No SNP sell-out (Jonathan Wills)

Your report on Alistair Carmichael’s visit to Whalsay quotes an un-named resident of Da Bonnie Isle as saying the SNP would “sell out” the fishing industry “if they got their independence and get back into Europe”.

In fact, the sell-out occurred 44 years ago when a Tory government took us into Europe without negotiating a proper agreement to safeguard the UK fishing fleet.

Forty-two years ago, a Labour government renegotiated the terms of British entry to the then European Common Market, but failed to get a better deal for the fishermen of Whalsay, or Fraserburgh or Brixham or anywhere else. The SNP pointed this out at the time. So much for the “SNP sell-out”.

In all the various treaty negotiations since then, the SNP delegation in the European Parliament has repeatedly criticised the defects of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and consistently argued the case for improvements, but now we’re told the party has “absolutely no consideration” for Whalsay.

The financially disastrous, draconian and ill-considered “discards ban”, which will bankrupt most Shetland whitefish trawlers if it is fully implemented in 2019, was agreed by the European Council of Ministers while Mr Carmichael was a cabinet minister in the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government.

I know Mr Carmichael is sincere in his opposition to the worst effects of the CFP. There are, however, two questions he needs to answer: What did he do about it when he was in government for five years? And what could he do about it next week, if he were returned as a member of the Liberal Democrat rump in Westminster, where his party would be without any influence – unless they joined another Tory junta?

It will not have escaped Whalsay’s notice that the terms of the CFP are approved at the European Council of Ministers, where Scotland does not have a seat but the UK does.

If Scotland were represented at the top table things would be rather different. As it is, the Scottish government’s influence over fisheries is limited to implementing decisions taken by UK governments (in which the fisheries minister is usually the lowest form of ministerial life).

But the “sell-out” story fits the “SNP-bad” message, which seems to be the last shot in Mr Carmichael’s panic-stricken locker.

Jonathan Wills


Add Your Comment
  • Ali Inkster

    • May 30th, 2017 17:11

    The CFP is non negotiable you accept it terms on entry. The SNP know this but still want to join. This tells you what the SNP think of the fishing industry never mind the BS spouted by Jonathan it is a take it or leave it deal and the SNP want desperately to take it.
    P.S. you were making multiple trips to Brussels Jonathan as SHetlands man on the spot so to speak and yet you never managed to get across to the EU just how damaging their ill thought out policy was going to be to peripheral regions like us.

    • John Gibson

      • June 1st, 2017 0:20

      I agree 100% with you but also I want to see less Tory seats and the SNP in my view is a waste of time. Independence is going to be called for everything. They don’t care about Shetland’s fishing. We voted to stay in the union and at that time we knew there was a chance of of leaving Europe so that should be put to bed for well over 10 years. Vote labour as there not a main choice party but please don’t forget what the Tories have done to Scotland in the past and now bedroom tax hitting low income families. I hear people on from Whalsay that’s got more millionaires so you are in the top earners when there people in Lerwick using foodbanks

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 30th, 2017 18:10

    Here we go again Jonathan stirring it up and making it all as clear as mud. He is again forgetting Commissioner Vella’s letter which says Scotland will have to join the EU and accept the CFP or no membership.
    Edward Heath may well have sold the British fishing industry down the river all those years ago but Jonathan conveniently forgets one very important fact. Mrs Thatcher renegotiated the UKs share of the fish caught in our waters so we got a bigger share. But the CFP has not been amended in any serious form since its concept and Sturgeon will not have the clout that Thatcher had so Scotland can say goodbye to its fishing industry under the stewardship of the SNP.
    As far as fishing goes, it is “SNP bad” the fact Miriam has not signed up to the fishermen’s pledge speaks a thousand words. In last weeks Times there was a letter from Magnie Stewart which shows just how unbelievably naive the SNP are if they think they can change the CFP and Magnie has forgotten more than Jonathan or the SNP will ever know about the fishing industry in Shetland.

    • Brian Smith

      • May 30th, 2017 21:05

      If Magnie has forgotten as much as that his opinion can’t be much cop.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • May 31st, 2017 21:26

        You need to get a new writer for your one liners Brian, your old writer has lost his zing (if he ever had it).

  • John Tulloch

    • May 30th, 2017 19:04

    What utter tripe.

    Neither the Tories nor Harold Wilson “sold out the fishing”. “Common access to fisheries” became EU law in 1970, immediately before official acceptance of the UK’s application to join the then EEC. That meant, as a new entrant, the UK was obliged to accept the policy.

    We are leaving the EU and CFP now but the SNP objects and want to rejoin.

    The CFP is still non-negotiable, yet the SNP claim that, rejoining the EU with independence, they will “radically renegotiate” it.

    Even though EU Fisheries Commissioner Vella explained in his recent letter, “…. an opt out from an exclusive competence area as the Common Fisheries Policy goes beyond a mere adjustment to the Treaties that may be justified by the admission of a new Member State”, the SNP continue to make their false claim, hence the accusations of a planned “sell-out”.

    The SNP’s intention to “pull the wool” with Shetland voters is crystal clear.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • May 31st, 2017 7:33

    More of Dr Wills nonsense. When given a chance in Europe to represent Shetlander folk, at The Annual General Meeting of The Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions, Islands Commission, Malta, he barely mentioned our fishing fleet. His total contribution to our fishermen I quote
    From the Jonathan Wills’ speech at the CPMR (March 2017).:
    “And what about the future management of our fisheries? We have recently seen some progress in making the Common Fisheries Policy work, but now there’s total confusion. Will something like the CFP continue in the UK, for environmental and sustainability reasons, after Brexit? What about international, non-EU agreements on fish conservation? Are the fishermen deluded if they think they can now exclude non-UK boats from UK waters without retaliation from the European markets which currently take much of their fish? ”
    That was it; all Wills had to say for our fishermen, his total effort!! Miriam Brett has shown even less support.

  • Peter Hamilton

    • May 31st, 2017 10:12

    Not so. John’s reading of Dr. Will’s balanced commentary is predictably selective. What is not clear is it clear who John Tulloch will be voting for. Is he backing the Liberals again or reverting to his evident Tory roots?


      • May 31st, 2017 17:03

      However anyone intends to vote, they may like to ponder the fact that the latest poll reported in today’s Herald found 43 per cent of decided voters intend to vote for the SNP next week, with Labour and the Tories tied on 25 per cent, and the LibDems on five. The Electoral Calculus website suggests this will translate into 50 seats for the SNP, with the Tories seeing an increase of six to seven seats, and Labour and the LibDems on one each. Fifty-plus seats at Westminster makes a big difference when the Tories’ majority may be a lot smaller than they bargained for a few weeks ago.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • May 31st, 2017 11:20

    From Peter Hamiton, “What is not clear is it clear who John Tulloch will be voting for. Is he backing the Liberals again or reverting to his evident Tory roots?” Just what is your problem, Peter Hamilton? Are you unaware that how one does vote is confidential? That right of secrecy is enshrined in UK Law. The 1872 Ballot Act, introduced the secret ballot for local and government elections.
    It appears only the tribalism of the SNP requires one to parade one’s voting intention rather like a football supporter wearing team colours, hence the wrapping children in a Saltires, for tatty Nicola Sturgeon photo shoots and the paint your blue face brigade preening and displaying their tribalism.

    • Shuard Manson

      • May 31st, 2017 21:44

      Totally agree about how we vote should be private. Da thing is, it seems the S.N.P are responsible fur aa da evil in da world. How should idiot sheeple lik me vote so we can live in a Land of Sunshine?

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 1st, 2017 20:04

    John Tulloch’s constant digs against Miriam Brett make it look as if he is doing the dirty work for either the Tories, UKIP or indeed the Lib Dems, who, at points south, have been known to fight pretty dirty. Who John is voting for, and which, if any, political party he is doing the bidding of, is a matter of public interest because of his actions. He has previously urged Shetlanders to vote LibDem. Is he is Liberal Democrat in disguise? I think we should be told.

    • Robert Sim

      • June 2nd, 2017 11:30

      Personal attacks on candidates are a sure sign of desperation, Peter.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 2nd, 2017 12:21

    We’re not all like you, Peter Hamilton, standing for and then campaigning for, one party while voting, furtively, for another.

    Robert Sim, I have not commented on Ms Brett’s personal qualities, only the inadequacy of her track record for becoming an MP.

    For the record, I have never been a member of any political party (Wir Shetland is not a ‘party’) and believe in voting for the candidate/party combination whose track record indicates they will act in the best interests of their constituents, a condition which, in Shetland, automatically excludes voting SNP.

    Constituents aware of the SNP’s track record and the ‘tailor-madeness’ of their candidate will likely vote according to whom they think will do the best job of representing their vital interests, in line with their own personal values.

    They may vote tactically to keep the SNP out or vote for their preferred party/candidate combination, it’s their decision.

    • Robert Sim

      • June 2nd, 2017 13:33

      You need to advise your Shetland connections to vote SNP, then, John. The SNP has an energetic local candidate who knows the constituency well and who, if elected, will be part of a strong group (likely to be around 56 of the 59 Scottish seats) at Westminster able to have a real impact in the context of a much-reduced Tory majority, if current predictions are right. The only real rival to the SNP is the LibDem candidate; and as a party they are likely again to be a negligible force in the UK parliament.

      As regards the SNP’s track record in Shetland, I think you are confusing, deliberately or otherwise, the actions of Scottish Government with the fact that this is a Westminster election. Let’s keep the focus on the actions of the UK government, which is a government determined to keep on making life harder for the less well-off. Shetland voters will undoubtedly think about which candidate is able to act in the best interests of their constituents and of the country as a whole.

  • Peter Hamilton

    • June 2nd, 2017 13:13

    Well thanks for that clarification John. Btw I did vote Labour last election, with my second vote, such is the evolved nature of the Holyrood voting system, but I chose to vote for Danus Skene SNP at the last minute partly because he impressed me and partly because of the ugly personalised nature of the campaign against him.

    You forgot an important option for the Orkney and Shetland electorate though John, which is voting tactically to remove a politician who purposely lied to stay in office. Some will feel that is not just an option, but their right and responsibility.

    A tactical vote for the SNP would also surely ensure a lasting resolution of the unfair fare structure at Northlink. Should Miriam Brett fail to secure fair fares she would surely only be a one term wonder.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 2nd, 2017 17:42

    Peter Hamilton and Robert Sim, anyone who has been paying attention to all the information imparted about the damage done – and yet to be done – to Shetland by the SNP and the relative inexperience of their candidate and still wants to vote SNP are welcome to do that, that is their inalienable right.

    However, it’s abundantly clear they will be voting for the cause of nationalism, against the best interests of Shetland.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 2nd, 2017 17:47

    For those left wondering why twice Shetland Labour candidate Jonathan Wills and ‘deep red’ socialist Brian Smith have joined the ‘Tartan Tories’, here is one part of the explanation:

    “Brian Smith
    May 30th, 2012 13:42
    Jonathan has spent his life in local government advocating deep cuts in public expenditure. Anyone who doubts that should consult the Shetland Times of 11 March 1994. There they will find the tale of his secret letter to Convener Lewis Smith, and his plans to halve staff here, sack others there, privatise services and cut staff pay. His proposals led those well-known radicals Edward Thomason and Malcolm Green to chide him for “random thoughtlessness” and “ill-considered off-the-cuff comments”. Nothing changes, boy.”

    However, why Brian Smith has left Labour with its socialist leader and candidate and hugely popular, left wing manifesto, remains a mystery?


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