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?