Money-grubbing attitude (John Tulloch)

SIC political leader Gary Robinson has stated in the local media that Shetland receives £29 million per year from the Scottish government, towards education costs of £48.3 million per year, a shortfall of £19.3 million per year –  40 per cent – which has to be funded from the council’s reserves.

No-one from the Scottish government, the SNP or SNP Shetland, not even their local parliamentary candidate Danus Skene, has challenged this, so presumably Mr Robinson’s figure is accurate?

The Scottish government has also seized the SIC’s annual housing support grant (over £2 million per year) paid by Westminster to compensate the council for £40 million loan interest incurred, at government request, to accelerate the 1970s oil boom.

Thanks to the efforts of MP Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland, the council received £10 million from Westminster, leaving it effectively £1.5 million per year worse off, money which once again must be found from cuts to services or the council’s reserve fund.

Westminster is still paying the SIC’s housing support grant money to the Scottish government so Holyrood has pocketed the equivalent of a £40 million windfall.

The Scottish government clearly has its eye on the council’s reserves as a pile of money they can get their hands on to help finance their immediate, short-term goal of independence, after which “all will be well”.

Meanwhile, the SIC faces the dilemma of either having to cut vital services like rural schools or running down its oil fund reserves, the very thing the SNP has castigated Westminster for – squandering oil money instead of investing it in a sovereign/community wealth fund.

Little wonder then that Danus Skene is ensuring his SNP Shetland lieutenants are keeping such a low profile. Shetland-specific issues are obviously “off-limits” for the simple reason that airing them would lay bare the SNP’s miserly, money-grubbing attitude to Shetland.

Mr Skene has this week plucked up the courage to show his own head above the parapet. Alas, it was only to attack Alistair Carmichael over his association with the Tories’ “austerity” programme – typical SNP humbug, from the party which has frozen council tax for over five years.

Which Shetlander, we may well ask, would vote for a party that has inflicted such grievous wounds on their community?

John Tulloch


Add Your Comment
  • James Stewart

    • March 23rd, 2015 12:59

    All good points John – let us also not forget that for all Danus and his SNP colleagues like to attack Westminster austerity, the SNP government held back £444 million from Scottish public services (Education, Justice and Health budgets), all the while centralising the police control centres to save money!

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 23rd, 2015 17:19

      I’m sure when the SNP made mention of the Labour/Lib Dem coalitions significant underspend over their term in parliament (I believe c. £1.5bn over the full term) it was dismissed as oversimplified rubbish.

      Can any of those continually referencing this argument point out the differences between the two for me?

    • Robin Stevenson

      • March 23rd, 2015 19:03

      Erm…James, Is this the 1.3% underspend £444 Million that was accounted for and already earmarked for the following years budget?

      What we call “Carry-over”?….The same underspend [or over-spend IF your Labour] that happens with EVERY government EVERY year?….Normally the underspend is around 1% so is it the 0.3% that’s bugging you or?

      Scottish government said:

      “It simply brings together budget and out-turn information already laid before the Scottish Parliament and published in the audited accounts of the bodies that make-up the Scottish Administration.

      “The report records an overall underspend of less than 1.3 per cent.”

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 26th, 2015 6:31

        Mike, sorry Robin, you cannot have a carryover without permission from Westminster, so where is it published that permission was asked for and its projected use in the future. Could you provide a link? someone with your knowledge of how Holyrood works should have that information to hand. It should also be easy for you as there has been under spend’s for 7 years now. Look forward to seeing the proof.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 26th, 2015 20:56

        I have already written an explanation of how “carry over” works, and [like a number of my posts] they simply haven’t appeared?..I really CBA explaining how this works [again] suffice to say look up “carry over” for EVERY Scottish government since 1999, I think you’ll find that the SNP 1.3% return is quite the norm, in 2003.

        2000 : Lab/Lib dem 435m underspend
        2001 : Lab/Lib dem 718m underspend
        2002: Lab/Lib dem 643m underspend

        Labour/Lib Dem under Dewar, McLeish, McConnell and Jim Wallace underspent by £1.5 billion
        They actually returned the £1.5b to their treasury chums instead of using it for capital expenditure.

  • John Tulloch

    • March 24th, 2015 14:49

    What, no onslaught from the SNP Shetland troopers about how Gary Robinson is “making it all up” and it’s all the Tories’ fault, anyway?

    “Silence is golden,” goes the song, “but my eyes still see”.

    Silence can, also, be deafening, as in this case, with the valiant veterans of the referendum campaign ‘confined to barracks’ – and gagged.

    Nothing new there, of course, that’s how the SNP operates.

    • Robin Stevenson

      • March 24th, 2015 17:07

      Sorry John, I can`t comment on your latest Driv…Stuff…But you can read my comments in readers views shortly.

      • John Tulloch

        • April 4th, 2015 22:13


        You wrote above:

        “Sorry John, I can`t comment on your latest Driv…Stuff…But you can read my comments in readers views shortly.”

        I don’t believe I’ve seen your comments in ‘Readers’ Views’ and I haven’t seen any letters relevant to my above letter, either, from any correspondent, even if they didn’t call themselves Robin Stevenson?

        So what happened to your letter, have you been ‘grounded’ by the Inner Party as well?

        Still no SNP Scottish Government denial of Mr Robinson’s and Mr Carmichael’s claims?

        Funny that, you’d think they’d protest their innocence – if they were innocent, that is!

    • Robin Stevenson

      • March 26th, 2015 11:52

      John, When was this historic debt incurred..the 1970s?… was it the £50 Million that the UK government “Promised” to give the Shetlanders for building 1000 new houses for the oil workers for Sullom Voe Terminal?
      Which rose to £60 Million in the 90s?….who were the governments at the time John that were fighting your corner? [baring in mind the Scottish government didn’t even exist then]

      You said :
      “Thanks to the efforts of MP Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland, the council received £10 million from Westminster”,

      So, by your logic, you think that this bill of £50 Million [that was promised to be payed back and never was] that Alistair Carmichael – As Secretary State for Scotland – has managed to get out of the UK government a whopping 20% [£10 Million]…On top of that the UK government refused to give you anything unless the Scottish government paid Shetland the same amount ie: £10 Million. [Despite the fact the Scottish government had absolutely NOTHING to do with the deal struck in the 70’s]?

      And you “Seriously” think, that that’s a job “well done” by Ali Carmichael?…Sorry John, but in my book, Alistair Carmichael, as the Secretary State for Scotland, had the Perfect opportunity to “Claw back” EVERY penny that was promised by the UK government and hold them to account, NOT a 1/5th, and NOT asking the Scottish government to Bail the UK out of a reneged promise.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 26th, 2015 23:08


        I am referring to the £40M which the SIC borrowed at government request to build 1970s oil boom housing, as referred to in their campaign to have it repaid.

        You argue that Westminster should have repaid it in full but Westminster were paying the interest, via the housing support grant, so the council was not out of pocket.

        After devolution, Westminster continued to pay the money via the Scottish government who passed it on to the council until last year, when they decided to have it for themselves.

        Suddenly, the SIC was, effectively, £40 million worse off.

        As Westminster is still paying the SIC’s housing support grant money to Holyrood and the Scottish government has, effectively, gained the £40 million, I am unable to see why Westminster’s £10 million to SIC is anything other than a “gift, an act of generosity on their part, negotiated by Alistair Carmichael.

        Ideally, Westminster should stop paying the SIC’s interest to Holyrood and repay the original £40 million, in full.

        However, it seems that isn’t possible so the end result is Westminster and the SIC are £10 million and £30 million, respectively, out of pocket and the Scottish government is ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ with the £40 million.

        You played ‘ducks and drakes’ with the rules to corner money intended for the SIC for yourselves, and now you face the electoral consequences of your misanthropy.

    • Gary Robinson

      • April 9th, 2015 14:11

      John, just by way of an update, the 2013/14 out-turn shows that the funding gap has closed somewhat, mainly due to the efficiencies that the council has achieved. That said, it still stands in excess of £10 million.

      The corresponding amount of grant has also reduced during the lifetime of this council (to date) by around £700,000. The best part of this is down to the fact the COSLA/SG funding formula has reflected a reduction in the school roll. It’s predicted that the overall school roll will continue to fall for a couple of years yet.

      • Ali Inkster

        • April 9th, 2015 18:28

        Then it is about time you forced both governments to sort out funding and if they won’t then we must stop funding them. most of the barrels of oil removed from the North sea were removed from Shetlands waters, at todays prices that is over $1 TRILLION we could of kept every school open built a few more along with bridges, tunnels, arts centres and anything else you could think of.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 9th, 2015 16:20

    Thanks for the update, Gary.

    If council efficiencies have reduced the level of under-funding to £10Mpa, then spending has been reduced to around £38Mpa, a cut of over 20% which is extremely creditable, especially, given that the Scottish Government-imposed system under which you are working makes it virtually impossible to close rural schools.

    As you know I have followed the school closures debate closely and it’s hard to see where further efficiencies can come from without closing schools and/or hitting the quality of education delivery.

    Government restrictions on school closures are good for rural communities but have placed the council between a rock and a very hard place, namely:

    You are receiving ongoing reductions in an already hopelessly inadequate education grant due to falling school rolls (“rock”) and you are unable to close schools because the Education Act, 2010, enforces a process of consultation which the rural communities have exploited to the full (“a very hard place”, indeed!).

    School rolls may be an acceptable device for apportioning funds in urban areas, however, they are inappropriate in rural areas with large numbers of very small schools which have long distances and sea crossings between them, preventing “rationalisation” of the schools estate.

    So you’re getting less money, exacerbated by falling rolls; you can’t close schools even though some are very small; you’ve made swingeing efficiencies of 20 percent and you are still having to raid Shetland’s oil reserves to the tune of £10Mpa, more than 20 percent of the cost of educating isles children.

    Funnily enough, I watched last night as Nicola Sturgeon lambasted Westminster for squandering oil money on expediency instead of investing it in a ‘wealth fund’ like Norway has done.

    Yet, simultaneously, her own administration has starved Shetland of grant funding (and frozen council tax for five years), forcing the SIC to raid its own community wealth fund to pay for educating children, revenue spending, which should be funded by government.

    The Scottish government needs to recognise, as Westminster has done, the high cost of living and providing services in remote rural areas and address this vexed issue of under-funding with some urgency.

  • Henry Condy

    • May 11th, 2015 0:09

    From five years ago,Cameron planned the demise of lib dem and labour,through the coalition ,then the referendum, up to the election, brilliant ruthless Tory, and you are still having meaningless arguements, you were all shafted played one against the other, ruthlessly betrayed by Cameron, Gordon where were the hordes of tactical voters you promised to Kill off your Pal Alex, pathetic really and Cameron even told you what he will do if elected, Milliband couldn’t even get a decent second, so even with the SNP alongside, he still lost, so do not blame the SNP for future fiscal atrocities from Cameron, the lowest slur I read was saying the SNP were akin to Nazis, john Tulloch is obsessed with coffee, by the way John my Mother God Bless Her christened me Henry not Hendry, well all that remains is your petty point scoring, and frankly its boring,same amount of content as Millibands manifesto, Zero,, Roll on the Scottish elections ,anyone sweating,


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