Join the debate!

THE INDEPENDENCE referendum reignited political debate in this country, not least in these islands.

But that debate did not stop on 18 September last year – never before have so many people become so engaged in how our public affairs are run. This can only be a good thing.

Having published all shades of opinion during the independence campaign, Shetland News is proud to launch Viewpoint - a regular opinion column covering local, national and international issues from an island perspective.

We would welcome contributions from right across the political and cultural spectrum, and hope to stimulate lively debate that will help shape Shetland’s future. Contributions can be sent as articles or letters to comment@shetnews.co.uk, or comments can be made at the foot of the page.


Editorial: Standing up for liberal values

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THE FORTY or so individuals who turned out on the streets of Lerwick to express their solidarity with women and minorities who – quite understandably – fear for their future under the demagogic, newly-inaugurated US president deserve to be warmly commended.

It is heartening to see civic engagement of this sort, whether to do with local, national or global affairs.

That people in Lerwick took their place alongside 100,000 in London and millions more worldwide against a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women might be a small gesture, but it is an important one.

Viewpoint: 'The tragedy of Brexit'

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Jane Mack.

TEN YEARS ago John and Jane Coutts, and their son Frank (now 21), moved from Fetlar to live in rural Spain.
Here, Jane responds to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit speech from earlier this week and describes how her family's life has been hanging in the balance ever since a 52 per cent majority voted in favour of leaving the European Union.

We have been living and working in Spain since 2007, paying into the country's social security system and hopefully contributing economically and socially to the village where we live.

Opinion: ferry fares campaign vindicated

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Ferry fares campaigner Ryan Thomson - Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland NewsFOR YEARS now our ferry fares have been far too high. They have crept up considerably over the last decade or so, around 154 per cent since 2007 by my calculation, writes ferry fares campaigner Ryan Thomson.  Finally though, politicians are starting to recognise this high level of fares is entirely unacceptable.

First of all, a peerie bit of background as to why I felt a petition and campaign were necessary. Both Nicola Sturgeon on her visit to Shetland and Humza Yousaf shortly after being announced as transport and islands minister promised that a reduction in fares is required and will happen “sooner rather than later”. 

MP: Brexit plans in ‘tatters’

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Alistair Carmichael MP SIC leader Gary RobinsonNORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael says the Conservative government's Brexit plans are now in "tatters" after the High Court ruled that parliament should have a say on the timing of the UK's departure from the European Union.

Editorial: We'd be worse off without foreigners

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THE TEAM at Shetland News would like to encourage our readers to consider adding their name to an open letter condemning the UK Government for its “bitter, racist and divisive language” in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

At the Conservative party conference Prime Minister Theresa May derided people with an inclusive liberal mind-set by saying that “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”. What nonsense.

Viewpoint: EU power grab to be resisted

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Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsBRITAIN'S departure will see the EU lose 298,718 square miles of the world's richest fishing grounds, writes Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan.

The waters to the west of Scotland extend 200 miles toward Rockall, where haddock, herring and mackerel abound and a gargoyle-like array of ugly fish inhabit the abyssal depths.

To the east, our waters extend to the middle of the North Sea, rich in whitefish and prawns. As the southern North Sea narrows, our sea border abuts the waters of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, awash with flat fish.

In some places our southern sea border, due in no small part to the Channel Islands, lies only 10 miles off the coast of France. The toe of Cornwall extends our waters 200 miles into the Atlantic, a finger pointing to the rich fishing grounds we share with Ireland.

Viewpoint: Contempt for EU citizens

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Hans J MarterIT WILL come as no big surprise to anyone that I am horrified at the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union following Thursday's referendum, writes Hans J Marter.

Over recent weeks we have heard a lot about the "undemocratic" decision-making process within the EU and how life will be so much better once the UK has fully regained control of its own affairs.

Let's have a closer look at those democratic credentials: to do so we don't have to look any further than who actually is allowed to vote in this referendum.

Editorial: Despite EU's flaws, we should stay

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THE EU referendum has been a monumentally ugly campaign since its outset.

From the supposedly well-educated Tories adopting strikingly similar language to the odious pub bore bigotry of Nigel Farage on the Vote Leave side to the bad cover version of “project fear” trotted out by the Cameron/Osborne axis in the Remain camp, there has been little for the progressively-minded to applaud.

Viewpoint: For fishing, for democracy

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ABrian Nugent. critic of the European Union for decades, local Scottish Leave Left campaigner Brian Nugent set out the case for a UK exit ahead of the EU referendum on Thursday.

Karmenu Vella is a major player in Shetland. Who? The Maltese politician is the unelected appointee who happens to be the EU commissioner for the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.

Fishing is currently worth £300 million a year to the islands and is worth more to Shetland than the value of the oil, gas, agriculture, tourism and creative industries together.

Viewpoint: EU Referendum myth buster

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Alex Garrick-Wright.WITH JUST four days to go until the EU referendum, it's essential for voters to get their facts straight. Alex Garrick-Wright helps clear up some common myths about the EU.

"Most of our laws are being made by unelected bureaucrats from Brussels."

Provably false. Wildly false. Irresponsibly false. But easy to tell people because of a general lack of education about how the EU works. Let us remedy that:

The European Commission is made of one commissioner per country, selected by that nation's government to represent them.

Viewpoint: Brexit? A jump into the unknown

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Shetland MSP Tavish Scott.This is your decision. 

As with Scottish independence the people will decide.

As with 2014 you need the facts and figures on which to base a decision.

And now as then, the facts are hotly disputed. The figures even more so.

A white paper was produced by the Scottish Government making the case for independence. It was, for many of us, a work of fiction. But it did provide a basis for debate.

EU referendum: Facts please, not rhetoric

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Alex Garrick-WrightThe decision whether or not to leave the EU is one of the most important political choices the UK will make in this generation. What makes it a difficult choice, however, is the appalling nature of both the campaigns, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

There are two competing Leave camps, one of which started legal action because it wasn't picked to be the "official" leavers, fronted by half of the most unlikable and untrustworthy politicians in the UK, and whose campaign is reaching Donald Trump levels of parroting provably-false statements.

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