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Scottish Independence Debate / Gains but no majority for independence

Presenting the Better Together case on his own was Shetland MSP Tavish Scott (left). The opposing view was put forward by Danus Skene and Ross Greer (both on the right). The debate was chaired by former councillor Bill Manson - Photo: ShetNews

THE campaign for an independent Scotland “made some progress” on Friday afternoon, at least among students and lecturers at Shetland College.

Following an hour-long referendum debate, chaired by former councillor Bill Manson, those in favour of independence emerged victorious having more than doubled their vote by the end of the debate.

Their nine votes however still fell short of the 11 votes cast in favour of Scotland remaining part of the UK.

Shetland College had invited local MSP Tavish Scott, SNP member Danus Skene and the youth convener of the YES Scotland campaign Ross Greer to outline the arguments for and against independence.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael had also been invited but had to pull out at the last minute.

A straw poll taken at the start showed a clear preference for the status quo with 10 votes against a breakaway Scotland, four in favour of independence, and six still undecided.

Proceeding were kicked off by Green Party member Ross Greer who said Scotland has never had a real saying in the country’s politics with English legislation such as the bedroom tax imposed on the country.

He said Scotland had the potential to be a much fairer country but was in reality one of the most unequal smaller countries society in the world where one in every four kids were living in poverty.

Scott countered saying that he couldn’t see why one would want to make any changes because at present Scotland had the best of both worlds with Scottish decision making in Edinburgh, while enjoying international influence as part of the UK.

He said that Alistair Darling, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had all been Scots at the heart of UK politics.

He warned that that changing the status quo would create massive uncertainties in people’s lives and meant the possibility of having to use a passport when visiting friends or family in England.

Skene said the question of independence was much bigger and more fundamental.

Independence, he said, would give Scotland the option to choose its own way, “it’s about sovereign decision making”.

Scott said there were real dangers as to Scotland’s position in the European Union and also its influence on the Bank of England’s monetary policy should the country choose to use pound sterling as its currency.

“If in Europe, Angela Merkel would set the budget for Scotland, as she does for Greece,” he said.

No one knows what independence will mean for people’s pensions and what Scotland would look like the day after the referendum, he added.

Replying, Danus Skene said: “I have a pension, it is a UK pension, I depend on it, and it is in deep trouble.”

And on the question of an independent Scotland’s status with the EU, Greer added that since no country could be expelled from the EU, the door was wide open to re-negotiate the terms of the country’s membership.

Both sides agreed that there should be more autonomy for island communities such as Shetland.

Summing up, Tavish Scott described the YES Scotland campaign as dispiriting and warned against a vote for independence, as “we would have no idea where we are going towould end up”

Describing himself as a radical on immigration issues, Danus Skene received a round of applause when he said he was appalled by the UK’s “restrictive and racist” immigration system.