In answer to Leigh-Ann McGinty (Hill’s illogical path; SN, 19/03/14), I’m sorry if I did not make myself clear – sometimes I make assumptions about what should be common knowledge, but actually is not.
The reason that the ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ campaign is flawed is that the western isles are included in it. Whereas Shetland and Orkney’s history binds them together with a legitimate legal claim to be separate, the western isles, having been formally ceded to Scotland, are in a different category.
This disparate group can only beg for concessions on the basis of being islands, whereas Shetland and Orkney have a legitimate claim for whatever relationship they want with the rest of the world. That claim is based on the fact that there is no proof that they are part of either Scotland or the UK.
I know it’s a long and strongly held assumption that we are part of Scotland. That is what historians tell us and what the ‘authorities’ would like us to believe, but this is no longer a matter for historians – we can forget about arguing over those details.
The time for unfounded presumptions has passed. It is now a matter of law and affects us all right now. These are the facts:
The Crown was unable to produce any proof that Shetland is part of Scotland when required to in court in 2011.
- Neither the UK, nor the Scottish governments were able to rebut a claim for the ultimate title of Shetland’s land and seabed made in 2014.
- Neither the UK nor Scotland has, at the time of writing, responded to a freedom of information request asking for proof that Shetland is part of the UK or Scotland. The time limit for response runs out on 26 March.
- According to official figures, after paying all direct and indirect taxes and getting back all the support, grants and subsidies we need to run our society, there is a net figure of £86 million left in the UK Treasury for them to spend on illegal wars and whatever else.
- My estimate of UK income from Shetland’s oil is in excess of £10 billion – a figure that is not contested.
What I’m saying is that with those kinds of figures at stake, it is a gross mistake to do anything that makes a presumption that we are part of Scotland. That includes voting in their referendum and going cap in hand asking Scotland and the UK for powers that we have no proof they own.
The figures involved give all those involved (except us) a strong incentive to make us continue to think we are part of Scotland. They equally give us an amazingly strong bargaining position if we don’t give them away before we start.
I am certainly not advocating doing nothing – I’m saying we should have the courage to challenge beliefs cherished by those who would take advantage of us, and know that we have the financial, political and social strength to stand on our own feet. That is what I’m doing and will continue to strain every sinew to accomplish.
My book ‘Stolen Isles’ tells the whole story.
Full documentation of the above facts can be found at www.sovereignshetland.com