Surely if any proof were ever required that the Palace of Westminster is a London asylum with neither consideration nor care for little outside the narrow limitations of the south-east of England, it is the recent insane proposal to leave the tens of thousands of square miles of the north Atlantic Ocean, the northern North Sea and the thousands of miles of Scottish coastline as the responsibility of a single coastguard centre in Aberdeen; with the possibility of an additional part-time call centre in either the Northern or Western Isles.
Any right minded person in Scotland, regardless of whether they may or may not have spent time at the fishing, in the Merchant Navy, on the rigs, on the ferries, been involved in aquaculture or purely used the sea as a leisure pursuit, would recognise that the seas to the west, the north and the east of Scotland each require their own specific coastguard co-ordination centres. By necessity, each in turn requires its own specific ancillary and support resources.
Given that the Scottish minister for transport Stewart Stevenson was called upon to resign as a consequence of a snowfall in the central belt, let there be no misunderstanding in respect of accountability and Westminster’s attitude to our seas. Since the Maritime Coastguard Agency in Scotland remains under the control of the UK/English minister for transport and a remote and ignorant London Conservative/Lib Dem government, it is naturally incumbent on the representative for the Northern Isles, Alistair Carmichael, to assume the mantle of responsibility for protecting our interests.
An appraisal and efficient consolidation of the MCA in Scotland could perhaps in time absorb the duties of the Forth centre into Aberdeen’s sector. Similarly, the subtraction of the Clyde base would require the extension of the Stornoway sector to converge with that of Belfast. Shetland station’s logical extension to see the return of the Pentland Firth to the care and protection of the Northern Isles complements the reconfigeration.
Therefore, to avoid any confusion, vacillation or duplicity on the part of the Liberals and Mr Carmichael, let it be fully understood that they have the sole responsibility for ensuring that Scotland is protected by its having three 24-hour marine rescue co-ordination centres at Stornoway, Lerwick and Aberdeen.
Thus Mr Carmichael, in the event of any failure to fully secure the safety of mariners, fully protect international shipping and of course defend the marine and coastal environmental assets of Scotland, the immediate resignation of your parliamentary seat would be the logical, understandable and entirely necessary course of action to follow.
Peter J F Dodge