Carmichael sets record straight on independence comments

Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael has said that people in Shetland have the right to “start a conversation” on having more autonomy in event of a heavy Shetland no vote and a narrow Scottish yes win.

Alistair Carmichael
Alistair Carmichael:  Shetland should have the right to “start a conversation” on greater autonomy.

Mr Carmichael, echoing his comments quoted in a Guardian newspaper article claimed that the SNP had ruled out any such status for Shetland, quoting the

Wee Blue Book that has been handed out to independence campaigners. The book apparently says that Shetland and Orkney are legally part of Scotland and no more entitled to their own referendum than other parts of Scotland.

Shetland and Orkney MP, Mr Carmichael said that it should be clear that he did not want such circumstances to arise – and the best way to avoid this was to vote no in the referendum.

He said that offering Shetland hope of greater autonomy did not contradict the argument of being “better together”, but that the isles should have the right of determining their own future if “there’s a genuine community need for this.”

“It’s about our right as a community to have that debate for ourselves,” said Mr Carmichael, who added that Shetland was geographically, culturally and historically different to the rest of Scotland.

When put to Mr Carmichael that the Gaelic speaking Western Isles could be held to be even culturally further from mainland Scotland, Mr Carmichael said, “that is their case to make.”

When asked if he would be willing to negotiate on “Team Scotland’s” behalf in event of a yes vote, Mr Carmichael said he did not welcome the use of the phrase

“Team Scotland” – coined by First Minister Alex Salmond and the yes campaign. It implied that only the nationalists were fighting Scotland’s corner while anyone else was on “team Westminster,” said Mr Carmichael.

“Who else would I be negotiating for? I am on team Scotland already,” he added. “Hopefully that’s all academic. The best thing for Scotland is to get a no vote tomorrow.”

Mr Carmichael would not be drawn on what the best currency option for Scotland would be in the event of a vote for independence, only that it would not be currency union. A new currency would be very risky and vulnerable to the markets and joining the Euro would take time.

“The best option is that we stay in the UK, That’s why Alex Salmond does not want to talk about plan B,” said Mr Carmichael before adding that “they [the options] are all deficient”.

Meanwhile Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said that a Scottish Parliament that recognises Shetland’s needs and retains the strength of the UK would be the best outcome of the independence referendum.

MSP Tavish Scott.
MSP Tavish Scott.

Mr Scott, who has held “ferry to the referendum” meetings “from Unst to Fair Isle and discussed independence with people the length and breadth of the islands”, said: “This is the biggest decision any of us will make. Independence is for ever. There is no way back if Scotland votes yes on Thursday.

“Instead of the risks and uncertainties of independence, I urge people to vote for a new Scottish Parliament that will have new tax and welfare powers. No thanks to independence means keeping the benefits of the UK.”

Mr Scott says he is concerned that seven years of nationalist government have removed many powers from Shetland as the SNP have centralised public services such as police, fire and European funding in the central belt.

He added: “Part of the nationalist campaign describes Shetland as an “enclave” and says we have no more right to decide what we want than Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. That shows what would happen if Scotland votes yes. We would be told to shut up and do as we are told by nationalist government.

“Islanders can be in no doubt that independence does nothing for Shetland. Just look at the record of seven years of nationalism. So instead of that people can vote for a positive future with a Scottish Parliament in the UK with new powers to enhance and improve island life. I urge everyone to vote and to reject separation by voting no thanks to independence.”


Add Your Comment
  • Johan Adamson

    • September 17th, 2014 22:51

    Is this not yet another reply of the 70s where O&S voted no, got the Shetland Movement, which got nowhere? Please ignore this and answer the question on Scottish independence, which is the only question tomorrow. And if we voted yes, would it not be the same deal?

  • stuart whigham

    • September 17th, 2014 23:33

    How amusing to see this courtesy of Wingsy Campbell!

    It would appear ‘Scottish independence’ is fine as long as you are not in the Orkneys or Shetland Isles!

    From ‘The Wee Blue Book’, with authority cited at this link, page 31:

    “Orkney and Shetland are legally part of Scotland, and no more entitled to their own “local” referendum result than Falkirk or Peterhead or Sauchiehall Street. They could form an independence movement and campaign for a referendum on either independence or rejoining the UK, but no such movement currently exists.

    But even if they did, international maritime law would consider them to be what are known as “enclaves”, as their territory would be entirely within that of Scotland. That would mean the islands were only entitled to a 12-mile limit from their shores, and no significant amount of oil is found within those areas.”

    Lets see why these islands should be kept in subservience to Scotland!

    Would that be because of the oil?

  • John Tulloch

    • September 18th, 2014 0:16

    “All SANE SHETLANDERS MUST VOTE NO, in the best, VITAL INTERESTS of Shetland.”

    • Johan Adamson

      • September 18th, 2014 8:54

      No John. You’re going to fail your exam. The question is on Scottish Independence. We can get ours later if another poll says we want it. Stick to the issue

    • Brian Smith

      • September 18th, 2014 9:04

      That rules you out then, John.

  • Jayne Lockwood Allen

    • September 18th, 2014 1:04

    What is this man on, he has spent the last 2 years telling us Scotland is not big enough and capable enough to govern itself with 5 million people, now hes talking about a group of islands with a population of 23000 being capable of governing themselves, this man really needs a reality check, and besides what currency is he going to use, to coin a phrase of the campaign hes been involved in.

    • Ali Inkster

      • September 18th, 2014 9:20

      Any currency we want backed up by our oil and fishing industry.

    • John Tulloch

      • September 18th, 2014 9:56

      Shetland will still be with the UK as a Crown Dependnecy, an independent Scotland would not and, indeed, would be in an even worse position without Orkney and Shetland.

  • Raymond Smith, Kirkwall

    • September 18th, 2014 2:16

    No all the way- AC has a valid point

  • Iris Sandison

    • September 18th, 2014 8:56

    Currency in an independent Shetland? Well, we could adopt Kevin Bridges’ recommendation and have Shetland Smackeroonies.

    It would appear Carmichael has truly lost it.

    • John Tulloch

      • September 18th, 2014 10:07


      The Pound Sterling, perhaps?

      Otherwise known as the “Spondoolly”.

      It doen’t appear to be an issue for the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands?

      And we wouldn’t need to be in the EU, either, so the fishing would prosper.

      As in Faroe and the Falkland Islands, Shetland would be in control of its own fishing grounds – and oilfields!

  • james byrne

    • September 18th, 2014 9:14

    Stuart, if I were you I would look up the legal definition of enclave. Shetland is not one unless it is defined as part of Scotland

    If Shetland were to decide to remain part of the UK or declare independence whilst the rest of the Scotland split it would no longer be surrounded by another nations territorial waters but instead have its own e.g. Sri Lanka

    Not trying to give a view on the independence debate but the little blue book is simply wrong if those particular events happened.

  • Harry Dent

    • September 18th, 2014 11:15

    Shetland to remain part of the UK in the event of Scots indpendence?

    Aye, because partitioning Ireland turned out so well, didn’t it?

    • Ali Inkster

      • September 18th, 2014 11:27

      You can’t partition that which has never been joined Harry

  • Donna Mckay

    • September 18th, 2014 20:42

    Look at your politicians, labour and libdem, then ask yourself why do we pay so much to get off this island and for your fuel? Blame these bams!!! They’re certainly not helping you so get rid!! Being part of the UK is daft they are only interested in the profits not the people. Think about it!! Could be wealthy but wait… oh yes one of the dearest places to live!! Enough said. Change is for the better and for the people’s benefit not the greedy government!!!

    • Henry Condy

      • October 18th, 2014 14:28

      I had an occasion with Tavish Scott, and mentioned the ridiculous price of fuel ,his reply “Tell me about it ” words failed me

  • Sarah Clark

    • September 18th, 2014 22:44

    As a shetlander living in Jersey…, if Jersey can self govern, don’t see why Shetland can’t do the same if that’s what the islanders want!

  • John Tulloch

    • September 19th, 2014 0:07

    Shetlanders’ voting intentions in the referendum are continuing to attract attention in Argyll:

  • David Spence

    • September 19th, 2014 3:53

    Sarah, Shetlander’s are weak minded……..they have no backbone to stand up for the rights of the islands or for themselves………as the recent Independence vote has demonstrated…… by Shetland people voting 63.7% for a Government (not in Edinburgh) in Westminster to dictate how they should govern their lives…….despite the fact this Government (the vile Tories) could not give a damn about these islands unless it is of economic interest to them……this mainly being Sullom Voe and this of oil and gas…….and where they are breaking up the whole social infrastructure of this country for the minority rich and for themselves.

    The vile Tories are like most capitalists, and are only thinking of themselves and what wealth they can gain by the privatisation all Local Authority Services, as is happening in England and Wales with the NHS and Education.

    If Shetland people manage to grow a backbone and have the strength and courage to focus on the greater good for the islands, then and only then can Shetland truly determine its own future for now and future generations………but I guess I am only speaking ‘ Pie in the Sky ‘.


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