27th September 2016
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

First Minister’s visit boycotted by campaign group

Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie with members of the Shetland Athletics Team who were on there way home from competing in Aberdeen. Photo: Charlotte Black

Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie with members of the Shetland Athletics Team who were on their way home from competing in Aberdeen. Photo: Charlotte Black

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrived in Shetland this morning off the North Boat and immediately faced criticism over the SNP government’s record on ferry services and council funding.

Campaign group Wir Shetland has opted to boycott today’s visit which is part of Ms Sturgeon’s election campaign tour of the country.

While here she will open the local SNP election office and address members of the public with a question and answer session tonight at the Shetland Museum.

Wir Shetland, the multi-party group demanding Shetland autonomy, says notable examples of the SNP administration’s “unfair” treatment of the isles are:

• Since 2013-14, Shetland and Orkney ferry subsidies have been cut;
• A massive, systematic underfunding of SIC services;
• This year’s £5 million cash cut in SIC annual funding while Holyrood received a cash increase from Westminster.

However, Ms Sturgeon plans to use the visit to Shetland and Orkney to stress her party’s commitment to giving greater powers to Scottish islands.

She said: “Our island communities are part of the fabric of Scotland, and after years of neglect by the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive, the SNP government has done everything we can to support them.

“I’ll be setting out key commitments for Scotland’s islands during my visit as well as learning more about what islanders want from their government.”

Islands minister Derek Mackay is accompanying the First Minister on her visit.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem candidate Tavish Scott, who is being backed by Wir Shetland, has challenged Ms Sturgeon to cut ferry fares on Shetland’s sea links to and from Aberdeen.

He has pointed to figures claiming that the Scottish government last year cut ferry fares by 55 per cent on the west coast of Scotland routes run by the state-owned Calmac shipping company.

He claims that, over the last nine years of the SNP government, Shetland ferry fares have steadily risen.

Mr Scott said, “The ferry service we need serves very aspect of island life. Affordable and reliable transport is an essential investment in Shetland’s future. In the middle of the school holidays hundreds of Shetland families use the boat south to the Scottish mainland. But a family of four plus the car costs more than £400.

“I want the SNP to be fair to Shetland. They have cut ferry fares on the west coast by 55 per cent. That is great news for those islands. Why have they not done that for us? What have we done wrong? As I knock on doors all across Shetland this issue comes up time and time again.

“After nine years of an SNP government Nicola Sturgeon now says she wants to ask islanders what they want. It’s easy Nicola. Cut our ferry fares by 50 per cent as you’ve done on Scotland’s west coast. Pay crofters when you promise, not months and months late. Start being flexible on fishing regulations rather than tying our boats to the pier in government red tape. And reverse your cuts to our schools that hit the education of Shetland’s next generation.”

• More to follow

AboutRyan Taylor

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

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17 comments

  1. iantinkler

    A pretty typical picture of a career politician, next the cuddling of a baby shot. Ironic taken on a ferry with its subsidy being cut for Shetlanders. Now consider the children in the photo. University prospects? (SNP appointed survey)
    The commission’s experts found the current system “disproportionately benefits those in our most affluent communities” and that Scotland has the highest ratio of wealthy youngsters attending university of any of the four home nations.” The record of Science standards in Scotland’s Universities is a national disgrace. Free places but no money to appoint world class leading (science) educators!!

    Reply
  2. Gordon downing

    They will not cut ferry fares till they have an mp in Shetland

    Reply
  3. iantinkler

    “They will not cut ferry fares till they have an mp/Smp in Shetland” In other words vote for the SNP or have another “Day of Reckoning” for Shetland. “Vote for us or we will see you stuffed” would make a good rallying cry for the SNP!!!! with a chorus of “Hail Nicola, the all divine”. Buster the cat rampant would be proud of that!!! (sorry, got a bit carried away) lol

    Reply
  4. Robin Stevenson

    Well this makes a whole bunch of sense? ‘WIR Shetland is a multi-party group’, NO it’s not, it’s a Lib/Dem reincarnation group supporting Tavish Scott.
    For months we’ve been subjected to the moans and groans of Mr Tulloch and his chums of how bad the SNP have been for these islands, and why hasn’t much more been done? And yet here we have the perfect opportunity to present their case to Scotland’s first minister, and what do they choose to do?….Boycott Nicolas visit??…Utterly bizarre!!!

    Reply
  5. John Irvine

    Shame it was a fine night but I suppose if the forecast had been bad she would have come by plane anyway.

    Reply
  6. Alec Macpherson

    ==> She said: “Our island communities are part of the fabric of Scotland, and after years of neglect by the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive,

    One lasting eight years. You have been there for nine, and aiming for five more.

    ==> the SNP government has done everything we can to support them.

    And there you have the problem of the ‘administrators’ v. the ‘administered’ in a nutshell. The complaint is that what they *have* done isn’t good enough. You can be sure they won’t accept delayed transport links or failing amenities or their wages delayed even a week, but we should accept it because they’re doing “everything they can”.

    Gee, thanks.

    And their proposed solution isn’t actual localism and letting mere locals have power but to create a Minister for the Islands for one of their own. Because they’re the only ones who can be trusted to do something. Look at how much they get paid, they need so much because of the task they’ve given themselves.

    They’re not intrinsically bad people but, after years at the top with superannuated salaries and all expenses, we start to look like ants to be placated with some gobbledygook about the fabric of Scotland.

    Reply
  7. iantinkler

    Robin Stevenson, whatever is it that so winds up the Nationalists so much, about “Wir Shetland?” If the group is as bizarre and inconsequential as you repeatedly claim, why do you and the usual sect of Nationalist sycophants get quite so agitated? Surely a mere “Lib/Dem reincarnation group supporting Tavish Scott” should not worry you so, even if does have the largest membership of and political grouping on Shetland!! N.B Political grouping, not political party. Now let’s all go see Nicola “Holding her own thing” Should be a laugh a minute if she ever stops hugging other people’s children, I hope no state Guardians are watching, strange lady photographing with bodily contact of unrelated children. The SNP snoop police may get suspicious here!!!!

    Reply
  8. Dave Jamieson

    Their track record is shocking.
    They have split a Country, Communities and families.
    Smoke and mirrors and broken promises with little real care for the good of the Scottish people.

    Reply
    • Robin Stevenson

      Dave

      You say ‘Their track record is shocking’, maybe you could tell us when everything was great, and who was in power at the time? [I seemed to have missed that]

      You see it as ‘splitting a country’ I see it as a ‘ political awakening’ .

      The ‘smoke and mirrors and broken promises’ you talk of:… Tell me how legal, decent, honest and truthful your very own MP is? Tell me about Shetlands historic debt that was never payed? Tell me about the £300 billion stolen from the North sea and hidden for decades?… Do you ‘seriously’ imagine that ANY other political party have Scotland’s best interests in mind, more than the SNP?

      Reply
      • Alec Macpherson

        Oh, great, Robin. “Political awakening” coupled with an implied ethical difference based on geography. There’s nothing early 20th Century about that.

        As for politicians’ untruths, it’s not nice when it comes from someone whom you otherwise like on a personal level and respect on a policy level, but it happens. No matter how much you think you and yours are above reproach, you have done it and will do it again… and when you do it next – especially in O&S – the toxic karma you have built-up will be a sight to behold.

      • Robin Stevenson

        Alec

        I’m really not sure where you’re going with your first paragraph? But the term ‘political awakening’ is meant by the fact that in Scotland – and politics in general – has been stagnant for decades, we have had a two party system for as long as I can remember, we only have to look at past GE average turnout figures, generally apathy has ruled the day. The Scottish referendum had an unprecedented turnout of 84.6% – the highest turnout since 1918, – that, to me, is a long awaited ‘political awakening’.

        No political party – or politician – gets it right all of the time, I accept that, but I’ll continue to support – who I believe to be – one of the best politicians Scotland has seen for decades.

        “The toxic karma you have built up?”….Whit?…Do you mean people who aren’t happy with the ‘status quo’ should just shut up, and eat their cereal?

      • Alec Macpherson

        I am quite sure you know exactly what where I’m going, Robin. You’re not stupid, just coy… that is, pretending not to understand in order to snarl up the discussion.

        The notion that one idea/movement has a profound and unchallenged understanding, that before there was ignorance, that now anyone who doesn’t ascribe to it is asleep, all that belongs to religion. The moment it’s introduced to politics it becomes fascistic.

        You do not speak to the volk. The SNP does not speak for the volk. Those who came before you were equally Scottish, those who disagree with you are equally Scottish. Europe was ruined twice last century by demagogues who created division where there was and should have been none, and I am filled with utter disdain at those who would do it to a settled nation.

        I never have wished complete ruination on my political opponents. I never have joked about pursuing their children down the generations. Your thought processes are completely alien to me.

        One day you or yours will commit an indiscretion or worse. You will receive every last bit of the compassion, understanding, sympathy, and accommodation you have shown others. To the hilt.

    • Brian Smith

      The amusing thing about those in Shetland who allegedly want change is that they actually want the status quo. That’s why they are backing the Lib-Dems, who have been in charge here since 1832.

      Reply
      • Michael Garriock

        Brian, some days, it seems you are easily amused.

        That aside, apparently the years 1835 – 1837 and 1935 – 1950 have suddenly vanished from the history books?

      • Ali Inkster

        Erasing things from history that they don’t like has been the primary job of historians for, well all of recorded history. 🙂

  9. Henry condy

    Robin, you talk. Lot of sense, I didn’t manage to see Nicola, was Ian , Gordon , there I hope so , I heard they were boycotting her , that is strange, they rip her up but shy away from a face to face, a one party state, well that’s the people’s choice, it IS called democracy, Wee Nippy hugging barns, what a childish comment, when you see Kezia making Chappatis , Ruthie , illegally driving a Fork lift , and that Wee Guy swinging through the trees, WR , Tarzan he is not, I wonder what Ian etc think of the Tories £8 prescription charge, and that’s just the start, come May, goodbye Ruth, you just shot yourself in the foot, the SNP like it or not is the people’s party for Scotland , get used to it, it may be hard at times till they get a hand on all the new powers , but my children and their kids will benefit, Kezia and Ruth go on about strong opposition, in my lifetimes, Scotland has never had a voice, eg , every seat in Scotland votes Labour we still got Tory, Thank God we woke up.

    Reply
    • Alec Macpherson

      Would you be able to repost that with more fullstops and fewer commas; more prepositions; and link sentences with sequential thoughts?

      Reply

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