Scott calls for islands plan

A new “plan for the islands” aimed at combating Scottish government decisions has been put forward by Shetland’s MSP.

Tavish Scott has endorsed a “real debate” on Shetland’s future, and has praised Wir Shetland as a way of combating “endless centralisation” of the Scottish government.

He has called on the isles to determine its own future in the event of a second Scottish independence should the UK pull out from Europe.

His comments were made during a speech at the party’s Scottish conference in Edinburgh.

“On 5th May, Shetland can vote for rule from Edinburgh. Or to explore what is in the islands’ best interests. We need a real debate about what is the best constitutional future for Shetland. One thing is for sure, the SNP will not give us that. After nine years of nationalist government they offer jam tomorrow, in the hope that it will keep us quiet. I am sure Wir Shetland will not keep quiet, and nor will I.”

He said the UK and Scotland were still “far too centralised” in the way power is shared. He described the Smith Commission as a step forward, but insisted there was a need to be “more radical”.

“Passing powers to island communities. The islands have their own unique challenges. Islanders know best how to address these.

“I sat on the Smith Commission, alongside my friend, Mike Moore. I argued for the management of the seabed around the islands not just to be devolved to Edinburgh, but to pass to islands control. I strongly believe these management powers should pass to the Lerwick Port Authority and to Shetland Islands Council.”

Mr Scott said a plan on broadband and mobile phone coverage for the islands was badly needed.

He highlighted concerns from constituent Steven Spence, who has become frustrated by the continuing slow speed of coverage in Unst.

“The islands need a new approach that installs fast broadband at the most isolated croft. Not population driven targets that concentrate on where most people live. This approach fails all of us who live more than a mile from our telephone exchange,” Mr Scott told the conference.

The MSP has also levelled criticism at the Scottish government for its role in the distribution of subsidies to farmers and crofters. Still only 40 per cent of producers in Scotland who were due to receive their payments by the end of January have done so. This week it emerged delays were also expected in payments under the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme.

“The SNP has spent an unbelievable £178 million on a computer to make just 14,000 payments. It has failed. The agriculture minister does not command the confidence of the industry. So Scotland’s First Minister should step in, take charge, and sort out this shambles. This is her government, her shambles and her responsibility to resolve it. Crofters and farmers expect nothing less.”

He has also criticised the “disastrous creation” of Police Scotland, and slammed the Scottish government for its “centralisation” approach.

“The SNP have forgotten the value of community policing and replaced it with targets designed for the central belt. All Shetland’s outlying police stations have closed. A police presence in Whalsay or Yell, is an occasional event.”

He also accused many nationalists of, like the Tories, wanting Britain to exit the EU in the forthcoming European referendum.

Brexit, he said, meant a second vote on Scottish independence.

“So once again, the Tories and the SNP are hand in hand. This week they combined to oppose tax changes at Holyrood. They voted against £475 million for our schools.

“Enough is enough. I have canvassed a lot of doors across the islands already. The mood is for decisions that affect us to be taken by us.”

He added: “It is this endless centralisation, the arrogance of a central belt government, who always know best, that has encouraged the formation of Wir Shetland. They represent a wide group of islanders who want self-determination for Shetland.

“I have visited the Isle of Man. There is little they decide there that Shetland could not determine.

“So if the UK withdraws from the EU, and the SNP force a second independence referendum, Shetland should have the right to decide where we want to be. The way this country is going that might be back to Norway. But at the very least we want the chance to explore an opt-out of our own.”


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • February 26th, 2016 16:38

    As I have questioned previously, Shetland could do well on its own, just like the Faroe’s, if it were given greater autonomy into its own affairs.

    This could also, although many people may scoff at the idea, potentially bring to the fore the legitimate sovereignty of the islands back to Scandinavia, where, I think, we would definitely be better off.

    This would also, regretfully, put Shetland in a situation where allegiance to England would be the preferred choice, if in a second referendum the people of Scotland voted Yes, but Shetland voted No (the one and only reason Cameron was up here on the islands one month before the last Scottish Independence Referendum – The Tories could not give a damn about the islands or the people of Shetland).

    I also think it would be a very grave error of judgement, economically, for Shetland to be under English Sovereignty if a second referendum was to be carried out and the people of Scotland voted Yes, but Shetland voted No.

    Hopefully, Scandinavia, here we come.

  • Brian Smith

    • February 26th, 2016 18:03

    Mr Scott always comes up with these island plans just before an election; then we don’t hear about them for a while. Do I recall that the last effort had a whiff of Stuart Hillism?

  • Richard coaxum

    • February 27th, 2016 3:35

    What, and the people have to learn Norwegian? There’s an easier solution. Crown dependency status like Channel Islands. They seem to be doing quite well.

  • Robert Sim

    • February 27th, 2016 6:34

    “So if the UK withdraws from the EU, and the SNP force a second independence referendum, Shetland should have the right to decide where we want to be.” Whatever he may say in public, I am sure our MSP is banking on the first condition not being met, which is the likely option: the independence referendum confirmed that ‘status quo bias’ plays a big part in decision making. That makes his speech an easy way to garner votes by appealing to people’s emotions without having to deliver on the commitment later.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 27th, 2016 16:02

      @Robert Sim, you wrote:

      ” That makes his (Tavish’s) speech an easy way to garner votes by appealing to people’s emotions without having to deliver on the commitment later.”

      If that’s the case, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Nicola Sturgeon to match his pledge?

      I look forward to hearing her do that.

      • Robert Sim

        • February 29th, 2016 2:02

        What “pledge”, John? Have a look at the dictionary. What has Tavish promised to do? He very carefully hasn’t promised anything. As reported, his speech is simply an expression of an opinion. As you are fond of saying, voters aren’t fools.

    • iantinkler

      • February 29th, 2016 12:21

      So Tavish has expressed a personal opinion. Robert If we must play on semantics so be it.That is considerabley more than Dannus and the Shetland branch SNP nave maneged to date> I know Dannus is recovering from surgery and I wish him well, but an opinion or two from a deputy may not go amisse. . Robert, voters aren’t fools, the silence from the Shetland branch SNP is deafening, just as it was in the Westminster election. Now how about a comment on £5 million or so funding cuts to SIC or 1000 plus square miles offshore wind farms.

  • Derick Tulloch

    • February 27th, 2016 8:54

    If Shetland were to become a Crown Dependency of England, or indeed of Norway (should that not be Denmark?), then based on legal precedents, for example the Channel Isles, the situation is clear. Crown Dependency Shetland would have enclave status within the Scottish continental shelf, and a 12 nautical mile territorial waters.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 27th, 2016 15:55

      Hello again, Derick – always with the red herring and the misrepresentations!

      “British Overseas Territory, OR SIMILAR, Derick!

      That could include “Scottish Overseas Territory” but the outright hostility from SNP supporters like yourself, not to mention, the nine years of aggressive underfunding of Shetland by your Holyrood idols is, frankly, rather off-putting.

      More and more people are seeing through the spin. That’s why the articles on Tavish Scott’s speech have been so mind-bogglingly popular with readers.

      Derick, this election is going to be about Shetland and who has helped or hurt the place which – no disrespect to Danus, Charlie & Co., it isn’t their fault – puts SNP Shetland in a most unenviable position, owing to the actions of their bosses in Edinburgh – £100 million in stealth underfunding and rising fast – during their time in office.

  • Robin Stevenson

    • February 27th, 2016 13:11

    Surprise surprise, Tavish shows up just as another election is nearing, “we need debate” he cries. Funny that, I don’t remember Tavish ever ‘debating’ on this ,or any other forum?… Or did I miss something?

    So let’s get this straight, Tavish’s party [Lib/Dems] have been Shetland’s voice since 1945, more recently, they’ve been the UK coalition government along with the Tories [2010-2015] they were also in coalition with Labour in Scotland [1999-2007] the local MP was the Scottish secretary [honest Ali C] and in ALL that time it never crossed their mind to demand the things which they are NOW holding the SNP government responsible for NOT delivering? So after 70 years of sitting on their hands, they now demand that the SNP sort things out in the eight years they’ve been in power?…You couldn’t make it up? But it doesn’t stop Tavish from trying.

    As ever – and in typical Lib/Dem fashion – Mr Scott jumps on ‘Wir Shetland’s’ bandwagon, [anyone’s bandwagon frankly] perhaps people would have a little more respect for the man IF he ever managed to come out with a single original idea of his own?…Meanwhile we’ll still be subjected to: “It’s all the SNPs fault”.

  • iantinkler

    • February 28th, 2016 17:01

    Robin Stevenson, just how many bandwagons has Dannus Skene been on, Labour , Liberal, SNP candidatures I believe. Dannus almost has the full set!!! I would love to know if he has changed any more of his views since last time around. Sorry any of SNP headquarters views, as he did not appear to have any of his own. I especially would like him to give an honest opinion why Shetland has had its funding so reduced by SNP/SG and how he justifies those disproportionate funding cuts.. I do however hope he is well soon, I was sorry to hear he was unwell.
    Robin it is all the SNPs fault (the funding cuts to Shetland), well that at least is a change from the SNP psalm, It is all Westminsters fault. lol

    • Robin Stevenson

      • February 29th, 2016 12:41

      Deflection Ian, please try to focus on my points?..

      Here we have Shetland’s elected MP, MSP, who were in their best ‘ever’ position in their entire history to make major demands in order to benefit their constituents, and what did they do?… Nothing …Sure, we’ve got Jo Grimond who was ‘gifted’ some revenue to keep the Shetlanders sweet with the UK Government [a tactical move just in case Scotland became independent] But other than that?

      Whinge, whine and blame the eight year old SNP Scottish Government for not doing what THEY never even attempted? But what about the previous 62 years? Where was the demand for Shetland’s territorial waters then? The sad part is, no-one’s ever been in a stronger position to bargain as the Lib/Dems were?…And they blew it….Now we have Tavish sniping from the sidelines, now we have Ali C struggling to look anyone straight in the eye? An opportunity missed, and the poor deluded souls that have offered nothing but support over the decades STILL defend the indefensible?

      Let’s prove the point Ian, start up a campaign, ANY campaign, and pretend that most Shetlander’s are in favour, guess who’ll be first to jump on the bandwagon?

  • iantinkler

    • February 29th, 2016 14:18

    Are you saying that most Shetlanders are in favour of “Wir Shetland” Robin, is that Scott’s bandwagon, or are they just sick of the policies of the SNP? Nothing pretend about the £5 million cuts to the SIC, the 1000 miles of offshore renewables surreptitiously planned for, the inept centralised police force, the £178 million on a computer that is wrecking our Crofter’s finances, the cuts to schools? Somehow the SNP are making Tavish Scott’s job rather easy. Hitching a lift on any bandwagon seems rather unnecessary for him. Rather like the last Westminster election, I feel, many may well vote anything but SNP, after all the SNP has done nothing for Shetland and from its last ten year record, precious little but divide the peoples of Scotland from each other and enabled the Tories, in Westminster, at the expense of Labour. Some record, o yes, I nearly forgot, also lost the indy referendum, 45%. Now polling at only 43% if a new “yes / no” conflict. Tick, tock splat seems the appropriate comment.


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