Sounding Off – EU referendum: Should we stay or should we go?


Mark Ryan Smith works at Shetland Museum and Archives. He has a PhD from Glasgow University’s department of Scottish Literature and is the author of The Literature of Shetland and various poems, stories and articles. Dr Smith has always been interested in politics and while he has no great enthusiasm for the EU he is frustrated by the increasingly rightward direction of the EU debate and sees a vote for Remain as the least worst choice.

The choice voters have to make in the EU referendum isn’t a very appealing one.

There is the vast, remote, bureaucratic monster the European Union has become. And then there’s Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage.

To anybody with views approaching the progressive end of the political spectrum, the news is that your opinions hardly matter at all.
Unlike the last referendum Scots had the chance to vote in, the idealistic, exciting, hopeful (or, in some folk’s eyes, hopeless) arguments of the left have not featured in any way. As the EU campaign drones on, nobody has much to say about inequality or poverty.

Racism has been a theme, right enough, but discussion of different races and nationalities has mostly consisted of middle-aged men saying things that are actually racist.

You don’t have to look very deeply to find xenophobia and racism in the arguments of the British right. But, in some of their views on European institutions, there are grains of truth to be found.

Europe is overly bureaucratic.

It is distant from the people it is meant to serve (how many people know who their MEP is, for example).

It is bloated and difficult to manage.

And, as the negotiations around the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) demonstrate, it is unquestionably secretive and opaque. These are not just the demented ravings of the right. They are valid criticisms. But does this mean that we should vote No in the referendum and leave the continentals to it?

Should we retreat into fair Albion and have nothing more to do with the whole notion of European political partnership?

If the polls have it right, the momentum seems to be with the anti-EU camp at the moment.


Not everybody who votes Leave will be a racist, but it is the worst elements of the right that stand to gain the most from a British exit.

Champing at the bit to get their votes in and their perceived loss of national sovereignty out, these groups point to the technocratic nature of Europe, the lack of transparency in decision making, the unwieldy nature of European institutions, the disastrous results of a poorly thought out monetary system, and tell us that we’d be better off out of it.

Britain ruled the waves back in the nineteenth century, so why shouldn’t it be great again, without having to deal with the French and the Germans and all the rest of those continentals who aren’t like us really?

But the question is, who wins if British people vote No? The answer is straightforward – it is the xenophobes and racists of the British right wing.

Not everybody who votes Leave will be a racist, but it is the worst elements of the right that stand to gain the most from a British exit.

Europe has enormous problems, nobody can deny that, but arguing for the fragmentation of the European project will do nothing to solve them. All that fragmentation will do is increase opportunities for the right (in Britain and other countries) to influence and enforce nationalist norms, to define their national characters in ever more narrow and bigoted ways, and to increase the stigmatisation and victimisation of people from other countries.

We should resist this at all costs.

But arguing against the fragmentation of Europe doesn’t mean we shouldn’t oppose its way of doing things. The trade agreements with America, for example, TTIP and TISA, seek to enshrine neo-liberal doctrine and strengthen the power of huge corporations to do whatever they want. How can these measures be resisted if we stand outside the room?

Isolating ourselves might seem like a reclamation of national sovereignty, and it might make us feel better to be at a distance from such oppressive legislation, but standing back and allowing corporate capitalism to become even more hegemonic and powerful is surely not a choice we want to make.

Instead of pulling away from Europe, shouldn’t we be pushing further towards it and really trying to exert some kind of positive influence?

The desperation of the Greek debt crisis a few years ago showed Europe at its best and its worst. The imposition of severe austerity on the Greek people, after they had voted against it in a referendum, wasn’t very nice to watch. This behaviour demonstrated both the inequality in a supposed family of nations, and the extent of neo-liberal indoctrination that exists at the highest levels of European power.

The EU, as we saw day after day during the Greek negotiations, has become a neo-liberal club that exists to support the interests of banks and corporations. If it had the best interests of European citizens at heart, it wouldn’t have insisted that the Greeks introduce measures that make life harder for many of its people.

But, and this is the other side of the coin, the Greeks still didn’t want to leave. Despite the bullying, despite the futility of their fight to find a third way beyond Grexit and austerity, the Greeks held tight to the idea of themselves as Europeans.


This doesn’t mean, however, that Europe, as an idea, is dead. Working together in the common interest is surely a good thing.

They had little power or likelihood of success in the negotiations, but the Greeks reminded us of the possibility that Europe could actually be an entity in which richer economies help poorer ones when times are tough. That didn’t happen, of course, but the fact that the Greeks resisted the fragmentation of Europe gives everybody else in the continent a glimpse of what Europe might one day become.

Europe, at the moment, is very, very far from being a supportive coming together of nations. It doesn’t enfranchise its citizens very effectively, and it acts as a support for a neo-liberal economic system. And it will, as it did with Greece, work extremely hard to make sure that no alternative system can emerge.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Europe, as an idea, is dead. Working together in the common interest is surely a good thing.

In this country we should retain the possibility that European cooperation could be a force for good, rather than drawing back across the north sea and pulling up the drawbridge.

The key point, and this is something the Eurosceptics never manage to grasp, is that we can never stand on the outside. In a world of globalised capital, we can never stand on the outside, North Korea excepted. The EU supports corporate power and transnational “free trade”, but exiting Europe will not save us from the oppressive forces of capital.

Massive corporations will still pay people low wages, offer little security and avoid taxes. Big businesses (usually with British government support) will still try to curb workers’ rights and union activity. Inequality will continue to increase and poverty will become ever more entrenched. Leaving the EU won’t make these problems go away – if the Tories remain in power they will get worse – but the coming together of progressive forces in Europe stands a chance of making some kind of difference. Although a leftist pan-European movement is almost impossible to imagine at the moment, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep the possibility in sight, somewhere in the far distance.

If we retreat behind national borders, we close ourselves off from being part of what could, one day, be a fairer, more democratic union of European countries.

I have very little enthusiasm for the EU as it is today, but I have far, far less for the right wing bigotry of the Brexit campaign.

Even if you don’t like the EU, standing against Johnson, Gove, Farage and their chums is still a worthwhile use of a vote.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • June 14th, 2016 1:14

    Arguing we should stay in the EU because you don’t like Farage or Johnson (“The Brian Smith view”!) makes no more sense than me saying we should leave because I like Gisela Stuart.

    Ad hominem is a fallacious tactic used by propagandists who have no logical argument and viewers of the ITV debate the other night witnessed an appalling display – desperation, actually – shouting over opponents’ good points and making vicious personal attacks while resorting to another fallacy, “argument from authority” i.e. IFS, IMF, etc, say….”.

    We may not like “Leave”s arguments but at least, they had some and won the debate, by a mile.

    • Stuart Hannay

      • June 17th, 2016 7:42

      Mr. Tulloch, I respect your views but you appear to be condemning ‘ad hominem’ attacks whilst simultaneously making one.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 17th, 2016 8:57

        Stuart, I take your point however the ad hominem tactic seems to emanate from the museum and archives and indeed, the “Remain” campaign in general, with great regularity. The point of my remark – made in brackets with quotation and exclamation marks – was to turn it back, as an example, upon its author.

        “Da auld cock craws an da young een learns1′

        Anti-EU villains of popular demonology like Trump and Thatcher who have nothing whatsoever to do with whether the EU is beneficial or not are trotted out by “Remain”, while they conveniently forget to mention Cameron, Osbourne and Salmond who have direct relevance.

        Their careers depend upon it, why should we believe “THEM”? Well, motivation is a reason to be sceptical, just because their careers depend upon it doesn’t imply they are wrong. It simply means we should be sceptical and look for other evidence.

        As a general rule, I tend to avoid ad hominem as it isn’t a valid argument, it’s too easy for opponents to deal with and in any case, it’s a bit ‘infra dig’.

      • Brian Smith

        • June 17th, 2016 12:56

        Exactly fifty years ago the late John Graham gave me some good advice. He suggested that we should avoid ad hominem argument – unless an individual comes to exemplify a system of evil ideas. Mr Tulloch may not have noticed it, but during the past month Boris Johnson and Co. have been publicising extreme anti-immigration ideas that would have got him sacked from the cabinet in Ted Heath’s day. A glance at the poster unveiled by Niger Farage yesterday will show what I mean. The quality of political discussion in the UK is deteriorating day by day, and those responsible deserve to be opposed and exposed.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 17th, 2016 17:17

        I am, indeed, unaware of these terrible things Boris Johnson has allegedly said and yes, there is something distasteful about the focus on immigration.

        There must however be a limit to the number we can cope with coming into Britain. I’m unable to argue about numbers however more than a million every three years sounds like ‘fully plenty’ and I don’t really understand what is racist about a points system, equally applicable to all countries, using which we would filter applicants for potential positive contributions to our society?

        Surely, accepting Europeans carte blanche at the expense of, say, Asian or African applicants is the more racist of these two method?

      • Brian Smith

        • June 18th, 2016 11:13

        It’s curious that Mr Tulloch is unaware of the overnight conversion of Messrs Johnson and Gove (and Wir Shetland) to Ukippery, since the evidence is everywhere. Not surprisingly, the press this morning is very exercised about the deterioration of political discourse in the country. For an alternative type of politics I recommend a read of the New Statesman of 10-16 June.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 18th, 2016 13:12

        Aye, Brian, as I say, I am unaware of what Boris is supposed to have said however if he, Gove or anyone else is a racist or is using racist arguments for political purposes, that would be deplorable.

        Gisela Stuart also urges us to vote “Leave”. Is she a racist, too?

        However, whether any or all of them, including Ms Stuart, are or are not racists is irrelevant to what we need to know; namely, whether it is better or worse for Britain, Scotland and especially, Shetland, to be in the EU.

        Surely, accepting European immigrants carte blanche, at the expense of, say, Asian or African applicants is a more racist policy than a points system, equally applicable to all races, used to assess which applicants are more likely to make a positive contribution to our society.

        Does that mean Jeremy Corbyn is a racist? Well then, we must vote “Leave”, we don’t want to be associated with HIM!

      • John Tulloch

        • June 18th, 2016 13:19

        Following from my last comment i.e logical arguments, please, not who is or isn’t a racist:

        Why is it better for Shetland to remain in the EU when, of our fishing neighbours, Faroe and Iceland decline to join and Greenland left (1985), following Denmark’s accession in 1973?

      • ROBERT SIM

        • June 19th, 2016 3:51

        On the immigration point, not only do Norway and Switzerland, for example, pay dearly for access to the single market and have no say whatever over the rules but also both have far more EU migrants in their countries per head of population than the UK does.

      • Brian Smith

        • June 19th, 2016 8:47

        One of the best accounts I have read about Leaves loathsome campaign is Andrew Rawnsley column in today’s Observer.

      • Laurence Paton

        • June 19th, 2016 12:24

        Dear Mr Brian Smith,

        Why do you consistently ignore certain questions ?

        Such as:
        “Why is it better for Shetland to remain in the EU when, of our fishing neighbours, Faroe and Iceland decline to join and Greenland left (1985), following Denmark’s accession in 1973?”

        I will add Norway to the above.

        Best Regards,

      • John Tulloch

        • June 19th, 2016 12:33

        Robert Sim,

        May I refer you to my ‘Sounding Off’ article in Friday’s ST.

        Switzerland has its own arrangement with the EU and if memory serves me right, is the wealthiest nation in Europe.

        Norway and Iceland have all the advantages of the single market via membership of the EEA for which they DO NOT contribute to the EU budget but provide funding to assist poorer EU countries.

        They do contribute to the EU budget on the same basis as EU members for EU programmes in which they CHOOSE to participate.

        Norway and Iceland retain their national sovereignty and control over their fishing grounds.

        What’s not to like?

      • ROBERT SIM

        • June 19th, 2016 12:38

        To Brian’s recommendation of today’s Andrew Rawnsley’s column, I would add the excellent editorial in today’s Sunday Herald.

      • Brian Smith

        • June 19th, 2016 14:36

        Laurence, the prime minister of Norway, and Jonathan Wills (Shetland News letters) have answered your question.

        John, you don’t understand what ad hominem means. It is the Leave campaign’s ideas which are loathsome. If Britain votes No, these ideas will get an enormous fillip.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 20th, 2016 4:41

        John, what worries me and what is not to like is the economic slump that a Leave vote would in all probability bring. Not to mention the probable advent of an even more right-wing government in Westminster.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 20th, 2016 10:05


        This is another scare story. Why should there be a “slump”?

        Provided we enter the same arrangement as Norway and Iceland, or a similar bilateral agreement, if one can be negotiated within the two years grace period, there will be no slump as we shall have identical trade advantages to those we have now.

        AND we shall retain some of the NET £8.5-10 billion per year we currently pay into the EU.

        AND we shall be free to negotiate trade deals with other countries

        AND we shall regain control of our fishing grounds which there should be no need to negotiate away if we join EFTA and get the same deal as Norway.

        Sounds more like a growth opportunity, especially for Shetland, than a “slump”.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 19th, 2016 12:22

      You’re still doing it, Brian. The “loathsomeness” or otherwise of the Leave campaign is not an argument for remaining in the EU.

      You complained about lack of clarity about the issues due to the low level of the debate. Well, I’m sorry, you are contributing to that with your inability to focus on anything other than a handful of Leave personalities.

      How about a positive argument from you? Answer me this:

      Why should Shetlanders vote to remain in the EU when, of our fishing neighbours, Faroe and Iceland decline to join and Greenland left in 1985, following Danish accession in 1973?

  • John Tulloch

    • June 14th, 2016 1:25

    From above:

    “Should we retreat into fair Albion and have nothing more to do with the whole notion of European political partnership?”

    No, we shouldn’t. Nor does it mean we must remain in the EU. It isn’t a black or white choice and to portray it as such distorts the truth.

    Norway, for example, co-operates in the “European political partnership” by participating in EU programmes of its own choice and is also a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) which confers all the benefits of free movement of people, money, etc., available with full EU membership.

    An autonomous Shetland which left the EU would have control of its own fishing grounds but would co-operate with our European on, among other things, fishery management, while retaining all the benefits of the single market or the EEA, depending on whether Britain stays in or leaves.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 14th, 2016 9:18

    We have always been a bit half-hearted or in two minds about the EU or EEC. We did not join in monetary union, we jealously guard the pound at all costs, the North Sea divides us. We are a global economy, with or without the EU, with links to the US (to an extreme where we only care about news from there and one of my daughters wants me to vote Trump, cos she thinks I can and she takes great delight in the name), to China, to India, etc, etc. Syria is not EU, we would have taken these people with or without the EU, maybe even more. It was not entirely altruistic, Germany taking lots of refugees, they realise like we should that they are an asset.

    I don’t think it matters whether we vote to stay in or leave, actually, the world won’t stop turning and if we stay, we will have thought about the basis on which we want to do so. I dont think I am far right and for me it is unfortunate that I will be labelled racist if I vote to leave. I am being at worst, contrary.

  • Wendy Marshall

    • June 14th, 2016 9:45

    Although the immediate choices may not be appealing in the upcoming vote, keep in mind that if you do not like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage, they are, like all politicians only temporary! The EU however is permanent. Given over to its permanent control Britain will fall further into the destructive spiral of economic destruction and loss of national identity. If we are only going to be given this one chance to end our abusive and out-of-control relationship with the monster that the EU has now become, then we must take it regardless of the short term problems that may ensue. A long term relationship with the EU in the future is not an option for Britain; there will be no Britain, or any other national identity, if the EU has its way!

  • James Mackenzie

    • June 14th, 2016 12:26

    If politicians are temporary, you only have to consider the dictators Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal, and the Greek Junta, whose peoples suffered under them so much for so long.
    The internal experiences of these southern countries of Europe differ markedly from Britain’s – and I dare say they have endured more under EU imposed austerity programmes than Britain, which seems to me to have generally acted as the spoilt child, continually stamping its foot and asking for special treatment.
    Yet, as Mark Ryan Smith points out, they would rather remain within the union and mobilise for democratic reform. The choice for them is, given their historis, more stark than it is for Britain.
    If we have allowed a bureaucratic monster to be created, we do have the power to change that. The indifference of our citizens, when it comes to voting in European elections, is a problem that needs to be addressed.
    But, as Mark states, the greater problem, within and without the EU, is global capitalism, which sets the agenda for austerity programmes for the poor while the rich reap their rewards, and is rapidly destroying the environment all peoples of the world depend upon.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 14th, 2016 13:58


      You are, doubtless, right about the otherwise inexplicable desire of southern Europeans to remain in the EU. However, I fear they are allowing themselves to be dictated to again, this time from outside – Germany – with devastating results, witness especially, Greece and Italy.

      A bureaucratic, undemocratic, monster has indeed been created, whose tentacles reach into every corner of our lives. A monster created “of the establishment, by the establishment, for the establishment.”

      We need not look to the EU to bolster us against global capitalism, they are they are the very ones pushing this trans-Atlantic trade deal so widely reviled, by free marketeers and socialists, alike.

      The EU has not changed for the better in the last forty years but for the worse. This idea that we can stay in and change it is fantasy for the simple reason that the all-powerful commission cannot be voted out.

      You’ll do well to change anything in Shetland Charitable Trust if the proposed undemocratic reform is installed, never mind the EU!

  • ian tinkler

    • June 14th, 2016 12:55

    “Even if you don’t like the EU, standing against Johnson, Gove, Farage and their chums is still a worthwhile use of a vote.” Does that not just show us, how one so highly qualified in the “Arts” is just so very, very inane and exhibits such a profoundly shallow views. Ryan Smiths entire argument is reduced to the fact he dislikes (a totally personal prejudice), Johnson, Gove, Farage and their chums, more than the EU, which he also dislikes! Is personal prejudiced and personal dislike of others a reason to vote, one way or the other, on a nationally important issue? How about a few intelligent and important issues Mr Ryan Smith. Rather than esoteric ranting about your perceived visions of Racism, Xenophobia, loss of national sovereignty and your dislike of the British right wing. Which you castigate and vilify with such relish. How about writing with some intelligence about your fellow Shetlands and addressing their needs and welfare. Include are fishermen, for example, our already working and well integrated Polish, Hungarian and Bulgarian recent immigrants. Balance their welfare against in or out. Fisherman want out, Polish, Hungarian and Bulgarian folk, probably not. Is that not a rather more pressing issue than your personal prejudices and dislikes?

    • John Tulloch

      • June 14th, 2016 13:44

      Indeed, Ian. An autonomous Shetland, while leaving the EU from necessity to regain control of our fishing grounds, would need to increase its population as Faroe and the British Crown Dependencies have all done so immigration would continue.

      In all likelihood we would still have access to, either, the single market or the EEA. Free movement of people would not be an issue so our hard-working European friends will be welcome to stay or join us, as the case may be.

      If we were not in either the single market or EEA, as long as we have control of our own immigration, genuine immigrants coming to Shetland to work would be welcome.

      It’s vital that Shetlanders vote “Leave” because:

      1. It will draw attention to the fact that Shetland’s needs are very different from those of Scotland/UK
      2. It will send a message to Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels that we are unhappy with the government we are receiving and they need to change or we may go.
      3. The chances of influencing the overall national outcome are vanishingly small.

    • Brian Smith

      • June 14th, 2016 18:04

      Wir UKIP has now put a long rampling speech by Boris Johnson on their site! All is forgiven, Mr Tulloch …

      • Brian Smith

        • June 14th, 2016 18:07

        Barry Norman coined the verb ‘to rample’, ‘an ability to reduce a man to helplessness though a chilly sensuality’.)

  • Wendy Marshall

    • June 14th, 2016 13:42

    Believing there is an option, or will be an option at any time in the future to have a positive effect for change upon the EU is a naive and dangerous belief. The EU is not open to change or the wishes of its members; it has shown its true colours and Britain needs to be out ASAP. Britain’s history with the EU was decided many decades ago before coming into the domain of public opinion, and many of our rights have already fallen by the wayside. It is not about promoting a national identity as a type of anti-immigrant prejudice, of which we need to be ashamed, neither is it about being guilty of speaking out for freedom of thought and lifestyle. The vote has more to do with the reversal of damage already done to this country, and if scare tactics are to be used then how about looking to Greece as a model of things possibly to come if Britain gives itself over forever to the EU.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 14th, 2016 14:19

    If we stay there will be trouble, if we go there will be double. This indecision’s buggin me.

  • Suzy V Jolly

    • June 14th, 2016 20:44

    “The choice voters have to make in the EU referendum isn’t a very appealing one.”

    On the contrary, it’s very appealing to vote to leave the EU, something I’ve been waiting years to do.

  • David Spence

    • June 14th, 2016 20:55

    If we leave the EU, it is almost certain life for many, many people will become much worse.

    If the Conservatives are still in power if we leave the EU, welcome in the TTIP (to which millions of people within the EU are against) to the UK, where zero hour employment (an import from the USA) contracts will be the norm, large corporate companies dictating our civil rights, the complete breakdown of all Local Authority services, due to LA’s having to put aside millions in case they are sued by a yank company up until privatization takes place, a system where a large proportion of our Taxes will go towards the military forces and this of weapons manufacturing, a society of cheap slave labour to large corporate companies, and where, overall, you will have very little civil rights.

    • James Leask

      • June 15th, 2016 11:46

      TTIP is between the EU and the USA, not the UK and the USA. If we leave and it is approved then we will have dodged the bullet as we would then be outwith the EU.

      The USA only want TTIP as they do not trust a lot of the EU countries legal systems. They have no such problem with the UK’s legal system which is seen as fair and robust around the world, so if we were outwith the EU the USA would not then try to gain a TTIP type treaty with the UK and even if they did we would then be able to make our own decision on our own terms (such as protecting the NHS). The UK and especially Shetland would be best overall voting out for this and many other reasons.

      • David Spence

        • June 15th, 2016 16:54

        Thank you for your input, James.

        As far as I am aware, the TTIP will be a none starter, despite what the EU may say. France, Belgium and few other countries will veto such a deal, as I am lead to believe????

        There are millions of people and businesses against such a deal, as they see no real benefit to what is the status quo. Yes, there may be lowered tariffs for the USA, but using the US Legal System, I would say, is very much counter-productive to any deal between the EU and the USA.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • June 15th, 2016 13:52

      The EU is implementing TTIP.
      It would be up to an independent UK to negotiate it’s own treaty.
      Then the voters could decide if they agreed with the political elite.
      How exactly do we stop the EU implanting TTIP?

      • Gary Robinson

        • June 15th, 2016 22:00

        The EU is not implementing TTIP – the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – no agreement has been reached yet. Talks are ongoing but ultimately a democratic decision will be taken by elected MEPs as to whether any agreement is signed and implemented.

        It’s worth noting that the TTIP proposals have already been significantly amended by MEPs who recognised the growing concern over the potential impact on our health service for example. I’m surprised that anyone wishing to leave the EU would criticise TTIP since it would appear to be exactly the kind of trade and investment agreement that the UK outside of the EU would be forced to make.

        I’m not sure who the “political elite” is that you’re referring to but we have six MEPs in Scotland, five of whom have been trying to get the best possible trade deal for us while mitigating any potentially negative side-effects. The other Scottish MEP has mainly been sitting on his hands or absenting himself when things that matter to us here in Shetland are being voted on. That is the reality.

        28 European countries speaking with one voice are more likely to get a good deal and to dictate the terms of that deal than the UK alone. The real question is whether you wish to have a trade and investment deal with one of the world’s biggest markets or not? I would suggest that we do.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 16th, 2016 10:23


        I’m surprised to read this, coming from the SIC’s political leader.

        Shetland has had an appalling deal from the EU over the past 43 years. Since 2014 we no longer even qualify for regional aid.

        Meanwhile, they continue to pillage our fishing grounds.

        Were it not for the arrival of the oil industry in the 1970s, Shetland would be in a very poor state, indeed, and unless the oil price improves, our dependency on fishing will return to the fore, with a vengeance.

        The council and the public were right to give the EU ‘thumbs down’ at the time of the 1975 referendum and they will be well-advised to do the same now.

        At the very least, that will remind the EU that, even if Britain remains in, we are at liberty to take our business elsewhere, as Greenland did in 1985.

      • ian_tinkler

        • June 16th, 2016 10:48

        “The real question is whether you wish to have a trade and investment deal with one of the world’s biggest markets or not? I would suggest that we do.” Rather like the deal Norway has with the EU? or are you talking about the Markets in the rest of the world, outside the EU, Australia, USA, China , India, you know Gary, that lot!. The ones governed by themselves, warts and all, not faceless bureaucrats and nameless self serving committees.

      • Ali Inkster

        • June 17th, 2016 11:44

        I’m not surprised by Gary Robinsons stance. He has made it plain he has very little respect for wir fishermen or their views. Just have a look at his comment on the Wir Shetland facebook page.

  • James Mackenzie

    • June 15th, 2016 12:32

    In answer to John and Wendy and their points about Greece, I can only recommend that they read some of the writings of, or listen to interviews with, Yanis Varoufakis, ex-finance minister of that country (a lot is accessible on the internet). For him “believing there is an option, or will be an option at any time in the future to have a positive effect for change upon the EU is” clearly NOT “a naive and dangerous belief.”
    DiEM25 may be in the league of ‘from such small beginnings’, but that there is a third way, apart from choosing disengagement or perpetual submission to an unaccountable executive, gives me some hope:
    A short manifesto can be found here:

    • Wendy Marshall

      • June 17th, 2016 16:56

      In reply to James, upon googling Yanis Varoufakis (ex finance minister of Greece), the first quote to appear was “Like The Eagles’ Hotel California; you can check out but you can never leave”. It seems Mr Varoufakis is campaigning for the “Remain” side in next week’s Brexit referendum because he believes Britain need to be a part of the EU in order to challenge the status quo. However the quicker everyone realises there will be no change with or without Britain, the better. The false sense of fulfilment displayed by David Cameron when extolling the benefits of a redefined relationship for Britain within the EU, is just that a display to please and appease the crowds!

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 17th, 2016 16:27

    Mark Ryan Smith said, “I have very little enthusiasm for the EU as it is today, but I have far, far less for the right wing bigotry of the Brexit campaign. Even if you don’t like the EU, standing against Johnson, Gove, Farage and their chums is still a worthwhile use of a vote”.

    Yet he sides with disingenuous right wing scaremongers and blackmailers, like Cameron, Osborne, and Major. Major who was Thatchers best friend while plotting to unseat her behind her back, while preaching family values to you and me and having the occasional illicit Curry on the side. Not to mention as Chancellor taking us into the ERM and very nearly bankrupting the UK. Cameron and Osborne are now telling us that pensions will be at risk and tax rates will have to rise. If this were true why wait to tell us now that it looks like the IN camp will lose, instead of at the start of the debate on EU membership. I would have thought the opposite would be the case with all those billions not going to Brussels but swelling Westminster’s coffers for the good of the UK.

    • James Watt

      • June 17th, 2016 19:01

      “Yet he sides with disingenuous right wing scaremongers and blackmailers, like Cameron, Osborne, and Major”

      Were they disingenuous right wing scaremongers and blackmailers 2 years ago when they were on you side or did that just happen recently?

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 18th, 2016 17:21

        James if you followed what has been said by me on here in the past you will know I totally disagreed with Cameron, Osborne, Brown, and Co during the independence referendum. They just happened to be on the same side of the debate as I was but they certainly were not on my side, they very nearly lost us the referendum with their big panic in the last week of campaigning. They were negative just as they and Sturgeon and Co are now. I hated it when Cameron and Co came to Scotland to campaign because they said all the wrong things. So yes they were disingenuous scaremongers and they still are but too a greater extent because they are at the panic stage again but hopefully their tactics will lose them this referendum. We won the last referendum because it was the grass roots NO campaign who told it as it was and there is no way we would have buckled and given anything like what was given as an unsuccessful bribe from Cameron, Brown and Co. I may be a Tory but unlike the SNP I can say what I like about our Westminster party leadership.

    • Wendy Marshall

      • June 18th, 2016 16:34

      It is not about people; likes or dislikes for any particular politician. The vote is about the future (or not) of Britain. The attempt to smear Brexit campaigners as racists, following deplorably hot on the heals of the death of Jo Cox, and using false eye-witness reports for the reasoning behind her death show the depths to which the government with which we are currently ‘blessed’ will stoop. Three things are evident:- Greece had its chance to leave the EU and blew it, the Euro will fail without us (but that’s not our problem) and even if the ‘leave’ vote outweighs the ‘stay’ vote our government will use as many delaying tactics as possible to keep us in the EU as long as possible, because ultimately our rights have already been signed away without our consent!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • June 18th, 2016 17:29

        Wendy the Euro will fail with or without us but if we are still a member of the EU when it fails it could drag us down with it so out we must come. As for this not being about people that is not necessarily true because there are many on the stay in side who wanted us to join the Euro and those same people want us to vote to stay this time. Those people were wrong in the past and they are wrong now and it should be pointed just how wrong those people are again.

      • Robert Lowes

        • June 18th, 2016 23:16

        If elements of the Brexit campaign isn’t driven by xenophobia (if not outright racism), then why was Nigel Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster a direct copy of imagery from a Nazi propaganda film?

        As to whether the UK media, the government, and the police got several independent witnesses to collude in a conspiracy to suggest the murder of Jo Cox MP was driven by a racist supporter of Britain First within mere hours of being attacked, that is simply farcical. It also conveniently ignores that Jo Cox’s murderer was subscribed to multiple neo-nazi publications, had Nazi regalia in his house, and is quite possibly the stupidest suggestion I’ve ever heard. Which considering some of the comments that have appeared on the Shetland Times’ webpage over the last few years, is an achievement in itself.

      • ian tinkler

        • June 19th, 2016 11:22

        “Jo Cox’s murderer was subscribed to multiple neo-Nazi publications, had Nazi regalia in his house”. Just a point of interest. In all probability this murderer is quite insane. He was subscribing to Nazi and White supremacy long, long before this referendum was ever called. As about half the UK seem to be supporting “the leave campaign,” it is obvious among that half will be every type of xenophobe and extremist, very sadly one was quite mad or just plain evil, just as there can be in every human community, NB Orlando. What I find most distasteful, is the wanton political exploitation of this tragedy. Even before Jo’s body had time to cool, Facebook was rife with bitter, comments insults and shares. Insults about “Alf Garnet Mentality” and the like being directly linked to this horrible tragedy. All those who did such and are still doing, as this blog so highlights, should be utterly ashamed. That is the last thing Jo and her family would so wish.

      • Ali Inkster

        • June 20th, 2016 11:40

        Robert lowes the image was straight off the front page of the guardian. Were they racist to publish it?

  • James Mackenzie

    • June 18th, 2016 20:19

    Obviously nothing I write will dent or alter Wendy Marshall’s arguments. This is of course very common in so-called debate. However I hope I may have a little to contribute to other readers who haven’t yet made completely up their minds.
    To me, as to Mr. Varoufakis, what’s at stake is the future of Europe, not exclusively of Britain. He, and others who understand the historical implications, and whose countries have, in living memory, suffered fascist occupation and/or government, visualise an implosion or explosion that puts us all back into a retrograde and “misanthropic” WW1 & 2 situation (let alone the wars that preceded them).
    I fear many people in the UK, in their insularity, are blinded by the all too pervasive media message that “we won the war”, or believe we have some kind of innate superiority ( “Greece…blew it,” writes Wendy), rather than thinking about how we could have avoided all the dreadful slaughter on the one hand, or the imposed austerity on the other, in the first place.

  • Ali Inkster

    • June 20th, 2016 0:54

    I find it amusing when the remainers bring up Boris, Farage and Gove as reasons to vote remain but seem quite happy that the next french elections could well serve up Marine Le Pen, or that Austria very nearly elected Norbert Hoffer president from a party that has it roots in the Nazi party. Who knows what the next european election will turn up and in or out we can do nothing to change the outcome. But at least if we are out the British army won’t be taking its orders from Brussels.

  • Ali Inkster

    • June 20th, 2016 1:55

    Here is a very well written piece, puts the case plainly without any scaremongering. It should help folks get things straight before Thursday.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 20th, 2016 8:59

    I dont think I am insular or racist, and I dont think Remain have sold this to me at all. What are the benefits of remaining in the EU? Please leave out historical points and use short bullet points please before I once again get out my cheque book to subscribe to this trade organisation.

    • Johan Adamson

      • June 22nd, 2016 9:08

      I still dont think Remain are really selling this to us, but neither are the Ooties. Why do we want to pay for the EU? Why dont they explain to people why prices will go up and there will be economic chaos to begin with? It is all very well producing lists of Companies who say we should Remain but they dont explain why. Why dont the Ooties explain whether there will still be subsidy paid to farmers like it is now but by the government, not the EU? Will they support everything like it is like we were still in the EU? Will we still pay the same for milk? If we stop EU imports to support our own milk then will they reciprocate or can we come to agreements quickly? If we stop other counties fishing off Shetland what will the EU reciprocate with? What will happen to the Brits living in Spain?

      • John Tulloch

        • June 22nd, 2016 13:50


        Expats already living in Spain or anywhere else in the EU will be unaffected if Britain leaves the EU. The same applies to EU citizens living in Britain:

        “….the Vienna Convention of 1969,…(says).. the termination of a treaty ‘does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.”

        “The House of Commons Library says that ‘withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal.'”

        Another Remain myth ‘busted’.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • June 20th, 2016 12:55

    One good reason to get out of this interfering antidemocratic organization.

  • James Leask

    • June 21st, 2016 8:54

    If countries like Iceland, Switzerland and Norway don’t want to join the club that is the EU, does that not say something about the club? How do these very small countries survive outwith the EU, when people say the UK the worlds 5th biggest economy could not. Do we really want to be in a club that we pay such a huge amount to, have less and less say in and then it threatens and bullies us when we speak about maybe leaving.

    It seems less like a club and more like a mafia organization we pay protection money to when their protection is not needed and is all a sham. Time to stand up to the faceless bureaucrats of the EU and take hold of our own destiny and vote out on Thursday.


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