24th May 2020
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Staggering ignorance (John Tulloch)

As reported in The Shetland Times this week, the lack of knowledge of local issues displayed by SNP candidate Miriam Brett at her candidacy launch rally was jaw-dropping.

Asked about the fishing, she said “SNP policy is to radically reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). And if we can’t reform it, it should be scrapped.” This is laughable.

If the SNP wishes to rejoin the EU they will find the CFP, among others, is non-negotiable because it is “part of the existing body of EU law”. That’s why Britain was forced to accept “common access to fishing grounds” in the 1970s. You accept the CFP in its entirety or you don’t join. End of.

The SNP knows this. It has been confirmed by EU fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella and to speak of “radically reforming” or “scrapping” the CFP is fantasy. Smoke and mirrors.

Regarding the promised – reneged on – £7 million per annum to help reduce Shetland’s crippling inter-island ferry fares, Ms Brett said: “As far as I’m aware there are discussions that have been going on with the likes of Humza Yousaf, the local authority and Transport Scotland.”

She is clearly “unaware” of the content of the discussions, has no view on the SNP’s renege and no suggestions for resolving the situation. In fact, Shetland’s ferry funding was removed from this year’s Holyrood budget as part of a deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens to win budget approval by parliament. How convenient.

This level of ignorance of such a high-profile local issue is staggering. Not least, because former SIC councillor Jonathan Wills is one of her backers, sitting there, directing the discussion towards national issues. You’d think he would know more about the ferries issue than that? Never mind, she “wholeheartedly support(s) a reduction in cost for ferries”. But hey, don’t we all?

Despite Ms Brett and SNP Shetland’s purported determination to run a “positive” campaign, the emotive, anti-Tory, anti-Lib Dem catchphrases were the main diet of the evening, along with the ongoing “stealing of Labour’s clothes”.

No comfort was offered to isles voters who have seen SIC government funding drop by 23 per cent (about £20 million per annum) since 2011 while the Scottish government enjoyed a funding increase from Westminster. Indeed, it appears never to have been mentioned at all. It’s a wonder Dr Wills didn’t ask about that too?

The reason why local issues were sidelined is plain. The SNP’s track record, its attitude to Shetland and Orkney and its policies, have been so grievously damaging that all talk of local issues must be drowned out in a cacophony of “evil, greedy Tories” and “lying FibDems”.

Nothing about the SNP has changed since a year ago when they were routed at the polls by Tavish Scott. Only the faces relaying the message are new. As Wellington said of Napoleon’s army at Waterloo: “They just keep coming in the same old way.”

There is a reason for that. By their policies in the isles, they have painted themselves into a corner and have nowhere else to go.

Isles voters are not stupid. They saw through the “Braveheart” blarney last time and they will see through the “Youth/Time For Change” spin this time.

I repeat my oft-stated advice to the SNP: If you want to win Shetland and Orkney you must change your ways. Change your attitude to the Northern Isles and change your damaging policies. Then you may get somewhere.

John Tulloch


  1. Johan Adamson

    I noticed Nicola Sturgeon this week accusing Labour of stealing SNP policies (we’ve already got that in Scotland na na na na na). Eh? What a fun. Two can play at that game.

    • John Jamieson

      Not when they have already been implemented by the Scottish Government, not even Scottish Labour would have the brass neck for that.

  2. George Pottinger

    The only thing demonstrating “staggering ignorance” is the fact that John Tulloch does not seem to realise
    that this is a UK General Election, and that most of the points he raises are devolved to Holyrood. Maybe if Miriam was standing for election as MSP, and not MP, his comments would have some validity.

    • John Tulloch

      Not at all, Geordie. I’m well aware it’s a devolved issue.

      Ms Brett is SNP and her boss is Nicola Sturgeon, Holyrood, so she has ready access to all the inside knowledge. All she has to do is lift the phone to Humza Yousaf and/or her local issues guru, ex-councillor Jonathan Wills. No excuse for such ignorance.

      The SNP reneged on the ferry money and if elected, she could use her position to help resolve it but she isn’t interested enough, even, to find out the basics.

      Ditto for Brexit and the fishing where the SNP wants to stay in the EU/CFP and Ms Brett has refused to sign the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) Brexit pledge.

      So why should Shetlanders vote SNP-Brett if she won’t use her position to help protect vital local interests?

      • Shuard Manson

        I just winder if you inadvertently might be the best recruitment sergeants for da SNP.

  3. Ian Tinkler

    So that is why the SNP are fading fast with the Tories about to take seats of them. Priceless observation Shuard, one of your most intellectual comments so far.

    • Shuard Manson

      I bow tae dee. Du is da clever. Dats whit aabody says.

  4. Gordon Harmer

    You have just got to love the logic of George Pottinger, he lives in one of Shetland’s most prolific fishing communities and supports someone who refuses to back the future of Shetland’s fishing industry. Then he tell Mr Tulloch this is a UK general election thereby recognising the UK. While he refuses to recognise that the EU referendum was a UK vote by saying Scotland voted to remain. Being of a similar age to George I know what it means two be a bit doity and I can forgive him poor soul.

  5. James J Paton

    Mr Harmer does not seem to be able to differentiate between the Shetland Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation – the two bodies interests are not necessarily the same.

    No political representative should be ‘held to ransom’ or be in the pocket of any business or other organisation, especially the the SFF. Gordon’s Tory friends are always bashing on about Labour, (the biggest mass membership party in the UK), wrongly being in the pockets of the unions. Those days are long over.

    I am unaware that the SNP have any such specific sectoral support across all sectors and sections of the community, unlike the Tories, who rely on billionaires who own the media, the land and banking/financial services for their core support and have many of their MPs on their boards – all very cosy.

    • Gordon Harmer

      Dear oh dear and I thought it was me and George who were the doity ones. James J Paton has surpassed doity, as I have not commented on either the fishing association or the federation.
      I would like to be able to comment on Mr Patons next two paragraphs but am not able to decipher phsycobabble.

    • Gordon Harmer

      Mike Hookem MEP, Fishing Spokesman.
      “Our fishing industry could be worth £6.3 billion when we leave
      the EU. Free of the Common Fisheries Policy, we can take back full control of the seas up to 200 miles from our coast, as is our right under international law. We can start to rebuild the once-flourishing fishing industry that our membership of the EU destroyed.”

      • John N Hunter

        Only for the fish to sit rotting on trucks waiting days to get customs clearance to get to our markets in the EU.

      • John Tulloch

        John N Hunter,

        I assume you mean the fish will be unsaleable because it will be rotten? In which case, the EU will get no tariffs and European consumers won’t get the fish, they’ll have to get their own which, without UK supply, will become very expensive.

      • Ali Inkster

        We have seen Shetland lamb thrown of the trucks and burnt in France and this is while we are in the EU. Brussels did sweet fa about it too. Now outside the EU if the french decide to hold up UK produce then the simple solution is to sell to the rest of the world who are not quite so anal as the french protestors. A solution not open to farmers when it happened to them while we are still members of the rotten club.

      • Mixhael Garriock

        “Only for the fish to sit rotting on trucks waiting days to get customs clearance to get to our markets in the EU”.

        As opposed to the present, when non-EU (Norwegian) interests are all that’s saving Shetland Catch from extinction. largely the result of EU sanctions against Russia, driven by a squabble that really has nothing to do with the UK. While if you go to the shop and buy a tin of herring or mackerel, they’ve been tinned in either Portugal or Germany by a Far East company and are so small any boat landing them in the UK would be fined bankrupting amounts.

      • Ali Inkster

        Or like now where our fishermen are throwing back species which are on the grounds in abundance right across the North Atlantic because of a one size fits all CFP rule. While the same species is imported from Canada for sale in France and Spain.

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