Lively debate at Althing

Speaking for the motion Ian Tinkler addresses the audience in TIngwall Hall. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Speaking for the motion Ian Tinkler addresses the audience in TIngwall Hall. Photo: Dave Donaldson

More than 40 people went to Althing’s first debate of the season at Tingwall Hall on Saturday night to discuss the motion “Scotland made the right decision on 18th September”.

Speaking for the motion were Ian Tinkler and Geordie Jacobson, and opposing them were Vic Thomas and Brian Nugent.

A show of hands before the debate revealed that 15 thought Scotland had made the right decision, 25 thought it was the wrong one and four were undecided. At the end of the night 16 thought the decision was right and only three were undecided, with the 25 unchanged in their opinion.

The night was lively, with a burst of bad temper at one point.

Mr Tinkler opened by deploring nationalism (implying Scottish nationalism) – he cited Hitler’s Germany, Argentina, Serbia and Russia – and said he had seen children blown to pieces due to Irish nationalism.

He could understand Irish nationalism, he said, but when had Scotland been oppressed? It was a “paradox” that Scotland wanted to get rid of Westminster but join Europe, swapping London for Brussels – the same argument could be used for Shetland becoming independent.

He said: “Humanity does not need to fragment. There has already been fighting in George Square, the divisive nature of nationalism caused that.”

Mr Tinkler then said that the UK offered the most stable democracy and the fastest growing economy in the western world, and Scotland would have lost businesses such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life in the event of a yes vote.

He also hinted at distrust of Alex Salmond – how could a socialist republican go to work for a bank? And Mr Salmond said he had had legal advice on Europe when that turned out not be be the case.

Regarding defence, Mr Tinkler raised the spectre of an “expansionist Russia” against which an independent Scotland would have no defence.

An exchange about nuclear submarines and NATO followed later in the debate, with nationalist stalwart Charlie Gallagher vilifying Mr Tinkler for criticising his (Mr Gallagher’s) “personal friend” Alex Salmond, and saying he would swear at Mr Tinkler if ladies were not present.

Speaking against the motion, Mr Thomas, “not a member of any party”, said the referendum had “energised the younger generation”, and the demand for independence would grow rapidly as the Westminster elite, with their “manipulation to benefit the wealthy”, degenerated.

He called Westminster a “selfish, bankrupt system”, and said there was “no real UK”, it was established by invasion and stealing resources.

The “wealthy public school elite” was like a cancer, feeding off the poor and low-waged, and the promises made to Scotland before the referendum were “exposed as farcical and undeliverable”. The aftermath of the referendum, he said, would “shake Westminster to its rotten core”.

Retired local government officer Geordie Jacobson defended the union, saying that the referendum result reflected the “sovereign will of the Scottish people”.

He believed in “inter-dependence, not independence” and being part of the UK enabled Scotland to tap into greater resources. These included the Air Accident Investigation Branch, the National Grid, the BBC, air traffic control and GCHQ: “all essential for our standard of living but none without cost…funded by the democratic process”.

And he was glad he would not have to change his money into euros, or groats, or anything else.

Fervent nationalist Brian Nugent (of the Free Scotland party: “I’m still waiting for the call”) said 45 per cent of the electorate had, on 18th September, chosen “not to live in Britain”, and voted for “hope over fear”.

He said Scotland had been oppressed by Mrs Thatcher, who had closed the steel industry, and the electorate had been “badgered and bullied and conned” into voting no. The referendum had not been “fair”, and he questioned the concepts of a “family of nations” and “shared history”. He said the union of 1707, for which people were bribed, was a “shotgun wedding” that had resulted in “300 years of brainwashing”. The vow made by the three main parties prior to the referendum was “meaningless waffle” and they would give to Scotland the minimum they could get away with.

A question and answer session included discussion of the NHS. Audience member Robert Sim wanted a Norwegian model in which taxes were higher but “everyone is looked after”. Not so, said Mr Tinkler: “There is no safety net in Norway”. Wealthy Norwegians pay for some medical and dental care, and in Sweden, the health service is aimed at children – adults flock to the UK for open heart surgery.

He argued that people should be able to choose how to spend their money, but Mr Nugent said: “Let’s make the state stuff so good that the private disappears.”

Regarding centralisation, audience member Jimmy Smith said Edinburgh, was as guilty as Westminster, doing away with Shetland Enterprise and honorary sheriffs – he had voted no and would do so again.

Audience member Martin Tregonning warned against trying to “unpick” every vote, which would create a running sore. Scotland, he said, had made the right decision at that time – later it might be different.

Summing up, Mr Tinkler said Scots had not been “so simple” as to believe the “fear factor”, and the referendum result had been the correct one. He predicted Scotland would get more powers, including income tax.

Mr Thomas said the independence issue was not going to go away, and everyone needed to “show respect and settle down”.


Add Your Comment
  • Charles L. Gallagher

    • October 19th, 2014 16:33

    Let me correct one point in this report, I said, “Ian Tinkler is talking ‘tripe’ which could by changing a couple of letters give another more appropriate word which I would not use as there were ladies present”. I at no time said that I would have sworn at Ian.

    The ‘Bitter Together’ pair offered nothing but negativity and Ian’s attempt to yet again connect the SNP to the Nazi’s or other extreme nationalists like his own Brit Nats was an insult not only to Alex Salmond but to SNP members present at the debate. Normally I have a very long and a very slow burning fuse but I’m afraid when I was faced with such a bundle of wrong information, insults and out and out lies I did let off with a broadside of my own for which I make no apologies other than to any in the audience who might have been offended by the truth forcefully put.

    As for the debate as another member of the audience put it, “it was the worst debate that he had ever attended at the Althing”.

    • John Tulloch

      • October 20th, 2014 13:18

      Quite so, Ian. I attended and enjoyed most of the debate, especially, your own contributions – and the bannocks and other home bakes were great!

      The Yes campaign have been accused of aggression in the past and I’m sad to say it was in evidence during the debate.

      Despite the Chairman setting the rule of “no heckling during the speeches” there was considerable heckling by Yes supporters, one of whom called you “an idiot”.

      As far as I could tell, the No supporters were much better mannered, throughout.

  • Iantinkler

    • October 19th, 2014 22:11

    As always, when short of sound argument, some bitter Nats resort to throwing insults. A bit like being back in a kindergarten. How very typical, Charles, you run so true to form. Now get over it, truly it is over, especially for your chum Alex. The electorate found him out, and rejected his divisive mantra. At last, he is now resigning as First Minister, maybe some honour in the man at last, good bye and good riddance Alex Salmond. As a point of interest for readers, as Rosalind Griffiths states, Charles most certainly appeared to lose it at one point and became insulting and rather agitated. Perhaps he can not remember his own diatribe, it was pointless, puerile and insulting, rather of the ilk of a typical cyberNAT very unpleasant, however best forgotten.

  • David Spence

    • October 20th, 2014 0:42

    The Referendum was a clear example of the powers that be (those totally situated in London, England) would not have in any way, shape or form allowed the Scottish people to have sole control of its affairs.

    People may say ‘ Oh, but we had a referendum, and the people voted for the Union ‘. How often have the politicians here in the UK, protested against so-called democracy in other countries where it was very obvious the election was rigged or fixed?

    If this was the case, what is to stop the powers that be, totally under the control of one country, England, such examples of what we call democracy being fixed and rigged as well? Afterall, the powers that be gives us this little game to play where we are brainwashed into believing we are taking part in a democracy when in real terms, the decision has already been made. It is like an alleged gutter newspaper professing to be the UK’s number best selling newspaper………Who is going to question this, despite the fact they may believe what they have read? Nobody.

    In today’s technological world, the media has become exceedingly powerful, and this can be manipulated by the powers that be to make sure society acts in a way in which they want us to be, without questioning the motive, agenda or consequence of such actions.

  • joe johnson

    • October 20th, 2014 9:11

    Whats the point of having these debates if they end up with folk having a go at each other. What does it achieve at the end of the day

  • David Spence

    • October 20th, 2014 10:01

    I totally agree, Joe. I have been insulted for my political views, by those insulting myself and their contribution having no baring whatsoever on the subject. It is a shame that some people resort to lowering the tone of the debate with insults of a personal nature to those contributing, even if that persons views or opinion maybe controversial.

  • John Tulloch

    • October 20th, 2014 13:30

    It doesn’t seem to be well-known in Shetland that a senior Orkney councillor, former vice-convener James Stockan wrote to “the Orcadian” newspaper on 9th, October, calling for Orkney to become a Crown Dependency, irrespective of the referendum result.

    There was an accompanying front page spread so they seem to think it’s an important issue, down there.

    That was why I asked the Althing speakers for their views on Shetland’s constitutional future.

    • Johan Adamson

      • October 20th, 2014 14:44

      I understand you wanting to debate Shetland’s constitutional future, but I’m not sure it had or has anything to do with Scottish independence at all. I think you would fail an exam if you answer a question with another question. If people dont trust Scots to handle their own affairs, change the currency, tackle membership of the EU, etc, etc, then how can Shetland go it alone, even if it might be a good idea?

      • John Tulloch

        • October 20th, 2014 17:30

        It has a great deal to do with Scottish independence, Johan. Here’s another answer to a question, with another question:

        What would an independent Scotland’s position in the richest countries league be if Shetland also became independent?

        Of course, Scots can run their own affairs, it’s just that they haven’t been able to convince Scottish voters that they will become better off by throwing away the advantages of the Union.

        Making an economic case for Shetland to be independent/autonomous and better off than now will be much easier than making one for Scotland, especially, if Shetland and Orkney go it alone or, even, just decide stay with the UK as Crown Dependencies or similar.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 20th, 2014 16:07

    Thanks for that John. Being called an idiot and other assorted names simply shows the paucity of argument from the Yes side during the debate. Salmond run a campaign based on innuendo, bluster and insults towards the Westminster establishment (English?). Intentional confrontational taunts being his modus operandi, it is no wonder his acolytes follow his behaviour. The Scottish people are by and large made of more intelligent, kind and honourable stuff, certainly at least 55% of them.

    • Robert Sim

      • October 20th, 2014 17:10

      I was at the debate, too, Ian, and hope I behaved in a mannerly way. However, quite aside from that, I have to say that you are now going over the top in implying, not very subtly, that anyone who voted Yes is not “intelligent, kind and honourable”. I am leaving aside your hyperbolic and inaccurate comments on the Yes campaign – which wasn’t, by the way, run by Alex Salmond or the SNP in general.

    • John Tulloch

      • October 20th, 2014 17:41

      You’re right about Westminster and Salmond setting the example.

      Vic Thomas’s speech was such an anti-Tory, anti-Westminster diatribe that I couldn’t help wondering whether he’d engaged David Spence to write it for him!

    • Brian Smith

      • October 20th, 2014 18:05

      I’m puzzled. Why does Mr Tinkler object to insults directed at him, but imagine that he is entitled to spew them in the opposite direction every day of the week?

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 21st, 2014 14:12

        I am puzzled. Why does Brian Smith have the nerve to have a go at Mr Tinkler, who as a panelist in a debate did not answer any question with, “I don’t know anything about that subject”.

        When Brian as a panelist on the independence debate in the museum admitted not knowing anything about crofting when asked, this is Shetland after all.

        I would like to congratulate Ian on having the nerve to stand up and clearly state his case while having to put up with infantile heckling and on researching what he had to say to the extent that he reduced the opposition to having no credible comeback without heckling.

  • David Spence

    • October 20th, 2014 18:51

    ‘ how can Shetland go it alone, ‘

    Well Johan, by Scotland proving that it has 100% full Sovereign Rights and Claims to these islands, as well as the Orkney Islands.

    Mind you, Shetlander’s prefer not to ‘ rock the boat ‘, ‘ take the easy life ‘, so I guess Shetlander’s would easily be submissive to any authority that rules over them, despite what oppression, tyranny Shetland’s new ruler’s may enforce upon the population.

    Asking Shetlander’s to stand up for their rights and this of Shetland against any oppressor/ruler/Conservative Government would be like waiting for hell to freeze over lol

  • ian tinkler

    • October 20th, 2014 20:41

    Johan, John Tulloch did not suggest Shetland should go it alone. He did ask however my view on opinion Crown Dependency, within the UK, for Shetland. That was a pertinent question at that stage of the debate, in my view. My response was that I believe that is the way Shetland should go. That way we could form our own policies regarding school closures, wind farms, ferry costs et al, without centralised politicking from Edinburgh or London. We may have some real “donkeys” in our council but they are at least our very own, they do listen to us occasionally and are close enough to us to know our own very unique problems. It just takes a bit of political guts and a few brave souls to force the issue. I am sorry this utter wetness of more autonomy for the Isles discussion underway at present (sorry council) is as dynamic as shaking hands or making love to a wet lettuce. Crown Dependency is what we should demand, nothing less.

    • Johan Adamson

      • October 21st, 2014 10:01

      No, sorry, still dont get how you can deny Scotland the right of self determination but think it is OK for Shetland. Your either a nationalist or you are not, surely, ultimately bad news like in fascist history according to your earlier arguments. I think Scotland was trying to get away from UKIP and the Tories.

      • John Tulloch

        • October 21st, 2014 10:18

        Nobody has denied Scotland the “right to self-determination”. Perhaps, you didn’t notice, there has been a Scottish independence referendum, recently, in which Scots voted against independence, preferring to remain part of the United Kingdom?

        Shetland and Orkney voted heavily against Scottish independence and, especially, given the wobbliness of Scottish/UK sovereignty over the Northern Isles, surely, the same “right to self-determination” should apply there, too.

      • Johan Adamson

        • October 21st, 2014 11:16

        You encouraged people to vote no to Scot Independence did you not?

      • John Tulloch

        • October 21st, 2014 12:20

        Certainly, Johan. I did so after careful consideration of the arguments about what was best for both Shetland AND Scotland and I make no apologies for arguing against Scottish independence from either of those viewpoints.

        It was bad for Shetland and bad for Scotland, even if Shetland and Orkney went with Holyrood.

        That is not denying anybody’s “right to self-determination”, it’s simply exercising my own democratic right to free speech. Nobody was compelled to agree with me or vote with my recommendation.

        Similarly, nobody was compelled to vote with your recommendation – and a convincing majority, especially, in the Northern Isles, wisely (IMHO) voted against Scottish independence.

    • Johan Adamson

      • October 21st, 2014 13:08

      So you dont think that you muddied the waters by polluting the question with this other question? And you see no contradiction in believing inde for Scotland is wrong but for yourself or for Shetland it is not wrong?

      The SNP have been accused of greed. Surely wanting the oil money for Shetland is even more greedy?

      • John Tulloch

        • October 21st, 2014 15:29

        For clarity, Johan,

        The “water” is already “muddy” and the only “pollution” of the question which has occurred is down to dishonourable behaviour over the centuries by both the Scottish and UK authorities since the pawning of Orkney and Shetland to Scotland, by Denmark, in 1468 and 1469, respectively.

        I have never suggested “Inde for Scotland is wrong”, quite the reverse. Independence will always be “right for Scotland”, if and when that becomes the democratic will of the Scottish people.

        Scots have decided, wisely IMHO, that becoming independent under the prospectus currently on offer would be ill-advised and have voted, accordingly and there is no possible contradiction in that with my view that Shetlanders and Orcadians should be afforded the same privilege.

        As far as I am aware, nobody has suggested Shetlanders keep ALL the oil money. Even Stuart Hill, who takes a very hard line, doesn’t say that. His point, if I understand him correctly, is about ownership of the oil, as opposed to “keeping” it.

        In practice, even an independent Shetland would need assistance in areas like defence and given the area covered by oil exploration and fisheries, that would be expensive. It may, also, be considered prudent to contract other services, say, the NHS, to continue providing a health service, and so on, so there would be negotiations on a range of issues, of which oil would be a part.

        Association with a protecting power, under UK Crown Dependency or, indeed, Faroese-style autonomy with an independent Scotland, would, in my opinion, be preferable to outright independence, however, that option is open to Northern Islanders if Westminster and Holyrood won’t “play ball”, with commensurately more oil to compensate for the disadvantages of standing alone.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 20th, 2014 20:49

    Robert, I accept your point, regarding intelligent, kind and honourable, you are nothing less. I am sorry if you feel I implied the 45% we not, that was not my intention. Brian, I have no objection to the insults aimed at me. They were as trifling as the arguments of those whom threw them. Am I mistaken or did you not call those speakers for the motion traitors? I suppose a refreshing change from vile Tories.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 20th, 2014 21:08

    Sorry, got my Davids and Brains mixed up, easy mistake! These socialists, all look and sound the same.

  • David Spence

    • October 20th, 2014 23:51

    Brian, I don’t think Ian, could have a sensible debate without the odd insult flying through the air. On no, I hear the presence of Ian clomping down the road lol

  • Mark Ryan Smith

    • October 21st, 2014 9:39

    It’s quite right to say that nationalism was the cause of the post-referendum violence in George Square. As the celebrants holding union jacks that night showed, British nationalism isn’t the benign, unifying force some people imagine it to be. Looking back at the referendum, it’s pleasing to note that the Orange Order, UKIP, the BNP, the Britannica Party, the National Front and Britain First, all chose to offer no support whatsoever to the Yes side of the argument.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 21st, 2014 10:49

    Johan, there is a world of difference between a Crown Dependency within the UK and an Independent Scotland under Salmond. If you consider the motion of the Debate “Scotland made the right decision on 18th September” if the Referendum had gone the other way we would have been well and truly saddled with Salmond, no more no less. Which Salmond however?, the Republican Socialist State of Scotland Salmond? Salmond the Banker, financial adviser to RBS? Salmond the anti nuclear and anti Trident whom would allow nuclear NATO munitions covertly into any military base in Scotland? Salmond the less than honest, “legal advice on EU membership1″? Salmond the divisive bully boy refusing to condemn Sillers ” Day of Reckoning” threats. The Republican turncoat Salmond whom to gain the odd vote agrees the Queen could be Head of a Scottish State?. Salmond for an independent Scotland depending on the benevolence of the Bank of England and the use of the UK power grid? , Salmond the Truly Green, disfiguring most off Scotland and her seas with Wind Farms to cut CO2 emissions at the same time exploiting every last gram of North Sea Oil, including fraking under the North sea( reference : ” ). Would that be what you voted Yes for, Johan, or something else?

    • Johan Adamson

      • October 21st, 2014 11:15

      Salmond has resigned. It was not about Salmond

      • John Tulloch

        • October 21st, 2014 12:08

        Salmond resigned because he lost the referendum. Had the Yes campaign won, he would still be there, running the show.

        You’re right, though, it wasn’t about Salmond – it couldn’t have been, otherwise, the “great debater” would have carried it for the SNP. It was about whether Scots would be better-served by leaving the United Kingdom, or staying in it and those who wished to stay in the UK and voted No won the referendum.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 21st, 2014 11:08

    Further to above, the Ewing ? Salmond oil dream!! By taking the drilling and horizontal fracturing technologies that have been pioneered in the USA, and applying these in an offshore setting, the proposal has the potential to reinvigorate the North Sea. The target for this revolutionary production proposal is the Kimmeridge Clay formation, an Upper Jurassic organic rich shale which is the major oil and gas source rock for the Central and Northern North Sea.
    – See more at:

    Enough said?

  • Ian tinkler

    • October 21st, 2014 12:39

    Johan, the motion of the Debate was “Scotland made the right decision on 18th September”. This blog is about that Debate,. If Scotland had made a different decision in the referendum, Scotland would have Salmond as leader. It is primarily about that decision and that clearly makes Salmond central to the debate.

  • Mark Jamieson

    • October 22nd, 2014 8:52

    Can Ian Tinkler please advise what is meant by ‘Norway does not have a safety net’ when referring to the NHS. As a Norwegian resident and no longer a UK taxpayer would be interesting to hear exactly what you mean.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 22nd, 2014 10:08

    Mark Jamieson, I was referring at that time to dental services. The references below should enlighten you to exactly what I meant. You should perhaps try being unemployed in Norway!

  • Mark Jamieson

    • October 22nd, 2014 10:56

    Mr Ian Tinkler, it was not my intention to ask for your advice on employment. Many Thanks. I will buy a new tooth brush to keep those pesky dental diseases at bay.

    • Dave Cooper

      • October 22nd, 2014 14:26

      I trust your experience will be better than mine. Decades of toothbrush, dental floss, fancy toothpastes & avoiding boiled sweets etc. has not kept me away from the dentists.


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