Shetland Islands council’s annual funding from the SNP Scottish government has been cut by five per cent (to £82 million), a larger cut than suffered by any other council.
That this cut has been imposed despite an increase in Holyrood’s own funding means it cannot be blamed on Westminster but solely on SNP finance minister John Swinney’s decision to divert the funds elsewhere.
Government underfunding must be made up from other cuts and/or the SIC’s shrinking reserves (£19 million needed for 2016/17), which means those hard-won oil funds are, in effect, being siphoned to the central belt.
Since the 1980s, over £100 billion in oil revenue have accrued to the UK Treasury from what, with independence, would be Shetland waters.
It’s true, of course, the Scottish government has no control over that money and Westminster-driven austerity is partly the cause of previous cuts.
Alas, Holyrood sharing the blame with Westminster brings little comfort to Shetlanders faced with closing schools, ungritted roads and expensive ferry transport.
This latest Holyrood-driven cut is the “last straw” and will bring grimaces to the faces of local SNP politicians, MSP candidate Danus Skene and councillor Michael Stout for it may be interpreted, in election year, as the SNP having abandoned all hope of winning here and simply, sucking Shetland dry while they have the power.
We need control of our own finances and with each passing day the need for Wir Shetland to exist becomes more starkly defined.