‘Yes Shetland’ all set for Thursday night launch at Islesburgh

Labour for Independence treasurer Celia Fitzgerald in Shetland on Wednesday. Photo: Steven Gordon
Labour for Independence treasurer Celia Fitzgerald in Shetland on Wednesday. Photo: Steven Gordon

The local pro-independence group Yes Shetland is to hold a public launch meeting on Thursday evening in Islesburgh Community Centre.

The event is intended to offer a range of arguments in favour of a “yes” vote for Scotland, and to demonstrate the support for independence from across the political spectrum.

Speaking at the meeting will be the chief executive of Yes Scotland, Blair Jenkins, the cabinet secretary for education Mike Russell, and the treasurer of Labour for Independence Celia Fitzgerald. A statement from fiddler Aly Bain will also be read out.

According to Ms Fitzgerald, her own support for independence was born from a simple realisation.

“It’s become obvious” she said, “and it’s been obvious for some time, that Westminster is completely out of touch with the issues of Scotland … I know the Scottish parliament is not perfect, but at least they have much more idea of what the issues are for the Scottish people”.

Support for a “yes” vote within the Labour party is continuing to grow, Ms Fitzgerald added. A poll taken in February showed support of around 12.5 per cent in the party, but since then, “it seems to me and to my colleagues as though a huge amount of traditional Labour supporters have come over to the idea of independence”.

A spokesman for the Yes Shetland group Brian Nugent confirmed that support locally was politically diverse. “The local group is made up of SNP folk” he said; “there are some Scottish Socialists, there are quite a few who are non-party political, then there are one or two who are Free Scotland Party”.

“All are welcome” at Thursday’s meeting, he added. “Obviously we’re hoping for ‘yes’ folk to come along; but equally we’re looking for undecided and people who are currently ‘no’ voters.”

The hope is for a “big turnout, good speeches, some debate arising from the question and answer session, and hopefully a few more people committed to the ‘yes’ cause”.

The meeting will be in Room 12 of Islesburgh Community Centre from 7.30pm.


Add Your Comment
  • Brian Smith

    • July 24th, 2013 21:35

    It’s pretty clear to me, looking at the Shetland political scene, that the ‘No’ campaign locally is composed of conservatives with a small and large ‘c’: British nationalists like Drew, former socialists who have come to admire austerity and the dismantling of the Health Service, and others who simply can’t bear change.

  • Robert Sim

    • July 25th, 2013 8:34

    Next year is such a big opportunity for the Scottish nation. It is important that we don’t fluff it and end up with the same situation where we are governed ultimately by Westminster politicians who not only tolerate an unequal and unjust society but who cannot conceive of an alternative – even though there are other models right on their doorstep across the North Sea.

  • Mark Smith

    • July 25th, 2013 10:43

    Right enough, Brian. The pro-independence side of the argument is where to find the progressive, hopeful, egalitarian territory. The no campaign is overwhelmingly negative and destructive.

  • Tom Morton

    • July 25th, 2013 15:23

    “It’s pretty clear to me’…I do love it when such historiographical jargon gets trotted out. In place of accuracy.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • July 25th, 2013 15:50

    Here is a bit of non negative fun which may cheer up the first three contributors to this thread.

    A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing on the pavement in front of her home. Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing

    Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her. Out of the lead car stepped a chubby, grinning man.
    “Hi there little girl, I’m Alex Salmond. What do you have in the basket?” he asked.
    “Kittens,” little Suzy said.
    “How old are they?” asked Salmond.
    Suzy replied, “They’re so young, their eyes aren’t even open yet.”
    “And what kind of kittens are they?”
    “Scottish Nationalists,” answered Suzy with a smile.

    Salmond was delighted. As soon as he returned to his car, he called his PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens.
    Recognising the perfect photo op, the two men agreed that the Salmond should return the next day; and in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.

    So the next day, Suzy was again standing on the pavement with her basket of “FREE KITTENS” when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from STV, BBC, and CNN.
    Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Salmond got out of his limo and walked over to little Suzy.
    “Hello, again,” he said, “I’d love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you’re giving away.”
    “Yes sir,” Suzy said. “They’re Conservatives.”

    Taken by surprise, the Salmond stammered, “But…but…yesterday, you told me they were SCOTTISH NATIONALISTS.”

    “Little Suzy smiled and said, “I know.”
    “But today, they have their eyes open.”

  • John Tulloch

    • July 25th, 2013 16:11

    Don’t worry, Tom, they’ll all crawl back under their stanes when the “big beasts” of the SNP go back Sooth – just like the “No” campaign did when Darling bolted.

  • Douglas Young

    • July 25th, 2013 17:04

    About 180 at Mareel for Alex Salmond’s cabinet session, refreshing to hear him re-iterate that the referendum was for the people to decide how the political framework would look and may include neither himself nor the SNP.

  • Brian Smith

    • July 25th, 2013 17:57

    I forgot to add: ‘and pundits who think that Mareel is the cause of all the problems in the world.’

  • Scott Miller

    • July 26th, 2013 11:41

    What can I say. Really heartened to see such a well attended (packed) launch of Yes Shetland. Thank you to all the speakers and really nice to hear an upbeat and optimistic vision of the future.

    Will we go away as the ‘big beasts’ leave our islands? I hate to be the bearer of bad news for you, but nope. We are aiming to have a very public profile where anyone can approach us and we WILL listen to your hopes and fears. Where we have the answers we will give them. If we do not have an answer I personally will strive to find the information. But most of all Yes Shetland and Yes Scotland will not fill you with fear and negativity unlike the Project Fear team of Better Together.

    Gordon, Tom, John, I have one question for you. What is your vision of Scotland’s future and your hopes and dreams for your children and grandchildren as well as that of the population of Scotland?

    We look forward to seeing everyone at the agricultural shows, on da street and everywhere else.

  • Karl Simpson

    • July 26th, 2013 12:27

    One keeps hearing about the negativity of the ‘no’ campaign. Surely the most negative stance of all is espoused by those who have thrown the towel in and are seeking to break up the United Kingdom?

    As for hopes and dreams. I am not yet 40 but have achieved many of mine, all within the framework and ‘confines’ of my country, Great Britain. I hope to achieve more and I see no reason why my family cannot go further. There is nothing you cannot do in this country.

  • John Tulloch

    • July 26th, 2013 13:09

    You must have been given permission to speak out then because you’ve all been terribly quiet up to now?

    Maybe SNP Shetland Branch will be able to give unequivocal support to the “Drop the Debt” campaign, now that Salmond has done so?

    Amazing what a campaign can achieve when politicians are “referendumeering.”

  • Vivienne Harvey

    • July 26th, 2013 13:40

    Karl – I wonder where u went for further education etc to achieve these dreams of yours. If it was south of the border it must of cost a small fortune as the government for the United Kingdom has found it fit to charge our children for the God given right of Education, luckily for us the Scottish Government has held off on these charges.

    I think there would be quite a few young English, want to be students who would agree to differ on your idea of “There is nothing you cannot do in this country” Currently places like the Netherlands are benefiting from another brilliant Westminster Policy of charging for Uni education, so now we are assisting the economy of the Netherlands not that of this so called “United Kingdom.”

    “United” meaning Joined together politically, for a common purpose, or by common feelings. In the last year I have seen every policy that we have voted against in Scotland being passed in Westminster, please tell me where the common purpose or feeling is in this!

    Our Union was broken along time ago, it is outdated and does not work for the people of Scotland, as can be seen by the way we vote as opposed to how Westminster votes. Now we need to pick up the pieces and be a nation again.

  • Scott Miller

    • July 26th, 2013 13:49

    John as I have said previously I am not a member of the SNP or of any other political party. As for permission to speak out, sorry but spending time with my wife and children along with helping organise things behind the scenes sometimes take precedence.

    Still I would be interested in how you view the future of Scotland, what kind of future do you want for your loved ones? Do you want to see the Scottish Blood transfusion service privatised the same way as it has just been done in England? I certainly don’t. I do not want to pay to see my GP either, as being suggested. What about the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (currently going through Westminster) which will allow private security firms the power to issue on the spot fines, or even ban you from the locality. Locality is not defined, it could be a house, a street, a town a county or even a country along with fine of up to £5000 and/or 3 months in prison. They will, with this bill, criminalise a group of two or more people who gather that may or have the potential to cause upset. This would mean the possible end of legitimate protest. It also allows bans from locality by by group, again group is left vague. So could mean disability, faith, young, old, etc.

    The above is not what I want for my children. I want them to be happy and free. To be able to go about their business without fear of authority. I do want them to respect authority and I have taught them that and they do.However I want them to have the right to be able to protest peacefully. I want them to have a free education based on ability to learn not ability to pay. A free, at point of delivery, healthcare system. One where the blood products are not sold to the highest bidder.

    A new way is needed as the current system is broken

  • Gordon Harmer

    • July 26th, 2013 18:56

    Scott, my vision of Scotland future is a place where anti English bigots are silenced and are not allowed to use every reason under the sun for independence just to satisfy their racist beliefs. This is not directed at anyone on here but it is alarmingly prevalent on social media sites and locally on the Scottish mainland.

    I want to see the Clyde ship building industry develop and prosper with Royal Navy contracts as part of the Union. I don’t want to see 5,000 ship builders children faced with poverty after their parents are made redundant after independence and the loss of Royal Navy contracts. Exactly the same applies to the 15,000 workers and ancillary workers at Faslane.

    I don’t ever again want to see Scotland divided into YES and NO groups by a dictatorial tyrant who is more divisive than Thatcher ever was. Not only does he want to divide the UK, he has divided the Scottish population, brother against brother family against family and friend against friend.

    I don’t ever want to see Scotland build its future on such a volatile product as oil. Where the prices fluctuate and are set by conditions way beyond the powers of any Scottish government. Where there is no plan B when oil runs out, which it will one day; I am sure my grandchildren will not thank me or folk like me if we don’t do something to stop the madness that will cause this. This is now a greater threat to an independent Scottish economy as Westminster have offered up to 50% tax breaks to developers of shale gas in the UK. As the most productive deposits of shale gas are in Lancashire this is a massive threat to an oil revenue dependent Scotland.

    I want to see a Scotland that is not littered with wind farms running at less than 38% efficiency thus increasing everyone’s hydro bill because of subsidies. In their place we should be building new generation nuclear power stations.

    I want to see the end of centralisation as it alienates Shetland Orkney and other outlying areas, this will not happen under the present regime as it is and has been prevalent for some time. A perfect example is the new Forth crossing; millions being spent on it and tolls on the old crossing abolished. To make things equal Shetlanders should be given new lifeline ferries which can sail in all weathers and which are free to travel on. This will not happen as more cash is being spent on the Glasgow Edinburg corridor developing road and rail links. Which means in an independent Scotland the central belt will take over where the south of England left off.

    I want to see Scotland prosper as part of the union where it belongs, where governments however bad can swing from right to left and even in a coalition a bit in between. I don’t want to live in an independent Scotland where socialist governments will prevail who ever we vote for. Where living in Scotland we would be living in Salmond’s dream of being the great dictator of a vicious, censorious, Nat tyranny and a dismal, joyless dump typified by the old Soviet Union.

  • John Tulloch

    • July 26th, 2013 20:53


    Contrary to what you think I am as yet undecided. Up to now I have attacked the SNP/YES fraternity over the SNP’ treatment of Shetland and some fantasy about an autonomous Shetland being stuck with a 15-mile Economic Exclusion Zone which along with your above comment sounds remarkably similar in approach to “Project Fear”.

    I have said before I am a Shetlander first and my vote will be cast in the direction of whosever “concrete” proposals – as opposed to hot air promises made in the flush of referendumeering – are best for the future of SHETLAND.

    After that I’m open to arguments from either side about what will be best for Scotland bearing in mind that all socialist panaceas must, somehow, be paid for.

    Like you, I would like a more egalitarian society and the SNP have done some decent things during their reign however I’ve fallen out badly with them over covering beautiful spaces with useless wind turbines and – “friends, THIS was the most unkindly cut of all” – cutting the SIC’s housing support grant paid by Westminster to cover interest on oil boom housing.

    If it’s any consolation your crowd are a lot livelier than the moribund “No” crowd who could do with a few Gordon Harmers to liven them up a bit.

    Re vision I would refer you to Danus Skene’s “Spaekalation” in this week’s paper. Like him I rather liked Grimond for similar reasons.

    I am open to arguments not glowing wish lists that will never be fulfilled and I reserve the right to attack either side as I have yet to decide where my vote will go.

    In particular, what benefits will accrue from full separation that will be unavailable from “Devo-Max”?

  • Derick Tulloch

    • July 26th, 2013 22:52


    An unusually thoughtful contribution there. I am sure Scott will respond but I make a few observations.

    We shall have to disagree on renewable energy. Oddly I find myself on the same ‘side’ as Gordon Harmer on that one! Renewables are the ‘way to go’ although onshore wind is reaching its limits. Tidal please.

    What can Independence offer that Devomax can’t?

    First and absolutely fundamentally – Devomax is not on the agenda, and never will be. Why? Because that would involve the transfer of taxation and welfare. Transfer of taxation would only work if 100% of tax setting, and social protection, powers are devolved to Scotland. Any less than 100% would allow Westminster to manipulate Scottish Parliament policy decisions by manipulating the budget and social protection rules. Full devolution of tax and social protection would expose the true fiscal flows within the UK – i.e. that Scotland subsidizes the rest of the UK by substantial sums each year. GERS found that to be £4.2bn per year, but GERS only captures as small part of spending. E.g. much Scotch whisky is counted as exports from England because it leaves the UK from ports in England. Civil servants in ‘UK’ departments in London acting on Scotland’s ‘behalf’ – Foreign Office for one, are paid in London, spend their salaries in London, and are not currently counted as ‘Scottish’ expenditure. We contribute over £3b to the UK ‘defence’ budget, but only £1.9bn is spent in Scotland – a huge hidden subsidy to the rest of the UK. So, Independence will make us substantially more prosperous, but devomax does not.

    Devomax would have to be agreed by Westminster. Cat. Chance. Hell. In. A

    Even if it was on the agenda:.

    1 Independence would allow us to tailor an integrated taxation and social protection system to the needs of our own population, and in line with our political priorities. Scotland spends a slightly smaller proportion of GDP on social protection than the UK – hence it’s more affordable. The UK tax and ‘benefit’ system, including pensions, is a shambles. National Insurance is a sick joke – people have paid in their entire lives, yet the money has been used for current expenditure. The ‘benefit’ system is almost as though it had been designed to prevent people working. Madness. We can do better, because the scale is more manageable. Much of the UK mess is due to Whitehall dis-economies of scale

    2 Independence gives us our own voice in the ‘Councils of the World’. Devomax doesn’t. Will UKIP speak for ‘us’. please, no.

    3 Independence will give us a written constitution, Devolution doesn’t. Possibilities there including a Senate of the Regions, constitutional entrenchment of local authority boundaries, individual rights. Much more

    4 Independence gives us control of our own military decisions. Devolution doesn’t. Iraq? Trident? Indeed this was the major aspect of Mr Salmond’s speech in Lerwick. I remain ashamed to be a citizen of a state that participated so gleefully in the invasion and destruction of Iraq. Very Definitely Not in My Name. Independence can stop such a thing happening again, Devolution can’t.

    5 Independence offers a psychological benefit. The political is the personal and there is a deep seated reason why people in Shetland, as in much of Scotland, are so quiescent. Generally they are. Scotland, as a ‘junior partner’ in the Union is, as a historian whose name escapes me said, ‘a withered and severed branch’. That has personal consequences as well as national consequences. I can’t prove that (well not without doing a PhD study), but it’s what I think.

    6 Look east – to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark. Look west to Iceland. All fairer. All more prosperous. All giving their people a better crack at life. I want that for Scotland. Independence offers the chance – not certain, but a chance. Devolution doesn’t

    7 Independence will clearly decouple Scotland from rUK (technically from England as the UK will be dissolved) and will allow us to act as a beacon of decency, particularly across the UK. Being an Anglophile I have long said that the biggest positive outcome from Scottish Independence will be to free England from the Ghastly Drapes of ‘Britishness’. Blake and Shelley and Morris, not Tennyson and Kipling and bloody Conservative Clubs. Already happening – look up the recent Crisis report on homelessness that explicitly states England should ‘look to the Scots’ as an example.

    Yes is for hope, for the future. Not a ‘wish list’ but a desire do the best we can. No is for the past, for the certainty of decline and inequality. Not if I can help it.

    aa da best

  • Robert Sim

    • July 27th, 2013 1:20

    The point was made clearly at Thursday night’s meeting that, while we can debate what an independent Scotland might look like (and I am very keen to see such a debate and to be part of it), without a majority vote for independence, the dream of a better society than we have at present will remain just that.

  • Douglas Young

    • July 27th, 2013 9:26

    The vision of what every person wants to see in an Independent Scotland requires an open mind and a basic grasp of what a referendum is. It is a non-political vote.
    A like or dislike for any political party plays no part in the debate, that is a different thread suitable for elections in 2016.
    Once grasped, debate can begin.

  • John Tulloch

    • July 27th, 2013 11:18

    And “an unusually thoughtful contribution” from you, Derick – with some arguments, too!

    Unless the English are prepared to pay for Scottish renewable energy which, once the Liberals are returned to obscurity in the permanently-Tory rUK, they won’t be Scots will have to pay for their own renewable energy. Bad idea!

    Why do you think the Scottish government paid for a study to condemn the building of wind farms on peat land? They saw the writing on the wall and needed to put the brakes on – not before time!

    Your comment on the economy appears to confirm there would be no economic advantage from separation as opposed to “Devomax”.

    I hear what you say however I’m unsure there’s been a lot of “glee” over either the very short war or the subsequent mayhem in Iraq except perhaps in Kurdistan. This isn’t the place to debate it however those who insisted the Iraqi people should overthrow Saddam themselves are now seeing the results of such a policy, albeit on a smaller scale, in Syria. At least, in Syria, the rebels are in with a shout of winning. And there can be little doubt the “Arab Spring” has been inspired by the sight of democracy in Iraq. History will be the judge.

    Your historical quote from Hume Brown refers to 17th century, post-Union of the Crowns Scotland.

    As Mr Salmond plans to keep the Queen and especially, the pound, there will continue to be interference aplenty in Scottish economic and financial affairs so what remains is defence and fcreign policy and the ability of our leaders to swagger on to the “big stage”, grand-standing about becoming the “Green Capital of the World”, etc.. As we are staying in both the EU and NATO, that leaves the grandstanding but of course, “Cinderella Salmond of Copenhagen” will then, at last, “get to the Ball”.

    I accept Salmond floated the idea of putting “Devomax” in the referendum wording and that Cameron didn’t want it, presumably, for the reasons you gave and I grant you, that could be the best reason yet for voting Yes – to reward Cameron’s intransigence appropriately.

    Surely, there will have to be a subsequent referendum to ratify the outcome of the negotiations? Scots may not want it when they see the final deal?

    Who will write the new Scottish Constitution?

  • Derick Tulloch

    • July 27th, 2013 17:16

    John – personally I am of the view that we should use the pound initially, mostly to avoid undue disruption to the economy of England. This doesn’t need a formal currency union (without which we would have the same influence on the BoE as currently – i.e. none). Montenegro is using the Euro but somehow forgot to ask Brussels. True that means not having control of interest rates, and we should move to an independent currency in the medium term. Remember too that this is SNP policy, and other parties may have other ideas. The Scottish Democratic Alliance (centre right, pro-independence) for one wants a Scottish currency.

    We will be substantially better off financially with Independence. The difference being all the money that we raise in taxes which are spent ‘on our behalf’ outwith Scotland. With Independence that money will be spent here.

    The constitution will be written by a Constitutional Convention established for that purpose by the first Independent Government. I think that is how the USA did it incidentally. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Speeches/constitution-rights-16-01-2013

    Like I said, we are not going to agree on renewables. I would note two things: the market for energy is Europe, not the UK. And, onshore wind is almost at grid parity with fossil fuels 2015 to 2017 depending on who you read. The fuel source for renewables will remain the same price – free. Fossil fuels will inevitably become more expensive, the short term effect of shale gas excepted.

    No country that has become Independent has needed two referenda. But there is a case for ratifying the deal reached. Bit of a waste of time and money though.

    Disappointed that you reverted to abuse of Mr Salmond there. Doesn’t improve your argument.

  • John Tulloch

    • July 27th, 2013 20:56


    If you are telling me that onshore wind is now competitive with fossil fuel power stations then I’m delighted to hear it. In spite of having worked in power stations, incuding wind farms for the vast majority of my working life, it’s not only news, it’s very good news to me.

    It means that the near 100% subsidy they receive on top of the fossil fuel price for every unit generated – paid for directly from the bills of the fuel poor whether in farm cottages or tower blocks in Glasgow’s East End – can, at last, cease immediately.

    Will you please draw the attention of Alex Salmond and Ed Davey to that surprise news?

  • John Tulloch

    • July 27th, 2013 21:19


    The illustrious people who wrote the US Constitution referred to Magna Carta because of the basic rights and liberty guarantees in it. Would the Scottish Constitutional Convention also refer to it or would they be put off because it is a triumph of basic justice that originated in England?

  • Derick Tulloch

    • July 31st, 2013 19:59

    Magna Carta, Declaration of Arbroath. Any and all sources of information would be fine.

    This is the SNP’s draft constitution from 2002. http://devolutionmatters.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/snp_2002_text-1.pdf

    This is the Constitutional Commission’s updated draft constitution from 2013 http://constitutionalcommission.org/production/byre/images/assets/Scotland_Constitution_TL_AR.pdf.

    I differ from both in that they suggest a unicameral system, and we need a Senate. And they both suggest the Head of State will be Betty

    The SDA also has a draft constitution but you have to be a member to see it! http://www.scottishdemocraticalliance.com/about

  • John Tulloch

    • August 1st, 2013 9:42

    Good answer, Derick. I’ve always liked the Declaration of Arbroath and Magna Carta was cenuries ahead of its time. Many laws and rights guaranteed by MC in 1215 are still in force in the UK today.

  • Ali Inkster

    • August 1st, 2013 10:22

    Funny that laws and rights set out in the magna Carta in 1215 are still in force today but laws and rights pertaining to Shetland from 1491 are considered irrelevant because of the passage of time. Certainly some kind of double standard going on don’t you think.

  • John Tulloch

    • August 1st, 2013 14:11

    Yes, Ali. I’m looking forward to hearing the explanation, some day, although I’m won’t be holding my breath, meanwhile.

  • Brian Smith

    • August 1st, 2013 18:08

    Goodness, whit happened in 1491?

  • John Tulloch

    • August 1st, 2013 21:35

    In 1491 James III celebrated the 19th anniversary of his illegal annexation of the Northern Isles.

    Chapter and verse in a fine article in The New Orkney Antiquarian Journal by Brian Smith, “When did Orkney and Shetland become part of Scotland? A contribution to the debate.”

    Worth every penny!

  • John Tulloch

    • August 1st, 2013 21:58

    But King Hans rained on James III’s parade somewhat by gifting Orkney church revenues to Shetlander Sir David Sinclair.

  • John Tulloch

    • August 1st, 2013 22:19

    You’ve got it! Well done, all of you who spotted my test – it was, of course, James IV’s celebrations in 1491 of his Dad’s illegal annexation!


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.