as talking to people all over the country, and the appetite for independence is not there at the moment.”

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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29 comments

  1. ian tinkler

    For what it is worth, make that 13 people who would fight for the Union. I have believed in the UK all of my adult life, I also believe about 15 thousand Shetlanders would support the Union of Great Britain, just as they did and fought so hard for the Union and freedom in the 1940s. A Crown Dependant Shetland would my best choice, Salmond and the SNP can do their own thing, wreck Scotland if they wish, but what would be the best for Shetland? All it would need nonpartisan leadership and a guts and true spirit.

    Reply
  2. Douglas Young

    She is slighty worried that the SNP is not treating Orkney and Shetland as special places? From a Tory this is both hypocritical, and pointless. Independence is about 5 million people gaining self-determination and nothing to do with political parties; that will happen 2 years later at election time.

    Reply
  3. Stuart Stenhouse

    To garner the support of 12 people, out of a population of 22,210; is truly representative of where Ruth Davidson and her tories are.

    0.05% support is an embarrasing figure to head-line her arguement for the continuation of an ill divided relationship with the rest of the UK.

    Decimation of ship building, destruction of the coal industry, privatisation of gas, electric, airway’s, steel works (though not the post office or NHS….YET); is it any wonder support for the SNP is so prolific?

    In short, if you want a public face of the pro-Union campaign; don’t use a Tory anywhere between Unst to Dumfries & Galloway.

    Reply
  4. LisaRobertson

    Ian, I think you’ll find we live in the 21st century as do our children and their children. Its the future that counts,not the past whom none of us will ever forget or our brave that fought for us. The propaganda media have been long twisting truths and even blatently lying to halt Independence and the reason is,they need Scotland far, far more than Scotland needs the rest of the UK. The UK government had long abandoned Scotland and thats Labour included. If you cannot see whats out there in truth how they treat the Scots and have done since the 70s. Go read the McCrone Report and see how they cheated and conned Scotland and hid the report for over 30 years. You want Scots to stay in a union that treat Scots as second class citizens and check out how worse of we will be in a No vote, check about being stuck with status quo or worse. Don’t believe we’ll get more devolved powers or have you forgotten Sir Alex Douglas Home and how he conned Scots last time round when they wanted a No vote in the 70s. Don’t write of Independence because you are stuck in the past. I for one gove a damn about our future children, the past doesn’t help them does it!

    Reply
  5. Colin Hunter

    That’ll be the same 13 people who actually voted conservative in the Scottish Elections then Ian! The fact that Scotland will have to re-apply for EU membership after independence is also good news. Two birds with one stone! Why would we want to be continue being members of the biggest corrupt money pit in history? If we become independent I think we would be foolish to rejoin the EU. We could regain control of our own destiny and our own fishing grounds in one fell swoop! RESULT!

    Reply
  6. Richard McHarg

    More mischief-making from the British nationalists.

    Of course Orkney and Shetland are special! All of Scotland is special to those of us who live here, and Orkney and Shetland are part of Scotland.

    No partition under any circumstances!

    Would the Westminster government treat the Northern Isles any differently than they do now, ie, a cash-cow for the London establishment to further feather their nest?

    Would England be pleased if other nations tried to annexe their land? They’d declare war!

    Since I have never recognized the authority of Westminster, does this mean I can now declare myself independent of the UK? Up to now, I’ve always accepted the decision of the majority across Scotland. It’s called democracy!

    Reply
  7. Eddie Dow

    I have to say that to claim the backing of the Shetlands, on the strength of 12 people, is something only a Tory could see as a positive, now bear in mind this is the same Tory MSP who recently claimed that only 12% of Scotland made any contribution to society, and the rest of us were all spongers, until she realised that she had included her own publicly funded salary, and those of every other MSP in Holyrood, she also neglected to state that her figures included pensioners who despite 50+ years of contributing, were now a drain on public funds, there are also the likes of police, nurses, doctors, firemen, paramedics, soldiers, children in full time education etc on her statistics as being a drain on our finances,

    I will say right now, that I have never been to the Shetlands, and don’t think I know anyone from there, but I will say this, as an Islander on the west coast, I would be very surprised if there was any more than Ruth’s “12” who would support the devastating cuts her London cohorts are foisting on us all, I know how harsh and unforgiving the conditions can be where I live, and we are very sheltered here, so for any one to claim the Shetlanders would support a government whose only unquestionable ability is to inflict savage cuts on those who can least afford it, is dubious at the least.

    I know too well that there are many people who don’t like Alex Salmond and the SNP, and as a supporter myself, I have to say there are many things I don’t agree with them on, but the truth (for me at least) is that there is simply no credible alternative, not yet anyway, there are new parties forming and emerging in the run up to the referendum, and we should have more choice come 2016, but that will be irrelevant if we are not Independent, how anyone can possibly claim that a Westminster government, where we are soon to have less then 4% representation, where as a population, we are only 8.4% of the UK, could possibly have our interests at heart is absolutely ludicrous, the only way we will ever be top priority is if we can elect a truly Scottish government, capable of using the full powers of any normal country, to look after our best interests, we are an energy rich, and intelligent, innovative and very determined people and country, and the only way we can achieve our full potential is to be, once again, an Independent country.

    Reply
  8. Siôn Eurfyl Jones

    How does she work out that an independent Scotland would have a ‘reduced footprint at the table’ (most infelicitous metaphor) when it will have more MEPs and more commissioners that it does now?

    Reply
  9. ian tinkler

    Lisa Robertson, of course we live in the 21st century, I naturally am a little concerned about those trying to force the UK back 3 century’s until before 1707, or could that be back to June 1314. All a bit irrelevant now as Salmond seems to have been found out and shot himself in both feet with his constant economy with the truth. Maybe why more and more Scotts are deciding against independence. (All recent polls). With regards to Colin’s dislike of all things Westminster and Europe, perhaps his own planet in splendid isolation could be the answer?

    Reply
  10. Gordon Harmer

    Some very confused people on here Lisa Robertson thinks that the 1940s are the past but the 1970s are not!

    Colin would rather that an independent Scotland had control of it own fishing grounds. Maybe he could tell us how an independent Scotland would police those grounds with no navy to speak of. Also to fish those grounds where is the money going to come from to rebuild our depleted fishing fleet. Banks are reluctant to give out business loans now because of the country’s financial position so where is anyone who wants to build a new boat going to get the money from in an independent bankrupt Scotland.
    With no EU membership and no Euro, Scotland will be buying everything with English pound notes. So much for independence, going cap in hand to Westminster as a new country for your currency.

    According to Salmond and co the north sea with its fish stocks and oil is going to be Scotland’s trump card to keep EU membership. Colin you advocate we follow Salmond, which means we are going to be following a very foolish man and join a very foolish corrupt European club. Unless of course he is lying, now a man with such a prolific following would not do that; would he?

    Reply
  11. John Tulloch

    Colin,

    While it has some good points I share your sentiments about the EU however are you saying that because Scotland would have to reapply that
    (a) Salmond or a successor would not reapply?
    (b) That if/when Scotland reapplied the application would be rejected?

    I’m not sure either of those is likely.

    Does Brussels have a vested interest in the UK remaining united?
    If Scotland left the UK what would be the result of a UK referendum on the EU?
    Did the UK need to trade anything to get that statement from Brussels?
    If so, what might have been traded?

    I’d like to know the answers.

    Also, if Shetland joins with an independent Scotland and there is no EU referendum then presumably Shetlanders would also be ineligible to vote in any subsequent UK referendum on whether to remain in the EU?

    And you can bet your boots any talk of “Crown Dependencies” would get short shrift from an independent government in Edinburgh.

    Reply
  12. Robert Sim

    Anyone who thinks staying in the UK is a good idea for Scotland should read the following excellent article in a recent edition of the Herald: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/face-reality-we-could-be-as-prosperous-as-norway.19483723

    The UK is not something can “believe in” or feel emotional about: it is simply a political arrangement between different nation states which has served its time. Let’s move on and determine our own future. We are part way there with Holyrood; and, however bad or good the present administration is there, it is at least one over which the Scottish people has full democratic control.

    Reply
  13. George Kippets

    Well, if both Gordon Harmer AND the Tories are against Independence then it must be the right choice!

    Reply
  14. Peter Dodge

    Is that the same hectoring, lecturing, tory Ruth Davidson as came fourth (even behind the liberal!) as a constituency candidate at the last Holyrood election?
    It leaves you wondering what was the average age of the 12 attendees, low 80s maybe, roughly the same as at your average Scottish tory conference?
    Wouldn’t mind betting the cross party Yes Shetland Yes Scotland group could put dozens of youthful supporters onto the streets to publicise their future aspirations.

    Reply
  15. Joe johnson

    There’s old saying, if it’s not broke, dont fix it. I think Scotland should stay in the U.K. If we leave the U.K we will be worse off.

    Reply
  16. Hansen Black

    The idea that regaining ‘our’ fishing grounds would make the slightest bit of difference is nothing but a ‘red herring’. The UK has the biggest share of quotas in the North Sea and Scotland has the largest component of that. The quotas are governed by scientific advice and Scotland is a major contributer to this. Scotland has also been at the forefront of driving EU policy which has resulted in the huge cutback in fishing effort and quotas in recent years.

    The only difference that an independant Scotland would have is if it were outside the EU then it would have to negotiate access to the lucrative EU marketplace for its high value species and that would not benefit anybody here one little bit.

    Reply
  17. Colin Hunter

    On a hypothetical level, In the event that Scotland DOES become independent and subsequently has then to re-apply for EU membership, and the key word here is “IF”, surely the most democratic thing to do would be to hold a further referendum as to whether Scotland should, or should not, re-apply.
    The basis of self determination is democracy, and the EU has shown itself to be anything but, by applying ridiculous laws across the board which have only served to destroy parts of our way of life. For instance, you can’t even get a home killed lamb any more because some nerd in Brussels banned it! It may well be that in some other parts of Europe the levels of hygiene may leave a lot to be desired, but I don’t think I have ever heard of anyone here being poisoned by it! There are many more ridiculous EU rules which could and should be immediately repealed IF we become independent and are subsequently “turfed out”.
    I actually voted against devolution in that referendum, but since its inception, I have seen the benefits of it and I truly believe that it should be taken to its logical conclusion with full independence. If that also results in our expulsion from the EU, So be it! After all, Norway, Iceland and Faroe all manage to trade quite successfully with the EU, and police their own fishing grounds. There are, after all only three Protection vessels, Jura, Minna and Norna, and two aircraft at present. Surely an independent Scotland would manage to continue funding those, and more!

    Reply
  18. John Tulloch

    Colin,

    100% agree with your last comment with the caveat that long-serving SNP member Brian Nugent has pointed out elsewhere that he was “shown the door and invited to close it from the outside” if he disliked the SNP’s policy change on an EU referendum.

    To his credit he accepted their invitation and left.

    So as it is SNP policy not to have a referendum and they are the democratically-elected government and IF the “Bannockburn Septcentennial” independence referendum goes their way they will claim, with some justification, that they have a mandate to reapply to the EU without a referendum and there is no way the EU will turn us away.

    Any subsequent talk of a Shetland referendum will get short shrift in Edinburgh.

    Democracy will take its course so let’s see Shetland’s position made clear in advance before we vote ourselves into a trap.

    Reply
  19. ian tinkler

    Well-argued Colin. Just why we need a Crown Dependency. All our own laws under the protection of the UK. The best of all worlds. No Holyrude, Westminster or Brussels idiocy, just the equivalent of the SIC, but that would be our very own home grown people. At least in touch with us even if not quite in tune with reality, that appears a mandatory condition to practice politics!!

    Reply
  20. Robert Sim

    Ian, you say: “…we need a Crown Dependency. All our own laws under the protection of the UK. The best of all worlds. No Holyrude, Westminster or Brussels idiocy, just the equivalent of the SIC…” Have you reversed your thinking on the quality of locally-elected members?

    Reply
  21. ian tinkler

    Sorry Robert, I do not think much of most politicians, with a very few exceptions. However I thought my comment “just the equivalent of the SIC, but that would be our very own home grown people. At least in touch with us even if not quite in tune with reality”, was self-explanatory. Better the devils you know and are close enough to verbally smack if you have to. I hope that is clear enough for you.

    Reply
  22. Angus McPhee

    “There’s old saying, if it’s not broke, dont fix it.”

    There’s another one as well “If it is broke – fix it”

    Reply
  23. Joe johnson

    Lol! 🙂 I love these debates!

    Reply
  24. ian tinkler

    SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is demanding Scottish first minister Alex Salmond spells out the SNP position on the islands of Scotland votes for independence in 2014. The MSP said he was “astonished” at remarks from former environment minister Stewart Stevenson that Shetland was too small to have a say on the country’s oil reserves. Good grief about five years late, Tavish, is coming off the fence. Come on Tavish, time to endorse Crown Dependency for Shetland and Orkney, show a bit of leadership and backbone.

    Reply
  25. Vernon Yarker

    Colin. Scotland was signed up to the EU under UK laws. If it were to become indepoendent, it would need to sign up under Scottish law. With the mistakes they made with the Euro, it is unlikely that a country could join the EU now, without signing up to the Fiscal Pact i.e the Euro. The objective of the Fiscal is central control over the currency and closer political integration. So to join the EU and independent Scotland would, in effect, be relinquishing its new found independence to Europe, because those who control the money, control the policies . Thus, Scotland would be rejecting Westminister, where they have a strong representation, for Europe where they would have only a very minimal representation. I am afraid that Mr Salmond has not thought it through !

    Having said that I think that it would be a very bumpy ride to become accepted by the EU at all. The reason that there are countries in the EU which also have separatist movements. You can bet your life, for example, that Spain are not going to furnish the Basque separatists with hope by nodding through a break away state elsewhere. Such countries have the power of veto and Spaih has already hinted that it would oppose Scotland in the EU.

    Next, however, supposing Scotland fails in its objective to become a member of the EU. It would then require customs controls on the border with England, because Scotland would be a foreign country to the UK as a whole. Once import duties are levied by the UK on Scottish goods, then it is highly likely that Scottish business will wish to relocate to the UK, or to Europe, to get around customs and excise duties .

    I’m afraid that the argument for devolution is all passionate and not common sense. Although quite a lot of it has to do with oil. Greed has reared its head and the SNP have done some sums which they suggest that they could be so much richer if only they could keep the oil profits for themselves,,,, I wonder sometimes, where the Shrine to Alex Salmond should be put. There are already a couple of royal palaces in Scotland where he can take up residence

    Reply
  26. Peter Dodge

    Vernon Yarker comments (although he possibly remains completely ignorant to the fact), consistently display an arrogant and imperialist stance which lies at the heart of so many of the pro-British contributions to be viewed throughout the media.
    Since it may be his sole intention to be insulting and irritating to Scots lets just isolate the most obvious erroneous feature of his contribution as an aid towards his upgrading his understanding.
    In consistently referring to the existence of the UK post Scotland voting Yes in the forthcoming referendum, he reveals a very typical colonial attitude. Please now understand Mr Vernon that the UK comprises the two ancient kingdoms of Scotland and England with the addition of the English dominated Principality of Wales and the Province of Northern Ireland.
    Suzerainty of Scotland does not lie with England, Westminster, London or any other concoction of British regions or states. Consequently, you will have to come to terms with the fact that independence for Scotland sees the dissolution of the UK as you understand it and all that you forecast as applying to post independence Scotland will be duplicated for England and its appendages.
    As a typical, simple example; with respect to your references to the EU an independent Scotland’s position vis-a-vis Europe would be mirrored by an independent England/Wales. So please try replacing your first paragraph references to Scotland by substituting England in its place and see how you come ahead.
    As for the rest of your contribution it is mostly all opinionated drivel and not worth reading let alone commenting upon, unless of course you are not Scottish in which case it may well bear the description of being a racist rant.

    Reply
  27. Stewart Mack

    I’ll keep it short – Vernon, quite simply i think you are wrong on so many levels, there would not be sufficient space here to correct each point. All i will say is please carry on thinking that, if thats what you choose, meanwhile i will stick to what i consider to be the correct approach

    Reply
  28. Sandy McMillan

    What right does Holyrood have to say that Shetland is to small to have a say in looking after its own affaires BIG or SMALL, Whether it be Fishing, Farming, or Oil and now Gas, size does not come into the equation it is ability, Shetland has the largest Pelagic fishing fleet in the (WHAT IS IT CALLED’) (O THE uk), Possibly the most of the oil production platforms, and drilling rigs, are in the North sea and the Atlantic around Shetland, and then there is Sullom Voe Oil Terminal, and now Total with the Gas Plant, and then there is our white fish fleet who have there hands tied when it comes to what they do best catch fish, then they get a restriction laid on them, there boats lying idle, either after there allotted days at sea or there allotted quotas have been caught, also having caught edible fish which takes them over there quotas they then have to dump there catch overboard , This is total madness, if Shetland were to have control of the sea around its shore surely Independance would make a big difference to our Fishermen Then we come to these Mainland Companies taken advantage of our post code, If Shetland has the chance to go it alone then why not, Smaller Islands than Shetland have gone on there own, and have never looked back, there is probably more reason on why Shetland Should have more of a say on its future, we cant have Alex Salmond The First Minister in Holyrood and The two Minister in Westminster David Cameron and Nick Clegg dictate what they want to do with the wealth around our shores, surely this is up to the Shetlanders. I do not think that any of the named have ever been in Shetland.

    Reply
  29. John Tulloch

    Aw, come on, Stewart, enlighten us – you can surely find space here to put right at least one of Vernon’s errors, say, the one you consider the worst?

    Reply

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