Time to push for greater autonomy for Shetland, argues MSP

Shetland should exploit the debate over Scotland’s constitutional future to secure greater autonomy for the Northern Isles, according to MSP Tavish Scott.

He told BBC Scotland’s Politics Show yesterday that more control over local affairs was a necessary antidote to centralisation of powers at Holyrood and Westminster.

Mr Scott was speaking ahead of the publication of a joint submission with Orkney MSP Liam McArthur to the UK government’s consultation on an independence referendum.

Discussion of Sheltand’s constitutional future has been muted in the isles, while the national media has speculated about the possibility of a no vote to independence in Shetland at the same time as a positive endorsement of First Minister Alex Salmond’s plans in the rest of Scotland.

The Liberal Democrat MSP appeared to accept Mr Salmond’s preferred date for a referendum in the autumn of 2014 although the official position of the UK government, which his party is a member of, is for an earlier poll. 

Asked if a no/yes result would be accepted in Shetland, Mr Scott said: “Who knows? The real point here is that instead of just waiting to see what happens to us in the islands, I think Liam McArthur and I want to make sure there is a real debate about what we want from the governments of both Scotland and the UK.

“Instead of just being seen as a box off the Moray Firth, we want to make sure that we are the centre and the rest of the UK is the box off our coastline. That’s how we want to frame this debate – an important one for our islands in the coming months and indeed years until we have that vote in 2014.”

He said he was not convinced that people in Shetland or Scotland as a whole would vote for independence, but argued that if the isles waited to have done to it what had happened in the past, “we’ll gain nothing out of this process”.

“I do want to see more autonomy, because what we have seen over the last five years has been the centralising of powers down to Edinburgh, the taking away of responsibilities from local people and I don’t think that’s good for the islands at all.”

He added: “In the past the SNP did articulate a policy position of self-determination for the Northern Isles … I simply want to hold them to that.”

He claimed Shetland and Orkney would have a “pretty big” share geographically of the oil and gas reserves off their coastlines, although he did not make it clear how without advocating outright independence for the isles (or devolution of powers over oil and gas) this fact could be exploited to give the isles leverage with the Scottish government.

Outgoing SIC convener Sandy Cluness told the programme: “It’s time we had a debate again in Shetland about greater autonomy. We learned in the 70s when we took on central government that we could do much better for the islands with our agreements with the oil companies and so on. We have to look at that kind of system again.

“We have to look at a different system of taxation so we can get cheaper fuel and cheaper transport and that’s what will keep these islands alive.”


Add Your Comment
  • Walter Durward

    • March 18th, 2012 15:49

    Great idea. We are in the same position in Southern Scotland – only 11% of the electorate voted SNP – a bit more than the 6% in Shetland, but still good enough to justify ignoring the separatists and staying in the UK.

  • Christopher Johnston

    • March 18th, 2012 19:55

    With greater autonomy should come greater control over the financial house. Is Tavish advocating less financial support from doon sooth?

  • Brian Fleming

    • March 18th, 2012 20:12

    I see no reason why the Northern Isles should not have greater autonomy, but the idea of partioning Scotland as suggested by Walter Durward in his comment is profoundly foolish and could be extremely dangerous if anyone were daft enough´to take it seriously.

  • John Muir

    • March 18th, 2012 21:36

    We will all prosper in an independent Scotland. May I recommend the A to Z of unionist Myths at newsnetscotland.com

    I cannot for the life of me understand why some people are in the thrall of Westminster. We have been subsidising them for decades only for them to squander the nations wealth to benefit only the south east of England.

  • Gregor Addison

    • March 18th, 2012 23:35

    I think some kind of greater autonomy for Orkney and Shetland might work – the Åland islands and the Faroes seem to do reasonably well. However, if Tavish Scott is advocating greater powers for the islands, a) what further powers is he seeking?, b) is it consistent with his support of Devo-Plus for the rest of Scotland?, c) does his belief that Orkney/Shetland should benefit further from the oil also extend to the rest of Scotland (would he support revenues going to Holyrood rather than Westminster, or support an oil fund)? There seems to be an assumption by some that Orkney/Shetland will vote no in a referendum and therefore be exempt. But both are legally a part of Scotland and would probably have to secede with the rest of Scotland. Would the islands be able to legally remain in the UK? And with Lord Fraser urging that Trident be moved to Scapa Flow (if Orkney/Shetland stay within the UK), there might be cause to think twice about staying with Westminster.

  • Susan Bowie

    • March 19th, 2012 0:17

    I don’t know about greater autonomy , but Shetland should ensure that the possible coming of Independence South doesn’t disadvantage ourselves, given the possibility that a an Independent Scotland would fare economically disasterously even with all of ‘Wir oil revenues’
    Its not enough for the SNP separatists to say they want independence ‘just because we do’.Everything rests on the detail.For Shetland that detail would mean vastly increased postal charges for mail order and Ebay from England, should independence happen, not to mention uncertainty about currency, benefits and public sector pensions. Hopefully sense and the status quo will prevail in this time over great economic uncertainty in Europe.Whatever happens there Shetland should not miss this opportunity to ensure the best deal, given our key position regarding Oil and gas, especially if economically Scotland may be compromised in the long term.

  • Peter Fraser

    • March 19th, 2012 9:02

    Where’s Stuart Hill when you need him?

  • John Muir

    • March 19th, 2012 9:16

    Susan Bowie. Why would you assume that postal charges would be ‘vastly increased’ in an independent Scotland? I really can’t see it. That’ll be a new unionist myth .. I’ll have to suggest to the newsnetscotland.com folk to add it to the list.

    “not to mention uncertainty about currency, benefits and public sector pensions”

    There is no further uncertainty about currency for an independent Scotland other than the uncertainty that already exists in Sterling. Sterling is 30 percent down since 2008 against the Dollar and the Euro and 50 percent down against the Japanese Yen. Anyone holding Sterling assets or paid in Sterling has taken a massive haircut as they say. So being part of the UK has not been particularly safe measured in Purchasing Power against the rest of the world.

    As for benefits and public sector pensions I’m delighted to let you know that:

    “New figures from GERS (Government Expenditure & Revenue in Scotland) for 2010-11 show that an independent Scotland is financially better placed to fund pensions and welfare than the UK as a whole.”


  • ian tinkler

    • March 19th, 2012 10:32

    Go for it Tavish. For once we agree.

  • Danus Skene

    • March 19th, 2012 12:45

    Very briefly… What autonomy do we need and want? What is the context in which we are trying to secure that autonomy? What do we do now?

    It is encouraging to see the width of the political spectrum of those who say they want greater autonomy for Shetland. But what does it mean? A minimum list of things to which Shetland should have an entrenched right without reference to Edinburgh (or London) would presumably include :
    *The right to levy some kind of throughput tax or levy on oil
    *The right to spend that money how we want — ie ‘autonomy’ for the Charitable Trust
    *Control of our own planning decisions without reference or appeal to Edinburgh
    *The right to involvement in policy discussion and executive decisions in areas such as transport links, fisheries control, economic development
    *Complete freedom to set our own priorities in areas such as housing development and schools management

    What is the context for demanding autonomy of this sort? Shetland has been part of Scotland for close to 550 years, and effectively administered as a Scots county since 1610. Interestingly, 1610 is about the year when James VI started to think of his triple kingdom as something called “Britain”. Shetland became part of the UK as part of Scotland. Shetland is not English, and has no relationship to ‘Ukania’ other than as part of Scotland. In other words, the rights of autonomy that Shetland should seek are autonomy from and within Scotland.

    I resist the stampede to label the SNP as centralisers. Greater control by local authorities over their budgets and resources have been granted. The police reform is a significant decentralising step, with operational police plans to be agreed gy each authority. Etc. But I accept that all politicians all the time, and especially at a time of tight budgets, have to fight a natural centralising process. If we want autonomy, we must assert our right to it. Edinburgh civil servants might resist us, but the SNP politicians will not. Their welcome of the OSM a generation ago was helpful. Senior SNP politicians are encouraging a process of getting Shetland autonomy clearly stated in SNP policy, and are asking questions about how we ensure decentralisation within Shetland.

    So what do we do now? Debate and clarify what we mean and want by Autonomy. Demand it, taking an assertive position in all negotiations with all branches of central government. Make sure we elect Councillors who will do that. Get SNP policy and leadership to make clear a positive attitude to Shetland autonomy. Vote YES to Scottish independence, securing our prosperity and autonomy. The goal should be — and this is the goal for the SNP in Shetland — a clause in a Scottish constitution that defines Shetland autonomy so that it could not be tinkered with by any passing Government.

  • Charles Addison

    • March 19th, 2012 13:34

    Would Tavish like to explain why the Northern Isles are entitled to more democracy and more fiscal autonomy if they stay in the Union without Scotland, but are not entitled to the same benifits as part of an offering to the whole devolved Scotland in the UK? He has ruled these very same tax powers out of a devolved Scottish solution. I’m sorry, but the Liberals have had a century to deliver Home Rule and now all the offer is Divide and Rule: you can trust them with your future if you want but I don’t!

  • Stuart Stenhouse

    • March 19th, 2012 13:44

    Aye, right Tavish. Where do you draw the line? What happens if Fair Isle says ‘yes’, and Whalsay says ‘no’? North Mavine says ‘no’; yet da soothend says ‘yes’? It has taken Scotland 300 years to reach the eve of this historic poll; don’t muddy the waters with this sideline issue.

  • Douglas Young

    • March 19th, 2012 14:14

    One would have hoped an MSP had more pressing matters to deal with. Independence is not about money nor fracturing Scotland away from the UK; it is about self-determination and being able to make Scotland a powerhouse of energy, invention and social justice- all missing from Westminster. Shetland’s present power base has shown little ability in using what autonomy they already have. When a Labour, Liberal or Tory MP can say something positive about independence, I will listen. 200 years of negativity gets a bit monotonous (although I haven’t been around for most of them!)

  • ian tinkler

    • March 19th, 2012 14:32

    Regarding Shetland autonomy, Stuart Stenhouse, to quote you,” It has taken Scotland 300 years to reach the eve of this historic poll; don’t muddy the waters with this sideline issue.” Shetland folk may be a sideline issue to you, Alex Salmond and the SNP. It is certainly no sideline issue to us, we Shetlander residents , deserve more respect than that.

  • Johnny Smith

    • March 19th, 2012 16:42

    I saw Tavish on the TV yesterday and I agree with all that he says. In no way will I ever vote for the SNP nor vote for a scottish independence. The last time this was around hardly anyone voted and the results from Shetland and Orkney proved that. Remember what was said the last time – BP would dismantle and pull out of Shetland and relocate all down in England. How many jobs would be lost if that happened? Both Shetland and Scotland would lose out completely! I have never agreed with Alex Salmond and his bunch of dimwits – their policies will only serve to destroy everyone north of the border, policies that will only bankrupt all. Get a grip all you Shetlanders and NEVER vote for the SNP whatsoever…!

  • Michael Bell

    • March 19th, 2012 18:48

    @Johnny Smith

    You are yet another fine example of a unionist scaremonger. BP have just spent (and committed to spend) £25Bn in the North Sea and west of Shetland. This is a LONG term investment that will take a decade or so to see a return… and you think when we become independent in 2 years time BP will move to England and set up shop 800miles away from this epic investment? Maybe BP will fly their oil workers up from Surrey at great expense every shift change and pay shipping lane duty to ferry the crude to England’s closest cracking plant.

  • Walter Durward

    • March 19th, 2012 19:12

    Brian Fleming: “but the idea of partioning Scotland as suggested by Walter Durward in his comment is profoundly foolish and could be extremely dangerous if anyone were daft enough´to take it seriously.” Just replace “Scotland” with “UK” and I’d agree with you entirely.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 19th, 2012 19:27

    I never thought I would say this but well said Tavish, this is something ALL Shetlander’s should give serious to. Our future depends on it !!!!!!!

  • Bill McLean

    • March 19th, 2012 22:25

    So if it comes to a choice- Scottish or English.The responses to this would be telling. What do you think? Westminster will continue to pillage the oil whatever you say unless……. Independence is the only way for all of us in Scotland!

  • David McCann

    • March 19th, 2012 22:33

    We have all been here before and thanks to George Rosie, and that remarkable documentary ‘Diomhair’ (still available on Youtube), we now know that documents detailing secret government plans in the 1970s to prevent Scotland laying claim to North Sea oil. They show the extraordinary lengths to which civil servants were prepared to go to head off devolution, which was seen then as inevitably leading to independence.
    Treasury officials also advised that the boundaries of Scotland’s coastal waters should be redrawn and a new sector created to “neutralise” Scotland’s claim to North Sea oil – a step that was taken.
    One Treasury official even proposed that a local campaign for independence in Orkney and Shetland should be encouraged so that Scotland would be denied access to more than half the North Sea oil. The idea was that the islands would prefer to throw in their lot with London rather than Edinburgh.
    Among those advising Labour ministers was Sir David Walker, who investigated the banking crisis for the Labour Government.
    The documents – letters, memorandums and briefing papers from the Public Record Offices at Kew and in Edinburgh – show that some civil servants were alarmed by the threat that devolution posed to North Sea oil revenues, which were servicing Britain’s external debt.
    One paper, by Graham Kear, under-secretary at the Department of Energy, suggested that the Northern Isles might be hived off from Scotland. He wrote: “If Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Islands are both regarded as states, separate from the rest of the United Kingdom, median lines can be drawn to divide the United Kingdom Continental Shelf between Orkney & Shetland/Scotland and between Scotland/England.”
    One way of doing this, according to civil servants advising Anthony Crosland, the Environment Secretary, would be to realign the subsea border between Scotland and England, so that it ran northeast instead of east.
    Mr Kear’s doubts were shared by his political boss, Tony Benn, the Energy Secretary.
    Just think for a moment, if that was a threat in the ‘70s, what bigger threat does independence pose to the union?
    They will stop a nothing to protect it.

  • Michael Bell

    • March 19th, 2012 23:12

    @Gordon Harmer

    Explain your thoughts (if you have any serious ones). Are you of the camp that wont complain if London gets to keep the oil, but will demand Edinburgh misses out when Scotland becomes independent? And if that latter, which clearly means you dislike Scots in general, then why on earth do you live here at the moment (if you even do)?

    Why would anybody listen to a politician who advocates partitioning a sovereign nation when it leaves the servitude of a foreign master? Can you give an example where partitioning a newly established country did not lead to hardship, sorrow and misery for thousands? Unless of course you think the Berlin Wall, Korea and Ulster was a good idea that everybody was happy with?

    The east of Scotland are Pict, West Irish/Norse, the Northern Isles Norse/Scots whereas the borderers are Boernicians (Scot/Gael/Angle/Brythonic). Together we make the sovereign realm of Scotland – the oldest nation on earth as it was the very first nation to rally its inhabitants under a single flag, the St.Andrew cross. Our small nation will prosper under independence – every part of it! You do realise that if the Tories (or any other unionist party for that matter) successfully partitioned part of Scotland off, be it Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides etc, that part of Scotland would almost certainly house Trident when Scotland kicks those WMD’s out the Clyde. Planning permission for a nuclear base exists in Scotland because it was forced upon us per-devolution but not in England or Wales. Do you want trident in Scapa Flow?

    On a final note, that two faced, underhanded, amadan Tavish Scott – don’t you think it is a little strange that he wont talk about DevoMax before 2014 but he will talk about DevoShet? He won’t complain if the UK retains the oil wealth in London, 800 miles away from Shetland and spends it on London based projects (Scottish oil paid for the M25 and Channel tunnel) – but when Scotland becomes independent, he’ll fight tooth and nail to see the oils doesn’t come to Edinburgh (a mere 340miles from Shetland)? Does anybody think that’s right?! How could any body vote for a man that is clearly more obsessed with getting his peerage and donning his ermine robes than he cares about the people he serves? Think about it – see through the facade; is anybody really that stupid?

  • Johnny Sherwood

    • March 19th, 2012 23:25

    Orkney and Shetlanders don’t want to be ordered around by these South of Scotland know alls. Good on you loyal people and God bless you.

  • f.d.clarke

    • March 20th, 2012 12:40

    You Shetlanders will have to face reality. The whole basis of the SNP’s push for Independence is based on ownership of the oil and gas revenues-just look at how many of their supporters slap themselves on the back on the prospect of wealth from the North sea.
    If you(the Shetlanders) think Salmond and his crew will give you the same rights of self-determination you will be sadly mistaken.
    It will be a matter of don’t do what we do-do as we say!
    Assuming there is a yes vote in 2014 hold on to your hats-it I assure you it will geta lot rougher when the Nationalists realise they have started something they will not be able to control.

  • ian tinkler

    • March 20th, 2012 15:27

    Never mind, once Scotland is independent, Salmond and his Nats will have no Navy, precious little air force. A simple Shetland UDI will separate Shetland from Scotland. The brave new independent Scotland outside NATO will be as powerless to act as a castrated haggis, with about the same amount of world influence. Shetland could gain autonomy that way, maybe form an alliance with the auld enemy and hire the RN for protection. That with all Shetlands new Oil and gas revenue an independent Shetland could easily afford to do that with plenty of funds to spare… That would be fun.

  • Michael Bell

    • March 20th, 2012 18:50

    @ ian tinkler

    You say “…independent Scotland outside NATO will be as powerless to act as a castrated haggis, with about the same amount of world influence.” What influence do we need, hmm? You like sending our sons and daughters into illegal wars where they face death purely to further some economic strategy?
    Do you know what ‘jingoism’ is? Google it if you’re not sure. When Scotland becomes independent, feel free to find another war hungry nation to live in seeing as “world influence” means so much to you.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 20th, 2012 19:22

    @Michael Bell,
    Michael you strike me as one of these cyber bullies we hear about who claim any one who is against Scotland,s independence is anti Scottish. I am anti independence not anti Scottish and I believe Scotland and Shetland will be a stronger as part of the union.
    You tell me why we should listen to and follow a politician who wants Scotland to be independent of the UK and advocates a marriage to Brussels. The same same politician claims the revenue from the oil will make Scotland a wealthy country, the truth is the oil is well past its peak and the revenue is on a decline. This revenue has decreased by two billion pounds this year and will decrease every year until there is no revenue. So tell me where will he finance his pipe dreams when there is no oil revenue, from his mad ideas about renewable energy?
    The Scottish government could not provide an adequate ferry service to these isles during the vessel refit period so what can we in Shetland expect if Salmond realises his dream. I will tell you, we can expect sweet nothing except maybe having our oil related nest egg plundered to help finance his political aspirations.
    As far as having Trident in Scapa Flow you are as ill informed as the witless person who suggested it. Scapa Flow is not deep enough for modern submarines and it is littered with the wrecks of ships which makes it a non starter.
    As for your last paragraph, no, no one up here is stupid enough to to fall for this well repeated nationalist rhetoric.

  • Derick Tulloch

    • March 20th, 2012 20:41

    Sorry to disappoint Mr Tinkle, but using international precedent in the English Channel and Persian Gulf, Shetland as ‘part’ of England would be an ‘isolated offshore island’ and would have territorial waters at approx 24 miles out from shore enclaved within Scotland’s territorial waters.

    see discussion fae page 24 on and map page 29 on this document

    Scotland committed to free university education and free NHS and publicly owned roads
    England committed to university education for the rich only, health care for the rich and privatized roads.

    take your pick

  • Derick Tulloch

    • March 20th, 2012 20:48

    Gordon – lesson in basic economics
    a declining resource goes UP in value.
    Oil Price
    1970 in today’s prices under $10 a barrel
    2012 today $124 a barrel
    Incidentally, I respect dy right to consider the Union best. But du’s wrong.

    Tavish however is just a stirrer. I have not forgiven him for the Hjaltland and Hrossey as it’s us plebs that have to travel on the useless lumps, specified when he was transport minister without cabins to suit.

  • Viv Harvey

    • March 20th, 2012 22:42

    Greater autonomy for Shetland, let’s see, currently our councillors have proven to us that they do not have the first idea on how to manage our funds and on a daily basis we see millions being thrown away on ideas that never come to pass. So please Tavish could you let us know who will be managing this autonomy.

    It is time for Shetlanders to take a long, hard look at the consequences of joining Westminster or Edinburgh if it were to pass that Scotland voted for Independence in 2014.

    As far as our identity goes and the fact that the islands were originally of Scandinavian ownership really does not come to pass as much: The majority of Shetland surnames are off both Scandinavian and Scottish decent, as is the case in all cultures we are a mixing pot of many. So let’s stop playing the Viking card as realistically there were picts here long before the Vikings. The Scottish Government has also specified that it would like to look to the Scandinavian countries for our future plans and ideas.

    Our economy: currently all of Scottish Oil is being split between a population of approx 60 million, approx 5 million of which are in Scotland…. Now let’s see would you like to share your oil with 55 million or 5 million people. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in Scotland for renewable energy and the Scottish government does not believe in Nuclear energy where as Westminster does. Would Shetlanders like to receive another devastating blow like the one Chernobyl dished out, the consequences of which we are still recovering from.

    Our NHS: Westminster is currently trying to put it in its grave; The Scottish Government is pushing for as much free medical as is economically possible with our limited handouts from Westminster. Oh and by the way if anything goes wrong and you need to be flown out for a medical emergency I do not think that you will get quite the same treatment from Newcastle upon Tyne or Manchester as you do from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Oh but that won’t matter because the conservatives will of privatised it all by then.

    Education: Westminster says that this must be paid for and that it is not a human right to be educated whereas the Scottish Government believes that it is a human right to be educated to a tertiary level. Well if we choose Westminster then we can say good bye to that fantastic education that we have all been receiving from some of the best universities in the world.

    Military: Currently NATO has been involved in a number of completely illegal wars, it has been reported that Westminster has been backing the USA in the use of Depleted Uranium in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently Libya. Have any one of you seen the effects of this on populations and our brothers and sisters that are being ordered to fight in these illegal occupations. Birth defects have been reported in many of our soldiers’ families not to mention the effects it has on the many civilians that occupy these countries. Would you really like to be a part of this because as long as we are backing Westminster then we stand the chance of retaliation as we are guilty by association.

    Westminster has long planned your future for you and in a report written many years ago it was decided that if Scotland ever got a majority referendum for Independence that Westminster would keep Shetland and Orkney not allowing Edinburgh to have the choice. The report was never published and I stumbled upon it by accident, the joys of the internet.

    This is just a few reasons why I would certainly consider Edinburgh as opposed to Westminster, the choice is yours though and research is one of the best ways to make it, all polititians want your vote and will tell you what you want to here, research for yourselves and find out the real story

  • Michael Bell

    • March 20th, 2012 23:37

    @Gordon Harmer

    Well, Gordon. Your words have hanged you as they make it clear you have only ever paid any attention to Wastemonster…oops…Westminster scaremongery and unsubstantiated myth peddling. For the record, Scotland is already tied to Brussels AND London, so independence shall remove one master – the worst one that actually prevents fiscal autonomy. And not including oil, Scotland could still hold her own (last year Scots GDP was in excess of £131Bn – oil was less than 10% of this). And of course, Scapa Flow itself would not host Trident, but as everybody knows there are lots of good candidate locations atween Shetland and Orkney for the new WMD base; even you know this is true. But I think you (like many unionists) would be sickly proud of hosting these symbols of British jingoistic ideology, even at the expense of your fellow man’s well-being.

    As mooted by the very astute poster above (Viv Harvey), the Isles could choose to stay in the UK with NO free healthcare, NO free education, PRIVATISED police etc plus remain the proud owner of the most hated passport internationally (2nd only to an American passport). Or remain within an independent Scotland where the belief is that we are all born with a right to FREE education, FREE healthcare, SWORN police officers, ALL big decisions put to referendum as Scots law says the people are sovereign NOT some bricks and mortar building… I think you see where I’m going here?

    What is more remarkable is that this debate was spawned from the spraffings of a very embittered Tavish Scott, failed leader of the Lib Dems, and the very politician who screams ‘up helly aa – free Shetland – I am one of you – honest…’ with one breath, and with the other takes £1000 per calendar from the taxpayers purse to pay for a £380,000 home in Edinburgh – yes Edinburgh; the same place he’d like to see rot when Scotland becomes independent.

  • ian tinkler

    • March 21st, 2012 11:52

    Sorry Derick Tulloch, but using international precedent in the English Channel and Persian Gulf, Shetland as ‘part’ of England would be an ‘isolated offshore island’ and would have territorial waters at approx 24 miles out from shore enclaved within Norway’s territorial waters. I somehow would prefer alligance to Norway than Mad Alex and his concrete windfarm.

  • Angus Robertson

    • March 21st, 2012 12:48

    Tavish is a staunch unionist.
    Shetland went into the union as a part of Scotland, it will have to leave as a part of Scotland and if Shetland so wishes then it should be able to have their referendum on whether to be in Scotland or not. This does not fit in with Tavish’s view of Shetland being part of England!

  • John Turnbull

    • March 21st, 2012 13:35

    Orkney and Shetland were part of Scotland until the ninth century and were lost along with the Western Islands and Caithness and Ross-shire after the viking invasions. At the same time the Angles took Edinburgh and the south-east of Scotland.
    If the Northern Islands seceded why shouldn’t the rest do so also? Why not then turn to England, and let the Danelaw, Cornwall and the Isle of Man secede (the latter being part of Scotland until the thirteenth century.) It could become a real screw-up to say the least.
    Scotland eventually got the the lost territories back, other than the Isle of Man, and at the time of the Union with England, the Northern Isles and the rest were an integral part of the Scottish kingdom.
    To suggest they secede is malicious and crops up only when the SNP is to the fore or when there is a vote in the offing, otherwise it is never mentioned. To me it is disgusting that Scots should proffer such thoughts, but of course the aristocrats know there will be no House of Lords in and independent Scotland and are worried, and it was their ancestors who contributed to voting our parliament out of existence in 1707.
    It is the usual English subterfuge to divide, but hopefully we Scots are well past such fears and we will be a nation again from Shetland to Galloway and from the Western Islands to Berwick-on Tweed.
    Scotland traditional comprised the Norse, Angles, Britons and Picts and like it or not Mr Scott, we all do feel ourselves Scots. Pity about you and you ilk. Why not move to England if you are unhappy living in our resurrected kingdom.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 21st, 2012 14:00

    @ Derick, your maths lesson, if correct will lead us into a situation were we can no longer afford to buy fuel, if no one can afford to buy it, it will be worth nothing. As you know peoples earnings have not gone up at anything like the cost of oil so if we rely on oil revenue to finance independence we are doomed.

    @ Michael, If it is, and it is a big if that Scotland is allowed to stay in Europe without having to reapply, just where will the money come from to pay into this corrupt club. If Scotland is allowed to join Europe it will have no proven financial track record therefore will not have a AAA credit rating and borrowing interest rates will be crippling. Where will the extra Billions of pounds in demands from Europe come from to bale out countries like Greece who have gone bust. Or maybe you realise that will not happen because Scotland will be the one begging for bale out cash from the German and French masters.
    SNP policies have given us free prescriptions and some people celebrate this because they do not realise the true cost of this sweetener policy. People in Scotland with MS and some forms of cancer cannot have the drugs they need because they are so expensive, if prescription charges were brought back the unaffordable drugs would be affordable. Alex Salmond is juggling with peoples lives to bring sweetener policies to the Scottish electorate. Scotland’s roads are a disgrace, there is a new Forth crossing to finance and he removes tolls on all toll bridges, people who fall for these policies are blind and uncaring.
    You name a perfect location for trident in Orkney or Shetland and I would welcome it, because if you lot are daft enough to throw away the thousands of jobs that go with it I say bring it on. As there is no perfect location up here it will not happen and I fail to see how you can call Trident, British jingoistic ideology, even at the expense of your fellow man’s well-being, when Salmond is playing with peoples lives by having free prescriptions.
    And as far as Tavish is concerned I am not a supporter, but do agree with what he has said about Shetland unshackling its self from the SNP and Salmond, and looking after our selves

  • W Conroy

    • March 21st, 2012 19:08

    Although I believe Tavish speaks a load of self serving political drivel (after hearing him on radio2 on Monday even more so!) I have to agree that now is the time for Shetland to push for a better position for itself whatever the outcome of a referendum will be.

    Radio show on BBC (Relevant part is approx 1hr 39mins in)

    The problem for most people is there is so much disagreement over what the true cost of Scottish independence will be, what oil will belong to who, what our rights would be, whether Europe would have an involvement etc… How is anyone to vote on our future when our future in any suggested scenario is so unclear?

    What is really needed is a clear outline of what our future would truly hold in each case… And before someone points to a website I don’t mean some more claptrap from any particular political group which obviously is going to point us in the direction they want us to go!

    Or maybe we could just spend the rest of the “oil fund” getting outside help to make the decision for us? (sarcasm in case you missed it)

    Only one thing seems clear to me – We cannot trust Westminster or Edinburgh (or any politically driven source for that matter) to clearly define our future – It is going to be in our hands to wade through all the claptrap and work out the future best for us!

  • Johnny Sherwood

    • March 21st, 2012 22:36

    Typical of Angus Robertson bringing “England” into the equation. It’s the UK we’re on about Angus!!

  • Angus Robertson

    • March 23rd, 2012 12:43

    Johnny Sherwood.
    Yes, it is the UK we re on about, and what Tavish is telling the people of Shetland is, if Scotland votes YES, he will do his utmost to keep Shetland in union with England, you can call it the UK if you like, but it never was a union anyway.
    Would the people of Shetland be happy with that sitiuation?
    ps You dont know me and I am not the Angus Robertson of the SNP

  • james speirs

    • March 19th, 2013 3:09

    Greetings all.

    I find what Tavish has done disgusting. After years of offering us nothing while Westminster diverted the oil wealth into the South East of England all of a sudden he’s ditched unionism and is wanting us to partition ourselves from Scotland in favour of England? The UK may keep its name after a yes vote but it’s just England plus the extra bits from the Norman conquest of s. Britain.

    Are you aware of how few people in England actually know where we are? To think the English would look out for our interests better than our countrymen, warts and all, based on their appalling record to date is incomprehensible to me.

    I am no fan of any of the main parties but I can’t ignore that the Scottish Govt have shielded us from the excesses of Westminster’s cuts and their absurd protection of the wealthy few at the expense of things I believe most of us hold dear. Like education (9k tuition fees on our young under English rule), the recent health bill which if English run would allow up to 49% of our NHS to be privatised, the freeze in council tax rises, the freeze in water rates, the respect for our elderly with assistance with care and transport. England is heading down a neoliberal elitist route that is alien to me and not a world I’d like my kids to inhabit.

    You could argue whether or not an independent Scotland could afford all these things during tough economic times such as this but in England it’s not even a goal or ambition amongst any of the parties way down there as they’re trying to gain the votes of s. England. Meanwhile they’re all lurching right to placate the UKIPers who want to deny us any devolution, home rule or anything.

    This manoeuvre by Tavish Scott is about scaring the average Scot into voting no by making them worry about losing part of the oil income and will never see the light of day if a no vote is delivered. For that he should be ashamed of himself as should the politicians and media in England who only ever become concerned about our welfare when Scottish referendums come up.

    I think the referendum is a great opportunity and if a yes vote is achieved we can see how it pans out. I certainly can’t envisage waving an England flag next time I head down to Murrayfield as that is the quirk of how this could work if we let Westminster screw us for another 40 years.



Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.