Need to be informed (David Cole)

So now we know when the referendum on the UK’s membership in Europe is to take place.

I am proud to be part of a nation that in times when an important decision has to be made the government of the day has the courage to ask every single one of us what our opinion is.

But surely if our collective decision is to be the right one, we should be made aware of what the issues are.

I’m sure there are many people out there who are more aware of the good and bad reasons for staying in or coming out of the European Union than I am. But surely if our votes are to mean something we should all be well informed.

I ask our political masters [SIC] to set up an advisory committee to produce a pamphlet written in plain English of the pros and cons of remaining under the authority of Brussels – my only caveat being that it must be politically unbiased, i.e. an all-party report.

On a separate more personal issue, I believe that Tavish Scott is right in his determination to keep the SNP at bay. The quantity of “junk” mail I have received lately makes me think of changing my voting habits of a lifetime.

David Cole


Add Your Comment
  • Robin Barclay

    • February 23rd, 2016 23:21

    You say ” in times when an important decision has to be made”. Who says any decision needed to be taken – it has been settled twice. This is all about an attempt to quell the eurosceptic wing of the Tory party and appease UKIP voters which in “these times” may backfire on those who set it in motion and take us out of Europe according to mob rule. It is not going to be settled on anything logical. If anyone attempted to set up any advisory committee another set of grandees will contradict it. You will just have to weigh what you personally think are advantages against disadvantages. We do not need this now – it is all a long standing Tory party wrangle. Nobody is going to spoon feed you any clarity – make up your own mind.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • February 26th, 2016 10:31

      For once I agree with Robin.
      Don’t listen to the rhetoric, don’t listen the very thinly veiled threats of another independence referendum.
      Vote for what you think is best for Shetland and the UK.
      I’m sure, at the forefront of Robins mind will be the path of Shetland beyond this referendum.
      After all, he very committed to telling us his views on life is Shetland.
      I do forget though, how long did you live in Shetland Robin?

      • John Tulloch

        • February 26th, 2016 11:15

        Robin is a Shetlander whose job required him to live in Edinburgh, who has maintained a keen interest in all things Shetland.

        If he wants to stay in the EU, his view is no less valid than that of a Shetland resident who wants to leave or stay, he just doesn’t get to vote in Shetland and that’s fair.

        Current residents should be the ones who decide what goes, on the basis of the best arguments available.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • February 26th, 2016 15:12

        Cheers John.
        He’s never answered the query, despite repeated requests.
        A bit like the SNP, you can ask them questions all day and never get a simple answer when a simple answer would suffice.

        Who said anything about people not having the right to their views??
        Very bizarre comment there.
        I found the last sentence utterly ironic. I assume you meant that!

      • Robert Duncan

        • February 26th, 2016 15:45

        I suspect you might be mistaking this Robin for the other Robin frequenting these pages, Steven. Not that I think it would make your line of enquiry any more valid.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • February 26th, 2016 16:16

        Ha ha, maybe, sorry Robin (Barclay)
        I still find one of the replies full of irony.

      • Robin Barclay

        • February 26th, 2016 23:28

        I do think you are confusing me with someone else. I was born and raised in Shetland of Shetland stock (many generations), and like many of my peers I never lived in Shetland since leaving to go to University (no employment in my speciality here). I have never truly left. I maintain close contact with Shetland family and friends – and the Edinburgh Shetland community, and the Shetland press. I keep our family house in Shetland and spend months a year in the community I come from. I am perfectly entitled to a view on any Shetland matter and have a perspective well rooted in Shetland. I regard myself as a Shetlander and exile. I am not a member of any political party since I might be stuck with feeling obliged to vote for them and defend some idiotic policy – none of them are perfect. I get consistently annoyed at certain non-Shetlanders swooping on Shetland culture and professing to represent it, otherwise my annoyance is sporadic. I haven’t commented on anything here for ages – and am a bit insulted to be confused with that other Robin whose comments I mostly disagree with but don’t seem worth replying to.

  • John Tulloch

    • February 24th, 2016 14:59

    I’m unsure the possibility of a referendum “Leave” vote would constitute “taking us out of Europe by mob rule”, however;

    From a local perspective, the fishing industry is, by far, Shetland’s biggest industry and it has been gravely damaged by Britain’s EU membership.

    Shetland’s fishing grounds were lost to the EU by trickery, from Day 1 in 1970.

    And forty-odd years later, EU commissioners are still making a dog’s dinner of managing it. More details at:

    The only hope of regaining our fishing grounds is for Shetlanders to return an overwhelming “Leave” vote on 23rd June, just as they did in 1975.

    It made no odds then but times have changed and it’s vital that Shetlanders send a strong message to the authorities:

    “Enough is enough. It’s time for change!”

  • Ian Tinkler

    • February 24th, 2016 15:10

    “it is all a long standing Tory party wrangle”, it is rather more than just a Tory wrangle. The events of the last few years, for example Greece, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, banking crisis, reinterpretation of civil rights and corruption of civil liberties have completely transformed Europe and European civil rights law in many, many ways. Europe has been transformed into a bureaucratic nightmare which is hardly fit for purpose. Maybe time to withdraw , maybe not, however a referendum, once in a generation, is perhaps a good way of maintaining the democratic process. Certainly, no one in the UK ever envisaged the EU of today when we last voted tor the Common Market!!

  • David Spence

    • February 24th, 2016 15:41

    As far as I can see, the general consensus of the businesses is they would prefer to remain within the EU.

    What price would we pay in terms of jobs being lost?

    Companies moving out of the UK to Europe?

    Many, many people from Europe who are working in many, many jobs local people do not want to do, what will happen to those industries (hospitality and tourist industries)?

    Investment in the UK from outside the UK reducing?

    Much of our civil and humanitarian rights being lost as a consequence of the European Human Rights Act?

    The loss of co-operation between countries in fighting terrorism, crime and slave trade trafficking?

    I really cannot see the UK being a better country by leaving the EU and going it alone just because of an outdated system known as Sovereignty and keeping our weakened currency.

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 24th, 2016 20:25

      You mean those nasty greedy corrupt business owner capitalist scum that are only out for themselves want us to remain in the EU? That should make your choice easy and vote to leave a given.

    • iantinkler

      • February 25th, 2016 7:48

      David, you seem to be a bit topsy turvy and operating on reverse logic..
      1/. “The loss of co-operation between countries in fighting terrorism, crime and slave trade trafficking?
      Nothing helps terrorists, people smugglers (sex slave trade) more than the EU open border policy (Schengen Agreement).
      2/.”Investment in the UK from outside the UK reducing?”
      UK is fifth largest world economy, much of EU is effectively bankrupt and makes UK austerity look like a walk in the park. (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy , Ireland)
      3/.”Many, many people from Europe who are working in many, many jobs local people do not want to do, what will happen to those industries (hospitality and tourist industries)?”
      That long predates the EU, and could and should continue.
      4/.”Much of our civil and humanitarian rights being lost as a consequence of the European Human Rights Act?.”
      Now we are going into cloud cuckoo land, “the European Human Rights Act?.” is a terrorists charter, ever heard of The Islamist cleric Abu Hamza?
      6/. “What price would we pay in terms of jobs being lost?”
      Tried fishing in Shetland Waters recently, just how many Shetland jobs gifted to the EU fishing fleet?
      No same person wishes to fragment collective humanity and unity (SNP and Indy boys being a good example of the inane) but however, the EU, needs drastic reform. The idiots really have taken charge of that institution. Free Trade and collectve freedoms but not the dogmatic rule of unelected Brussels bureaucrats over rulling individual freedom and self determination of long established and democratic parliaments. The EU is failing and reform internally is not working. Time for a reappraisal. if the UK were to break away, many would follow and a dynamic new Union of the initiated would perhaps emerge.

  • John Tulloch

    • February 24th, 2016 21:43

    A dismayed Shetland fisherman posted this despairing comment on Facebook this evening:

    “I find myself in the middle of a very large fleet of foreign trawlers, every one 45m to 70m charging around within 27 miles of Shetland shores. I feel sure if everyone ashore could see this they would be totally shocked, if you google Gadus Njord you will see one example of what is tanking our grounds, I have 11 vessels within 8 miles of me, my boat is 22m long with 640hp the smallest of these craft are double my size with 4x my power. Besides trawlers there are norweigian gill netters with curtains of net strung across the seabed for miles (around 60 miles per boat) high time to get out of the EU and stop this plunder in our waters!”

    We have to get back control of our own fishing grounds, look at the money’s worth of fish that’s being pillaged from Shetland waters under this EU management regime.

    Anyone concerned for the well-being of Shetland will seriously consider voting “Leave” on 23rd, July.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 27th, 2016 17:31

      Another bulletin from the same dismayed Shetland fisherman:

      ” The thing with them Gary is they don’t alter for you, even if I’m giving them a red light they stand on! Some of these French trawlers are pair trawling and if you get in their way you have to haul regardless of the rule of the road. They are very much in charge, no fisheries patrols go near them, and the biggest boat is always in the right!”

      This is obviously the ‘order of the day’ in Shetland fishing grounds.

      High time to win them back, vote “Leave”!

      • Robin Barclay

        • February 28th, 2016 12:35

        John – what kind of protection does Normay have for its fishing grounds? Many say that Norway, while not an EU member, has almost membership trading agreements with the EU and hold it up as a model of what the UK might have outside the EU. We now learn that Norway pays a significant contribution to the EU (10th biggest contributor), enacts most EU legislation, but has no voting, veto or negotiation rights because it is not a member. That doesn’t seem such a good deal. If the UK were to set up new relationships with the EU as a non member, who is to say that Westminster wouldn’t negotiate away fishing rights (which doesn’t seem to interest the various London centric governments) – they haven’t been particularly supportive to date – and/or send resources to enforce protection of our fishing grounds (which it could do now).

      • John Tulloch

        • February 28th, 2016 19:14

        Thanks, Robin. Where Britain is concerned, I’m certainly sceptical of the claimed benefits of membership however I don’t know enough yet to do more than challenge truisms and sloganeering, from either side e.g. market access and migrants.

        Where Shetland is concerned, however, there is no doubt the EU is immensely damaging, especially, to the fishing industry.

        They won control of it by political skulduggery in 1970 and their record of management, highlighted at the recent North Sea Commission conference at NAFC, Scalloway, and evidenced in the comments above, forty years on, is “worse than useless”.

        You’re right, there’s a real risk that, without autonomous self-government, Britain – or an independent Scotland – cannot be trusted to look after Shetland’s interests. Marine Scotland have already failed and are failing, to police our seas effectively.

        It’s no consolation that we would be no worse off than now. We must prevent it from happening and the best way is to build a very strong Wir Shetland and fight hard for control of our own territory and seas.

        We are already the biggest political group by members and we shall continue recruiting over the next few weeks.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 28th, 2016 20:10

        Robin, I’m unsure where your information came from about Norway being the 10th biggest EU contributor- this from the horse’s mouth:

        “It is not possible to compare net payments between those of an EU Member State and those of a Non-Member state.”

        “Norway’s financial contributions include funding to reduce disparities in Europe (paid directly to recipients, not into the EU budget) and contributions to the budget of EU programmes and agencies we participate in.”

  • Johan Adamson

    • February 25th, 2016 9:02

    I have not made up my mind yet but it seems to me that the need for the EU has diminished. Our steel industry collapsed and that was because of world wide markets so I dont understand what difference being in the EU makes.

    • Richard Moir

      • February 25th, 2016 18:51

      Hello Johan – I think you used to work with my Mam at the hospital. I wouldn’t usually comment here but as the point of this is about facts here goes! I’m afraid Mr Tinkler has been misinformed and the facts in his reply to you are incorrect. I work as a buyer in oil and gas, mainly for steel components. China sells steel cheaper than the raw materials can be got in the UK, so it is no surprise that British plants are, sadly, shutting down. It’s nothing to do with EU regulations and you’re correct to say that its market forces. The last remaining plant in Scotland made plate steel, which is not used for building bridges so it did not even tender for the Forth Bridge. Grangemouth does not import fracked gas from the USA. It did used to process by products from America but this stopped some years ago. The USA only started exporting crude again last month after a 40 year block. There is no fracking in Scotland just now because of the huge oversupply of oil and gas in the world – it’s simply not needed or financially viable. Hope you are well.

      • Johan Adamson

        • February 26th, 2016 11:07

        Thanks. In the paper today it seems to say there is a 50% exporter tax which would be payable by us, should we leave. Any idea then why steel from China is still cheaper, if they have to pay this to get it into the EU now? It also says it is harder to export to non eu – is this true? I know there are customs docs but is this any easier within the EU? We get so much from world wide trade these days it is hard to see that it is a difficult process.

        I also wonder if the VAT we pay covers the costs of the EU and if we left, would we then have a 20% reduction in the costs of things (except things at zero rate or exempt anyway) or else we use that 20% to fund other things, presumably?

        I appreciate that you wont know the answer to all of this but just putting it out there!

      • Richard Moir

        • February 26th, 2016 15:51

        Sorry, you’re right – I don’t know the answers to those questions. I’d have to look it up, so you’d be much better up finding out for yourself than getting limited and second hand information from me. I do know that it was on the news recently that Britain and China had signed a big trade agreement and the government were very happy with it.

        I can say, from my own experience, that shipping and receiving goods to and from countries within the EU is just as easy as doing the same in Britain. Other countries are all different. Norway is as easy as the EU but if we’re sending tools to the Middle East or Africa we allow 4 weeks for customs clearance. When receiving from the USA I’ve found it can be as quick as a day or up to a week. I don’t know the customs charges as out logistics department deal with that.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • February 25th, 2016 11:00

    Johan, our steel industry collapsed, due to pricing itself out of the market and becoming noncompetitive. Restricted work practices (EU mandated) and sky high energy costs (Green lunatics and renewable policy). China, outside the EU undercut us so completely, our very own SG/SNP donkeys even rebuilt the Forth Bridge with imported Chinese Steel!!! Hypocrites, they, the SNP, cried so and blamed Westminster. Scottish steel job losses, the renewable energy policy and importing of Chines steel was in part responsible. Grangmouth refinery, now imports cheep fracked gas from the USA to survive. The EU does not help much there, SNP windmills and nil fracking policy, even less. Most of our steel infrastructure was Indian owned and a result in Indian investment, (not EU or native American!!) does that not tell a story?

    • Steven Jarmson

      • February 26th, 2016 13:35

      Whilst I would implore people to vote to leave the EU, its a political enterprise based on non-elected people running everyone’s lives, at least the USA has the pretense of democracy. The EU has no such pretense.
      But, that aside, I would both agree and disagree with Ian Tinkler.
      The problem with steel is our high level of living.
      We could easily compete with China if we paid the super-low wages they pay and if our government kept the pound artificially low.
      But, people wont accept low wages, nor will we as a country accept a massively deflated currency.
      The steel industry was always on a knife edge.
      Its very unfortunate.
      In agreement with Ian, the EU could have protected EU jobs by imposing tariffs instead of signing free trade agreements with places like China. Also the Scottish government could have demanded Scottish steel for infrastructure projects, but they hide behind EU legislation saying they must tender all contracts, yet they support the EU and bemoan its consequences as the fault of the UK. it is the fault of the UK, we’re in the EU!!

      • Richard Moir

        • February 26th, 2016 16:04

        Steven, just one wee point. Scotland hasn’t had a steel industry that could support infrastructure projects since Ravenscraig closed in 1992.

  • Kathy Greaves

    • February 26th, 2016 20:10

    Whilst we know that (inferior) Chinese steel is heavily subsidised by their government, am I right in thinking that the UK government is not allowed to subsidise Welsh steel manufacture because of EU rules? What is the point of that? By not helping our steel industry, in Wales, Scotland, wherever, we are helping other countries to prosper by their success in selling their inferior products whilst our industries and businesses close down; people who are then put out of work have to live on the dole which must cost the government more than if they had put money into our industries in the first place. All this has a knock-on effect, local shops suffer, standard of living goes down, health deteriorates, infrastructure is not maintained through lack of local funding, and so on. A downward spiral. We need to get out of the EU and support our own industries, our own communities, our own workers. Except bankers.


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