25th May 2018
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Wir Shetland sends explanation to islands minister

Wir Shetland chairman John Tulloch has written to Scottish islands minister Derek Mackay explaining the aims of the autonomy group.

Mr Tulloch says that the “purpose of Wir Shetland’s existence is to achieve self-governing autonomy for Shetland similar to the kind enjoyed in Scandinavian island groups like Åland and the Faroe Islands, as well as in British groups like the overseas territories and crown dependencies”.

Wir Shetland leaders Andrea Manson and John Tulloch at the launch of the Wir Shetland autonomy campaign earlier in the year. Photo: Ben Mullay

Wir Shetland leaders Andrea Manson and John Tulloch at the launch of the Wir Shetland autonomy campaign earlier in the year. Photo: Ben Mullay

Mr Tulloch sets out a case for autonomy based on Shetland’s “unique” position as an island group, that would see Shetland controlling the resources of its own 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

This would include the vast bulk of fossil fuels and a majority of the most productive fishing grounds at present in the UK EEZ.

The manifesto also suggests pulling out of the “immensely damaging” Common Fisheries Policy, while on Wir Shetland’s Facebook page Mr Tulloch writes: “Shetland needs to leave the EU and the only route currently open is to obtain self-governing autonomy of the kind proposed by Wir Shetland”.

Mr Tulloch, who in a private capacity has frequently expressed hostility to the idea of an independent Scotland, writes that

“while Shetlanders are independent of spirit they have considerable affinity with Scotland and there is no reason why such an arrangement with an independent Scotland would not be possible in the future.

“Unfortunately, the Scottish government does not currently have the power to grant such a constitutional arrangement leaving Wir Shetland but two options: First, to wait an unknown period for an independent Scotland to transpire, following which negotiations may take place with a party of government that has shown little, if any, commitment to protecting Shetland’s vital interests; and secondly, in the interim, to approach the existing UK authorities who do have the power to grant what Wir Shetland is asking for.”

 

Even setting aside the distinct historic and cultural differences, Shetland is unique among Scottish islands because of the importance of the oil and fishing industries – both of whose scale the Scottish government is well aware – to our vital interests. WIR SHETLAND’S JOHN TULLOCH

He says that the Scottish government Islands Bill consultation, by attempting to seek a “one size fits all” solution for all Scottish islands, “dilutes the special circumstances on which the OIOF [island councils’ Our Islands Our Future] campaign is predicated thus blunting and cushioning the impact of its arguments.”

Mr Tulloch adds: “Wir Shetland’s position on OIOF is that while Shetland shares some historical and cultural characteristics with Orkney, by participating in that campaign Shetland Islands Council (SIC) has already blunted and cushioned the impact of its own argument that Shetland is a ‘special case’ requiring separate treatment from other Scottish islands.

“Our basis for saying this is clear. Even setting aside the distinct historic and cultural differences, Shetland is unique among Scottish islands because of the importance of the oil and fishing industries – both of whose scale the Scottish government is well aware – to our vital interests.

“While Wir Shetland supports the aspirations of other island groups we have no mandate to speak for them and they must make their own representations as they so wish.”

Mr Tulloch adds that the SNP policy of continued European Union membership including the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is “immensely damaging to Shetland’s fishing industry”.

He adds: “Despite the enormous size of its fisheries, Shetland has no direct representation at fishery management negotiations.

We are dependent on the EU and Shetland fishermen are routinely let down, as in the case of the recent Faroese pelagic fishery debacle.

“Alas, both UK and later, Scottish ministers’ stewardship of Shetland’s vital interests in Europe has been found wanting since the CFP’s inception in 1973. Local control of our fishing grounds and associated fisheries is considered imperative for Shetland’s future prosperity.”

Over the past 40 years, Mr Tulloch writes, “well over a 100 billion (one hundred thousand million) pounds have accrued to the UK Treasury from what would have been, with independence, Shetland’s own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“Notwithstanding that staggering contribution to the UK and Scottish economies Shetland is being starved of resources, via Scottish government cuts to the SIC’s annual grant funding, as well as underfunding issues in particular budget areas, to the extent that rural schools have been closed or are under threat of closure.

“That this funding shortage results, in part, from Westminster cuts may help to divide responsibility for Shetland’s difficulties between Westminster and Holyrood however it does nothing to address the original injustice described above.

“This is unacceptable. Wir Shetland demands that Shetland be awarded local control of Shetland’s Exclusive Economic Zone and a fair share of the associated revenue. It follows that we also require local control of taxation and spending, including control of all transport links and their associated subsidies.

“In summary, we require a similar level of local powers to that enjoyed by the autonomous island groups mentioned above.”

Mr Tulloch adds that Wir Shetland supports the aims of both OIOF and the SIC in the negotiations on the allocation of transport subsidies and “needs-based” versus “per pupil” based funding of education.

“We neither wish nor intend to duplicate the work of, nor to tread on the toes of OIOF and SIC in any Islands Bill negotiations with the Scottish government.

“It is clear therefore that, while we support the aims of SIC/OIOF, the Islands Bill and its associated consultation are irrelevant to Wir Shetland’s campaign and we see little of benefit that we can contribute.

“That said, we make this submission in the hope that recognition of Shetland’s unique needs and aspirations may be registered and our presence noted.

“We are, of course, open to discussions with anyone wishing to improve Shetland’s lot and will be pleased to consider any approaches made in that regard.”

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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48 comments

  1. Robin Stevenson

    I sincerely wish John and the “Wir Shetland” group the best of luck, and look forward to Derek Mackay’s response.

    Having said that, I’m rather confused why Mr Tulloch is even bothering with Mr MacKay or indeed the Scottish Government? Having knocked/blamed the Scottish Government regularly on ..Well…. Everything actually, over many years, and having stated that:

    “the Scottish government does not currently have the power to grant such a constitutional arrangement”,

    Why not just go straight to those that DO have the power and ignore the SG completely? Time and time again we read Mr Tulloch’s posts of how bad and incompetent our Scottish Government are, whether it’s education, ferry services, NHS, historical debts, fishing, gas & oil, the weather, etc.

    Mr Tulloch has vociferously argued his case for remaining within the Union on this very forum, I find it very surprising that he bothers to even discuss S&Os future with a government that he holds in such contempt?

    Of course, Shetlands EEZ would have to be agreed upon by both parties [Scotland and Shetland] So to turn around at this point and say “This is how much we’d have had IF only”, is frankly, wishful thinking.

    Reply
    • ROBERT SIM

      Indeed, Robin. And to the list of things WS and its Chair hold in contempt you can add the Islands Bill Consultation – to which this letter happens to be a response. Interesting…

      Reply
      • Robin Stevenson

        Not at all Duncan

        My point was rather, “why bother” consulting the Scottish Government when [as Mr Tulloch pointed out] “the Scottish government does not currently have the power to grant such a constitutional arrangement”?

        I’d imagine your chairman’s past personal opinions ‘Are’ relative to the letter inasmuch as him stating clearly:

        “negotiations may take place with a party of government that has shown little, if any, commitment to protecting Shetland’s vital interests”.

        I find this somewhat closed minded and hypocritical, and by its very tone does not reflect well on the WIR group as a whole. especially when it’s followed at the end of the letter by:

        “We are, of course, open to discussions with anyone wishing to improve Shetland’s lot and will be pleased to consider any approaches made in that regard.”

        Hardly, “open to discussion” when they’ve already been slated and publically ridiculed over the years by the chairman, who has now decided to become [all of a sudden] ‘open minded’?

        Therefore my question still stands, why bother consulting the SG at all, why not just go straight to those in control?

        “My reasons”, you ask?…Simply….Puzzlement!

    • Duncan Simpson

      Robin I cannot help but feel that if we had NOT submitted anything to the Islands Bill consultation you would have criticised us for failing to engage with the Scottish Government.

      You are referring to our Chairman’s past personal opinions which are not relevant to the direction of the group as a whole. We are willing to engage with anyone to further our aims. Sending in this letter to the consultation does not mean we are not open to consulting with Westminster as you appear to suggest.

      You are attempting to pick holes in what is in my opinion a clear and well written letter, I can only guess at the reasons for this?

      Reply
    • Gareth Fair

      Robin,
      Whilst it is clear you are against the aims of the Wir Shetland group, presumably because you believe it damages your case for an independent Scotland, your case for an independent Scotland is already in tatters.
      You and the SNP overplayed the economic advantage of independence whilst downplaying the financial risks. With Oil now at $37 a barrel and no sign of an upside, clearly you were wrong. The implications for Scotland would have been very serious.

      If you read the full letter Mr Tulloch wrote as published in the Shetland News he makes it clear why he has written to Mr Mackay.

      Your continued negative campaigning around the EEZ is getting a bit tired now. How many times do you want to loose the debate on this?
      Perhaps your negative campaign should move on, what’s the next step, personally attacking the people involved?

      ‘Sincerely’ wishing the ‘best of luck’ to a group campaigning for independence of somewhere you have never been, whilst also campaigning against said group is not fooling anyone.

      Reply
      • Robin Stevenson

        Gareth

        You’ll note from my above post where I said:

        “I sincerely wish John and the “Wir Shetland” group the best of luck”,

        How this can be perceived to be “against the aims of the Wir Shetland group”, is anyone’s guess?

        As far as that tired old, played out nonsense with regards to the price of oil, I generally expect that from our MSM or the clueless [perhaps one and the same?]

        The EEZ debate will go on, as it affects both Shetland and Scotland, there is nothing “tired” about it? Far from it, the suggestion that Shetland was somehow robbed of £100 bn over 40 years is disingenuous nonsense, firstly by the fact that Shetland [nor Mr Tulloch] has any clue how much of an EEZ would be allocated to either? And secondly, we have yet to discover if Shetland would be regarded as an “Enclave”? In which case matters would change quite dramatically.

        Why you seem to think that I lost the EEZ debate, is – I believe – wishful thinking, on your part.

        Incidentally Gareth, perhaps you could offer me advice on where I’ve been [or not been] in the world, before I book this year’s holiday?

      • Duncan Simpson

        Well said Gareth.

        Robin there are people in the group who have publicly supported and detracted from the Scottish Government, Westminster, the SIC, Brussels and a myriad of other organisations. Our Chairman is correctly stating that we are open to discussion with anyone because the aims of the group transcends the personal opinions (current or past) of any member.

        As Gareth has said our reasons for submitting this letter are clearly laid out for all to see.

      • Gareth Fair

        Robin,
        ‘Interesting’ argument you have there.
        Even though you were catastrophically wrong on the Scottish independence debate, we should just forget about that and follow your advice on this one without question.
        We should not allow your lack of any decent argument against Shetland independence or your clear political bias influence us in any way.
        We should also forget about the comprehensive study you yourself pointed us to by Dr Zahraa. Which in his opinion clearly gives an independent Shetland a sizeable EEZ based on the equidistant (median ) line as a start point shifted North for proportionality. (As the Malta / Lybia case).
        Perhaps it is you that needs the ‘best of luck’.

        http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/10/15/autonomy-could-mean-millions-more-for-isles-coffers

        Am I wrong about you never having visited Shetland? The impression I get from your numerous posts is that you have not.
        I’m happy to concede that point if you want to set me straight?

      • Robert Sim

        Gareth, if someone’s points are invalid because they have never visited Shetland, which is the clear implication of your and others’ comments on this where Robin is concerned, are they also less valid if they don’t currently live in Shetland? Or is that point just complete nonsense and it is the more mature attitude to judge someone’s arguments on the quality of the points they are making? If that is the case, maybe you and others could stop the unsavoury ad hominen digs at Robin (which he deals with good-humouredly, to his credit)? If anything, it makes some residents of Shetland at least seem narrow-minded and unwelcoming.

      • Robin Stevenson

        Robert

        I thank for defending my case, and a happy New year to you 😉

        Gareth and others have often asked me whether or not I’ve ever visited Shetland, and while I’d love to set him straight on the matter, I however, choose not to, simply because it is irelevent to debate [as you eloquently point out] Who knows, perhaps this year, I’ll make myself known on my next visit? [and here’s a clue Gareth, you may even pay to see me…./wink]

        You say:

        “Even though you were catastrophically wrong on the Scottish independence debate”.

        Were we really? So every country the size of Scotland relies on oil then, to make a success of their independence? Of the 62 former British countries, please remind me how many are banging on the door to get back in? Remind me what currency they all use? Is it just the case that we’re “too wee, too poor and too stupid”, to be independent? So Shetland could be quite successful being independent of Scotland, but Scotland would fail miserably being independent of the rUK?…Sadly Gareth, you’re arguments just don’t stack up? Even Cameron eventually had to admit [grudgingly], Scotland would be successful independently.

      • iantinkler

        Robin Stevenson, of the 62 former British countries, please remind, me just how many are free democracies? How many are police states with negative civil liberties? How many are divided by sectarian hatred and tribal genocides? Just how many regard human females as little more than expendable possessions. The peoples of the former colonies may not have the freedom free to re-join with the United Kingdom however their citizens risk death to become domiciled in the UK and have been doing so for many, many decades. They are not just banging at the door, they are screaming at the door. Many have fled from tyranny to gain citizenship of the UK, many still are!!. Remember that next time you bleat about lack of freedom under Westminster.

      • Gareth Fair

        Robin,
        As things stand it is the £7.6B black hole in the Scottish finances (as calculated by the IFS with oil at $50 a barrel) that poses the problem for Scottish Independence.
        The economic case for Shetland looks much stronger, certainly worth investigating for the people of Shetland to decide if it is something we would wish to do.

      • Robin Stevenson

        Gareth

        You know as well as I do that Scotland’s [alleged] “Black hole” is our share of the UK’s National debt, that’s our 10% of debt that Scotland never needed to borrow in the first place, how does the UK’s stand at the moment again? Debt £1.6 trillion, deficit [black hole] £76 Billion, servicing the debt £49 Billion pa.
        How much is Scotland contributing to the latest Syrian bombing campaign? [Y’know, that war where they destroy oil fields that were destroyed months ago]
        Based on the UK’s approach towards Scotland’s “Black hole” How do you think Shetland would react if Scotland borrowed £Billions in Shetland’s name, then sent you the bill?

      • Gareth Fair

        Robin,

        Unfortunately the IFS figure just the ‘black hole’ or additional fiscal gap purely down to the oil price at $50, it does not include fiscal deficit that Scotland was predicted to the run by the OBR or indeed the white paper.

        You are quite right to point out the liability of the historic debt run up by the UK as a whole, which if Scotland took a geographical share would be around £3.6B in interest payments. However with oil tax revenues being so low you can argue this would actually have put Scotland in stronger position to negotiate a lower share of the debt.

      • Robin Stevenson

        Gareth

        That is exactly my argument, “historic debt”, up until very recently Scotland couldn’t borrow money, we never needed to, ever. Over the decades Scotland has paid into the UK coffers far more than we received back, did we get the surplus returned? Not likely…Instead the UK government continued to borrow and we were given our geographical share of rUK debt, as you point out, we still do, Scotland’s – so called – “black hole” is no different from the UK’s “black hole” [albeit a fraction of theirs] Of course they don’t actually like to use the term “black hole” for themselves.

        When I argued this point with Kevin Hague [Chokka blog] I asked him to take Scotland’s input, over 3/4 decades [rather than a snapshot of a year or two] and tell me how Scotland would have stood today, had it been independent? Even with flawed statistics from our IFS or OBR [inc GERS] He grudgingly had to admit Scotland would indeed be sitting now debt free. So, sure we’ve had the price of oil down as low as $10- a barrel, but “long term” Scotland is as economically viable now as it always has been.

      • Gordon Harmer

        The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Institute of Fiscal Studies both reckoned in April last year that North Sea revenues would come in at around £600m, 700m a year. The IFS estimated as a result that Scotland would run a budget deficit in 2015/16 of 8.6 per cent of GDP: the equivalent of a financing black hole of £7.6bn, or a rise of roughly 23p on the basic rate of income tax. It predicted this chasm could rise to almost £10bn by 2019/20. The OBR argued last November that North Sea revenues could even be as low as £130m in 2015/16 and £100m a year over the longer term. The negative consequences of low oil prices manifest themselves through lower petroleum revenue tax receipts, higher rebates claimed by North Sea oil companies, and of course lower revenues, profits and jobs in the industry, all of which, in turn, feed back into public tax revenues and outlays. Thank goodness for all those very wise No voters.

      • Gareth Fair

        Robin,
        Much of that historical wealth came from seas around Shetland, seas that one day can be included in Shetlands EEZ. I’m confident Wir Shetland will be working with the U.K. Government to get those seas recognised in the same way that Scotland did.
        If you apply your logic to Shetland it would quite possibly have been the richest country in the would per capita.

        If you want a separation then you devide up the assets and liabilities, it’s a negotiation.
        Scotland or indeed Shetland could never just walk away from a share of National debt, there are a whole host of reasons why neither would want to do that.
        I cannot imagine even you would propose doing this so your historic debt argument it is just propaganda.

        Please think about what you are doing here, is independence that important to you that you would put Scotland and its people into such a dire financial position just to be able to be independent from the rest of the U.K. If you are that desperate to be away from Westminster you might want to consider a move up to Shetland to join an independence campaign that might actually make economic sense.

      • Robin Stevenson

        Again Gordon [like so many others] this is a “snapshot” of Scotland’s current position, let’s not forget that every expert on the planet got the the price of oil “Including” the IFS and OBR wrong?
        However – the point that you and many others fail to grasp – is that IF Scotland had to rely on one commodity [like oil & gas] then we’re doing something drastically wrong, which is the very reason why oil & gas accounted for a mere 15% of Scotland’s tax-take, and the very reason for all this faux reaction over the price of a barrel of oil. Even when the price of oil was at $120 a barrel we were STILL told we’d be doomed, oil price is merely a frenzied deflection tactic adopted by opposition parties, the MSM and the ignorant.

        Gareth

        “The historic debt argument” remains, no sharing of assets? Then no debt, simple as that, imagine Scotland insisting that Shetland accepts £billions of Scotland’s debt, but none of the assets? Would you seriously be happy about that? “Propaganda?”…Nope, just the facts of the matter.

      • Duncan Simpson

        Robin I have to weigh in here.

        In what situation could Shetland ever inherit “£billions” of anyone’s debt? With 23,000 people I imagine any share of national debt would be scaled appropriately. An autonomous Shetland could quite easily afford to pay its fair share.

        The oil price debate IS relevant despite what you say. You can look at the tax take figures and say it is only a small percentage but the economic affect of the slump in oil prices goes MUCH deeper than that, ask the tens of thousands of North Sea workers to lose their jobs over the last year about that one. It obviously has a knock on effect to the entire economy.

      • Gareth Fair

        Robin,
        During the Scottish Independence campaign and (subsequent discussions) the ‘No’ camp argued the SNP economic predictions were over optimistic and there were other risks including drop in oil revenue, currency etc. These would leave Scotland worse off.
        Looking at the current situation the OBR has forecast receipts from North Sea oil and gas will be down by 94% this year to just £130m.
        The Scottish government predicted oil revenues of up to £7.5bn in its independence white paper.
        Remember that is the same white paper that told us we would be running a deficit.
        The OBR also warn that Scotland should expect oil tax revenues of £100m for the next 4 years.
        Even without factoring in the knock on effects to the oil industry cuts on people’s jobs and the support industry surely we can agree that SNP were over optimistic and one of the major risks has been realised.
        To be clear, no one is using the word ‘Doomed’, however an Independent Scotland in the current situation would require significant spending cuts and tax rises. This would not change anytime soon.
        If you are still pushing a Independence agenda let’s be honest about it.

      • iantinkler

        Robin Stevenson, you claim, “oil & gas accounted for a mere 15% of Scotland’s tax-take!!!” Now Robin, just how much Austerity would we have to go through if Scotland’s National Income dropped by “a mere 15%?. What would be cut? No Health Service perhaps? No University Education, never mind about free tuition, no tuition or tutors at all still would not make up a 15% shortfall.! . Now come on Robin, give us a clue, how the SNP/SG would maintain services if it lost 15% of Scotland’s tax-take. Remember all the Barnett formula cash, that flows to Scotland, would also be lost after a Yes vote! We also have to remember poor old “Tunnocks Tea cakes” are now lost to Scotland and under boycott, “as treacherous and Torie”, by the “Yes ” brigade. That idiocy is hard to believe,but very sadly, true.. Does that make the SNP, Scotlands new TEA Cake party? https://www.facebook.com/ScotlandsNOcompanies/photos/a.315210111936837.1073741828.315011115290070/405704989554015/?type=3&theater

      • Ali Inkster

        So Wrobin says “Every expert got the price of oil wrong” Yet most folk in the industry were predicting a slump. We were busy paying off mortgages and setting money by not because we expected the price to remain high but precisely because the price was high we knew it was encouraging overproduction in established fields and a boost to exploration finding a glut of new fields. Peak oil was bandied about by the same fools that predicted ever increasing prices. But those that had even the slightest awareness of reality knew all about the shale and the riches it contained, with more fracks being done techniques were being improved and costs were plummeting. Shetland can and will do very well as an independent state with oil prices where they are and even lower. Scotland won’t.

      • Robin Stevenson

        My oh my, we’re all out in force this morning chaps?

        Firstly, I’m not getting into anymore “snapshots” of the Scottish economy, choosing a year or two is pointless, if we look at Iceland’s economy after the banking collapse, then on paper, their economy was gubbed, however, having the sense to allow their banks to go bust and jail those responsible, they’re now doing rather well. Who’d have thunk it?

        Ali, could you please link anyone or any article that predicted the oil slump?…Thought not.

        Gareth, perhaps you could tell us how the UK Gov has helped the oil industry? Having increased their tax from 20% to 32%, bled them dry then offered a 2% cut down to 30%, how did this help, jobs and the industry? Aah!…But blame the SG for not doing enough huh?

        Duncan, 23,000 people is what percentage of Scotland’s 5.3 million? that percentage [much the same as the UK set up] is what you’d be entitled to per capita, inc Scotland’s debt. Does that seem fair? No?…Well that’s what Scotland has to live with within the UK.

        Ian, “Teacakes”..Really? Scottish products should be proud to be Scottish. “British Standard?” So was the Titanic.

      • ian tinkler

        “Teacakes”..Really? Scottish products should be proud to be Scottish. So, Robin Stevenson, a ban on products when the producers are not supporting a Nationalist agenda, even the humble Tunnock’s Teacake is called treacherous in the eyes of the “Yes” people and should be boycotted by all the Scottish Nationalists. Sorry Robin I made a mistake, not the Teacake party, perhaps the Fruitcake party would be a more appropriate name.

      • Ali Inkster

        Wrobin if you want you can troll back over the last 5 years and you will find many many articles predicting a slump in oil prices but better still look at Shetlinks peak oil thread and there were quite a few oil industry workers predicting this very price slump. the only difference is most of us thought it would need the US export terminals that were under construction to open first. (predicting OPECs suicidal production boost was missed by most of us).

      • Ali Inkster

        Then again Wrobin we can hardly expect the SNP to have seen the slump coming when they can’t even see it when it’s already here.

  2. David Spence

    I am still of the belief, if push came to shove, why the people of Shetland have not asked for proof the islands do indeed belong to Scotland? If the islands are that important to the people, and ‘ Wir Shetland ‘ want the islands to have greater control, why is this issue of who has control of the islands not been resolved in the legal courts?

    I know many people are probably of the mindset ‘ Why bother. We are happy with the status quo (Scotland ruling Shetland) On no, not another Stuart Hill……….atleast he has the tenacity to question the legitimacy of Scotland’s sovereignty over the islands ‘………unlike most Shetlander’s who could not care less about the islands and are happy to let any Tom, Dick or Harry rule the islands as long as it does not affect them directly (which in real terms it does).

    If Shetlander’s feel that strongly about the islands, why do they not seek greater independence by forcing Scotland or UK to prove its sovereignty over the islands.

    I am sure most Shetlander’s would prefer Scandinavian rule than Scottish???????

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      I am much more interested in the question: Does Scotland own Falkirk! Produce the documents now.

      Reply
  3. iantinkler

    “Indeed, Robin. And to the list of things WS and its Chair hold in contempt you can add the Islands Bill Consultation” Interesting quote from Robert Sim! Now come on all wise and omniscient, Robert Sim. Have you the guts to give us that list WS hold in such contempt? I somehow doubt you have the facts, nor the balls to do more than your mindless sniping. how very typical of a “Yes” man!!!

    Reply
  4. John Tulloch

    @Robin Stevenson, you ask, “Why does Wir Shetland even bother with Mr MacKay…?”

    Given the SNP’s track record you may well ask.

    Mr Salmond’s referendum failure enabled Nicola Sturgeon’s ascension. She purports to promote an, ostensibly, “listening”, less autocratic SNP than did her predecessor.

    All interested parties were urged to contribute and Wir Shetland represents a large section of the community. The consultation instructions didn’t specify sycophancy so we contributed honestly, in a polite, “unvarnished” way. I trust Mr Mackay will take on board the points made.

    I have indeed criticised the SNP many times, with good reason. Time and again, Shetland’s vital interests have been neglected or trampled so I make no apology. I shall do the same again.

    The contents of Wir Shetland’s submission were fully debated, months ago and ratified by the committee before posting. I am merely the bearer of (apparently unwelcome) tidings.

    Two long comments and all you’ve managed to do is attack me for getting cross with the SNP’s consistent failure to protect Shetland’s vital interests. Conspicuously, you offer no substantive defence, only personal attacks?

    I’m pleased you “attack the messenger”, it means “wir arguments” are robust.

    Reply
    • Robin Stevenson

      John

      On the run up to that “failed” referendum the YES camp went from 22% to 45% in a matter of months, since then we now stand at 50%, we have achieved – on the back of that – 56-59 MPS, we have 113,000 members, the SNP are expected [according to polls] to win every constituency seat in May 2016, IF that’s your idea of “failure” then the mind boggles what “success” would have brought?

      I applaud your brand new shiny “listening, polite, honest and unvarnished” approach to this consultation, I can only hope that [for your sake] Mr MacKay hasn’t read too many of your past letters or bloggs? Where you took great pleasure in slating everything and anything the Scottish government stood for, while blaming them for historical debts, before they were even in power?
      Similar [in many respects] to the “People’s Front of Judia” [Life of Brian] “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

      Just a tip: “SNPs consistent failure”, is probably not a particularly good starting point.

      But Hey!…As I’ve said, “the best of luck”.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        And a “Happy New Year” to you too, Robin Stevenson!

        If the SNP didn’t view Salmond as having failed, why is he now working for Nicola?

        BTW. Thank you for wishing Wir Shetland the “best of luck” but we won’t need it – “right is might”, so they say.

      • Gareth Fair

        Robin,
        You have 54 MP’s.

      • iantinkler

        SNP, failed to gain Independence for Scotland. Two Westminster SNP MPs under police investigation. The SNP , for popularist reasons alone, not altering Scotland’s Income tax rates, leaving no funds to combat “Austerity” measures and fund a better Scottish “welfare system !!. That’s Just a tip of : “SNPs consistent failure”. “Wir Shetland” now has a greater membership than Shetland branch SNP and that is only after a few months!! Whoop, Whoop, Whoop. Better no mention (NHS, Education, The Police, Scottish Economy, Scottish Unemployment rate,Growth!! o dear me)

    • Robert Sim

      John, while I appreciate the sincerity behind WS’s position, it needs to be pointed out yet again that local elected members have a crucial role to play in managing an authority’s budget and indeed all aspects of the council’s work. And thus the local council is also responsible for the position in which any authority finds itself. This is conveniently forgotten in your posts castigating the Scottish Government and portraying the SIC as innocent victims. But then in other posts you tell us how inept and useless the local council and the SRT are. You seem not to appreciate the irony. Doubtless all this will be resolved by WS getting directly involved in Shetland politics. Then you can show us how it’s done.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Robert Sim,

        Wir Shetland is new on the Shetland political scene we face a number of choices in a variety of areas.

        Now, I know you’d just love us to become part of the system, part of the establishment and consequently, vulnerable to all the little baubles, arm twists and thumb screws available in the “this’ll pull them back in line”, department, but it’s a forlorn dream.

        That isn’t Wir Shetland’s purpose. Our purpose is fundamentally to change the existing relationship between Shetland authorities and government which we regard as deeply flawed.

        Decisions on standing our own parliamentary and/or council candidates have yet to be announced however you may depend upon it that the best interests of Shetland overall will be the determining factor.

      • Robert Sim

        Ohi, I see, John – it’s not about the decisions made by the SIC or anyone else but about the “relationship” between local and national government. Presumably, once that changes, decisions will be much better. I am not saying you shouldn’t pursue a goal of Shetland autonomy – but be realistic about the overspending which has taken place in the past and responsibility for which lies at local level. That isn’t about “relationships” but good governance.

      • John Tulloch

        Robert Sim, I’m unsure where you’re heading with this ever-decreasing circle of arguments around which you endlessly retreat.

        I am on record many times, both condemning the extravagance of past councils and praising the financial management of this one.

        The present SIC has its qualities and its faults and I tailor my comments, accordingly.

        There is no doubt that part-time, poorly-paid, generalist politicians cannot hope to match full-time, highly-paid, specialist officials at the internal politics of running the SIC.

        Officials who, themselves, are constrained by the statutory strait-jackets of Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels which often, force them to act in ways they would not, otherwise, choose to do.

        Rules which force them to do what’s best for Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels, as opposed to what is best for Shetland.

        There are far too many layers of interfering bureaucracy and it won’t do. It has to change or Shetland’s vital interests will continue to suffer, grievously.

      • Robert Sim

        It’s not difficult, John Tulloch. Your caricature of the SIC (which you reproduce again here) as local politicians who can’t match devious officials or the equally devious national government is just plain wrong. Picking up your words here, it has nothing to do with bureaucracy and everything to do with local politicians setting a clear and effective strategy and sticking to it. That has historically proven to be incredibly difficult within a setup of independent (i.e. non-party) politicians. That, to my mind, is a strong argument for having Shetland within a larger setting – Scotland – where national checks and balances can come into play.

      • John Tulloch

        I didn’t expect you to agree with me, Robert.

        You seem unable to consider any alternative to the present 40yr-old model of local government being steadily whittled away with ever-increasing centralisation.

        I am not so constrained in my views and look to successful examples elsewhere in the world as a guide.

        Perhaps, you allow your position as a former highly-paid, specialist SIC official and your entrenched, rose-tinted view of Scottish nationalism to colour your judgement?

        What would be so wrong with having a full-time, elected leader of every major local government department?

        You’re even at odds with your own candidate, Mr Skene, on this. He’s a big fan of autonomy, regularly citing the de-militarised Åland Islands as a shining example?

        I doot we’ll just have to make wir respective cases to the Shetland electorate and let them decide.

      • ROBERT SIM

        I am happy to rest my case, John – although I won’t be putting it to the Shetland electorate.

        I do have to say, though, that your continual resort to ad hominem digs does begin to grate after a while. Where my views originate is entirely beside the point. I could equally well say you have a romantic and unrealistic notion of the realities of local politics and local government in Shetland based on viewing it all from a distance through the simplistic lens of the media. But I wouldn’t be that petty.

      • iantinkler

        So, Robert Sim, would not be so petty as to say to John Tulloch; “you have a romantic and unrealistic notion of the realities of local politics and local government in Shetland based on viewing it all from a distance through the simplistic lens of the media”. How very charming of you Robert! Perhaps Robert you forget that 350 plus members of the Shetland community, including former Nationalists, have a similar view to John and have chosen to join “Wir Shetland”. I think Robert Sim, those Shetlanders who have allied themselves to “Wir Shetland” are not all suffering from romantic and unrealistic notions nor having a simplistic view of local government in Shetland based the media. They actually live and have first hand experience of the EU, UK, SNP/SG and SIC governance of Shetland. They are heartily sick of it and are clamouring for change. I realise that if that change towards self governance for Shetland is successful, your utopian dream of a “Socialist Nationalist Scotland” may be shattered but I would not be so petty to suggest that is the motive for your pompous sarcasm. I would never suggest that!

  5. John Tulloch

    Robin Stevenson, I haven’t heard many SNP supporters likening the Scots in Shetland to the Romans in Judaea however, historically, you have a point. Stuart Hill will, doubtless appreciate your support.

    “Just a tip”, Robin, always finish your sentences: “SNP consistent failure .. to protect Shetland’s vital interests.” gives the full sense of what was meant.

    And I’d say that’s an especially “good place to start”, exactly as we mean to continue.

    Reply
  6. John Tulloch

    The article states that I have (privately) “frequently expressed hostility to the idea of Scottish independence” and I’m not complaining about that because, at least, in a narrow sense, it’s partly true.

    1. I don’t want border posts between here and the rest of the UK.

    2. The SNP’s current policies and actions relating to Shetland are extremely damaging and we need to be insulated from them.

    However, a little clarification is called for.

    I have long supported devolution of greater powers for Scotland and have said many times that if Scots want independence they should have it – and so should Shetlanders. That view is consistent with the ‘right to self-determination of peoples’ articulated in the UN Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1.

    What I fail to understand is why the SNP, with Messrs Stevenson and Sim in the vanguard, insist they should be given the independence they want yet, not only should Shetlanders be denied theirs, they should have what little they’ve got whittled away by inexorable centralisation of powers and services.

    The only principle that’s consistent with is “wanting to eat your cake and have it, too.”

    Reply
    • Robin Stevenson

      John

      You have stood on the platform of saving the union, you have fought, condemned and outright slated the Scottish Government, at no point do I remember you stating “I have long supported devolution of greater powers for Scotland”, IF this were true, then why vote, nay, insist, Scotland remain within this dis-united Union?
      Shetlanders [I believe] should be given the same autonomy as every constituency in Scotland, however, I believe first and foremost that we are arguing over crumbs, what I’d really like to see is an independent Scotland with 32 autonomous regions.
      So sure, run your council, take care of your NHS, education, police, fishing, gas & oil, but run it within the umbrella of the united constituencies of Scotland, have a seat at the table by all means, and fight your corner, but do it within a United Scotland,?
      The Tories rely on divide and conquer, they’ll offer you the earth and deliver nothing. Our squabbling over maybees is exactly what they could best hope for.
      WIR Shetlands a fine idea, but you have to show support to the only people that are prepared to listen and ultimately deliver it.

      Reply
    • Robert Sim

      I can’t speak for the SNP or Robin, John, but it’s quite simply a falsehood to say that I have said that the voters of Shetland should be “denied” anything in terms of self-determination. In every post on the subject, I have stressed that WS have every right to campaign for their goal. What I have done is question the practicality of it – and so far have only had vague generalisations in reply. Please don’t use me as an excuse to play the victim card.

      Reply
  7. John Tulloch

    Robin Stevenson,

    I voted – and campaigned – against full Independence for the reasons stated above and said many times, especially, early on, that I was in favour of greater powers for Scotland.

    My favoured outcome was and is a federal UK, with island groups like Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles afforded self-governing status within it, and I am as entitled to want that as you are to campaign for your preference of full independence.

    There is nothing contradictory about those positions so don’t try to conflate the two to put words into my mouth, thank you very much.

    Reply
  8. John Tulloch

    Robert Sim,

    With respect, sir, you have argued that, not only are we, effectively, “too wee, too stupid and too ‘lacking in practicality'”, to manage to look after ourselves, you have also threatened, insistently, that the Scottish government would refuse to co-operate with an autonomous Shetland on education.

    That’s on the recent record in this very forum – and hardly consistent with supporting the ‘right to self-determination of peoples’ (UN Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1).

    Reply

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