Am I the only one that finds it more than a bit condescending when the good folks at Yes Shetland (Glasgow) say we couldn’t look after ourselves in an independent Shetland?
We all know this means they think we neither have the ability nor can we attain it. They think that somehow we are inferior to their preferred choice of people from that island to the south. But not too far south, they are quite specific on that point!
If we want an example of how well Scotland looks after our interests lets look at fisheries.
Fishing is devolved to Edinburgh and it is Marine Scotland that dreams up and enforces the rules that our fishermen have to live by.
They have lots of insensible and unworkable rules but there is one rule in particular that defies logic; that of closed areas or boxes.
These are areas of sea that local boats have recorded catching lots of cod. To save this “rare almost extinct” species from being overfished boats are banned from fishing there. This information is widely publicised to make sure fishermen know where the area is and that there is a lot of cod in it, and there is no doubt that boats should not be fishing there, unless that boat happens to belong to any other EU country because they can quite happily fish in these areas.
Marine Scotland advertises this fact to the EU fleet. Now, if this rule is supposed to be anything other than a knife to the heart of our fishing industry while boosting that of other countries, then the people that came up with it and continue to enforce it are so stupid I’ll bet they carry little alarm clocks to remind them to breathe.
Then there is the issue of renting in quota, something that is unfortunately a necessity in order for boats to survive under the current set up. Because of the complete arse Marine Scotland is making of things the Scottish fleet can no longer rent quota from the English PO.
When challenged on this point at a meeting here in Shetland, the Marine Scotland representative scoffed that it was just a rumour.
When a local skipper patiently explained to the Edinburgh lackey that it was not a rumour and he knew this because for years he had been renting 500 tonnes of quota from England but this year had been refused, said Edinburgh lackey continued to insist it was a rumour. Like his political masters reality is dismissed as rumour and fantasy presented as fact.
Now as to our own political leaders, would we want our islands to be independent with them in charge? No probably not, but we would have elections and with what is at stake I’m sure we would take a lot more care in the selection. Let’s be honest, when we look to Edinburgh and Westminster, is there really anyone there we trust with our future?
The oil question keeps coming up in the Scottish referendum discussions. Here are my thoughts:
We are having to accept cuts in spending from government, we had to fight to get even a quarter of the housing debt repaid, a paltry £10 million from Westminster and a promise to fund house building to the tune of £10 million from Edinburgh, which they would have to spend anyway.
All this while Total are spending £850 million so far on a gas plant, BP are planning a £1.2billion upgrade to the Sullom Voe terminal and Chevron are sniffing around as well.
With all this money being spent to recover the vast oil reserves below the seabed in our waters, both governments are very reluctant to spend any money on Shetland.
When the oil runs dry in 60 to 100 years or so, will an independent Scotland want to pay for the services Shetland will need to survive?
Well, going by their current reluctance to throw us even the barest crumbs from our own table, I would say NO.
I would expect at that time for the Scottish government to decide that island independence is a good thing and we will get our independence anyway whether we want it or not.
So how do we run an independent Shetland?
For a start I would look to other small island communities for inspiration and to see how they get things done. We could do a lot worse than looking to Faroe for how to manage the fishing industry and how to deal with the bullyboy EU.
We could look to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands for our banking, and to Iceland on how to deal with our bankers if they screw up. For our energy policy I would look to Norway.
The fact is there is a plentiful supply of successful island communities that do rather nicely surviving in the big bad world all on their own. And they don’t have a tenth of the natural resources that we do. We should look at all of them and see how they manage for good and bad.
Windmills: my understanding is that there is no more capacity on the local grid. So instead of wasting money building more windmills we should be investing in new ways to store the power we produce.
Investing in this would be far more profitable without scarring the landscape for generations to come. Inviting companies to set up here and investigate ways to do this would create more jobs long term than hundreds of windmills ever will.
Edinburgh has already shown that they are happy to spoil the highlands and islands by covering them in windmills in order for the central belt to feel all green and environmental.
Our new power station would be at Sullom and fuelled by gas from offshore, with pipelines coming in from both east and west.
Our security of supply is far better than any country in the world, and the cost of upgrading the power lines from Voe south would be a fraction of the cost of building a new power station in Lerwick.
And if there are developments in tidal energy then Yell and Bluemull sounds are close by for tying in to the grid.
For our health service I would get everyone BUPA health insurance. Problem solved!
No more waiting to see a consultant; you would be seen within the week and any treatment would begin right away. With bulk discount and membership from birth, the benefits to the population would be immeasurable.
As an independent country the opportunities would be unlimited. Our young folk would no longer need to leave to achieve their dreams, but would want to stay to build a future their children will be proud of.
I know many Shetlanders who have left in order to make a living, and they have gone on to rise to the very top of their chosen field.
Shetlanders have risen to the top in business and politics, civil and military service all over the world, CEOs and Prime Ministers, private secretaries, chancellors and generals, they have founded cities and even become kings.
Yet somehow we would not be able to look after ourselves without Edinburgh or London to hold our hands.
The ‘yeSNP’ are forever pointing out the negative nature of the Better Together campaign, yet when faced with the idea of the isles having self determination we get the same negativity from the ‘yeSNP’.
As I said before, there is no difference between Edinburgh and London.
I would hope that Orkney and the western isles would also vote for their independence and together we could forge ahead in a atmosphere of cooperation where our interests overlap.
It would certainly be good for the western isles as there is soon going to be oil “discovered” off their shores.
So why not take our chances just now while we still have a fishing industry to save and oil reserves to pay for the transition and build an oil fund for the future.
Up until now I’ve extolled the virtues of self-determination for the isles and in particular why Shetland would be a better place with full independence.
But what about those who want to stay with Scotland? Why should they sign the petition?
Well, if they care about Shetland they would sign it to help the council with their Our Islands, Our Future negotiations.
Although Wills dismissed us (as ‘yeSNP’ he has to) the threat of us taking our future into our own hands can only strengthen the council’s hand at the table.
Plus, if Scotland votes No, you at least will get a second bite at the cherry.
- If you want decisions that affect the isles to be made in isles then sign the petition at: www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/islandgroups
- If you want a fishing industry based in Shetland, sign the petition.
- If you want fixed links to Yell, Unst and Whalsay, then sign the petition.
- If you want high schools on the isles or even outside Lerwick, sign the petition.
- If you want to see an end to the Viking wind farm, sign the petition.
- If you want more opportunities for your children and grandchildren, sign the petition.
- If you want a better deal from Our Islands, Our Future, sign the petition.
- If you want a prosperous future for the isles after oil, sign the petition.
- If you just want a say in your future, sign the petition.
In fact I can’t think of one good reason not to sign it.