13th November 2019
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Jim Wallace insists anti-independence message remains strong

Greater focus needs to be placed on the benefits behind Scotland remaining part of the UK, according to a former deputy first minister visiting the isles this week.

Jim Wallace, who served over the years as both MP and MSP for the Liberal Democrats, insists there remains “no appetite” for Scottish independence.

Mr Wallace has been campaigning on behalf of Beatrice Wishart, who is standing as Liberal Democrat candidate in this month’s by-election.

He told The Shetland Times Ms Wishart had “every possibility” of winning, although he stressed party members were allowing no room for complacency.

Mr Wallace described the by-election contest as essentially a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and SNP.

Asked about the SNP’s policy of Scottish independence, he said: “We were promised it was once in a generation. I think we should take them at their word for that.

“We’re seeing what the problems are, even if you’re neutral, in trying to unscramble a union we’ve been part of for 45 years,” he said, in a clear reference to the EU withdrawal.

He added withdrawing from a union Scotland had been part of for over 300 years would be even more fraught with difficulty.

“People will very readily see that, even with a following wind, this would be very messy and also very damaging.”

He added that it would be wrong to take for granted the achievements made by the UK, which he described as “probably the best union historically”.

“We have a common trading area, a common currency, we’ve also retained a distinctive culture but have cultural things in common.

“We’ve got social bonds – a number of Scots who live in England and people from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who live in Scotland, families which are inter-married.

“The fact we take it for granted is indicative of the strength of that union.”

He conceded those points should have been put forward more strongly during the Scottish independence campaign of five years ago.

“I don’t think we made as much of that in 2014 as we might have done – there is something very valuable in what we’ve achieved. There is something more than economic that would be lost if Scotland was to become independent.”

Mr Wallace said he believed the Liberal Democrats were running a “really good, hard fought” campaign.

He said there was no shortage of issues which needed dealing with, and listed transport as one of the key areas people wanted to see addressed.

“Tavish when he was the transport minister introduced the air passenger discount scheme. It’s actually been removed for businesses. I learned of one business that estimated they spent £12,000 a year on flights. If they had the discount that we introduced that would have been a significant saving for a small business.”

He also voiced opposition to the controversial parking charges at Sumburgh Airport.

“That was brought in without consultation and I think, probably, is indicative of an attitude from central government – they just don’t get it. Beatrice will be a strong voice in challenging that.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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32 comments

  1. Brian Smith

    All the Lib Dems are interested in is independence

    Reply
    • GRAHAM FLEMING

      Maybe its Norway or Ireland, making them GREEN with envy.

      Reply
    • Jill Stephenson

      It is the SNP that is obsessed by ‘independence’. The Lib Dems, like everyone else, would be happy never to mention it again, if only the SNP would desist from obsessing about it.

      Reply
      • Brian Smith

        You’re doing it again.

      • Malcolm Henry Johnson

        Are you sure Jill? Tom Wills and his team have put out a lot of material since Tom was adopted as the SNP candidate. It mainly concentrates on the local economy, the environment, our place in Europe, transport and Shetland’s relationship with the Scottish Government. I have read it all and I can hardly find a word about Scottish Independence. If anything, you could even argue that they have avoided the subject. Believe me, the whole Scottish Independence thing remains a very painful subject for me so I would have noticed if they had said more. Of all the parties, the SNP campaign has covered the widest range of subjects and has made a real effort to integrate these into a coherent plan. It is the other parties who have obsessed.

      • Fiona Murray

        Jill Stephenson says “It is the SNP that is obsessed by ‘independence’. The Lib Dems, like everyone else, would be happy never to mention it again, if only the SNP would desist from obsessing about it.”?

        yet only a few days ago, we had Alistair Carmichael from the LibDems with a full page spread in the Daily Record stating “SNP ‘avoiding independence like plague’ in unionist stronghold by-election campaign”? He also went on to say “The SNP are avoiding talk of independence “like the plague” during a crunch by-election campaign in a unionist stronghold, it was claimed last night.

        Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael accused the nationalists of trying to distance themselves from their key policy in a bid to win in Shetland.”

        Alistair Carmichael is complaining that they don’t mention it…and Jill is moaning that they’re ‘obsessed’ by it?

        So what is it Jill? Is it the LibDems who are obsessed with independence or the SNP? Take your time now….

      • Fiona Murray

        Alistair Camichael also goes on to say ““But everyone knows they will always put independence before every other issue.” ……so he’s now actually admitting that EVERYONE KNOWS…which begs the question…Why on earth would they have to even mention independence if EVERYONE knows?

        Total confusion!
        https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/snp-avoiding-independence-like-plague-18908703?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sharebar

      • Susan Smith

        Nicola Sturgeon gets criticised all the time by independence supporters for not mentioning it often enough. It is Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who are the ones obsessed about it

  2. Robert Wishart

    The Liberal “Democrats” cannot reasonably resist calls for a further independence referendum given their insistence on another on Brexit. But of course they will. In Libdemland referendums are only to be honoured if you agree with the result.

    Reply
  3. Peter Hamilton

    What result sends the strongest anti-Brexit message? Not Lib Dem.

    A SNP win in Shetland would send wake-up call to hard Brexiteers.

    Westminster needs to know they are risking breaking up the U.K. if there isn’t a second vote on the actual Brexit deal that is on offer. Currently that’s quite a different deal from the quick, easy and painless, extra money for the NHS, snake oil version touted by Boris and friends some years ago.

    And if, as Jim Wallace says, “there’s no room for complacency”, why has Beatrice Wishart failed to get her responses in to the local media on her thoughts on agriculture and fishing on time? Not a promising start from a candidate who should be able to submit these without getting them approved or written for her.

    Reply
    • Michael Garriock

      So, it was okay for the SNP to risk breaking up the UK by having a Scottish Independence referendum in 2014, when they were chasing what they wanted, but seemingly its not okay for Westminster to risk breaking up the UK when they follow through on what the UK voted for in the 2016 Brexit referendum, that produced an outcome the SNP doesn’t want.

      Sorry, but I’m not following the logic of that little lot, probably due to double standards blocking the view.

      Reply
      • Graham Fleming

        Risking breaking up U.K,how many of the 63 commonwealth countries have wanted back into the Empire.Has Ireland or U.S.A wanted the dead hand of London again, aye right.They flew the nest a lang time ago and grew up!

    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      Peter.

      You say with some alarm that “Westminster needs to know they are risking breaking up the U.K.” You then go on to imply that this risk can be reduced if we persuade hard Brexiteers to give us a second Brexit referendum by voting SNP. Are you really telling people that they should vote SNP to save the union? It may not be exactly what you wrote but I think it’s what you wanted people to read. The SNP’s main problem in Shetland has always been that nobody trusts it. If you don’t change that, your candidate will always come second. *

      Due to the tireless work and persuasive powers of Karrol Scott, I will be voting for Tom Wills in the Shetland by-election but if you want others to do the same, you will need to be more transparent in your use of language …… like Karrol.
      .

      * As “your” candidate is now “our” candidate, this concerns me.

      Reply
      • Mr ian Tinkler

        “how many of the 63 commonwealth countries have wanted back into the Empire?” Well half of them are dictatorships, police states or at war with themselves or each other. One only has to look at how many fled persecution and tyranny in their newfound freedom and independance to settled happily in Briain, many millios.
        Very sadly it was the EU that enabled the right-wing to choke Commonwealth peoples escaping persecution from their utterly corrupt regimes. After Brexit once again our borders can be opened to the world, not just to a prejudicial neo racist policy of EU peoples only.

    • Robbie Leask

      The Lib Dems current Brexit position is summarised by the car hurtling towards the calamitous no deal cliff edge at 100mph, while they faff about arguing over who gets to press the brake pedal.

      Reply
      • Peter Hamilton

        Boris’s current Brexit position is like he is sitting at the end of a branch with a saw whilst saying his sawing will hurt the tree more.

        Trouble is his future is already secure. It is the rest of us that have to worry, as worry we do if the financial markets are to be believed, which they are. There may be trouble ahead, but so long as theres Boris and Ian and Farage and John, let’s face the future and grimace.

  4. Peter Hamilton

    Michael forgets the 2016 Brexit advisory referendum in fact produced a result both Shetland (56.5% Remain) and Scotland (62% Remain) did not want.

    Under devolution Scotland has pulled sovereignty with the other parts of the U.K. as the U.K. has pulled its sovereignty within the EU. Some want stronger ties with America instead. Brexit would deliver that, but it would leave the U.K. with less scope for independent action and less influence globally.

    Breaking up the U.K. wasn’t part of the question in 2016. If our southern neighbours think they want to keep us in the smaller club, whilst dragging us out of the bigger club, they should know what they risk.

    It does not seem either fair or sustainable for Scotland, as one part of the union, to have its future written for it in such terms, or for Shetland either.

    We know a majority of Conservatives in England think it a price worth paying, but what about the rest of the electorate?

    Shetland can make the price clear in this by-election. Hopefully there will be a second advisory election to confirm who thinks it is a price worth paying.

    Europe or the US. That’s the choice.

    Reply
    • Mr ian Tinkler

      No, Peter, that is the narrow view. The choice is Europe or the whole, whole World and Europe!

      Reply
      • Peter Hamilton

        Europe is already making trade deals with the rest of the world though, and from a position of strength; deals we won’t have access to if Ian’s non-narrow view prevails.

        It is to those in Europe, our nearest neighbours, that we export the bulk of our rural economy perishable produce to – fish and lamb. That won’t be happening as easily under a hard Brexit, and it simply costs more, financially and to the environment, to export goods further afield; takes longer too.

        The US won’t mind our greater dependence on them, but they will expect greater obedience in return. “Taking back control” of our foreign policy will be more than a struggle once those economic ties are in place, beyond which point we will not be open to the world. We won’t have much influence over America and risk getting dragged further into their trade wars and worse.

        We can have influence in the EU so long as people can realise they have been misled by Boris’s daft straight cucumber stories etc. He is a dangerous populist, careerist opportunist who is doing well out of serving the agenda of corporate America. He will serve us up on a plate!

    • Graham Fleming

      And Northern Ireland was a prime example of British democracy at work? I have a choice to be British(nationality) it is for the forgotten atrocities of Empire and respect to the many lost souls(estimated at a 150 million) we should really discuss what’ the most successful Union’,was really about.If Scottish liberal democrats want to go back to that or remain with a more modern European model, i know what side of the fence i am on.I will be British( in the sense coming from these islands), to the day i die ,and will have a lot more in common with ordinary folk of Brighton than say Berlin.But Scotland being hauled out of the European Union against our will ,is just not on.

      Reply
  5. Peter Hamilton

    Malcolm, I suspect you agree everyone should feel free to lend their vote to any candidate as they feel circumstances dictate.

    I value my Labour membership and have been impressed by the Labour candidate’s position on the environmental harm Viking Energy will bring. Wills backers may live to regret his lack of a firm stance on peat, however desirable a cable for exporting truly green energy may later be.

    My last dealings with the then Scottish Labour MSP Maureen MacMillan included her saying she couldn’t, in conscience, oppose any windfarm. I couldn’t, in conscience, abandon consideration so swiftly.

    Visual impact tends to be communicated with static photos, and most people’s experience of journeying through a windfarm is as a brief part of their journey. That won’t be the case for those travelling North and West out of Lerwick, and the dying peat will stand as a testimony to the illiberal subsidy-farming greed of a small number of Shetlanders.

    Other windfarming proposals are stacked up. All proposals should be considered together and this should be done locally and South, resulting in an agreed plan. Tom Wills may yet hear enough similar comments to encourage him to take a more considered stand.

    Reply
  6. John Tulloch

    In every SNP campaign before this one, independence and its supposed benefits have been front and centre. That’s why people are remarking on its absence, this time.

    However, they are campaigning hard on their EU/anti-Brexit policy which, frankly, doesn’t make any sense.

    If they get their way and Britain remains in the EU, they run into a major problem, namely, that the EU has informed both the House of Lords and Holyrood, in writing, that

    “…a new independent region would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the Treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply anymore on its territory.”

    i.e. we shall be out of the EU, with “No Deal”.

    This will be economically devastating.

    It will create an immediate hard border with the UK, with whom we do 63 of all our trade. EU tariffs will apply and trade negotiations will be with Brussels, not with Westminster.

    Maybe that’s why they’re not talking about the ”benefits of independence”?

    Reply
    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      Brexit is a political gift to Scottish separatists. Obviously, they can’t say that in public but that’s just politics and you need to read between the lines.

      The current Brexit debate won’t reach a consensus, so it will not result in any stable, long-term solution. We might get a shoddy, one-foot-in/one-foot-out compromise or even a complete withdrawal of Article 50. That, however, would be challenged strongly at the next and every successive general election until it was eventually overturned. Until then, it would continue to dominate politics to the complete exclusion of every other subject.

      In the unlikely event that the U.K. decides to stay in the E.U. it will be even less committed to the process of European integration than it has been in the past. Its representatives in Europe will have to drag their feet and make a great display of standing up to the E.U. at every turn for fear of sparking another Faragist revolt.

      What many voters want is not just a half-hearted, grudging E.U. membership but rather, to be an enthusiastic and committed player at the very centre of the European process. Increasingly, it seems that there is only one way to achieve that.

      Reply
      • Peter Hamilton

        I largely agree Malcolm. Great benefits have accrued from EU membership, and cooperating with our neighbours is a good thing.

        On the whole, whilst there are some differences between people living in Yell and those in the town, those in the UK and those in any other European state, these differences are quite small. It is generally more helpful to focus on the similarities and work out how to get along for the greater good. And Britain does enjoy a fixed link with the continent!

        Were it not for the ceaseless efforts of the more xenophobic Tory press, Brits might have felt more European, but feel it or not, European we are: just ask the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas, aka Windsors.

        Remaining in Europe is a very positive choice. Giving the leadership of the Remain campaign to a Tory leader imposing austerity was not. Cameron was always going to get a kicking, but I haven’t given up on sufficient Leave voters changing their minds once the Boris bounce is over.

        This by-election isn’t primarily a vote about independence, but it is a chance to deflate Boris. It’s just a shame Tom Wills hasn’t questioned the eco-threat posed by planting vast wind-farms on peat.

    • Mr ian Tinkler

      Question his Dad’s legacy to Shetland (Viking Energy)! Get real Peter, he has not questioned the vandalism above Weisdale!!

      Reply
  7. John M Scott

    Just to clear something up…. There are 53 Commonwealth countries, not 63, with a combined population of 2.2 billion. Three member states: Mozambique, Rwanda and Cameroon, were never part of the British Empire. They chose to join the modern Commonwealth because the organisation encourages economic, cultural and educational links between a diverse range of people from around the world. These countries also recognise, through their continued membership, the tireless and sustained contribution over many years made by the Head of the Commonwealth: Her Majesty the Queen. May I suggest that you look at the website of the Royal Commonwealth Society for more information.

    Reply
  8. Mr ian Tinkler

    “We know a majority of Conservatives in England think it a price worth paying, but what about the rest of the electorate?
    Shetland can make the price clear in this by-election. Hopefully, there will be a second advisory election to confirm who thinks it is a price worth paying.”
    Never a more true word spoken! This is Shetland! Tom Wills and the SNP, we are independent of that.

    Reply
  9. ian Tinkler

    I do not think too many in the SNP have thought this through at all. Their attitude is so football match tribal, angry, divisive and pugilistic. All flag-waving, pi@@ and wind. Whatever the Westminster Government does, is all their fault and the SNP will confront and go in the opposite direction. SNP hates Brexit, especially the cliff edge no deal, yet Sturgeon will push Scotland off a far steeper cliff with indy2 before 2021 if she had her way. No UK, no Europe, still the worst deficit in Europe and not a hope in hell of joining the EU until that deficit massively reduced. All she could do would be to wave a flag and become the Venezuela of the Northern Hemisphere, but she would still blame Westminster. (for Westminster read England).

    Reply
    • Graham Fleming

      The Scottish Parliament under the SNP does not at present run a budget deficit. It is the British Government under the Tories that runs a deficit on behalf of expenditure in Scotland, a self governing Scotland would probably cut luxuries like the BBC, foreign wars ,nuclear weapons ,ppi,zero funded state pensions, nuclear decommissioning, no state debt,assets being privatised or nationalised outwith Scotland, oil and gas not being properly taxed,the Scotch whisky industry being properly taxed,in short a lot more proactive than Westminster is at the moment. A government more akin to Ireland or Norway promoting economic growth rather than the little Englander egos and mentality, of present.

      Reply
      • Mr ian Tinkler

        Graham Fleming, wonderful timing for a daft comment. Figures published today, “The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) estimated the country spent £12.6bn more on public services than it raised in taxes.” (worse than Greece and Italy) Better than last year but at this rate, it will be ten years at least before Scotland will reach bare minimal fiscal qualification to join the EU. Without UK support would be bankrupt today!!!

  10. John Tulloch

    @Graham Fleming,

    You write; ” The Scottish Parliament under the SNP does not at present run a budget deficit.”

    That is because Westminster funds the difference between tax receipts and expenditure.

    The SNP’s own Sustainable Growth Commission report states that an independent Scotland will start with a deficit of 5.9 percent of GDP because of the shortfall of tax receipts versus expenditure. They propose a programme of several years to bring the deficit down to 3 percent of GDP, which just happens to be the EU limit for budget deficits.

    We shall be automatically out of the EU on Independence and won’t get back in without a programme of austerity to align our economy with their conditions for joining.

    Reply
  11. Bobby Johnson

    History shows us that leaders who, in their insatiable lust for power mobilised youth to help further their political ambitions almost invariably turned out to front really nasty regimes.
    I wonder how much hard cash SNP has spent on its Shetland campaign.

    Reply

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