Parliamentarians criticise independence paper but Skene calls it a red letter day

Criticism has been levelled against the Scottish government’s vision on how a Scotland separate from the rest of the UK would look.

The comments by Isles MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and his Edinburgh counterpart, Tavish Scott, have come after the release today by the SNP government of the white paper on independence.

Mr Carmichael says the weighty 670-page document deliberately ignores the uncertainties held by many people over separation.

Mr Scott, meanwhile, has highlighted “nationalist centralisation” and has criticised the nationalists for failing to provide islands legislation in the current parliament.

However the white paper has been defended by local nationalist Danus Skene, who hopes the paper’s release could move the debate on independence on to a new level.

The white paper set out a series of pledges, as well as gaining independence.

These include:

• Thirty hours of childcare per week for three and four-year-olds, as well as certain two year-olds;

• The removal of Trident nuclear weapons from the Clyde;

• Housing benefit reforms including the scrapping of the so-called “bedroom tax”;

• The retention of the pound.

Alistair Carmichael.
Alistair Carmichael.

Mr Carmichael said the Scottish government had ignored the uncertainties and difficulties of independence.

“This was their chance to level with people. They have chosen a different path and people will judge them on that.

“For years we have been promised that all the answers on independence would be in the white paper. The big day has finally arrived and we have 670 pages that leaves us none the wiser on crucial questions such as currency, pensions and the cost of independence.

“People will draw their own conclusions that the Scottish government have deliberately sought to ignore the uncertainties and difficulties of independence. We are simply expected to believe that everything will be perfect after we leave the UK. We are asked to accept that ending a 300 year United Kingdom will be straightforward. We are told it will all be all right on the night.

“It is astonishing that the Scottish government can sit in private discussing the costs of independence and then refuse to share those figure with the Scottish people. John Swinney’s leaked paper said it would cost £600m every year to run an independent tax system but today we saw nothing about that.

“It looks more and more like the Scottish government will continue to keep these things private. If they had convincing answers then today really would have been the day to share them with everyone.

Mr Scott added: “The SNP have confirmed that there will be no islands legislation in the current Parliament. The islands councils asked for this just last week but today they have been told ‘no’. That is deeply disappointing. It shows that the islands are secondary to independence while nationalist centralisation and removal of local powers will not be reversed under the SNP.

“People will see right through this manifesto and wonder why the nationalist government couldn’t use the powers they have had for six years to help Shetland families, businesses and local people.”

However Mr Skene said the launch of the paper was a significant milestone in the run-up to September’s referendum.

“I think we’ve had a very negative period. We’ve had a period that has been dominated by so-called ‘project fear’. That period, which has been led by a whole series of scare stories about the possible effects of independence … has not increased the ‘no’ vote. There has been a very modest hardening up of the ‘yes’ vote, although I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on it.

“There has been remarkably little movement over this last six months. Now the positive arguments are being consolidated. One of the reasons I look forward to reading this with some care is that I very much hope this is a document that will be about options which will be available to a Scottish electorate and not some sort of prospectus for a post-independence SNP government.

“I think it’s a red-letter day in the sense that I would hope this will move the debate onto different territory, and that we will be able to focus on what the issues actually are.”

He insisted the paper did highlight issues pertenent to the isles, particularly surrounding the stabilisation of the oil industry and the Our Islands Our Future initiative.

“There is a cabinet committee being designated to look at this to take stuff forward.

“This is not an exercise about an SNP government, it’s an exercise about getting choice and policy options within Scotland whoever has control. I think one of the interesting speculations is what happens if the first post-independence referendum produces a non-SNP government.”

He said the financial comparisons on either side of the border were “extremely close”.

“By that I mean the per capita income between Scotland and England – we’re not talking about Germany and Greece. The fiscal wealth source of revenue is pretty close.

“While we do receive slightly higher government expenditure per capita in Scotland we are more than that contributing slightly higher taxation per capita in Scotland.

“What I think the endless debate about money is telling us is that the conditions either side of the border are extremely close.

“The issue is about how you distribute that wealth to what effect. The Scottish electorate is more prepared to see a greater equality generated through the taxation system spent on the social services, health etc.

“Scotland has a different distribution and spending agenda than England.”

He added: “It’s not just a question of independence it’s a question of what the risks are of continued union. The UK as a state is facing considerable difficulties of debt, fiscal options and the rest of it. There is risk there.”


Add Your Comment
  • Mark Smith

    • November 26th, 2013 21:58

    Danus Skene makes a very good point about ‘the risks of continued union’. If Scotland were currently independent, one wonders how many people would vote to put Westminster in charge.

  • Ali Inkster

    • November 27th, 2013 0:31

    I wonder how many would vote today to hand over power to Brussels but that is exactly what is proposed by snp. And who paid for this piece of snp propaganda, oh that would be you and me.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • November 27th, 2013 8:29

    Nationalists like to accuse anyone who disagrees with them of scaremongering, but to ignore the realities that would face an independent Scotland is something much worse. It is not only ignorance, it is fraud.

    That is just what the Scottish Government’s white paper is, a document that denies the realities of independence and is full of inconsistencies, unbelievable wish lists, bribes and promises that cannot be kept.

    Here is a sample of cherry picked Questions and answers in the document along with my comments after each answer.

    Q. Will an independent Scotland continue to use the Bank of England?

    A. Yes, the Bank of England is the central bank for Scotland, as well as for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was formally nationalised in 1946 and is therefore an institution and asset owned both by Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    In reality this question cannot be answered until after the negotiations with the UK Government in the event of a yes vote, a truthful answer would have been we don’t know and we don’t have a plan B.

    Q. How would an independent Scotland use tax powers?

    A. With its current powers, the Scottish Parliament has frozen council tax and delivered the most competitive business rates in the UK.

    But will the council tax stay frozen or will it go up with a bang. Remember it has been frozen for seven years; it will be nine years by the time we know if we are independent or not. Cash strapped councils will want to increase it by as much as 20 or 30 % unless it is capped, this could mean rises of over £150 a year.

    Q. What will tax rates be in an independent Scotland?

    A. On independence, Scotland will inherit the tax system and the prevailing UK rates and thresholds for all taxes. Decisions on specific taxes – including tax rates, allowances and credits – will be made by the Parliament and Government of an independent
    Scotland. For the first time ever there will be a guarantee that taxes will be set by a government that has the support of the people of Scotland.
    Independence will provide the Scottish Government and Parliament with the powers to set tax rates and thresholds which are right for Scotland, allowing Scottish Ministers to develop policies that will deliver sustainable economic growth and a fair society.

    Yes all very well but what will the tax rate be in an independent Scotland? This is one of the biggest questions asked in this debate and it has not been answered.

    Q. Would the current rates and thresholds for personal income tax be altered or would there be any significant changes in the rates of insurance premium tax, VAT or employers’ National Insurance contributions?

    A. Detailed policies on tax and spending will be set out in party manifestos for the 2016 election and thereafter in the first budget in an independent Scotland. There is no requirement to increase the general rate of taxation to pay for the services we currently enjoy in Scotland.

    What about promises made on extra services we will enjoy in an independent Scotland. Services like child care, pensions, cuts in corporation tax, financial help for small businesses etc etc. How will we pay for these over and above the services we currently enjoy? With a greater tax burden on the working man, that’s how; this has been estimated at about £1,000 per year.

    Q. A. Would the fuel duty rate be altered following independence?

    A. With independence we will examine the benefits of introducing a fuel duty regulator mechanism to stabilise prices for business and consumers.

    Yes but will fuel duty rate be altered after independence? Once again a fudged answer.

    I have copied and pasted these five questions and answers from the Governments white paper, there are one hundred and fifty pages more and already I estimate we will be well over £1,000 a year worse off. Just glancing through the rest of the questions and answers I think I would rename them questions and fudges.

    • Donald Hodge

      • November 27th, 2013 8:48

      Well Gordon, £1000 a year is a small price to pay for no more Tory governments without a mandate north of the border!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • November 27th, 2013 14:03

        If you have that kind of money to throw away so be it, but thousands of families don’t, which proves what a selfish campaign is being conducted by the separatists.

      • Robert Duncan

        • November 27th, 2013 23:04

        Completely agree, Mr Harmer. In jest or not, it’s rather ironic to at once denounce the Tory party and act so flippantly to the harsh realities of life for the thousands of people in this country already facing poverty. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a selfish campaign, but it’s certainly an unfortunate comment.

  • Joe Johnson

    • November 27th, 2013 10:46

    I’m still voting no next year. The SNP have once again convinced me that they are unrealistic in their plans for independence and independence would not be in Scotland’s best interests. Scaremongering? That’s in my opinion childish name calling by the SNP with whoever disagrees with them. I’m Scottish and British and proud to be so. Better together.

  • Ali Inkster

    • November 27th, 2013 12:20

    well donald £1000 / year will be peanuts to the price we will pay for a labour government with no mandate north of inverness.

  • Laurence Paton

    • November 27th, 2013 17:24

    When will people get it ? It is not Independence, we will not become a self determining sovereign nation !

    We will only become a smaller province within the totally corrupt European Union.

    The same red tape and interference, the same mismangement, destruction and theft of marine resources via the common fisheries policy.
    The SNP porkers are no different from most of the rest of the political swine, they wont give up filling their greedy snouts at the Brussels trough.
    Also if you think of the meteoric rise of UKIP and the fact that they will most likely come first in next years Euro election, then this potential splitting of the UK would ensure that at the least they wont lose the resource rich and productive north of that former country.

  • David Spence

    • November 27th, 2013 18:49

    I was under the impression that the vote next year is purely testing the water, so to speak, to whether or not to actually have a vote for independence.

    The vote next year will, I believe, have no real value politically, as it is, as mentioned, just gauging whether or not to have a referendum on independence.

    As for, if independence is the choice of the people of Scotland, for Scotland using sterling as a currency is questionable as well, on the basis England, Wales and Northern Island (Westminster) accepts Scotland request to use sterling as its currency?

    As for Europe, I also believe that if Scotland does become independent it would have to apply to the EU as a new country, and again this is uncertain as to whether or not the EU would accept Scotland as a new member. This would also require Scotland to meet the criteria required to be a member of the EU ?

    I must confess, I am dubious as to whether or not Scotland could be self governing as a nation economically unless it raises taxes or increases other revenues in other budgets or reduces expenditure in other area’s of public finances to meet what it is proposing in terms of providing ‘ free services ‘.

    • Robert Duncan

      • November 27th, 2013 23:11

      I’m surprised you would still hold the view that the referendum won’t count for much. It has been agreed with HM Government and if a Yes vote were to come through, it’d cause uproar for them to ignore the decision. There will obviously be a lot of work to do after the determination is made but the wheels are certainly in motion and I would be surprised if a Yes vote did not lead to Scotland officially becoming independent within the sort of timeframe discussed (March 2016).

  • Gemma Mundó

    • November 27th, 2013 19:20

    Dear Shetlanders, first of all let me introduce myself. I live in Catalonia, I’m Catalan and I’m happy to share my life with a Shetlander. I can understand all the pros and odds (please excuse my English if it’s not right enough) about the Scottish will to become independant. Many times, years ago I asked my boyfriend: “why Shetland doesn’t ask for the independence from UK?” I couldn’t understand that a rich land, with it’s own language (that unfortunately is not likely to survive in the near future), a place with it’s own traditions, culture, etc, could not decide by themselves what to do with their incomes and have a better management of all the sources. I saw last time I was in Shetland the fear of being just ruled by Scottish, and knowing the history of Shetland I can guess why. Anyway… you have the right to decide, please appreciate this. In Catalonia we don’t even have the right to ask people what we want to be. The most democratic fact that’s to ask people what they do think about something is being denied by Madrid. Whatever you decide, you’ll have all my support, because of this, you’ve been able to decide.

  • George Gillon

    • November 27th, 2013 20:44

    Just a small point, that for me makes all the difference. Scotland has Proportional Representation, Westminster does not and will not any decade soon. As a nation we can bite the bullet and work our behinds off to MAKE it work. I am more concerned for my grandchildren and their childrens’ future, not how skint I am, in or out, I will still be skint! We can have a government chosen by the people and for ALL the people, instead of a 1st past the post, biggest minority takes all Tory-Labour-Lib mish mash. I look around the world and see great things being achieved by tiny countries willing to GO FOR IT, instead of sitting back and moaning about the same old same old!

  • Douglas Young

    • November 27th, 2013 20:53

    After repeated requests for costings and figures by the Scottish Parliament to Westminster, the stock reply from politicians and civil servants south of the border is “No, not until after the referendum results”
    If the pro unionist parties north of the border had any influence whatsoever with their pals south of the border perhaps they could request this information?
    It would certainly help our cause.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • November 27th, 2013 21:50

      If you are divorcing your wife you do not ask her what your life will be like after you are free. You don’t ask her how much tax you will pay or what your social life will be like, that is down to you. You are the home wrecker, to find out what life will be like after your union is your responsibility, not your soon to be ex wife.

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 28th, 2013 9:18

        But if you were divorcing your husband, and he had never let you know the truth of your finances, you would make sure the lawyer uncovered every scrap of money to make sure you truly got what you were entitled to.

  • Derick Tulloch

    • November 27th, 2013 21:41

    So, this is the prospectus for Independence. A Scotland that is a bit more like Sweden and Norway, and a bit less like the U.S of A.

    What is the prospectus for a No vote? We need more information. Can we assume that the Barnett formula will be abolished (given that senior UK politicians have said it will)? I think we can. So how will the Scottish Parliament, that has done a pretty good job of protecting us from Westminster’s fiscal nonsense, do when it loses £7,000,000,000 each and every year. Where will we have to cut? No is too risky for me.

    I’ve been to Norway. I’ve been to Iceland. I’ve been to Sweden. All much smaller than the UK. All better run. All wealthier. Let’s have a fine Scandinavian Scotland, and move away from Neo-Liberal economic illiteracy

    • Gordon Harmer

      • November 28th, 2013 19:30

      So Derick you would have a Scotland like Norway; I also have been to Norway, and they have a center right government as do Sweden and Finland, I’m sure you and the yes brigade would love that.

      None of them have a benefit or health system that is anywhere near as generous as in the UK. They pay 39% tax on their earnings unless they earn under £22,000 then they pay 31% you would love that too.

      They pay VAT at 25% and what ever misty eyed romantics like you say, Scotland is not Scandinavian and we do not share the mind set which the Nordic Model need to work.

      • Donald Hodge

        • November 29th, 2013 8:51

        You’re quite right we “do not share the mind set which the Nordic Model need to work” – we have too many Tories and their collaborators!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • November 29th, 2013 16:40

        Wise up Donald we are talking Scotland here, Tories are an endangered species.

      • Robert Sim

        • November 30th, 2013 0:20

        Gordon, if we can’t make the Nordic Model work, what alternative do we have in the UK? What is the UK Model, of which Scotland is currently part? In other words, the one we have to look forward to if Scotland votes no. Here is a succint description of the UK Model: a country where “…millions are in poverty while the top 1% get richer and richer. ” That description comes from a 2012 article by Iain McWhirter on Norway and the lessons for our referendum, which seems to me still relevant today and is worth reading. It’s at:

        The point is that the debate about independence isn’t about what Scotland will instantly be like once we become independent; but about what kind of country we could become over time. This vote isn’t about us; but about our children and the generations to come.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • December 1st, 2013 8:07

        Robert, thanks for the link, I have read it and I see where you are coming from. Please allow me to point out this article was written by Ian Macwhirter for the Scottish Herald, both strongly pro independence, so more than some what bias and only showing the good side of things.

        Robert the Norwegians are a different race to us they have a totally different mindset to us, one big difference is that being unemployed is seen as being a tragedy not a life style. Turnout in general elections since 1945 has never been less than 71% and up as high as 84%, we can hardly get 50% of voters to the polls.

        They have proportional representation and have had hung parliaments and coalitions since 1961 and it is a success. we would have to change our mindset, the way we vote and be prepared to do more for our selves before we could even think about adopting the Nordic Model. Oil money would not guarantee we could automatically be like them if we were independent and that is the case put forward by the pro independence lobby.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • November 27th, 2013 21:47

    Whoops there goes another wish off their list

    Scotland would be kicked out of the European Union if it voted for independence, the Spanish Prime Minister has said in a devastating blow to Alex Salmond’s claims membership would be seamless.

    Mariano Rajoy said it was important that Scots were “realistic” about the consequences of a ‘yes’ vote next year and warned against “regions” of member states embarking on “solo adventures”.

    Mr Rajoy’s intervention is severely damaging for Mr Salmond as it would mean Scotland having to apply from scratch for EU membership, a process that would take years, and having to negotiate its own opt-out from the euro.

    The Spanish Prime Minister confirmed a separate Scotland would require the consent of all 28 existing member states, including his country, to join the EU.

    The Spanish government is known to be hostile to Scottish independence as it does not want to encourage its own separatist movement in Catalonia.

    His comments, made in a joint press conference in Madrid with Francois Hollande, the French President, directly contracted this week’s Scottish Government White Paper on independence.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • November 27th, 2013 23:43

    Does Scotland really want to be told what to do by Westminster, David Cameron and company are robbing Scotland of its rights, such as the oil revenue, and many other product that are maufactured in Scotland, all the taxes from Scotland end up in Westminster, with very little returned, then you have the fishing quotas controlled by the EU and Westminster, edible fish thrown back dead, people starving all over the world, fishermen out in all weathers own to time scale to fish, foreign boats catching as much as they want, then there is this stupid bedroom tax, taken money for keeping a room for you family when they return home, it will be a black day when your relatives have to book into a hotel so they can visit there family,the only vote is for independance, THE YES VOTE

  • David Spence

    • November 28th, 2013 6:29

    If memory serves me correctly, I am sure Tavish Scott and Councillor Gary Robinson harked on about Shetland having greater autonomy if Scotland was to become independent from the english (vile Tory Government……there ya go folks lol) sorry, I mean the rest of the UK.

    However, the old adage ‘ Ignorance is Bliss ‘ seems to be the game Scotland and everybody else (especially shetlander’s who cannot be bothered because the Shetland way is to do nothing……do not rock the boat……if it isn’t broke why fix it……I’m happy with the status quo……mentality) plays to avoid the real legitimate reason why Scotland should in fact have any say in Shetland’s future……..oh, I forgot, there is huge wealth in Shetland due to the gas and oil terminal at Sullom Voe……….since that is the case, we better not say anything which involves having greater autonomy or questioning Scotland’s right to these islands, eh?………let the game of Ignorance is bliss persist until…………….

  • Thomas Robinson

    • November 28th, 2013 8:52

    Readers might be interested in seeing Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, being totally outdebated by Nicola Sturgeon in a debate on independence on STV yesterday evening. This is not ONLY my view but that of the 2 official STV commentators. I advise everyone to view the recording (STV-a recording of the program will be available online) to confirm what I say.

    One of these 2 official commentators said Carmichael did no better than the former SoS for Scotland, Michael Moore, when he lost his debate with Sturgeon, the other that Carmichael did even worse.

    Carmichael desperately appealed like a wee boy to the moderator for help. If the moderator HAD intervened she would have stopped the contest.

    Nicola Sturgeon won the debate because Alistair Carmichael was totally unable to indicate what the position of Scotland would be on virtually any matter if Scotland voted “No”. Better Together cannot do so either, and soon they will be unable to hide that failure from the electorate.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • November 28th, 2013 19:18

      That does not add anything of importance to the debate; anyway it was cancelled out by Johann Lamont making a total fool of John Sweeney on Newsnight last night in their debate; boy did she have him squirming. I can so see why she won debater of the year from the Scottish Herald.
      How about something positive from this document that is the vision proclaimed by Salmond. Not one yes supporter has offered anything from the document that is visionary or positive enough to increase your following from the don’t know’s.

  • Johan Adamson

    • November 28th, 2013 9:28

    They are ignoring the Islands claims for independence arent they? The SNP ignore us a lot, this gives credence to the view that it makes no difference whether its London or Edinburgh for us. They want to blot our landscape with windmills, to centralise everything and they are destroying Scottish education because councils are so cash strapped. But a vote for independence would see them gone, they would have lost their reason to exist, would they not?

  • laurence paton

    • November 28th, 2013 10:56

    Thanks for the great news Gordon Harmer !
    I will certainly vote for yes for Independence now that it means we get kicked out of the the EU.

    Good times may well be ahead…

    • Ali Inkster

      • November 28th, 2013 23:54

      Unfortunately salmond stated that “Scotland was too resource rich for Europe not to want them to join the party”, which because he won’t give up our oil because he needs that to pay for just a few of his flights of fancy, it means even more access to our fish for Spain’s fishing fleet to get them to waive their veto. So if anything it is even more reason to vote NO.

      • Laurence Paton

        • November 29th, 2013 15:38

        Yes that does sound like a potential risk and it would be a shocking outcome given that it’s the Nor-East Scotties of Banff , Buchan and Peterhead that voted him into power.
        It would be very grim indeed if the last stronghold of fisher folk on the Scottish mainland were ultimately wiped out by the man they who won the seat !
        Off course before all this UKIP will most likely win next year’s Euro elections , it will be interesting to see what changes with that result.
        Shetland as an autonomous region of either a Scotland or United Kingdom clear of the EU , is it possible ?

  • Stewart Mac

    • November 28th, 2013 14:04

    I found it interesting that the Spanish PM has today said scotland would have to apply for EU membership from OUTSIDE the EU. I wonder if he has thought that through properly. If an independant Scotland was indeed immediately “outside” the EU then surely that would mean that Spanish (other nations are available) and other EU fishing boats would have to depart from the “EU” fishing grounds around Scotland and the Shetland fleet wouldnt be bound by the EU days at sea etc. etc. after all we would be “outside” the EU applying to get in. So until all the Countries had accepted our application for membership we would be able to see what its like to be outside. Afterall D Cameron Esq. is threatening to pull the whole UK out of Europe if they dont change there ways so really, where’s the difference? Unless of course the (vile – for you David) Tories are only spouting rhetoric and posturing over Europe

  • Peter Harmer

    • November 28th, 2013 22:00

    Not sure we could cope with independance as we missed the early 1970’s when all our money from the oil started falling into the Banks of Englandshire. So have we not missed the boat? I guess staying with the golden goose now should be the best plan of action as we have what to maintain Scotland/Shetland in the future? Whisky, the remaining reserves of oil, renewable energy Mr Fox?, tourism, Berty on da croft posting mail part time, what? We can possibly maintain a Scottish/Shetland identity but realistically not our independance. We need to remain together.

  • Peter Smith

    • November 29th, 2013 10:38

    Interesting to note that the SNP are as optimistic about the timescale for negotiations as they are about everything else. 18 months from referendum to independence day? The yes campaign better have a whip-round for a few cases of Redbull. Alec and his troops are going to need them.

  • Stewart Mac

    • November 29th, 2013 11:10

    Staying with the Golden Goose as it was put may well result in the UK departing Europe in any event – I am told the Bill is back before parliament today…
    Any way, i’m not so convinced westminster is the Golden Goose.

  • David Spence

    • November 29th, 2013 14:35

    Forgive my ignorance, but can you read the blueprint document for Scottish Independence online? If anybody can help in providing a link, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you.

  • Michael Inkster

    • November 29th, 2013 16:41

    That’s a tricky one David but if you have access to a computer, as you appear to do, what about a Google search along the lines of “white paper on independence”. Good luck! I’m told it is voluminous but lacks substance, just like Mr Salmond, though he has lost a few pounds of late. M Inkster

  • Gemma Mundó

    • November 29th, 2013 17:00

    John Tullock… I did ask everybody I know in Shetland, and I was deeply surprised with their answers. Flying to Aberdeen I shared seat with Richard Lochhead and we had a very interesting conversation about independence but I also asked him… “what about Shetland? they are the “owners” of the North Sea oil and you don’t make much efforst in keeping their singular language and traditions…” I really think Europe should be a Union of regions, rather than “countries”, so we could all be represented in equal conditions. “Think globally, act locally”

    • John Tulloch

      • November 29th, 2013 23:17

      Well done with Richard Lochead, Gemma, I hope our councillors are telling them that, too.

      You are right about the EU needing major change however I’ll commend them for their commitment to devolution of powers to the most local, sensible, level, what they refer to as “subsidiarity”.

  • ian tinkler

    • December 1st, 2013 14:04

    Now we have Salmond at his most stupid. His recent creation “Scotland’s Future” has to be one of the propagandist stupidities of all time. I will comment only on the defence aspect, as an ex serving member of HM forces and having served in Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde, Faslane, I have some right to claim an informed opinion. Salmond and his party wish to remove the nuclear aspect of this base and then maintain Faslane as a conventional naval base. That is quite a laudable move with which I take no issue. Salmond also intends for Scotland to remain an active member of NATO and open Scotland’s ports to NATO nuclear-armed vessels from NATO countries on a confidential basis. This actually means any Nato Submarine; including Trident missile submarines would be free to use Faslane or any other Scottish port at any time (including Lerwick)! In that situation, just what is the point in decommissioning HM Faslane as a nuclear base in the first place? Pure posturing that is all, utterly stupid. Thousands of defence jobs lost and the nuclear weapons still on ships and submarines in Scottish ports under a NATO control and what remains of the UK. I defy anyone to explain the logic of that.

  • john n oakes

    • December 1st, 2013 16:50

    As for the issue of Faslane being Nuclear free zone. As an inhabitant of Manchester, England we too had a lovely sign denoting of Manchester of being Nuclear free zone. During my time in the RAF and being based at Saxa Vord during the late eighties. I alway enjoyed laughing when returning home knowing our Russian or Soviet pact friends felt deterred from the sign. Seeing today enemy who’s language is different, and clearly ignore these reassuring sign of free zones, would only to be happy to put biohazard to the test.
    Thanks to our political elite here in England which never really understand the words defence, invasion, passport control and London. We are now left here in England the out of use signs to defend against returning foes who feel our lifestyle is not compatible with theirs.
    I too do follow with interest the quest for Scotland and Shetlanders zeal for independence next year. I hope you make the right choice as I guess the contracts for barbwire between our borders will be fruitful. As a proud Englishman who toured during my time in the RAF in Scotland and Shetlands, it would be sad to see an old friend go pear shape on the ideals of one party called SNP. Instead I would prefer to see you choose independence fully without politics and proud handshake between us.

  • john irvine

    • December 1st, 2013 18:37

    I really don`t see what all the fuss is about, do you all really think that the majority of the people in Scotland are so stupid as to have the wool pulled over their eyes by Alex Salmond and the SNP?

  • Douglas Greig Young

    • December 1st, 2013 22:17

    Gordon Harmer’s summary of the Scottish Herald from his own comments above.

    “Johann Lamont making a total fool of John Sweeney on Newsnight last night in their debate; boy did she have him squirming. I can so see why she won debater of the year from the Scottish Herald.”

    So the Herald awards a pro-union Better Together MSP the award.

    “Please allow me to point out this article was written by Ian Macwhirter for the Scottish Herald, both strongly pro independence, so more than some what bias and only showing the good side of things.”

    So the Herald is pro-YES.

    This sums up the entire Better Together campaign, they argue with themselves, attack anything that moves and have no plans for a future Scotland.

    (I can tell you that the Herald is the only unbiased national daily in Scotland having stated clearly in it’s Editorial about a month ago they would nail their colours to the mast – on the eve of the Referendum)

    • Gordon Harmer

      • December 2nd, 2013 6:15

      Douglas you seem to have missed some thing very important, the name Better Together kind of gives our plan away to those who can think. Better Together with the rest of the UK as one, is that too hard for you to grasp.

      The comment about Johann Lamont was in response to a sad comment about Alistair Carmichael from one of your supporters, a similar comment to one you made on your negative Yes Shetland Facebook page ” Alistair Carmichael has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams by neither answering a single question and is now laughing at Nicola. You thought Michael Moore was bad. This is a dream for the Yes vote.

      You have also said on Facebook that the Scottish Herald was the only paper truly sympathetic to your Yes case. Douglas the words kettle pot and black come to mind.

      It is well recorded on the Shetland Times web site and in the paper as well as on the Shetland News web site that I have offered to debate the issues concerning this debate with you. I have asked questions about independence off you and am still waiting for the answers.

      You want to debate this or so you say well come on then lets have a debate, that’s what this thread is about so go for it Douglas. Something you and Salmond don’t realise is that the people of this nation are not stupid they remember what you have said in the past and they remember the challenges I have offered to you in the past so lets get to the nitty gritty and debate this properly.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • December 2nd, 2013 8:36

      Douglas lets start with the negotiations that will follow a yes vote, Do you think that the negotiations will be affected by the fact there will be a UK general election in May 2015 and a Scottish election in May 2016.

      If there is are changes of government mid negotiations will that prolong the process, will it invalidate the white paper, will it affect all of us negatively because politicians and civil servants will be concentrating on negotiations and not on running the country.

      Do you think that 2016 is a realistic date for the negotiations to completed and if so how and why. Do you think that the story that Salmond wants to prolong the term of this government until the negotiation have finished is in the best interest of democracy and the people of Scotland .

  • ian tinkler

    • December 2nd, 2013 12:30

    Douglas Young, as an advocate of the “Yes” to independence campaign, I would appreciate your views on Salmond’s defence option. That is to close down the nuclear facilities at Faslane whilst allowing full armed NATO SSBN, Trident submarines to use Lerwick Port facilities under the NATO treaties. They of course would be on a confidential basis!! You appear to be ignoring my previous blog, along with the rest of the Nats.

  • Robert Sim

    • December 3rd, 2013 0:31

    Gordon, thanks for your reply to my comment about why the UK system is in need of reform and why, under independence, we might aspire to the Norwegian system. In your reply, you highlight the ways in which the UK system must be improved and say that we must “…be prepared to do more for ourselves before we could even think about adopting the Nordic Model.” It sounds like we are in agreement about the flaws in the UK setup; and the fact that we would have to “do more for ourselves”. I happen to think that we could under independence. You clearly don’t. The trouble is, unless we take the chance, we will be left trundling along in the same clapped-out vehicle we presently have.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • December 4th, 2013 19:28

      Yes Robert I more or less agree with what you say but we need a get out clause if it does not work. My biggest fear and this is what drives my argument against independence is we still don’t know what to expect from independence. I believe that we are not being told the truth by Alex Salmond and Co for a reason and that reason is if we were told the truth, no one would vote yes. If this was 1976 and we were in this same situation I would be on the side of the yes camp, but with a caveat, and that would be that I trusted the politicians who were taking us there implicitly. I don’t even trust the spokesperson for Better Together Mr Darling and I tear to pieces anything he says as I do with Salmond thereby reaching my decision on my own findings. I have taken loads of chances in my 62 years Robert and I was never afraid to do so but I always had a way out or a plan B and that is non existent with this bid for independence.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • December 3rd, 2013 6:15

    I think we are wasting out time Ian, he doesn’t want healthy, reasoned debate he would sooner name call, speak with a forked and rhetorical tongue. I have tried debating with him for months now as he seems to be the self elected mouthpiece for the yes campaign in Shetland.

    He has invited folk to come on his Yes Shetland Facebook page to debate this, but if you go and see what is on there you will realise, debate means something totally different to him.


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 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.