I read with interest the Scottish government’s paper on empowering Scotland’s island communities, but was struck by one thing: it seems the Scottish government has been labouring under the “Forvik falsehood” for some time, only to have just recently seen the error in its ways.
Aside from the sweeteners and promises one has come to expect from papers produced in the run-up to the referendum (ignoring, as the government also chose to, that many of these ideas for the future are already within the gift of Holyrood at present) one of the central pillars of the paper presents a real difficulty.
It is proposed that following independence a new Scotland would enshrine consideration of the isles in its constitution and through specific legislation.
It is suggested that this would revolutionise the way in which the Scottish government operates both domestically and abroad, including in Brussels. Decisions taken will always include an isles focus, protecting the particular situation of the isles from one-size-fits-all solutions. The troubling part is that the isles are already a part of Scotland.
The special characteristics of the isles are not new. The suggestion we need new legislation or a constitutional guarantee in order to get Edinburgh to consider us is something the Scottish government should be embarrassed about, rather than promoting.
There are lessons and ideas in the paper which would undoubtedly benefit the isles, but gimmicks to cover up that the orange-coloured isles on the electoral map are largely ignored by Edinburgh should be treated with the contempt they deserve.