Cameron speech praises isles’ spirit

David Cameron addresses the audience in Lerwick Town Hall on Tuesday.

David Cameron addresses the audience in Lerwick Town Hall on Tuesday.

Prime Minister David Cameron used his visit to the “farthest flung” part of Britain to claim the “broad shoulders” of the United Kingdom were a source of strength for communities across the nation.

Mr Cameron arrived in the isles on Tuesday afternoon and spent time visiting the newly-restored Sumburgh Lighthouse before attending a reception in Lerwick Town Hall where was entertained with traditional music from Haltadans, was shown a display of local produce by members of the Shetland Food Producers’ Group and met, business, community and civic leaders.

Speaking to the invited guests Mr Cameron said he was proud and honoured to be only the third serving Prime Minister – and the first in 34years – to visit the isles.

He took the opportunity to announce new measures which would spread the burden of subsidising the electricity bill for Shetlanders across the whole UK. There was not much detail revealed about that but, unsurprisingly, his speech was dominated with references to why he believes Shetland, and Scotland, would be best served by remaining as part of the United Kingdom.

He also took time to thank Shetland for its “immense contribution to our national economy” and congratulate those present on the state of the local economy with its “staggeringly low unemployment”, high levels of investment and “incredible rates of entrepreneurialism”.

In praising the isles he said: “In terms of the contribution you make through oil and gas, through fishing, through tourism, through your creative spirit Shetland punches well above its weight within the United Kingdom and I would argue that the United Kingdom as a country still punches above its weight in the world.”

That was one example, he argued, of what could be achieved together.

“Perhaps it’s odd to make a speech about the United Kingdom in the furthest flung part of that kingdom but I would argue it isn’t, because yes London is a very, very long way from where we are today in Lerwick. But actually Edinburgh and Glasgow are also a long, long way from where we are today.”

He said that Shetlanders, like others across the UK with a sense of regional pride, had an ability to think about having more than one identity – “an identity as Shetlanders, an identity as Scots and an identity as proud Brits”. That, “was far from being a source of weakness, it is an incredible source of strength.”

Mr Cameron said there were “really quite simple” arguments for staying together as a United Kingdom.

“They are arguments about being in a difficult, dangerous and competitive world and recognising that sharing what we have across these islands [of Britain] makes us stronger, makes us safer, makes us more prosperous and it means that we support each other.

“Support each other when we are having good times and support each other when we are having difficult times.”

The Prime Minister said one example of that support was the financial subsidy for electricity consumers in Shetland.

Confirming the news that the burden of footing that bill would be shared by consumers across the UK, rather than just those in northern Scotland, Mr Cameron said: “It should be consumers and tax payers in the whole of the United Kingdom that stand behind electricity consumers here in Shetland. That is just one example of why the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom can be of advantage to every part of that United Kingdom

“When a bank is challenged and goes under in one part of that United Kingdom, we don’t cut it off and say that is your problem… when we retire we retire on the basis of a pension funded by tax payers right across the United Kingdom

“When one part of country struggles we all support it. When one part of our country needs investment and needs to have the deep pockets of the United Kingdom like, for instance, the oil and gas industry to make sure it goes on succeeding and doing extraordinary things like it has here in Shetland the whole of the country stands behind it.”

For reaction to the speech from some of those present and more from the Prime Minister’s visit to Shetland see Friday’s Shetland Times.

About Adam Civico

The Shetland Times editor since October 2012. Born and bred in South Yorkshire, before moving to Shetland I was assistant editor at the Barnsley Chronicle, where my journalism career began. When not editing The Shetland Times I can be found walking or (occasionally) running, enjoying good food, or trying to find the latest Sheffield Wednesday result. Contact me with your news and views about Shetland – a.civico@shetlandtimes.co.uk, on Twitter @adamcivico or telephone 01595 746715.

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18 comments

  1. Robert Peffers

    Did no one think to correct the Prime Minister’s obvious mistake in talking about the United Kingdom as, “The Country”? The title given to the resultant entity formed by the only two kingdoms that signed the Treaty of Union is quite plainly, “The United Kingdom”. A kingdom is defined as the realm of a monarch but may, or may not, be a single country or any number of countries.

    There is not, in the entire text of the Treaty of Union, a mention of either the word, “country”, or, “countries”. Furthermore, Mr Cameron is fond of claiming to be the Prime Minister of Britain when he actually is Her Majesty’s Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s Government. Which seems also to be a fault of Mr Cameron as he often talks of both his Country and his government.

    Is he fooling himself or fooling the good people of the islands?

    Reply
  2. Anne Carson

    1) prime minister for 34 years visits Shetland why? to lecture AGAINST independence, at same time refuses first minister Alex Salmond, debate, said it’s up to people of Scotland to decide! How patronising, did nobody in that room question this?

    2) Do you honestly believe rUK will subsidise electricity bill for Shetlanders, where’s the proof?

    3) “staggeringly low unemployment”, high levels of investment and “incredible rates of entrepreneurialism” Why is he staggered? Is it because WM can’t believe Scotland is capable?

    4) Shetland punches well above its weight within the United Kingdom and I would argue that the United Kingdom as a country still punches above its weight in the world.” That is just not true, neither is UK a ‘country’ nor has it clout, just look at EU disdain.

    5) London is a very, very long way from where we are today in Lerwick. But actually Edinburgh and Glasgow are also a long, long way to. Not good a geography either, must have been a long flight from London?

    6) “When one part of country struggles we all support it. When one part of our country needs investment and needs to have the deep pockets of the United Kingdom like, for instance, the oil and gas industry to make sure it goes on succeeding and doing extraordinary things like it has here in Shetland the whole of the country stands behind it.” ???
    I can’t believe you didn’t squeal at that? Food banks in Scotland v London City bonuses or the fact that the 5 richest families in UK own more wealth than 12 million poorest.
    London used our oil and tax to prop up failing international banks, don’t be so gullible. It’s not Shetland they care about it’s WM wealth and power slipping away that forced his visit!

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      And do you really think Scotland will treat us any better once they have their hands on our fish and oil?

      BETTER AFF CLEAR O DA LOT O DEM

      Reply
      • Willie Gordon

        If youre a Shetlander and your saying ‘your’ oil, well I beg to differ, the fields are 46 miles into the Atlantic in Scottish waters, the Shetlands has a 12 mile claim territory. The fields are much more than 12 miles away from the Shetlands. One way to think of it is, the oil IS yours, as you are Scots so you have exactly the same claim to it as any other Scot. Talk of breaking away from Scotland is a little much, what next, one man finds a gold nugget on his land and declares his land is a sovereign state and independent. Be realistic, if this oil is as much as claims, there will be prosperity for all, in Scotland. or are you filled with greed and want it all for YOU.

      • Ali Inkster

        Well Willie Gordon how pray tell would an independent Shetland be any different from an independent Scotland? Why would your National boundary extend any more than the 12 miles it does at the present? Are you confusing EEZ which extends 200 nautical miles or to the median point with your neighbours? Could it be that you think the right to self determination stops at the Pentland Firth and the Minch? Or could it be that you are the one that is filled with greed and are claiming another’s resources as your own?

  3. Colin Hunter

    Unbelievable! He comes all the way to Shetland at taxpayers expense to stage a carefully orchestrated exercise in preaching to the already converted better together sycophants! No wonder nobody but a select few knew he was coming. The Tories and their Lib Dem lapdogs have excelled themselves this time. Never before have I had the misfortune to read such a sickening outpouring of platitudes and downright patronising bovine excrement!
    This is a man who very few people in Scotland, let alone Shetland, actually voted for, yet he comes sneaking in unannounced, to try to convince people to back the “Union”. I would suggest that the very fact that he is Prime Minsiter at all, is down to the skewed result of a general election dominated by the fact that there are ten times more constituencies in England than the rest of the UK. That, and the assistance given by Clegg and his turncoat buddies. Jo Grimond will be turning in his grave!

    Reply
  4. John Tulloch

    I hope and trust the SIC leadership who represent Shetland in the “Our Islands, Our Future” campaign take the opportunity to explain to Mr Cameron that a decent deal on autonomy for Shetland i.e. analogous to Faroe, Isle of Man or Aaland, Falklands, etc., accompanied by a local referendum, would:

    1. End the constitutional conundrum over legal sovereignty, upheld by the English at the Treaty of Breda, in 1667.

    2. Permanently secure legal (de jure) sovereignty over Shetland for the UK or rUK and with it, control of the strategically important sea ways to the North Atlantic.

    What is needed from Mr Cameron on autonomy is a show of good faith, noticeable by its absence from the offer recently made by Mr Salmond.

    Reply
  5. Bill Adams

    There is something missing – Tavish Scott has yet to denounce the spreading of the electricity subsidy as
    announced by Mr Cameron as a bribe – a blatant electoral bribe! But I forgot, the Lib-Dems are in coalition
    with Mr Cameron and the Tories at Westminster!

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      That’s because it isn’t a bribe, Bill, it’s worth nothing to Shetland.

      Shetland’s electricity is already subsidised so Shetlanders are already getting the alleged £1200pa relief on bills. This will simply spread the cost of that across the UK as a whole, as opposed to the North of Scotland.

      That will enable the diesel subsidy to end and the wind turbine subsidy to begin.

      What this is is a clumsy attempt to camouflage the provision of a submarine cable for Viking Energy and every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to build a wind farm on Shetland in their wake, by dressing it up as cheaper electricity for Shetland residents – which it isn’t.

      Cheaper electricity and heat could come via an autonomous Shetland developing a gas power station, a direct gas main system and a small LNG plant which could also provide a cheap alternative, “greener” fuel for motor vehicles, heating and boats, all using gas supplied directly from Sullom.

      Why transport gas South and then transport it back again, it doesn’t make sense?

      So what will come Shetland’s way from all this?

      Ferry cuts, no road tunnels, school closures and blanket wind turbines!

      This is the “political triumph” referred to by Jonathan Wills in the context of “Our Islands, Our Future”.

      Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Whether this new subsidy arrangement can be considered a “bribe” must surely depend on it actually being worth something to Shetlanders or bring about something that they want.

      How much do you reckon residents are going to save on their bills compared to what the pay now?

      Not a lot.

      And are there other benefits for Shetland voters to be “bribed” by?

      What do you think they might be?

      Blanket wind farms?

      If this is a “bribe”, it isn’t a very persuasive one for me.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Sorry about the repeat comment, folks, I thought my first one had failed to pass muster with the good editor.

  6. Douglas Young

    We are indebted to Mr Cameron for causing a surge in support on https://www.facebook.com/YesShetland while in Shetland.

    The next time he visits we will be an exotic destination, a foreign country, according to Tavish etc.

    Reply
  7. David Spence

    ‘ Lib-Dems are in coalition with Mr Cameron and the Tories at Westminster! ‘

    and don’t they know it Bill………….with their, unsurprising, demise with the electorate lol Mind you, Tavish is still hanging on lol

    Reply
  8. Bert Morrison

    Willie Gordon, why would Shetland be any different from Faroe which has a continental shelf limit of 200 nm to the meridian line and an exclusive fishing zone of 200 nm which is not tied to the EU. Given that Alex Salmond is very much a backer of self determination as presumably are you? Surely the pair of you would not be hypocrites and stand in the way of Shetland deciding its own future?

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Quite so, Bert.

      Over to you, Willie!

      Reply
    • Brian Smith

      The answer is: because the Faroese people campaigned for it.

      They didn’t recline and expect someone to do it for them.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Fair point, Brian.

        Somebody will have to do it or it won’t happen.

        Me? Whit, sell up here an buy at da tap o’ a oil boom whin deyr a ‘wind-spell’ boom around da coarner?

        Na, na, I nivver tink at a’ll duty dat, am no med o” money!

  9. David Spence

    John T says ‘ Cheaper electricity and heat could come via an autonomous Shetland developing a gas power station, a direct gas main system and a small LNG plant which could also provide a cheap alternative, “greener” fuel for motor vehicles, heating and boats, all using gas supplied directly from Sullom.

    Why transport gas South and then transport it back again, it doesn’t make sense? ‘
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————
    Correct me if I am wrong, but was this not the case that it was proposed in the 1970′s, before the construction of Sullom Voe Oil Terminal, that a pipeline was to be built from Sullom Voe to Lerwick to provide gas energy for the Lerwick Power Station, but the Hydro-Electric refused the plan on the basis (their get out clause) that BP could not guarantee 100% supply?

    What is going to be happening now, I believe? The exact same proposal, potentially, will be coming into fruition for the new Power Station at Rova Head by Scottish and Southern Energy Distributors some 40 years or so later?

    Will this provide Shetland residents cheaper electricity, I very much doubt it…… in fact I would say, in proportion to national rates, we will be paying considerably higher due to this proposal, and of course, if it ever gets off the ground (which I hope it does not) Shetlander’s being footed for the bill of Viking Energy Project in conjunction with SSED.

    Brian, as for Shetlander’s wanting similar terms as what the Faroe’s have……..again I doubt this…….the powers that be say ‘ Jump ‘ and Shetlander’s ask ‘ How High ‘……..Shetland People have never had the tenacity or courage to question those who rule over them…………….We don’t want to rock the boat ………Happy with the status quo……mentality………..the irony of it, nowadays, it has taken an English man the courage to question Scotland’s claim over these islands………….Yes, people may mock this individual, but atleast he has the courage to stand up against the authority that rules over these islands and questions their right to rule………….which is more than what can be said about the Shetland people.

    Reply

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