Norwegian clincher (Jonathan Wills)

It’s odd that Alistair Darling and Alistair Carmichael haven’t yet told us how much the Norwegians must regret their secession from Sweden in 1905.

Perhaps they’re keeping this for later in their increasingly desperate “campaign feartie”.

Interestingly, the clincher for the Norwegians was Sweden’s refusal to allow its then province of Norway to appoint consuls in foreign countries to promote Norwegian exports.

Jonathan Wills
Sundside,
Bressay.

82 comments

  1. Lisa-Marie Haugmoen

    Ha! It’s obvious you haven’t actually spoken to a real Norwegian! We’d give up our extra cup of coffee to not be Swedish!

    Reply
    • Karen Inkster

      Totally agree Lisa-Marie, if using reference to Norway it´s always good to make sure you get your facts sorted and in order :)

      Reply
  2. Geordie Pottinger

    Yes, Jonathan, and just think if they had not been able to export, they would not have been able to develop their oil industry.

    As a consequence they would not have been able to set up the Norwegian Oil Fund currently worth about $830 billion (assets worth about $160,000 for every man, woman and child in Norway’s population of about 5 million). Incidentally, this made everyone in Norway a theoretical Krone millionaire on 9th. January 2014.
    The only problem with the fund is that it is growing too big and unresponsive (target growth is 4% per annum projected to be $1.1 trillion by the end of the decade).

    Still, there’s no need for this to concern us. This sort of thing couldn’t happen in an independent Scotland, could it?

    Reply
  3. Gordon Harmer

    This forever reference to the Norwegians is mindless and boring, as the promoters of these things only cherry pick the good thongs from this Scandinavian example.
    It is totally ignores the rate of income tax in Norway and the fact that this extremely rich country has used this very tax to ensure they have an oil fund.
    What good is an oil fund when the cost of living is so high that the poorer Norwegian folk cannot afford basics.
    Also conveniently forgotten is that although they have a health service as good as ours and better in some avenues there are still parts of that service which they have to pay for.
    With the spend, spend mentality of both the SNP and Labour one of which would be in power in an independent Scotland we would never have an oil fund.
    But the most important thing about Norway is that they elect their government through proportional representation.
    If that system was used here we would not be in the political mire we are in now because we would have a much more balanced government in Westminster, with nearly as many Scottish Tory seats as SNP seats.
    They also have an electorate who get of their bums and go and vote, as well as as an absolute fear of unemployment rather that a percentage of the population who make a career out of claiming benefits while laughing at the rest of us who work to pay for them.

    Reply
  4. CLIVE MUNRO

    Gordon, i’d have thought most Scots who are so inclined would cherry pick their thongs from Ann Summers, rather than from Scandinavia. Not, of course, that I’m an expert in such matters whereas, for all I know, you may well be.

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      Nah Clive, thongs wat you thing, you know Abba thongs from that thcandinavian group of thingers.

      Reply
  5. Laurence Paton

    Well said Jonathon, I was undecided before but thanks to Gordon’s waffle I have made up my mind to vote YES !
    Hopefully we will one day also get clear of those scroungers that live in Buckingham palace as weel !

    Reply
  6. Gordon Harmer

    A bit disingenuous Laurence, all your posts elsewhere indicate you as a yes voter so why tell porkies.

    It says a lot about your lack of argument when you write such infantile rubbish.

    Reply
  7. iantinkler

    Norway must have felt a bit alone in 1940. Good the United Kingdom was United and strong enough to help. Heard the on about the pound and Europe. !!

    Reply
    • Bill Adams

      Ian, in 1940 it was the British Empire (now no more) not the United Kingdom alone.
      And as every Hollywood film keeps telling us, we would not have won without that sleeping giant the United States (and also the Russians – although Hollywood is not so keen to point that out ! )

      Reply
      • Gordon Harmer

        Hollywood; fiction before fact, what a perfect analogy for the whole independence campaign.

  8. Gordon Harmer

    Some people and the SNP almost constantly laments about Norway’s oil fund without entertaining the FACT that to have one would also mean higher taxes and costs of living to fund public expenditure. Secondly they say ‘well they get paid more’. However it is perhaps no surprise that their individual purchasing power is no better than the UK. However, I digress. Here is a very good read regarding the weaknesses of Norway’s oil fund and provides an alternative point of view. Best of all is that it was written by the Washington post so none can’t accuse me of a ‘unionist scare story.

    Some 50 years ago, Njord, the mythological Norsk god of wealth, smiled on the hardworking fishermen and lumberjacks, and presented Norway with the gift of oil. In financial terms, this was a handsome gift indeed, currently translated into a natural bounty worth $740 billion.
    Successive Norwegian governments pledged to save this wealth for the welfare of future generations. Yet, half a century after this windfall began, questions increasingly arise of whether Norway’s handling of its oil wealth has even withstood the test of the past, much less the future.
    The country’s 2013 election campaign spawned a debate about the government’s management of the massive Norwegian Oil Fund. Norwegian citizens, however, have been trapped within a virtual bubble: Far from raising and discussing serious concerns, the debate in which the country has been engaged is fundamentally flawed. Behind the rosy picture that Norway’s leaders have painted of the country’s economy lie some difficult truths. We have only to chip away a little at this bright facade to realize that a far less glittering reality lies beneath the surface.
    First, the oil fund is a mathematical artifice. At three-quarters of a trillion dollars, the Norwegian Oil Fund appears to provide plenty for a country with scarcely 5 million citizens. Yet the country has accumulated a foreign debt that, at $657 billion, is almost as massive. Subtracting the debt from the fund’s $740 billion leaves a balance of only $83 billion. In other words, there is a treasure chest, but it is almost empty: Njord’s prize for future generations is only a little more than 10 percent of its putative value.
    Even if we take the fund’s worth at face value, its future is not guaranteed. In a 2011 analysis, “What Does Norway Get Out Of Its Oil Fund, if Not More Strategic Infrastructure Investment?” University of Missouri economist and Wall Street financial analyst Michael Hudson offered a stark assessment: The Norwegian oil monies are invested mainly in the unstable economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, or in volatile real estate in the West.
    Although the fund records short-term profits from its holdings of bond and stocks, its strategy is one of “speculate and diversify.” It is based on the hope that spreading the risk widely enough can hedge against a catastrophic collapse in a particular region or sector. Yet in today’s turbulent economic environment, this seems to be a strategy for multiplying exposure to speculative risks rather than protecting against them. Thus, not only does Norway’s massive debt render the fund’s true value largely illusory, the future of the fund itself is highly precarious.
    The second awkward fact Norwegians have yet to confront is that their country’s disproportionate dependence on oil hangs like an economic sword of Damocles above its head. In August, the Economist predicted that following improvements in shale-gas technologies and the development of electric cars, a significant decrease in the demand for oil is rapidly approaching. Although marginally referenced in the Norwegian Finance Ministry’s most recent self-congratulatory white paper, “Long-term Perspectives on the Norwegian Economy 2013,” Norway’s administrators chose to gloss over this glaring issue, preferring the relative safety of a somewhat theoretical and speculative prognostication about the country’s economy in 2035-2060.
    If technical improvements in the field of alternative energy indeed continue, and if forecasts of an imminent and substantial drop in demand for oil is correct, the consequences for Norway could be catastrophic. Its gross domestic product (GDP), today concentrated on oil and its derivatives, could collapse. Its exports will crash, and with its current massive levels of public-sector spending, the important ratio of public debt to GDP — currently at around 30 percent — will spiral, bringing the country close to default. Norway could, very quickly, find itself in a much worse economic state than it was before the discovery of oil.
    The flip side of this dependence on oil provides the third major structural weakness in the Norwegian economy: The country’s non-oil industrial infrastructure has been seriously neglected. Although the election campaign yielded talk of improving it, such plans may be too little and too late. Oil and its related industries drain the labor force, driving up labor costs as relatively few hands are available for more productive sectors.
    Moreover, the accountants and bankers who manage the oil fund claim that spending too much on domestic infrastructure and investments in industrial production would overwhelm the small local economy and cause inflation. Incredibly, only 4 percent of the fund may be utilized for such purposes. This compares with the 60 percent that Mr. Hudson recommends be used for direct investments in domestic and regional enterprises to ensure that the Norwegian economy is viable after the oil wells run dry.
    The Norwegian people are understandably proud of the massive nest egg they think they possess. The truth hidden from ordinary Norwegians is that much of the country’s oil bounty has already been squandered. If Norway is to avoid being drawn inexorably into the abyss, it must fundamentally reassess its policies and learn the lessons of the global developments that have affected the world of finance and real estate since the 1960s.
    After 50 years of complacency, time is now working against the Norwegian people. Njord is no longer smiling on them, but will they notice?

    Geordie Pottinger you are the mathematical genius amongst us, tell me just how rich are the Norwegians
    now?

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      Gordon, the point is not what the Norwegians have or have not done with their money. The point is that THEY, and no other group of people, have decided where that money should be invested and how it should be spent. Our referendum is about self-determination – nothing more, nothing less.

      Reply
  9. Laurence Paton

    Not disingenuous at all Gordon , my mind is made up I will be voting yes . You are correct in that previously I may have sounded like a potential no voter .
    But in light of this declaration
    ” The President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso has today said that if Scotland leaves the UK it would have to apply to join the EU. In a devastating intervention for the Nationalists, he said that this process would be ‘extremely difficult, if not impossible’ to achieve.”
    This news of an exit from the EU is good enough for me, I would have been happy with a UK ( together) out of Europe as well but I just dont believe anything from the Liblabcon anymore.
    Your last letter didn’t actually make much sense, you started of suggesting Norway had many problems but ended saying many things are clearly better.
    I am sure you will find significantly higher levels of poverty and deprivation in what is for the time being called the United Kingdom.

    Reply
  10. Geordie Pottinger

    Gordon,
    I never claimed to be a mathematical genius, though if you think I am that’s OK with me.
    I would ask you a simple question however.
    Which country would you rather live in?
    (a) One which had a $830 billion nest egg or
    (b) One which had a £1.6 trillion debt.
    Answer in less than 100 words please.

    Reply
  11. Jonathan Wills

    Blimey! That’s the last time I try being ironical!

    Reply
  12. Brian Smith

    I was sympathising with you, Jonathan.

    Reply
  13. Gordon Harmer

    Robert how will you have self determination with exactly the same as we have now, a government but in Edinburgh and not London. They have proved already that centralisation will be rampant so what will change they don’t listen to us now and that will always be the case. Tell me please what you see as self determination, define it as I cannot see it.

    Laurence I did not say you sounded like a no voter I said a yes voter and here is the proof.
    “laurence paton
    November 28th, 2013 10:56
    Thanks for the great news Gordon Harmer !
    I will certainly vote for yes for Independence now that it means we get kicked out of the the EU.
    Good times may well be ahead”
    You said the above three months ago, if you tell them you need a good memory. What do you mean Scotland will have to re apply to gain membership of the EU, Salmond and Sturgeon say it will be in every other countries interest to have us in the EU therefore we will be allowed to stay, how dare you contradict King Canute, sorry, Salmond.

    Geordie the nest egg is cancelled out by the debt, I looked today and Norway’s national debt is is nearly one thousand billion Krone today. Scotland could never be in Norway’s position with oil prices going down and supplies dependent on price per barrel, they have missed the train, it is too late.
    You have to look at what is happening in the rest of the world with oil and you will realise it is not the golden goose some of you think it is.

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      Gordon – it’s self-determination for Scotland, not Shetland. Wikipedia explains the concept of self-determination as follows: “…nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference.” Shetland is not a nation. But Scotland is.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        What makes Scotland a nation and Shetland not?

      • Ali Inkster

        typical of the scoty nationalist they are entitled to self determination but we are not, they used to bang on about peoples rights to self determination now its only “nations under there narrow definition” that have that right. Could it be that their dreams depend on our oil an it would be a bit inconvenient for them if we decide to go our own way.

      • Harry Dent

        John makes a good point.

        Definitions of nations usually involve a common geographical location, language, culture, customs, and so on, but in the final analysis, I’d argue it’s a matter of self-definition; if Shetlanders believe they constitute a nation, then they are a nation and, in my opinion, have every right to determine how and by whom they are governed.

      • Gordon Harmer

        So Robert you are saying that its Scotland not Shetland does that mean we have no say in our destiny, surely if Scotland has a right to self determination so does Shetland. Both Scotland and Shetland are part of the UK and if one or the other has a right to break away so does the other as part of what you claim is self determination. Or are Shetlanders excused equal rights and fair equality of opportunity and the right to choose freely what they want. Your statement is hypocritical contradiction of its self.

        As far as sovereignty is concerned how does what is put forward as a plan for independence give you and me any control over our sovereignty. Do we have any say in who shall rule over us as head of state? Do we have any say as to weather we stay in or rejoin the EU? Do we have any say in weather we shall join a currency union with the UK and forfeit part of our sovereignty? All three answers are no, those decisions have been made for us by Salmond and the SNP who will negotiate the terms of separation on their terms, we have no say therefore no self determination. So no change from what we have now, so why bother.

        You separatists go on about Scotland contributing more per head of population to the UKs economy that folk south of the border. If you work out what each Shetlander contributes I would say we have more clout and say than anyone on the Scottish mainland

  14. Gordon Harmer

    Oh Geordie to answer you question better I would stay in the UK because as one person in a population of 63 Million my share of the debt would be a lot less than my share of Norway’s debt with a population of 5 Million. That is using your analogy as a mathematical genius.

    Reply
    • Geordie Pottinger

      Gordon, You gave me the title of a mathematical genius, not I. I don’t plagiarise other peoples opinions to back my stance. I simply make up my own mind from what I read.
      I have no intention of nit-picking with you on the subject. No amount of irrefutable evidence would make youchange your mind. Nor will any of the diatribe that you spout make me change mine.
      I would rather go to hell in a handcart under Scottish independence than live for ever under another Westminster government whose only concern is to enrich the already wealthy in London and the South East of England to the detriment of every other area in this, so called, UK.
      Roll on September 2014 when Scotland reasserts its’ rights (tell Darling it is not October 2014 – I would hate for him to miss out on his chance to vote) .
      Gordon, the “wee sleekit, cowerin’, timerous beastie” has, at last, roared.

      Reply
      • Geordie Pottinger

        By the way Gordon, what nest egg does the UK have to pay off its’ £1.6 trillion debt?
        Could it also be the oil revenue gleaned from Scottish territorial waters?
        Oh no, I forgot. They spent it all building the M26 and the Channel Tunnel. Silly me!

      • John Tulloch

        And what about Shetland’s rights?

        Eighty-odd million a year surplus from Shetland to the Treasury and if you get your way, it will go to Edinburgh, instead, to the people who swiped SIC’s housing support grant interest and only gave back £10 million while, let London be the Devil himself, they’re still paying the interest to Edinburgh AND they gave us £10 million on top!

        And that’s £80 million a year surplus tax above what comes back – without control of the seas and seabed!

      • Gordon Harmer

        Geordie you are sounding like a defeated man, resorting to insults because you have no credible argument.
        Yes you are right “silly you” the M26 and Channel Tunnel create a much needed link for trade between the UK and Europe, something Salmond and an independent Scotland are bending over backwards to keep.

        “I would rather go to hell in a handcart under Scottish independence” well vote yes and you will as you will either get an SNP government who have wrecked the Scottish NHS, Scottish education system and are now attempting to wreck the Scottish legal justice system. They have centralised the emergency services spend money in the central belt improving the M8/m9 corridor and rail links. All to the determent of the north of Scotland and the Isles.

        Otherwise you will have a Labour government, the same lot who over their 13 year term brought this country to its knees, yes the very people you want to get away from.

        For what you want you will go blindly into with no thought for future generations, well Geordie that is selfish and undemocratic and proves along with with your insults your argument is so full of hole that you have no argument.

        Oh and that roar you talk about is not a roar it is a death rattle, or will be if we vote yes.

  15. Laurence Paton

    Gordon, your statement on Norwegians – ” individual purchasing power is no better than the UK.”
    Have you been to Norway ? If so you must have missed the vast number of marinas full of pleasure craft and also the urban areas filled with quite impressive private housing.
    All I can say is your comments on Norway only go to show that you can google any information to suit any agenda. Your description of Norway as a 1 trick oil pony is the most disingenuous thing I have read in a long time.
    Norway is a world leader in sub sea engineering, also when it comes to designing and building ships , especially specialist vessels , they are perhaps the best on the planet.
    There power generation infrastructure is 99% hydro power and thier transport network of roads, bridges, tunnels and ferries are also excellent.
    Oh and I almost forgot about there fishing industry which has not been decimated by the entirely corrupt and incompetent E.U. !

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      Laurence, yes I have been to Norway, several times and yes I have seen the marinas they reminded me of the marinas here in Shetland . I have never said Norwegians are not well off, I said as well as a large oil fund they have a equally large national debt and pay exceptionally high taxes. Which in turn with the exceptionally high cost of living and high earning brings their spending power in line with the UK.

      Roads, tunnels, bridges, rail links and ferry links are part of a fantastic internal infrastructure, all paid for from oil money, high taxes and borrowing but over built a 38 year period. They have a far better and more generous welfare and health care system all paid for from oil money, high taxes and borrowing.

      All these thing have to be paid for and maintained and will be even when the oil runs out by what they are now investing in for their future along with High taxes and borrowing. The fact they are not in the EU helps as they don’t have pay to a corrupt club to pay extortionate wages to thousands of non elected bureaucrats telling them how they should run their country.

      I totally agree with you in what you say about and the Norwegians and the EU but it does not alter the fact that a population of 5 million have to cope with a national debt of, 951,859,506,607 Kr.
      http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/norway

      So if you take what they have spent over the past years, what they have saved and what they have run up in debt. The grand total would come to more than at least five times the value of what is left to suck out of the North Sea on our side, making it a fact that an independent Scotland could never be like Norway and that is the point I am making.

      Reply
  16. john irvine

    Anyone with an ounce of sense will vote NO, if you think its bad now don`t even try to imagine what like it will be with Salmond and his hapless numptees in charge.

    Reply
  17. David Spence

    ‘ Westminster government whose only concern is to enrich the already wealthy in London and the South East of England to the detriment of every other area in this, so called, UK. ‘

    Couldn’t agree more Geordie.

    Cameron and his buddies are only (typical trait of capitalism – for those in power, unfortunately) are only looking out for themselves at the cost of everybody else. Have you heard the latest this vile tory has done? Given £1.5 billion worth of NHS Contracts to his buddies and business interests, and fragmenting the NHS via the backdoor. This vile tory said prior to the last election ‘ The NHS will be safe in our hands ‘……what else would you expect from a vile tory (just like the lib dems) than to do a complete u-turn and sell off the NHS bit by bit to his closest and dearest buddies for the sake, no doubt, that a handful, if not himself, of his political party’s buddies will be financially better off as a consequence of selling off state run services whilst at the same time spoon feeding the populous that they are improving what is already there.

    This Government and Tories in general are purely looking after their own interests, where the only benefactors of such changes will be a) themselves and b) the commercial interests via the companies they are shareholders of or are part of the management of that company.

    ‘ Look after number one and screw everybody else in the process ‘ is this vile Tory Party’s Moto.

    Reply
  18. Stewart Mac

    John if its going to be bad when Salmond and his hapless numpties are in charge, who do you think has formed the Scottish Government for the last X number of years? Oh wait that will be Salmond and his numpties wont it.

    I wonder where you saw it that a Yes vote (only for all those without an ounce of sense of course) would mean that Salmond and his numpties would run the country for ever more? From what I can see the referendum is an entirely separate vote from who will form even the next Scottish Government. Its entirely possible that a Labour, Conservative or even a Lib Dem Government would form the first Government of an independent Scotland although I will admit the chances of it being Lib Dem are about as good as the Better Together campaign stopping all their scare stories and bringing something constructive to the debate

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      Wise up Stewart, the Tories would never get in, in an independent Scotland. there will always be a socialist government, either the SNP or Labour.

      How you can fatuously declare the referendum is separate from the SNP is inconceivable; whose white paper was it, who will negotiate the terms of independence,who continues to assert the fact we will keep the pound and stay in the EU? Alex Salmond the autocrat who claims “he” will win the referendum and the YESNP that’s who, the architects of separation.

      Better Together are always going to ask straight questions of the separatists and point out the lies and failings of the yes campaign, live with it.

      Reply
  19. John Simpson

    Geordie, it is up to a greater power than any of us as to determine where you go and how you get there when you depart this life.

    There is an old saying. never believe what you hear, nor what you READ and only half of what you see. Have you ever considered the possibility that should we become independent the already rich people in Edinburgh will get richer? I fear they just might.

    Reply
  20. Geordie Pottinger

    Gordon and BT supporters et al,
    It is precisely my concern for the future of democracy and future generation that I take the stance that I do.
    Check out th Common Weal website. You wont like it, I know, but it will offer an alternative to the bigotery you spout. Maybe even make some of you think.

    Ach, I canna be bothered with this anymore.
    Ta-ta Tories, see you in September!

    Reply
  21. Robert Sim

    It may be a side-issue in all of this but John Tulloch queries my distinction between a nation and an area that is not a nation and I feel I ought to answer. Perhaps I should be more specific, John, and use the term nation-state – ie an entity which has a sovereign government which makes and administers the laws for all the areas under its control. All the independent countries in the world fit that definition. Scotland is in an awkward in-between position in that the Scottish Goevrment has powers over many things in the nation-state of Scotland but not everything. Independence will remedy that.

    Shetland, pace Stuart Hill, is clearly not a nation-state in that it is under the control of national government – untidily, two national governments.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Thanks, Robert.

      If I understand you correctly, you’re confirming that Scotland is not a nation-state because It doesn’t have sovereignty?

      That doesn’t mean that the Scots, or for that matter, Shetlanders as a group, are not a ‘nation’.

      And crucially, it doesn’t mean that either of them is disqualified from being autonomous/independent.

      Furthermore, if Stuart Hill is right and Shetlanders, in the letter of the law, at least, are legally sovereign, then Shetland is arguably ahead of Scotland in entitlement to independence.

      Whether Stuart Hill is right remains to be debated properly. I know Brian Smith disagrees with him and of course, they’re coming from differing perspectives, Smith historical, Hill legal.

      Hill finds fault with Smith’s analysis, Smith accuses Hill of ‘fiction’ without actually saying why. I look forward to a public debate – ‘stand-up’ or polemic – between them.

      At the end of the day, nobody has yet answered the eminent historian Gordon Donaldson’s question:

      “If Britain has sovereignty ‘de jure’ an historian would like to know – and I think he has a right to know – from what point in time such sovereignty can be dated.”

      And now that Hill’s book is coming out, people will be able to read it and judge for themselves.

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        No, John. Before I am misinterpreted further, let me add to my explanation. Pre-1707, Scotland was a fully independent nation-state. Its sovereignty was merged with England at that time (leaving aside the fact that the process had begun in 1603). Scotland retained, as we, know, control over certain areas of the law. The referendum is thus about fully separating one nation-state (Scotland) from the rest of the UK (made up of three merged nation-states) and making it independent again. In other words, Scotland has never really ceased to be a nation-state. Shetland, on the other hand, has always been an area (a county, to use a tried and trusty term) which is part of and under the sovereignty or partial sovereignty of the Scottish nation-state.

        I guess in theory Shetland could become an independent nation-state in modern terms, as opposed to the speculation about mediaeval history (but of course it is not going to happen, just as Argyll or Aberdeenshire or any other Scottish county is not going to declare independence). I understand why you have an interest in the “Stuart Hill debate”, as, from what I can see, you are a supporter of Shetland having wider powers. However the current campaign by the three island authorities does not need the backing of whatever evidence can be gleaned from far-distant and quite different times.

    • Ali Inkster

      Well then Robert as Shetland made and administered its own laws and is still supposed to under the pawning agreement, does it not fit your criteria for a sovereign state, just because the scots and later the UK have chosen to ignore that does not mean it does not stand in law, after all the church of england has just exercised lord of the manor rights dating back to the norman conquest to get the mineral rights for the land it owns.

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        Ali, I do not pretend to be a constitutional expert but my home-made definition of a sovereign state was: “an entity which has a sovereign government which makes and administers the laws for all the areas under its control.” Shetland – at least in historical times – has always been under the control of some bigger power – in other words, one of the areas under control; and therefore has never been sovereign on the level of a nation-state.

        In modern times, local government can make local laws; but we would not think that makes a Scottish local authority equal to the nation-state as a whole.

      • John Tulloch

        Robert,

        Isn’t the point that the Scandinavian system was fundamentally different from the Scottish one in that the the Udallers had no ‘feudal superior’ who had ultimate ownership of the land? They ‘owned’ the land themselves.

        Udallers paid taxes and owed loyalty to the king but the king did not ‘own’ their lands and each territory made its own laws via the Lawting.

        Having started talking about ‘nations’, you’ve retreated into a narrow definition of a ‘nation-state’ which sounds familiar and which you claim is homespun.

        The fact is, Scotland has NEVER had legal sovereignty over Shetland and Shetlanders certainly fit all reasonable descriptions of a ‘people’ and, small-minded Scottish obfuscation notwithstanding, there is no reason why Shetland could not, in line with the majority of non-Scottish EU island groups, be autonomous like the Isle of Man, Faroe, Aland or the Falkland Islands; or, for that matter, become fully independent like Iceland.

        “Self-determination of peoples”, Robert. Hold that thought.

  22. Stewart Mac

    Gordon,

    Wise up? what a fantastic comment coming from you. I am however thankful that you took the time to deride my comments. The prospect of a Tory government in Scotland may well be remote but it is a possibility. The remoteness of that possibility is something I take great comfort in on an almost daily basis thanks.

    So come on Gordon if you think I am ” fatuously ” declaring the referendum vote to be separate from the parliamentary vote then do please explain further because I for one am under the impression that I will vote once in September for the referendum and then again at the next parliamentary elections for my preferred MSP candidate. I don’t see anything on the Ballot Paper that’s says “Vote Yes for SNP for Life” do you? – If these are not separate votes with entirely separate outcomes do please explain why the “better together” camp now have these linked?

    I haven’t heard a single “straight question” from Better together – just heard them be the prophets of doom at every opportunity, most of which thus far have, on further examination proved to be less than accurate. You seem to be spectacularly missing the point here. I am NOT saying that we should vote for independence and see what happens, not everything that the SNP says is either correct or accurate, but then neither is that of Better Together, who have yet to add anything remotely constructive to the debate other than asking England to give us all a call and send a group hug to Scotland.

    And as for our future in Europe Never ever forget that if we stay “better together” OUR future in Europe will be decided ultimately by the ENGLISH electorate in Mr Cameron’s promised referendum on EU Membership in 2 years time, or is that one of these “inconvenient truths” as a famous American once put it.

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      Stewart, when the SNP came to power this last time, Salmond claimed a mandate to take us towards independence. That claim of a mandate meant a vote for the SNP was a vote for independence, an irrefutable link between the SNP and independence. On Sky news Salmond made the claim he would win the vote, another irrefutable link that the SNP and independence are linked. Other irrefutable link is the white paper; nothing but an SNP manifesto for independence. Who steps up to the table at debate time on the TV, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney, you cannot get more SNP than that. So Irrefutable proof a vote for independence is nothing but a vote for the SNP.

      I can understand you wanting to distance yourself from the SNP, as that mandate Salmond claims was gained from less than 30% of the Scottish electorate. There are over 60% of the Scottish electorate who do not vote for or like Salmond and the SNP and you need to convince us there is no link. Well Stewart, go on trying, you are wasting your time as it is a fact that cannot be denied a vote for independence is a vote for Salmond, Sturgeon, Swinney and the SNP.

      The No camp have continuously asked straight questions about a currency, the EU, Nato, pensions, income tax, savings, mortgages, welfare, jobs and job losses and a hundred and one other subjects. We have never received a straight or truthful answer only lies and assertions. If you want to vote yes on lies and assertions go ahead, it just proves who needs to actually wise up here.

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        Gordon, to turn things round a bit, can we and indeed do we have straight answers from Better Together regarding the detail of life in Scotland after a No vote? For example, if Scotland rejects independence, will the UK parties grant any further devolved powers to the Scottish Government? I have seen no statements regarding that. Nothing, in fact, to persuade me that our future in the UK will be better than our future in an independent Scotland. And of course there has been plenty of discussion of what an independent Scotland would look like – just a vacuum on the other side…

      • Gordon Harmer

        Robert, firstly it is not in the power of the Better Together campaign to give more powers to Scotland that is for the UK government to say. If you had read the papers before Christmas you would have read references to Scotland getting more powers being muted. Only last week the papers were full of a story of more powers in 2015 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26245684. This will no doubt continue and I believe before the 18th of September we will be told of even greater powers for a devolved Scottish government. Unlike the Yes campaign and the SNP we don’t make empty and uncosted promises. But to put it bluntly you are the guys advocating this big change called independence it is up to you to inform about what your proposed changes will be and how they will affect everyone in Scotland. We know what we have now and what we could have with more powers and those changes will not bring this country to its knees which is a distinct possibility with the changes you advocate.

    • Gordon Harmer

      Stewart, I forgot to say as well as all the negotiations that set up all the key foundations for an independent Scotland which will be led by the SNP, they will also include the writing of a constitution that will bind future elected governments of what ever persuasion. It would be more democratic for this to be done by an all party committee but as it will be done by the SNP alone it is incontestable that a yes vote is for independence and the SNP.

      Reply
  23. Carl Pickard

    The Conservative Party is an eternally irritating force for wrong that appeals exclusively to bigots, toffs, money-minded machine men and selfish, grasping simpletons who were born with some essential part of their soul missing.

    They will never be elected in an independent Scotland.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Sounds like you think “THEY are mad and bad”?

      How many of them do you expect to repent and accept your ideology after that diatribe?

      Reply
  24. Robert Sim

    John, in modern history, which is what matters, Scotland and the UK as a whole have ALWAYS had legal sovereignty over Shetland. Or do you think we have a different legal system in this part of Scotland? What happened in early mediaeval times may be interesting but has no impact on current political and economic reality.

    On your point about Shetland becoming semi-autonomous or even independent, I can see there being some further devolution of powers under the present tri-partite campaign but cannot see any desire locally for the kind of status you outline.

    Oh, and my definition of nation-state, while not homespun, was certainly original to me.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      In a way, Robert, you have a point about the lack of, at least, obvious desire for autonomy, far less, outright independence. People are far too busy fitting their busy lives into organising cultural festival, sports and especially, Up Helly-Aas all over the place to be interested in politics – not many glimpses of tartan in the S.T. recently!

      Malcolm Bell said early on that Shetland must not ‘sleepwalk’ into the coming historic constitutional change and that is precisely what has been happening, so far, within large sections of the Shetland electorate.

      However, the loudening roar of September’s ‘great waterfall’ and the advent of Stuart Hill’s remarkable book will serve as twin wake-up calls.

      I have the impression, however, that people are becoming interested, especially, in the rurals where this ‘winter of their discontent has yet to be made glorious summer’, and the the wheel is starting to turn.

      Ultimately, I’m a democrat and if Shetlanders don’t want more say in their own affairs then they won’t get it and I’ll be ok with that, however, it’s vital they be aware of the issues so they can decide what’s in their best interests. Finally:

      “If Shetlanders don’t ask, they certainly won’t get”!

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        John, I am going to try to make this my last word in this thread but I must disagree with your statement that “…large sections of the Shetland electorate…” are sleepwalking into the current constitutional debate. Where is your evidence of that? I think on the contrary the local media (not least this site) and, for example, the well-attended meeting which Yes Shetland held at Islesburgh in the summer are testimony to the opposite point of view. Of course, “large sections” of any electorate don’t make their views known till polling day; and that is what is to be expected here as anywhere else in Scotland.

        The Shetland electorate are as switched-on as anywhere else in Scotland. They just aren’t persuaded by independence for Shetland, as opposed to the increase in devolved powers currently being negotiated by the three island councils.

  25. M Inkster

    Has Mr Spence changed his name to Mr Pickard? I do hope he’d/ they’d both stop sitting on the fence, Michael Inkster

    Reply
  26. Sandy McDonald

    I am surprised the Conservative government is even bothering to run a No campaign. If Scotland wins Independence they are virtually guaranteed their place in power in perpetuity, what with the loss of all those Labour seats north of the border. It makes me ponder that perhaps we have something worth keeping, something that would benefit us more as an Independent nation. As for some of the arguments above, ask yourself if you are a sceptic or a denier, one is good, the other is bad!

    Reply
  27. Robert Sim

    Fair enough, Gordon, I see that there is some evidence now of what the UK government wants to do following a No vote as regards devolving more powers to a Scottish Government. That doesn’t alter my position on the referendum, as I am in favour of Scotland deciding its own future; but I do acknowledge the example you provide.

    As regards the future after a Yes vote, I see that as being decided by the government of the day – which may well not be an SNP one. Indeed, I can foresee the SNP ceasing to exist.

    Reply
    • Gordon Harmer

      Robert, all the negotiations that set up all the key foundations for an independent Scotland which will be led by the SNP, they will also include the writing of a constitution that will bind future elected governments of what ever persuasion. If that be the will of the Scottish electorate we will have no choice but to go along with it and try and salvage something from the wreckage.

      Reply
  28. Charles Hamilton

    I’m sick of the vile SNP egomaniacs who are lying to the people of Scotland and bribing them with false promises of free education, no prescription charges, benefits and an oil fund. The fact of the matter is that the ‘vile SNP’ are bribing the nation to get a result which for the vast majority of Scots isn’t one which they wanted asked. The country will be so much poorer if their lies convince people to say yes becasuse it will be run by vile nationalists.

    Reply
  29. Scott Gray

    I totally agree with Charles the SNP are perusing independence for totally selfish reasons and their own perceived career progression. We don’t want independence and the sooner they get the message and crawl back under the rock they came from the better. As for the likes of David Spence and his continuous use of vile Tory, he really needs to loose that huge chip on his shoulder cos it’s offensive to a lot of people and frankly rather scary.

    Reply
  30. David Spence

    My description of said political representatives ‘ vile (political party) ‘ must be catching, Charles lol

    Reply
  31. Robert Duncan

    Up until now my only reaction to this discussion had been to laugh at those missing Jonathan’s sarcasm, but having read the comments of another Councillor I wish to voice my support of Dr Wills and his right to voice his opinions on the independence debate. Nobody should be asked to shy away from such an important issue, let alone a public figure who is able to stir up such valuable debate. I really cannot figure out where Mr Cleaver is coming from with his comments.

    Reply
  32. David A. B. Spence

    ‘ As for the likes of David Spence and his continuous use of vile Tory, he really needs to loose that huge chip on his shoulder cos it’s offensive to a lot of people and frankly rather scary. ‘

    Well Scott, if you take into consideration the political principles the Tories have, it is very, very obvious they do not represent the people of this country and they most certainly do not represent any other purpose than this of their own and what they themselves can gain at the cost of the majority of people.

    I do not have a huge chip on my shoulder either Scott, I just merely do not support a so-called political party which, as past performance has adequately proven, only represents it self and this of a very small minority of people. The Tories and their principles only serve to bring out the worst in human nature and society, as they firmly believe in the ‘ Look after number one at the cost of everybody else less fortunate or privileged than themselves ‘.

    I will always continue to call the Tories vile (although one may change it to ‘ despicable ‘ lol) as it is quite befitting a political party that cares not about the people of this country unless they themselves or their business associates financially benefit.

    As for being offensive to a lot of people………it is the political party I vehemently criticise and not those who may have elected them into power or support them. In saying this though, if those people support a political party on principle regardless to the damage this party maybe causing to the country or privatizing state run services for their own political and financial interests, I will criticize and oppose such people as well…………..it’s called democracy.

    I would also say Scott, yourself telling people who support Independence to ‘ crawl back under the rock they came from the better. ‘ equally as demeaning as myself calling the Tories vile.

    As Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often misattributed to Voltaire) said ‘ I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ‘

    Reply
  33. David (Lerwick) Spence

    ‘ As for the likes of David Spence and his continuous use of vile Tory, he really needs to loose that huge chip on his shoulder cos it’s offensive to a lot of people and frankly rather scary. ‘

    Well Scott, if you take into consideration the political principles the Tories have, it is very, very obvious they do not represent the people of this country and they most certainly do not represent any other purpose than this of their own and what they themselves can gain at the cost of the majority of people.

    I do not have a huge chip on my shoulder either Scott, I just merely do not support a so-called political party which, as past performance has adequately proven, only represents it self and this of a very small minority of people. The Tories and their principles only serve to bring out the worst in human nature and society, as they firmly believe in the ‘ Look after number one at the cost of everybody else less fortunate or privileged than themselves ‘.

    I will always continue to call the Tories vile (although one may change it to ‘ despicable ‘ lol) as it is quite befitting a political party that cares not about the people of this country unless they themselves or their business associates financially benefit.

    As for being offensive to a lot of people………it is the political party I vehemently criticise and not those who may have elected them into power or support them. In saying this though, if those people support a political party on principle regardless to the damage this party maybe causing to the country or privatizing state run services for their own political and financial interests, I will criticize and oppose such people as well…………..it’s called democracy.

    I would also say Scott, yourself telling people who support Independence to ‘ crawl back under the rock they came from the better. ‘ equally as demeaning as myself calling the Tories vile.

    As Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often misattributed to Voltaire) said ‘ I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ‘

    Reply
  34. iantinkler

    What a fearful lesson from history. In 1938 Hitler annexed the Sudentland under the pretext the populations were ethnic Germans. Two years later the United Kingdom of Britain was all that stood between Hitler and the total occupation of Europe by the Nazi tyranny. Today a militaristic, nationalist neo dictator occupies and annexes free peoples using Hitler’s same arguments! Putin’s anti western armies pour into the Ukraine under the pretext that the peoples are Russian! Is this the time to split up the United Kingdom? Just what chance would a divided and fatally weakened UK have if history continues to repeat itself? Ask any Norwegian whom was alive in 1940. Scaremongering? I am very scared, we all should be. Britain surely must stay strong and united.

    Reply
  35. Harry Dent

    If there’s to be a third world war, I doubt very much whether the constitutional arrangements of the British Isles will have a fundamental impact on the outcome.

    With or without Scotland, the UK is becoming less and less able to strut around on the world stage, and it’s high time we accepted it.

    Would remaining part of Sweden after 1905 have protected Norway from German invasion in 1940? I suspect not.

    With regard to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the old slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow” was never more apt.

    Reply
  36. Ali Inkster

    “Would remaining part of Sweden after 1905 have protected Norway from German invasion in 1940? I suspect not.”

    I suspect it would have Harry as Norway was only invaded to secure iron ore supplies from Sweden a country which remained neutral throughout the war.

    Reply
  37. iantinkler

    “If there’s to be a third world war, I doubt very much whether the constitutional arrangements of the British Isles will have a fundamental impact on the outcome.” Maybe not, Mr Dent, but a united front, can act as deterrent. Far better that, than a few little divided tribes.

    Reply
  38. stephen shirmer

    The break up of the communist system was inevitable, the expansion of NATO along the Russian borders was not necessary, only to antagonize the Russian state.

    The rapid expansion of the countries joining the EU , before they where economically stable was folly.

    The Russians entry into eastern Ukraine is nothing more than the Americans, British or any other nation would do to protect there coastal sea ports and political interests, Russia gave back the Black sea in 1954 to the Ukraine but has used it as a strategic navel base since, with the possibility of Ukraine becoming part of Europe and then joining NATO is one infringement and push to far for the Russian government, and with the recent overthrow of the government in Ukraine events have moved to quickly for the Russian state, with the possibility of the situation spiralling out of control, one wonders if the EU could of handled this situation better, but its track record proves otherwise.

    As for Europe as one cohesive nation appears to be faltering at every stage due to political and cultural differences , past history proves so-the last century being one of the bloodiest on record.

    As for the Scottish being part or not part of the UK is a question for the people of Scotland to vote for, regardless of one nation or two within the Britain , the British people will always see themselves as one nation once the nationalistic fervour has died down- and perhaps the reality of a independent Scotland will go into the history books, though I fear that the good people of Scotland could be burdened with debt for decades to come if they are basing an economy mainly on oil revenue.

    There ends my the rant.

    Reply
  39. iantinkler

    Stephen, non of the recent past and events in the Ukraine can justify military occupation. If The Russian Federation had genuine problems with the Ukraine, diplomacy would be the civilised option. Your statement “The Russians entry into eastern Ukraine is nothing more than the Americans, British or any other nation would do to protect there coastal sea ports and political interests is palpable nonsense. Just where have the Americans, British or any other nation annexed another country and remained in occupation.? I think Nazi Germany was the last nation in Europe to do that.

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      In Iraq?

      Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Kosovo, Serbia and thats just in the last few years where Britain and America have interfered militarily in others affairs, And to be honest this crisis in Ukraine is of American and EU making. So if it does go to hell in a hand cart, you can thank the democratic governments of the west for putting your families in danger.

      Reply
  40. stephen shirmer

    Mr Tinkler, Thank you for your reply, well what about the UK and American invasion of Iraq ,Afghanistan, and not forgetting old boy the great British Empire.

    I wish you well. would you wish to discuss over a glass of wine here in Switzerland.
    Stephen.

    T

    Reply
  41. Laurence Paton

    It may not be permanent occupation Ian , but there is now an extensive history of America and Britain bringing about regime change in various parts of the world using war or other subversive tactic’s.
    They certainly have a lot more recent experience in that field than Russia.
    And Stephen is correct in my opinion, the continuing expansionist plans of the corrupt political apparatus that is the EU is responsible for this crisis.
    I must also add that the war mongering comments we hear from the likes of John Kerry wont be helping.

    Reply
  42. iantinkler

    Regime change? (removal of dictatorship) and the restoration of democracy by free election is hardly military occupation, and annexing of territory. Only the very most foolish, Robert Sim, would suggest this compares (Iraq).. With regards to “forgetting old boy the great British Empire” I think some Stephen, you are perhaps well in the wrong century. Warmongering, John Kerry, sorry Laurence Paton, no comment necessary here apart from just whom has John Kerry he invaded or advocated the same? Lol.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Regime change Ian? Removal of the legitimate ruler, just as they have done in Ukraine and are trying to do in Syria.

      Reply
  43. stephen shirmer

    Gentlemen. We shall have to Agree to disagree.

    It all makes interesting reading and is thought provoking.

    .
    Thank you .Stephen.

    Reply
  44. iantinkler

    Ali Inkster, Laurence Paton, Just exactly who removed whom from the Ukraine? Just whose troops are on the ground there? Not NATO, EU or American. Just the same as in South Ossetia, Georgia. Just the same pretext for invasion. That would be Russian. Rather like the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe after WW2. Now whom brutally , suppressed of the Hungarian uprisings, The Prague Spring, Poland and solidarity uprisings. The occupations of East Germany and deaths of innocents on The Wall. I do not think the comparative history of NATO and The West comes remotely close in pure suppression of freedom and barbarity displayed here. Personally I feel anyone that does not see this must prejudiced beyond rationality. No insult meant here to Russian individuals, but your recent histories are unforgettable for all the wrong reasons!!! With regard to Syria, just who is backing and arming Assad, responsible for chemical weapon attacks on civilians and all. O yes that would be Putin. Good reason for a strong UK, we certainly have a threat to the East, strange how silent Salmond is on this.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Ian have you checked the Cvs of those the Eu has levered into power in the Ukraine, if you have and are continuing to support them then I can only regard you with contempt from now on. The Russians have had some rather troubling history with people that held similar points of view so their action in nipping it in the bud is entirely understandable. And as for Syria it is the west who are supporting terrorists and suicide bombers, and as for the use of chemical weapons, the inspectors were pretty sure it was an improvised device and more likely to have been used by the rebels. So russian support for the Assad regime is also understandable, especially to me as I spent years working in Syria when it was ruled by his father and it was obvious that his methods were the only thing keeping the mullahs in check.

      Reply
  45. David Spence

    Ian, when it comes to 1 country committing atrocities against another country or the death of millions of civilians, the USA is up there on top, practically. Yes, we (british/scots) have been spoon fed the bile to support a country (who have never helped the UK unless (typical trait of a capitalist) they themselves gain greater.

    When it comes to a country committing atrocities or false flag operations to gain public support for further atrocities, again, the USA leads the world in this, but spoon feeds everybody ‘ its doing it for peace, democracy, saving innocent lives etc etc ‘ when in actual fact it is purely doing it for its own commercial gain and nothing else.

    Reply
  46. IanTinkler

    David, how about the USSR. Just which US president come close to Stalin for pure murder. How many millions died in his Stalin’s purges. Which democratic western leader used poison gas on his own citizens? You do yourself no credit whatsoever by distorting history so, you render your own opinions, yourself and those argument you forward, to look utterly ludicrous.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      pot kettle black Ian.

      Reply
  47. David Spence

    Well Ian, if you care to look into greater detail in regards to Saddam Hussein using gas on the kurds in 3 separate incidents, you need not look any further than the USA providing the gas and the means in which to deploy it. In fact, Donald Rumsfeld owned one of the companies which manufactured the gas that was used on the kurds. May I also add that the USA has been responsible in using WMD’s (Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Depleted Uranium based weaponry) on mass in several wars and conflicts killing, it is estimated, around 5.3 million people.

    Just because the USA is our so-called ally and we may share certain social and political attributes, does not detract from the fact that they are open to criticism on how they deploy and execute their Foreign Policies or doing military operations which are highly questionable.

    Reply
  48. Ernie Lockwood

    What an utter load of comments

    Reply

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