THE SCOTTISH government’s white paper on independence has come under heavy criticism from Shetland’s two Liberal Democrat parliamentarians.
Yes Shetland campaigners argue it offers the country hope for the future, while the majority of local people appear to be unsure of how they will vote in next September’s independence referendum.
Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael is leading the government charge as secretary of state for Scotland against the SNP’s drive for a Yes vote.
Hours after the white paper’s release he condemned the 670 page white paper as being devoid on answers about currency, pension plans and the price of independence.
He also accused the Scottish government of taking powers away from the northern isles and then offering them back as a bribe.
“The Scottish government has the power to implement a number of their promises now, but they have chosen not to,” he said.
“The promise of an ‘Isles Act’ for Orkney and Shetland is one such example – it is wrong that this should be used as bait for a Yes vote.
“For years they have stripped power away from local communities and now they are offering some of it back as some sort of referendum bribe. I know that local people have not been impressed with that.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said the government’s refusal to implement legislation to devolve power to the isles ahead of a referendum as “deeply disappointing”.
He also accused the government of doing nothing for childcare while they had the power to do so, and then offering iomprovements under independence.
“For six years the SNP have been in charge of childcare and they have done little. Now Shetland families are expected to believe the SNP would in the future do something to help,” he said.
“People will see right through this manifesto and wonder why the nationalist government couldn’t use the powers they have had for six years to help Shetland families, businesses and local people.”
However Charlie Gallagher of the Yes Shetland campaign group said from what he had seen of the white paper it was extremely comprehensive.
He added that the No campaigners were always demanding the answers to questions which only the UK government could give.
“This document sets out a way forward to a much more equal and democratic Scotland,” he said.
A brief poll of opinion in various parts of Shetland carried out by Shetland News during Tuesday suggested there was more support for independence among the younger generation, with most people saying they still had too many questions to make a final decision.
More information about the government’s white paper can be found here.