21st September 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Chance for a fairer society (Duncan Simpson)

I have been in favour of the idea of Shetland self-governance for a long time and I am encouraged by the ever-growing support our campaign has received in the days since the public launch.

With our Facebook page at 845 likes (as of Monday) it is heartening to see that many Shetlanders are at least open to exploring the idea of autonomy.

I wholeheartedly believe this is the best way forward for the isles and as such I was happy to be elected to the position of membership secretary at Wednesday’s inaugural general meeting.

A comment by Da Whitrit in last week’s Shetland Times called this an “attempt to turn in on ourselves”. Another said it could leave the isles in a “fragile and isolated position”.

I disagree with both of these assertions. Shetland, as it has always done, relies greatly on exporting produce around the world.

It was the case in the days of the Hanseatic League and it is the case now in the era of globalisation. No-one is advocating that we change this.

We are not campaigning for a complete divorce from the UK. I believe, with autonomy, we will be free to develop industry in the isles and our exports will greatly increase. Shetland has always been fragile and isolated; fragile because any catastrophe to the fishing industry is a catastrophe for Shetland and isolated because of our remote location and our lack of influence in how the country is run.

What we are campaigning for here is choice. We want the people of Shetland to have a choice in how their islands are governed. Most people would agree that the current set up is not working particularly well.

Rulings passed down from Brussels/London/Edinburgh often have unforeseen negative effects here. Shetland remains relatively well off but this is in spite of all these tiers of central government not because of it.

I am a firm believer in the idea that the further removed from the end result of their decisions the decision makers are, the less effective and more potentially damaging those decisions become.

This remoteness from the outcome of their actions can be social, political or geographical. In Shetland’s case in relation to the EU, UK government and Scottish government it is often all three factors.

We are not suggesting all these powers be handed to the SIC. We believe that if the campaign is successful Shetland would set up a new government.

The SIC would form the starting point for this new structure but would be adapted to suit.

We could utilise ideas which work well from other self-governing island groups and set up a fair, accountable democracy which, due to its small size, would be nimble and very adaptable to change – unlike the current UK system.

Shetland is often overlooked by the rest of the country. This is a real chance for us to take control of our own future and make these islands a better place to live for all of us.

I am glad that a growing number of people see this for the opportunity it is and are supporting the campaign – there may never be a better time than the present.

Duncan Simpson
Membership secretary,
Wir Shetland
1 Norrendal,
Whalsay.

38 comments

  1. Kathy Greaves

    All you say is so true, Duncan. These things need to be said; now that the Wir Shetland group has been formed, the people of Shetland can join the campaign for autonomous rule and decide for themselves how these islands are to be governed. Thule – the land at the edge of the world.

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      I wonder how ‘Thule’ is going to achieve the result that Mr Simpson desires. The only clue I have seen to date is in Mr Inkster’s petition of 2014, enthusiastically backed then by Mr Tulloch.

      According to him: ‘Shetland will be divided into 11 areas and each area will have 2 representatives,one for sorting out public services and one for the negotiations with the government. (two different jobs that need different skills).Our negotiating position will start at full independence with all the resources that will bring. It will be up to each government to persuade us that we would be better of with them and what they are putting on the table to that effect, and then it will be up to the people of Shetland to decide which option suits them the best.’

      Mr Inkster’s petition attracted 206 signatories, no doubt because most people did not understand how such a process could result in ‘full independence’, or indeed in anything else.

      Reply
      • Ali Inkster

        It achieved considerably more than that but I withdrew it when some of our councilors stood up for their constituents and opposed school closures. That was very much my own thing done of my own back and has nothing to do with this Brian.

      • Brian Smith

        So what’s the new plan?

    • Brian Smith

      Goodness, how do you expect to get 1000 members if you haven’t worked out the basics!

      Reply
      • iantinkler

        Over 100 members in the first wk after going public, watch this space, Brian.

      • Syeven Jarmson

        And, just what are these “basics” you talk of Brian?

      • Brian Smith

        You’ve peaked.

      • Duncan Simpson

        Be ready to eat your words Brian. We have not “peaked” we have only just started.

  2. Robert Sim

    I can genuinely see not one logical argument in Duncan’s passionately-written letter for Shetland to hold powers that are currently held at Scottish and/or UK level. Duncan says that what WS is campaigning for is “choice” in the way in which Shetland is run. But we already have that, just like every other part of Scotland, in local and national elections. If you don’t like the current politicians, vote in some new ones. But don’t be seduced by the idea that if you give politicians a new and greater set of powers they will perform better than they did previously.

    Duncan paints a picture of Shetland overlooked and isolated; but then does acknowledge the reality of the fact that “Shetland remains relatively well off”. We are indeed well off compared to many other parts of Scotland. That needs to be remembered when proposing to sunder our ties with the rest of the country and give the complete running of national institutions like education and health over to the SIC under another name.

    Finally, is WS making a submission to the Islands Bill consultation? That would be a positive move.

    Reply
    • iantinkler

      “I can genuinely see not one logical argument in Duncan’s passionately-written letter for Shetland to hold powers that are currently held at Scottish and/or UK level. Duncan says that what WS is campaigning for is “choice” in the way in which Shetland is run. But we already have that, just like every other part of Scotland, in local and national elections. If you don’t like the current politicians, vote in some new ones. But don’t be seduced by the idea that if you give politicians a new and greater set of powers they will perform better than they did previously.” Robert Sim, talk about having a brass neck!! How can you repeatedly claim Scotland has an absolute right for self determination and independence from the UK, yet voraciously deny the same for Shetland!! talk about blind hypocrisy.

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        I am not denying anyone’s right to anything, Ian. I am questioning the feasability and sense of the idea of Shetland taking on a range of powers that are currently held at Scottish/UK level. It’s that simple. I am sure democracy will decide.

    • Robert Duncan

      “But we already have that, just like every other part of Scotland, in local and national elections. If you don’t like the current politicians, vote in some new ones. But don’t be seduced by the idea that if you give politicians a new and greater set of powers they will perform better than they did previously.”

      Really, Robert, you’re playing in to the hands of the pro-Union members of the WS movement here, as these comments can only be hypocritical from a supporter of Scottish independence. Just as supporters of that cause can point to the many times Scotland has had a government it did not vote for, Shetland can point (arguably with an even stronger case) to having consistently chosen a different party than elsewhere in the country.

      I doubt you would accept that your belief in Scottish independence is purely emotional.

      Reply
      • Duncan Simpson

        Thank you Robert for pointing out the hypocrisy. I am not “pro-Union” or “anti-Union” I simply want to see the best possible outcome for Shetland. If the Scottish people decide on Independence then that is for them to decide and good luck to them but why shouldn’t we have the same option?

        My beliefs are not purely emotional as Robert Sim is implying, if I did not think this would work from a rational and practical point of view then I would not be supporting it.

      • Robert Sim

        Robert D, I have been careful in my comments on this matter not to suggest that WS or any other group (or indeed the whole SIC for that matter) do not have a right to argue and lobby for BOT status or the like. And one can imagine how the democratic process might eventually result in Falklands mark 2. So be it. In that way, there is no inconsistency or hypocrisy in my position. I just don’t think it is a sensible idea for Shetland to pursue and I have explained why elsewhere.

      • Robert Duncan

        I haven’t suggested that you were trying to silence or even stifle debate, Robert S, but I’d be very interested to read how you believe the quoted comment would not equally apply to an independent Scotland.

    • laurence paton

      Brian, This is my own guess but I assume the plan will be to do the research on what works better with other autonomous island groups. Develop a plan tailored to Shetland and put it to the democratic test.
      If the majority are in favour of that developed plan then I would assume it will be down to our elected representatives at that time to negotiate it with what ever happens to be our protective parent nation at that time. I am just thankful we are in a free country where the democratic principles of law exist. There are plenty of places where the “Wir Shetland” group would already have been imprisoned or worse…..

      Reply
  3. Duncan Simpson

    Robert, if you cannot see any logic there then you aren’t looking for it. Of course you are entitled to your opinions as I am mine but I am also entitled to disagree with you.

    As things stand politicians and the non-elected officials under them are rarely, if ever, held accountable for their actions. All too often the will of the electorate is ignored and the ruling elite just do whatever they please. 100% of Shetland voters could vote for one party in every election and still never see that Party in power, not much of a choice there really.

    This would not be “SIC under another name”. Shetland would have the opportunity to set up a Government which is fair and accountable and tailored specifically to our needs, not hamstrung by red tape from the three tiers of central government that are so remote from us.

    We would not be “sundering our ties” with the rest of the country. We would be taking control of our future and developing more ties with all of our neighbours.

    No-one is saying this will be easy but that does not mean it is not worth doing.

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      Duncan, I appreciate that your views are sincerely held but I am afraid that democracy means that we elect politicians to make decisions and not every single voter will find their own personal views put into practice. That would apply whether the ruling government is in Lerwick or Edinburgh or London. We see it at present in the SIC.

      The “red tape” argument also in my opinion does not stand up to scrutiny. In the modern world, government has to take account of legislation. That is what citizens have come to expect and indeed it is their right.

      Anyway, good luck with your project. My burst of commenting has to come to an end! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Carl Pickard

    Duncan Simpson’s letter includes this bonafide mistruth:

    “With our Facebook page at 845 likes (as of Monday) it is heartening to see that many Shetlanders are at least open to exploring the idea of autonomy.”

    The “Wir Shetland” Facebook page was launched (and garnered over 600 likes) with no mention whatsoever of it’s now-stated aspirations. The original Facebook page description was intentionally vague – “a place to discuss da concerns o da day”. Many proud Shetlanders “liked” the page with no clue of the political campaign behind it, and from the get-go it’s moderators posted one-sided anti-SNP, anti-SIC, anti-EU propaganda. To state that these current 845 “likes” are in support of the “multi-party campaign” is being deliberately disingenuous.

    “Wir Shetland” will become an echo chamber for a small number of insular, petty-minded voices. (Which would have been a much more apt description for the Facebook page in the first instance.)

    Reply
    • Duncan Simpson

      Carl I have to disagree with you. I do agree that the initial page description was not accurate for the purpose of the page.

      However the “likes” have grown steadily since the launch. Anyone who liked it beforehand and now wish to “unlike” are quite free to do so. All it takes is one click!

      I did not say all 845 are in favour of our campaign (although I hope they are!). All I said was that “many Shetlanders are at least open to exploring the idea of autonomy.” which is evident from the support we have received.

      Reply
      • Carl Pickard

        I’m glad that you agree that the initial page description was not accurate for the purpose of the page.

        Why was this the case?

  5. iantinkler

    Carl Pickard, October 22nd, 2015: 11:13“Wir Shetland” will become an echo chamber for a small number of insular, petty-minded voices.
    Carl Pickard, April 29th, 2015 15:09: “it’s not difficult to see why some on the mainland view us as the inward-looking rednecks of the British Isles.”

    Sometimes the depth of argument and comment from Mr Carl Pickard, is best left to illustrate its own merit. Perhaps no more need be said!!!

    Reply
    • Carl Pickard

      Ian Tinkler there, adopting the Conservative line in deliberate misquotation. My full post from April 29th 2015 read as follows (and is available at the following link: http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/04/27/lamentable-record-jonathan-wills):

      ——————————-
      “To summarise:

      – The Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael is responsible for all the good things.
      – The Evil SNP are responsible for all the bad things.

      I love Shetland dearly, but given the blinkered, out-of-touch views expressed in these comments it’s not difficult to see why some on the mainland view us as the inward-looking rednecks of the British Isles.”
      ——————————-

      The “blinkered, out-of-touch commenters” referred to above are now the founding fathers of “Wir Shetland”. Glory be.

      Reply
  6. iantinkler

    As I said Carl, your comments speak volumes about you. Fortunately many, many folk are backing this group, from all political persuasions, your comment “a small number of insular, petty-minded voices.” lets us know exactly what you represent, I need say no more.

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      Sorry, Ian, perhaps I am being obtuse but what precisely does Carl’s comment tell us about him or, in your words, what he “represents”? Are you taking issue with his use of the word “small” when in fact there are big numbers of WS supporters? Is that it? I am afraid you are just too subtle for me.

      Reply
  7. iantinkler

    Sorry Robert, do not worry about it. Carl Pickard was referring to the nearly 1000 people whom like the “Wir Shetland” group and those whom comment on it, as no more than “a small number of insular, petty-minded voices”. He also has called those, just following the aspiration of Shetland being wholly autonomous Island group as “blinkered, out-of-touch commenters”. Very nasty comments indeed to insult so many for so little reason, a shame that is too subtle for you to understand, I am sure many others will know exactly what I mean.

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      I understand now, and I can understand how Carl’s language shocked you. Imagine someone directing aggressive, abusive language towards supporters of a political grouping, tarring them all with the same crude brush. Awful. I can hardly bear to think about it. Thank goodness no-one on these forums does that when it comes to the SNP and/or Scottish nationalism.

      Reply
      • iantinkler

        Patronising sarcasm, you do it so well, Robert Sim. Now have you a constructive factual comment to make? I realise you and Carl Pickard both hold nationalist political views, but must you mirror each other’s cynicism so? Incidentally, Wir Shetland is open to all political persuasions, not exactly a post for “one-sided anti-SNP, anti-SIC, anti-EU propaganda” set up by ““blinkered, out-of-touch commenters” whom are no more than “a small number of insular, petty-minded voices”. Please note, this is Carles language, not mine, Robert.

    • Carl Pickard

      As you well know Ian, I was not referring to the “nearly 1000 people” who “like” the “Wir Shetland” group as “a small number of insular, petty-minded voices”. The point of my original comment was that the “Wir Shetland” page was launched – no doubt wholly intentionally – with no mention whatsoever of it’s political aims. As you can read in my post above:
      —-
      “Many proud Shetlanders “liked” the page with no clue of the political campaign behind it, and from the get-go it’s moderators posted one-sided anti-SNP, anti-SIC, anti-EU propaganda. To state that these current 845 “likes” are in support of the “multi-party campaign” is being deliberately disingenuous.”
      —-
      600+ of the current 888 “likes” (at least 67%) were gained under entirely, deliberately false pretences.

      Duncan Simpson agrees that the initial description of the group was inadequate, but declines to answer why that was the case. Can you enlighten me?

      Reply
      • iantinkler

        Sneer all you want Carl Pickard. If “Wir Shetland” was as you claim, was set up by moderators who posted no more than one-sided anti-SNP, anti-SIC, anti-EU propaganda, and no more, then what ever is so irritating and agitating you so much that you feel compelled into posting unpleasant insults? As previously stated your word speak volumes. The current current 888 “likes” you mention, are growing daily, our 67% of deceived people, do not seem to be unliking their postings, I wonder why?.

      • Duncan Simpson

        Carl. The FB page was set up to discuss issues pertinent to Shetland. Anyone was and is free to share anything they like including their opinions. The Wir Shetland group did not exist at that time.

        I was not involved in setting up the FB page but as far as I see it the group description was apt at the time but was then changed after the public launch (after myself and others raised concerns) to reflect that the page was going to be used by us and our supporters. This is what I meant by initial description, prior to the public launch there was nothing wrong with it other than it could have been a bit more detailed.

        As I said before it is quite straightforward to unlike the page. Anyone who is against our aims would surely have done so by now. The likes for the group have been on a steady increase since the Wir Shetland launch so it seems not many people share your apparent outrage.

      • Ali Inkster

        As you say from the get go the Wir Shetland page posted “one-sided anti-SNP, anti-SIC, anti-EU propaganda” and yet in that time only a few folk unliked the page. So maybe it is not as one sided as you think. The posts were put on the page for anyone to comment on, and many were posted without comment from the get go just to get folk commenting as they were relevant to Shetland. But you and others would rather moan about the source of the story rather than discuss the content. hooray for you that will help things move forward no end.
        The facebook page was set up by myself before the group was formed, It was and is a place ta discuss da concerns o da day. Our membership of da EU is a concern for many in Shetland. The snp rush to force through MPAs is a concern to many. And da traffic island at da Brig o Fitch is a concern ta onybody dats wantin ta win up da side o Dale in da sna. Be me previous record I tink I’m been fairly easy on da SIC on da Wir Shetland page. 😉

  8. iantinkler

    “You’ve peaked.” claims Brian Smith, you are so right, Brian, it was about 40 years ago I started that game!!! Fortunately “Wir Shetland” has only just begun and already managed more than me.. As a child of the sixties, the 100 score I targeted !!. Wir Shetland have done better in a week, I am so jealous! mind you I ain’t dead yet, just optimistic. (Personal view, not Wir Shetland policy)

    Reply
    • iantinkler

      Over 200 members now, not bad for a bunch of ? what did Carl Pickard call “Wir Shetlanders?”

      Reply
    • iantinkler

      Just climbed another peak, 200 plus members now and not yet wks old. Whoop, whoop, whoop.

      Reply
      • Henry Condy

        Exciting times Ian, I know you don’t have an official role in WS, but it’s pleasing to know that with your knowledge, on everything you can clarify things for the reader. Now I know you call some people , stupid , ignorant of facts, having rants, but you are the rock solid foundation of this group, with your all encompassing knowledge , and answers for everything , I would like to ask, the regular writers use acronyms such as WS , EEZ, Bot , and many more If they could put in brackets the meanings , this would give the reader a better understanding of the subject in hand , finally can I ask subscribers to speak with respect of other people and organisations , Eg SSnp, Wrobin, Wee Nippy, to me it’s disrespectful, full and takes away from the debate, no need for it , it’s childish.

      • iantinkler

        300 members now and that is only a beginning! How many have Shetland NATs got after so many years. Danus is so inspirational, just amazing how Eton produces leaders.

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