Faroese-style autonomy (John Tulloch)


Well said Mark Wylie, I agree with every word. The sporting and leisure communities need to wake up to the looming threat to their stunning success which has been built up steadily since 1985.

The threat arises from the Shetland Charitable Trust’s need to stem the annual outflow of its capital and live, sustainably, on its income.

Otherwise, a time will come when the money has gone and all the facilities may have to close. We’ve seen the same elsewhere with the SIC’s programme of rural school closures except that the communities faced them down.

And yet Shetland overpays tax versus government funding received by £80 million a year? This is the core of the problem, not the financial tourniquet applied in haste by charitable trustees to stem the haemorrhage.

If Shetland had Faroese-style autonomy the £80 million a year tax surplus would be retained, along with, most likely, a tidy sum from the oil and fishing industries on top. That money could be used to support educational, leisure and care facilities, assist transport or whatever else local voters desired.

Faroese-style autonomy for Shetland is entirely feasible – it nearly happened in 1979. All it needs is Shetlanders to reserve the right to “opt out”, should they vote no in a future independence referendum, within an overall Scottish yes vote. That right must be reserved on Shetlanders’ behalf by their political leaders who must be both willing and free to do so.

Sporting and leisure associations must rise to the challenge and be prepared to fight to save their facilities as the rural communities did with their schools.

In particular, enthusiasts must make time to campaign and/or, at least, turn out and vote for politicians, council or parliamentary, who demonstrate – not just talk – a clearly pro-Shetland stance.

John Tulloch


Add Your Comment
  • Alvin Leong

    • June 17th, 2015 9:11

    The rural communities fought and won the battle to keep their schools, now the lost the war to keep their pools.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 17th, 2015 9:43

    There must be another way to achieve this. Voting against something in a referendum about some one else’s future cannot be the only way.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 17th, 2015 11:51

      A Scottish independence referendum will not be “about someone else’s future”. If Shetlanders vote Yes with the rest of Scotland they will be committing themselves to accept Scottish sovereignty without any negotiations, a ‘blank cheque’ to the SNP to continue as they’ve done for the last eight years.

      i.e. Putting Dracula in charge of Shetland’s “blood bank”.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 17th, 2015 12:33

        Your logic is “mind boggling” John,

        If Shetlanders vote No against the wishes of the rest of Scotland, they will be committing themselves to accept Westminster sovereignty without any negotiations, a ‘blank cheque’ to the London Establishment as they’ve done for the last few centuries.

        i.e. Putting Dracula in charge of Shetland’s “blood bank”

        Ooh…Wait…You already do that.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 18th, 2015 9:16

        You’re quite right, Robin. Shetland already has “Dracula in control of her blood bank”,. Thanks to devolution, her financial blood, her oil fund is already being sucked dry and transfused into the central belt.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 18th, 2015 14:08

        John, you cannot, on one hand, agree that ALL our taxes go to Westminster, then on the other hand pretend that it goes to the Scottish Government for them to spend it in the central belt?

        Devolution has absolutely nothing to do with where our taxes go, they are sucked into London’s coffers and spent on all these useful things, like HS2, Trident and various other vanity projects, while they reduce Scotland’s block grant and rob the poor. If you’re getting less than you’d like, that’s a pretty good indication that Scotland is getting less than they’d like.

      • JohnTulloch

        • June 18th, 2015 17:32

        Robin, I never suggested that devolution has anything to do with where our taxes go. It has 100 percent to do with where Shetland’s FUNDING RECEIVED COMES FROM.

        Are you saying that Westminster gets the taxes for now but when you get them with Full Fiscal Autonomy , the £80Mpa excess tax will be returned to Shetland in extra funding?

        A one-word answer will suffice, yes or no – I’ll take no reply or more obfuscation to mean “no”.

      • Bill Adams

        • June 18th, 2015 19:15

        Jings, crivvens, help ma Boab, and there was me thinking that the rundown in the money in the oil
        fund was due to profligate and grandiose spending by councillors on recent Shetland Islands Councils.
        But as usual John Tulloch has an alternative explanation. So what is the truth of the matter ?
        Maybe Dracula is rather closer to home.
        In fairness, the current Council have realised that money does not grow on trees, which are few and
        far between here in Shetland.

      • Ali Inkster

        • June 18th, 2015 23:10

        Wrobin the underfunding of the SIC is the cause for our oil fund being transferred to the central belt. £145 million+ is now to be spent by the SSnp on Edinburgh trams that no one wants. A couple of £billion on a bridge all in the south east of the country while the rest of the country faces cuts.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 19th, 2015 11:22

        Bill Adams,

        “Profligate spending by previous councils” has been corrected, the systematic under-funding of Shetland’s education has not. That is draining oil fund money to the central belt.

        I’m surprised to see a long term, committed Shetland resident like yourself defending and even, denying, this systematic under-funding of vital services.

      • James Watt

        • June 19th, 2015 15:55

        @ Ali Inkster.

        Edinburgh Trams, the £145 million extra would be needed to complete the job as was originally planned. One of the first things the SNP did as a minority government was attempt to stop the trams project as they wanted to use the money improving the A9. As a minority government they got defeated heavily and nearly a billion has now been wasted on a project the SNP didn’t want.

        I’m assuming the bridge you refer to is the new Forth bridge, considering the condition of the old bridge even you should be able to see that the new bridge is a necessary and sensible spend on Scotland’s infrastructure. If you still feel it’s an unnecessary waste of money how about we compare what Westminster is spending your taxes on, it’s worth noting none of these projects will benefit Scotland but they will cost Scotland around £5 Billion, while only last week £100 million was cut from Scotland’s budget with far deeper cuts in the coming years.




      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 19th, 2015 17:08

        John, now at least we’ve made some progress with regards to agreeing where Shetlands taxes go {Westminster] Now for your other point,[ which you’ve decided to highlight for some reason?] “It has 100 percent to do with where Shetland’s FUNDING RECEIVED COMES FROM”.

        Shetlands funding comes from our devolved Scottish Government, our Scottish Government receives an annual “Block Grant” from Westminster, that total amount has to be split with ALL 32 Councils across Scotland [via COSLA] ALL councils are facing cuts because of Westminster “Austerity cuts” Our block grant has already been reduced. Councils face increasingly difficult financial challenges. In the context of overall reductions in public sector budgets, between 2010/11 and 2013/14, Scottish Government funding for councils decreased by 8.5 per cent in real terms (allowing for inflation) to £10.3 billion. At the
        same time, demand for council services has increased, largely due to population changes.

        This year and for the next five years + the Cuts are going to be even bigger. Frankly, Labour have already conceded the next election in 2020, so it looks very likely that we’ll be facing these cuts for at least another 10 years, when Osborne “Fails” to bring down our National debt in 2018 they’ll be further cuts, despite Every expert on the planet telling him “Austerity” doesn’t work.

        IF the SG received your £80 Mpa extra tax, all I could tell you is, at least it would be kept in Scotland and whatever negotiation transpired you’d at least see it again.

      • Ali Inkster

        • June 19th, 2015 18:43

        @ James Watt, There is no point using Westminsters waste as an excuse for Hollyroods waste, at least not with me. I’m firmly of the opinion that we would be far better aff clear o da lot o dem.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 20th, 2015 6:35

        An SNP under spend of £200 million “again”, 8 years of council tax freeze, resulting in SNP enforced austerity on the Scottish NHS and councils and the above commentators have the audacity to blame Westminster. More proof of the total unaccountably of the SNP government.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 20th, 2015 9:34

        Robin Stevenson, you’re, cynically, “tilling old soil”.

        We are all aware of cuts from Westminster and Holyrood and why they are necessary.

        But Shetland’s education is systematically under-funded – nothing to do with Westminster – by a system set up by the SNP Scottish government in 2008, under which funding is distributed on a ‘per pupil”, as opposed to a “needs” basis.

        This under-funding must be made up from SIC oil reserves.

        “Per pupil” funding clearly favours densely-populated areas like the central belt thus money is flowing from Shetland’s community wealth funds to the central belt.

        I call this ‘appropriation by stealth under-funding”.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 20th, 2015 15:27

        As I’m sure you’re fully aware john, Shetland are the highest paid council in Scotland ‘per pupil’ as you point out, in fact :

        Spend per pupil varies widely across the country with rural councils spending the most In 2012/13, the average spend per pupil across Scotland was £5,468 and varied:

        • across urban councils, from £4,782 in Renfrewshire to £5,899 in West
        Dunbartonshire – £1,117 difference
        • among councils with a mix of urban and rural areas, from £4,433 in
        Clackmannanshire to £5,799 in North Ayrshire – £1,366 difference
        • across rural councils, from £4,966 in Moray to £6,796 in Argyll and Bute –
        £1,830 difference
        • among the island councils, from £9,005 in Orkney to £10,821 in Shetland
        Islands – £1,816 difference.

        This ‘Per pupil’ argument means what exactly? You say ‘needs’, but surely if the Scottish government utilised all of it’s education resources on the ‘needs’ of every education establishment across Scotland there would be absolutely nothing left for anything “Other” than education?
        The “Per Pupil” system is the fairest and most affordable for the scottish budget, on top of that [once again] Every council is facing further cuts, You’d like more going on the ‘Needs’ of Shetlands education? Don’t let me stop you sending a stiff letter to those that hols the purse strings John?

        [Clue… it Isn’t the Scottish Government]

      • James Watt

        • June 20th, 2015 17:14

        I wonder if Gordon could clarify what happens to the Scottish Government underspend, I know in the past there had been examples of previous administrations returning large sums to Westminster, but I couldn’t find any information on this administration returning an underspend to Westminster as unspent block grant.
        Is it possible that the underspend is carried forward to the next years budget so is still used to fund services as it is add to the next financial years block grant. If this is the case would that not suggest that the SNP are doing the best they can with the budget, spending most of the budget but leaving 1-2% to carry over or fund any unexpected expense.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 21st, 2015 20:26

        @ James Watt. To anyone with their eyes open it is easy to see what the SNP are doing, Year after year there has been an under spend from a couple of hundred million to £400 million and every year the Scottish NHS is underfunded by Holyrood. To compound this local authorities are in the same position, but every local authority throughout Europe has the power to raise local taxes and the power to increase those taxes on an annual basis but for the last eight years Scottish local authorities have had the power to increase taxes to keep in line with costs removed by the SNP in Holyrood. This is a scam, and a scam to increase the effects of austerity which the SNP are fond of blaming Westminster for. If you wish to keep your eyes shut to this James so be it, but there are some of us who are very aware of what is happening and I am afraid your bluf and bluster will not change what is happening.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 22nd, 2015 11:34

        Robin Stevenson,

        The SNP Scottish government set up the funding distribution arrangement with COSLA in 2008. They are responsible for the outcome.

        I know fine what the “average spend” of the councils is, I don’t need you to tell me that.

        What I want to know is the amount of FUNDING allocated “per pupil” and the “formula” used to determine who gets what.

        The SNP Scottish government must remember the time-honoured management adminition, “silence is consent.”

      • James Watt

        • June 22nd, 2015 16:16

        Gordon, I see you’ve managed to get yet another “SNP Bad” rant off your chest, I hope you feel better now after that, and will actually address the point I made.

        I know how much you hate unanswered questions so Would you like another go at answering this one. What happens to the Scottish governments underspend, is it carried forward to the next year or is it returned to Westminster?

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 22nd, 2015 18:43

        James, as you well know any under spend goes back to Westminster, unless of course the Scottish government have it earmarked for some thing in the next financial year. But as willies Rennie pointed out the other day, in November last year the SNP government promised to spend £40 million on Scottish family doctors. So you tell me why has this £40 million been held back by the SNP government and why do they have this under spend with promises still outstanding. You actually don’t need to tell me because I know, as Tavish has pointed out GPs are being starved of cash and there is a crisis which we are heading towards at a hundred miles an hour. By holding back the promised cash, Westminster is the SNPs scapegoat, Again, divide and conquer politics from you know who.

      • James Watt

        • June 23rd, 2015 13:50

        “James, as you well know any under spend goes back to Westminster, unless of course the Scottish government have it earmarked for some thing in the next financial year.”

        Gordon, I’m afraid I didn’t well know that, but what I did find would suggest you might need to research the subject a little more before passing your opinion as fact.
        The whole time you have been ranting about the underspend I have been searching for information that confirms your accusations, but have been unable to find an impartial source that back up your claims that the default position for any underspend is to be returned Westminster.

        What I was able to find was information on the Budget Exchange Mechanism (BEM) which replaced the End Year Flexibility scheme in 2011, their is no need for the Scottish Government to inform the Treasury that it intends to carry forward a percentage of the budget as long as it is less than the agreed cap.

        Page 27
        Page 5

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 23rd, 2015 14:41

        Not what I found out James, it goes back unless the Scottish government ask for it to be used next year. but I see you have dodged what I said about the broken promise of £40 million to be spent by the SNp on GPs. Maybe you could find a link to broken promises and the reason for? An under spend is an under spend and if as you say no permission is needed to carry it forward there in lies the reason for budget cuts from Westminster; we don’t spend what we get so we get a cut. It is a crime that we under spend when the NHS and education and public services are screaming out for funding, but like I said before these are the politics of division as long as Westminster can be blamed.

      • James Watt

        • June 23rd, 2015 21:35

        “Not what I found out James, it goes back unless the Scottish government ask for it to be used next year.”

        All the official sources I found back up what I have said and both links I provided were government sites, in the second link I provided this is the description given of BEM

        End Year Flexibility (EYF) has been replaced with the Budget Exchange Mechanism (BEM). In summary, under the BEM, the devolved administrations will be able to carry forward underspends, up to an agreed cap. Unlike Whitehall departments, there will be no requirement to inform the Treasury in advance of the following year of the expected underspend in order to carry over the funding. However, if the devolved administration chooses to inform Treasury of its planned underspend (by early December) then it will be able to access the carry over earlier in the next financial year.

        Just for the record I didn’t dodge anything, I don’t believe I had ever mentioned what the SNP had promised to spend their budget on, and to be fair you did say I didn’t need to tell you what happened to the £40M as Tavish Scott had already told you all you needed to know.
        I am bemused at how you work out that the cuts are a result of the underspend though, but I do understand that regardless of how illogical an idea sounds, it is deemed valid as long as Holyrood can be blamed.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 17th, 2015 12:02

      Johan, I accept there are other ways like a pro-Shetland party or lobby group campaigning for it however in the absence of a referendum they will have much less leverage and if the right to “opt out” of independence is “handed on a plate” to the SNP by electing them into political control over the isles, it will be much more difficult.

      The SNP is currently laying siege to the MP and MSP positions and we may expect that to be extended to the SIC in due course.

      SNP politicians do as they are told by the party hierarchy and if they succeed there will be no more “opt out”.

      Shetlanders must defend themselves against that grave threat.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 19th, 2015 8:24

        John, you say that “The SNP is currently laying siege to the MP and MSP positions and we may expect that to be extended to the SIC in due course.” Gordon backs you up in a later comment by saying that the SNP will not be content until they have “ousted Carmichael and dumped Tavish”. There is one wee flaw in this argument: the electorate freely votes for the SNP – the party does not brainwash, bribe or otherwise coerce voters in Shetland (or Orkney ) into voting for them.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 19th, 2015 11:09

        Robert Sim,

        I agree, there is no way the SNP can be thought of as “bribing” Shetland voters to vote for them 🙂

        Withholding funding from those who do not vote for the SNP, however, is certainly a form of coercion. But Shetlanders are well-armed to defend themselves via winning autonomy.

        The referendum opt out is by no means the only way to achieve autonomy but it’s the ultimate guarantor of choice and it’s under grave threat. That’s why it’s currently my main concern, it must be preserved.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 20th, 2015 11:53

        @John – no funding is being withheld from any Scottish local authority. All authorities are allocated funding on the same basis.

        There simply isn’t enough money to go round at present, however, thanks to Westminster’s long-standing mishandling of the economy. Cuts at UK level translate into cuts in the devolved budget. Just look at the huge budget reductions Glasgow and Edinburgh are currently facing.

        While I respect your view that Shetland should go it alone, that simply is not the view of the Shetland electorate, as I was suggesting in my previous post.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 20th, 2015 13:48

        Robert Sim,

        “All authorities being allocated funding on the same basis” does not imply that the resultant funding for any council has been allocated fairly, according to the needs of its population.

        I did not invent the systematic under-funding of Shetland’s education, currently, £10Mpa. I am quoting an answer by SIC political leader Gary Robinson to questions I put to him in the online Shetland Times. Here’s what he said, copied and pasted from his response:

        “Gary Robinson
        March 17th, 2015 10:36

        “I’m happy to answer John Tulloch’s questions.

        Q1. The grant that the council receives isn’t based on the Scottish average cost per pupil. What is often referred to as the cost per pupil doesn’t include all education expenditure in any council. It merely represents a basket of expenditure that’s benchmarked across local authorities…….. There’s been an overall real-terms reduction in the SIC’s grant of around 19% since 2010. The reduction in cash for education will have been more than that because we have had falling school rolls for some years now.”

        i.e. The money is allocated on a “per pupil” basis, according to a “basket of expenditure that’s benchmarked across local authorities” which “doesn’t include all education expenditure in any council”.

        “Per pupil” funding favours densely-populated areas like Edinburgh over thinly-populated ones like Unst and that is why Shetland education is under-funded, currently, by £10Mpa, even after 20 percent cuts.

    • Aaron Smith

      • June 17th, 2015 12:03

      You’re right, one doesn’t follow the other as they are both distinctly separate issues. If Shetland wants more autonomy then it needs to fight for it whether it’s with Edinburgh, London, the UN or anybody else. Scottish independence referenda and Shetland autonomy is not the same.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 17th, 2015 12:59

        You’re right, Aaron, that if Shetland wants autonomy Shetlanders will have to fight for it against the parties you mention, in which case, it would be foolish to “put beyond use” their most powerful weapon – the “opt out.”

        The right to “opt out” of Scottish independence must be retained, otherwise, there will be no fight, Shetlanders will be frog-marched to Holyrood, without further ado, even if they vote No.

        Shetland’s best interests do not coincide with Holyrood’s.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 17th, 2015 16:52

        Forgive my ignorance, but was there ever an “Opt in”….And IF not, why would there be an “Opt out”?

        Surely if the majority of Shetlanders just declared UDI [Universal Declaration of Independence] Then there is no need for an “Opt out” of anything?

        If [as you say] “Shetland’s best interests do not coincide with Holyrood’s” then has anyone bothered to set up a ShIP [Shetland Independant Party]?…. I’m pretty sure Alistair and Tavish would love to join, seeing as their loyalty lies with the people they represent? 🙂

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 18th, 2015 14:32

        John, when the SNP have ousted Carmichael, dumped Tavish and filled the council chamber with SNP councilors. The £200 million stashed for a rainy day will be commandeered by central government to be used on public services in the central belt, the SNP councilors will unquestioningly follow diktats from above. All those who voted SNP will wake up and smell the coffee realising that supper time is the wrong time of day to start thinking what have we done. Robin will be long gone into cyber space congratulating himself on a job well done and we will be writing comments on here saying “told you so”.

  • Kathy Greaves

    • June 17th, 2015 12:44

    OK. That’s the SNP/Scottish government giant – where is our ‘David’ when we need him?

  • Aaron Smith

    • June 18th, 2015 18:03

    Gordon Harmer, this letter is about more autonomy for Shetland. I consider that means more autonomy from both Holyrood and Westminster. It is a well established fact that the SNP are raiding Shetland’s funds, but that, as well as a plethora of other SNP gripes, are well covered elsewhere. Do you have anything to say on Shetland autonomy rather than continuing to rake over the same arguments again. And before you accuse me of sticking up for the SNP, I am not. I am as frustrated as anybody else with the underfunding. So do you have any solutions rather than just repeating the problem as I would be interested to hear them.

  • Robin Stevenson

    • June 19th, 2015 16:39

    Aaron you say ” It is a well established fact that the SNP are raiding Shetland’s funds”,…Really? and prey tell, how exactly do they manage to do that, considering [as Mr Tulloch has already pointed out] that the Scottish government don’t collect your taxes but instead they go directly to Westminster?

    You DO know that EVERY council in Scotland are facing cuts and not just S&O I take it? You are aware of Glasgow having to cut their budget by over £100 Million and lay-off 3000 workers this year, along with Edinburgh, which are facing £167 Million savings per year and reducing its workforce by 1,200 staff, along with EVERY other council facing underfunding.

    Gordon OR john have NO solutions, therefore it’s far easier just to blame the SNP SG, and deflect desperately from the REAL guilty Government that they helped to elect.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 20th, 2015 10:35

      No solutions, Robin, that’s a good one? Didn’t you read my letter above?

    • Gordon Harmer

      • June 21st, 2015 20:42

      By the SNPs own admission in their own figures, they have underspent on Education by £84 million in Scotland. That is a pretty shameful figure to concede, while also failing the Education system in Scotland to such a degree that the level of attainment is at it’s lowest ever and literacy and numeracy are at their worst levels since records began in Scotland. Nothing to be proud of at all. Incidentally, this is not an indictment of pupils or teachers, as Ms Sturgeon forever and a day tries to present these criticisms as. It is the sole responsibility of her and her “government”, nobody else.
      Also by the SNPs own admission in their own figures is the fact that they have underspent on Health by £12 million. Waiting lists, A&E, staffing and funding all face crisis, according to respected health bodies RCGP, RCN Scotland, RCPE, BMA Scotland, GMB along with incredibly damning reports from Audit Scotland, which highlight Capital Revenue shall be cut by up to 53.6% in 2015-2016, the overall budget to be cut by 1% by Ms Sturgeon, out-patient queues rising by 34%, people waiting over 12 weeks rising by over 4000% since 2010, a 60% rise in consultancy vacancies and the Scottish Ambulance Service facing cuts equivalent to 430 paramedics or 70 ambulances being taken off the road. Again, this is not an indictment of health workers, as Ms Sturgeon would try and spin this as. Inconveniently, these are criticisms coming from health professionals and health workers.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • June 22nd, 2015 13:01

      I’ll give you a solution Robin, and a simple one at that. Elect a party in the Scottish elections who believe in unity not division and who practice politics of unity not politics of division. Elect a party who care for Scotland and “ALL” those who sail in her, not a party hell bent on independence who only care for those who want the same. Elect a party who would over spend on the NHS and Education if only to prove they care about these values. Elect a party who would allow local authorities to raise money from the tax payer to pay for vital services instead of cutting their budgets and freezing the council tax for good measure. Local authorities cuts hit home harder than any other cut because we see them and feel them and the present SNP government know that and are only to willing to compound those cuts to add to the value of their insistence on blaming Westminster as part of their divisive politics. To put it in plain English vote for any party other than the SNP in the Scottish elections, problem solved.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 22nd, 2015 17:34

        I really don’t know where to start with your “jumble” of contradictions Gordon?
        OK…Firstly, you say “Elect a party who care for Scotland and “ALL” those who sail in her”. Name one other party who have the sole interests of the Scottish people at heart?

        Secondly, in order to get the things that you most desire, you have to have the levers of power to be in a position of creating these things, NOT being dictated by your neighbour. [who also hold the purse strings]

        Thirdly, I don’t want ANY Government that “Overspends” on anything, I’d much rather have a competent well run efficient Government that gave value for money rather than just throw more cash at a problem.

        Fourthly, The Scottish Government cut council budgets when THEIR budget is cut, that is why they’re cut, which part are you struggling to understand? They can’t give you what they don’t have.

        Lastly, Freezing the Council tax benefits the least well off, end of, sure, Councils can raise more tax,
        however EVERY survey carried out proves that it is far more beneficial to far more people than not.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 25th, 2015 14:03

        Question one, all the unionist parties do and would, they would respect the wishes of 100% of Scots not just the 37% of independence voters.
        Question two, our neighbour gives every Scot £1200 more than every Brit south of the border. That Robin is why the Barnett Formula has taken preference over full fiscal stupidity.
        Question three, If throwing cash at problems is not the way to fix things why the hullabaloo about the reduced funding from Westminster?
        Question four, see question three, you have a formula that does not need cash to fix things, so sort it.
        Question five, freezing council tax helps the better off with large houses who pay more for the privilege and have saved more over the eight years council tax has been frozen. The not so well of claim tax credits or welfare if they are in need and get help with their council tax. When, because of the frozen council tax public services are reduced or cancelled the wealthy pay for a way to work around it. But the not so well of have to suffer. One perfect example in Shetland is the lack of salt on roads in winter weather, the wealthy equip their cars with four winter tyers, the poor either but two on or chance it without, thereby putting life and limb at risk.
        Every what survey, SNP survey, I suppose. How can councils raise more tax? The SNP can raise more tax but refuse, they should, problems solved.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 24th, 2015 11:06

    Are they short of GPs in Faroe? Channel Islands? Isle of Man?

    • Brian Smith

      • June 24th, 2015 14:34

      Is there unhappiness in Faroe?

      • John Tulloch

        • June 24th, 2015 22:29

        Certainly, there’s unhappiness in Faroe, they get even less sunlight than we do.

        And I understand nearly 50 percent of the electorate want outright independence – not sure why, I confess. It seems to me they have a very favourable arrangement likely to attract the envy of any Shetlander who has thought about it for more than five minutes.

        I was in Faroe in 1978 and they already had most of the things Shetland has now, except that they had road tunnels as well. Shetland can still win all that Faroe has by achieving similar political autonomy but Shetlanders will have to campaign very hard to get it.

    • Robin Stevenson

      • June 24th, 2015 16:43

      I Doubt it, IF you don’t mind paying for your medical care?

      • John Tulloch

        • June 24th, 2015 22:10

        Robin, we ARE paying for our medical care, it’s not you doing us some great favour.

        Is it true that GP funding has been cut by 4 percent since 2009/10?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 25th, 2015 15:56

        John, you were talking about Faroe Isles, the Isle of Man and the Channel Isles, who all have private health insurance? Although I believe they come to some kind of deal with British citizens and our NHS.

        I’m not sure where you got your information of GP funding cuts of 4%?…I’d imagine if it were our reliable MSM then it’d be at least 20% or 56% or some other fictitious number? I know there was a claim of 3.8% in England, but in Scotland I believe it’s increased? Probably best to check with GPs themselves rather than the Daily Blah.


      • Steven Jarmson

        • June 25th, 2015 17:52

        I would expect, like everything else, if Shetland took Faroese style autonomy, we’d have our own health care solutions.
        By taking back our seas and our fish in particular, Shetland would have wealth beyond the oil.
        We’d most likely sign deals with the UK do give us advanced care, doctors and other medical staff.
        A form of private health insurance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Most advanced nations have a combination of national health and private insurance. But, obviously these things would all need considered.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • July 30th, 2015 0:19

        Of course most of these links are from last year Ali?…

        Although that said, [as we have already discussed] there is a severe shortage of GPs throughout the entire UK and has been for some time, whether it’s to do with early retirement, not enough doctors choosing General Practice as a career, not enough doctors being trained? I don’t think it’s one particular problem, but a series of various issues “Nationwide”. However:

        “Scotland continues to have the most GPs per head of population and spends the second highest per head in the UK on primary care”.

        What do you suggest Ali?…Throw MORE money at the problem?…And IF so, where will we steal it from, considering Scotlands annual budget has been reduced?

      • Alistair Inkster

        • July 30th, 2015 9:34

        In none of those links Wrobin did they say it was the fault of not enough GPs but they did say “NOT ENOUGH FUNDING”

      • iantinkler

        • July 30th, 2015 12:45

        ” I Doubt it, IF you don’t mind paying for your medical care”, another utterly stupid comment from Robin. Just who do you think pays for Scotland’s truly shocking NHS, Robin? We do through the nose. Look to Shetland, GPs going south, GDPs going south. Now how about Norway, a system so often praised by the SNP as a model of small country independence that Scotland should follow. o yes, no NHS of any type, all health care paid for at the point of service, GP visits, Dental visits, all carry a fee. O yes an some type of insurance for sale but they at least have a decent health service, unlike the devolved SNP, joke service.

  • Duncan Simpson

    • July 29th, 2015 16:28

    With Alex Salmond bleating on about another Referendum being “inevitable” is it time for a new Shetland Movement?

    The resources for Shetland to prosper are, and have always been, right on our doorstep. Fishing, aquaculture and tourism alone would be enough to support the Isles without even taking the oil & gas industry into account.

    It is clear that the Nordic countries are much better run than the UK is so why not become to the UK as Faroe is to Denmark?

    People dismiss this possibility as “it’ll never happen” but I can’t see any reason why not. The SIC being useless is another reason I have heard but surely if prospective leaders had real power then you would get more competent individuals coming forward to serve?

    • JohnTulloch

      • July 29th, 2015 18:13

      Yes, Duncan, it’s well beyond “high time” that an intrinsically pro-Shetland party or lobby group should become involved in Shetland politics.

      It’s young people who will benefit most from self-government which should bring huge benefits. You mentioned Faroe whose population (2011 – 48, 000) has risen by 50 percent since they became autonomous in 1948 (32,000). That did not happen because they became poorer.

      • ROBERT SIM

        • July 30th, 2015 13:57

        John, the SNP is now clearly seen by the Shetland electorate as the pro-Shetland party – that is why there was such a huge swing to it in May. The Shetland Movement idea was tried and seen to be a dead end. There is no appetite for it now – apart from a few folk on here.

      • Gareth Fair

        • July 30th, 2015 16:00

        There was a big swing to the SNP in the election but I think it’s a bit of a leap for you to conclude why each person voted the way they did.
        Equally you seem to be happy to speak for everyone on the ‘Shetland Movement’, which seems a tad presumptious?

      • Ali Inkster

        • July 30th, 2015 16:51

        No sudden big swing and no real surprise with GE result, roughly the same number that voted yes voted SSnp. Some may have voted for them in the mistaken belief that it was the best thing for Shetland and Orkney but I would say a good few more of them couldn’t give two hoots for Orkney and Shetland as long as they got separation from the “hated” English or Westminster as it is more commonly known.

      • John Tulloch

        • July 30th, 2015 18:49

        @Robert Sim, if, as you say, “…. the SNP is now clearly seen by the Shetland electorate as the pro-Shetland party…” that is all the more reason for a genuinely “pro-Shetland” group urgently to alert them to the truth – which is the opposite!

        The Shetland Movement was not “seen to be a dead end”. If you want my opinion, they made a catastrophic error when they took part in the Scottish Constitutional Convention and failed to stick out for autonomy as the SIC had done on the previous occasion. IMO they fell for the old “make ’em cosy” routine and put their trust in a Scottish administration in Holyrood.

        The people involved would have to tell you themselves why they packed up. Maybe everything looked rosy in the early days of Holyrood and they saw no further need for it. But it turned out to be a catastrophic mistake.

        This is precisely why I railed so stridently about the OIOF people becoming too cosy with the Scottish government. As soon as they’ve got/kept what they want, next time you’ll come back to a locked door, as before.

    • Ali Inkster

      • July 29th, 2015 18:24

      Here here.

      • Henry condy

        • September 30th, 2015 17:38

        Gentlemen, loads of comments on Shetland Autonomy, my suggestion is John , Ali, Gordon , Ian , instead of ranting on this site as you have done for years that I know of , stop sitting on your hands , get off your backsides , form the appropriate body to stand before next years elections , if time is tight that is your fault, then see if Shetlanders vote for, your beliefs, I wonder if these pages will be a lot more quiter then , It’s in your hands , can your WALK match your TALK ! ! ! , Peace Brothers

    • Brian Smith

      • July 29th, 2015 19:13

      Book a room in Islesburgh and convene a meeting.

    • Robin Stevenson

      • July 30th, 2015 0:00

      Duncan you said:

      “It is clear that the Nordic countries are much better run than the UK is, so why not become to the UK as Faroe is to Denmark?”

      I agree, that Nordic Countries ARE run much better than the UK, fortunately [for Faroe and Greenland] Denmark has a fair and just Government that tend to put people before greed first. Headed by a Social Democratic party [Socialdemokraterne] in coalition with the Danish Social Liberal Party [Radical Left] and the Socialist People’s Party….Common denominator?….Socialism.

      Unfortunately, the UK has a far right Government [ ie: greed before people] If you imagine for one minute trying to get anything close to fairness or justice from our masters in London, then I wish you and all those that wish to stay in a Socialist Nirvana all the very best of luck….Sincerely.

      • John Tulloch

        • July 30th, 2015 9:14

        If Scots had voted for devolution in sufficient numbers in 1979 the Westminster government was seriously considering Crown Dependency status for Orkney and Shetland.

        I wasn’t aware that was current SNP policy?

    • Brian Smith

      • July 30th, 2015 15:33

      ‘in 1979 … the Westminster government was seriously considering Crown Dependency status for Orkney and Shetland.’

      This is what is called an Island Myth.

      • John Tulloch

        • July 30th, 2015 18:26

        Really? I hadn’t realised we had to wait for thirty years to see UK Cabinet minutes so that the Shetland Times could construct “an Island Myth”?

        The report said Grimond had “demanded” autonony on behalf of the SIC, the Cabinet had discussed it and John Smith (Labour) was in favour of it?

        Still, you’re the historian, I just assumed the ST reported the Cabinet papers accurately?

  • Gareth Fair

    • July 30th, 2015 10:36

    If you look at other islands GDP per capita, the Isle of Man would be something like the 3rd richest country in the world, with the Falkland Islands and Jersey around 10th richest.

    While the Scottish Government is keen to point out Shetland would be an enclave with a 12 mile Influence over the sea bed, is this the case?

    An enclave does not necessarily have a 12 mile limit, it is negotiable by both parties or tribunal.
    It seems to me that Scotland’s EEZ does not so much include Shetland, rather that it defined by it. Indeed if Shetland was to leave Scotland, Norway and Denmark would have a case for re-opening negotiations.
    If Shetland wanted to retain ties with the UK, as it would no longer be in UK waters, would it be more like the Falkland Islands which is regarded as a British Overseas Territory? I.e Under jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom but not part of it.

    I think we would need to gain some clarity on the legal position in order to give the people of Shetland (and Orkney) an informed choice. I understand Tavish Scott and Malcolm Bell have already looked at this?

  • Duncan Simpson

    • July 30th, 2015 11:21

    Robin I am not 100% sure what you are getting at? I am not advocating a carbon copy of the Faroe-Denmark situation as as you say the Governments are very different. The political parties in Westminster would not have to be the same political parties as would be in charge in Shetland.

    The degree of autonomy is up for debate but conceivably we would not be bound by all the UKs (and EUs!!) laws and regulations as Faroe is not bound by Denmark’s (or the EU).

    Failing to get what we desire from this arrangement full independence is also possible. It may be difficult to implement but not impossible. I believe many in Faroe wish for full independence also and that it may even happen in the future.

  • David Spence

    • July 30th, 2015 17:54

    The first course of action I would like to see is Scotland proving 100% it has sovereign rights over these islands, as well as the Orkney’s.

    I believe the islands were pawned or loaned to Scotland as part payment towards the marriage dowry, and was not given to Scotland to have permanent rights to the islands for an indefinite period.

    I do think Shetland would do far better under the same conditions as the Faroes, where they have greater control of their affairs, and Denmark is, more or less, is of a figure head status (said very loosely).

    However, like the way and manner the crown behaved towards a certain Mr Hill, I suspect that such a request will fall on deaf ears. Shetlander’s have a great opportunity to economically benefit for the greater good of the islands by forcing the crown to prove 100% the islands do indeed belong to Scotland. I would also hope this would stir-up the sparks from Denmark or Norway to support Shetland in its right to govern itself and for one of these countries (Denmark or Norway) to act as the legitimate crown.

    In saying this, given Shetland’s huge economic benefits and potential, such action may be null and void, ironically, because of the economics these islands have.


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