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Scottish Independence Debate / Referendum: campaigning gets under way

Jenny Stout of the Shetland Women for Independence group.

WITH LESS than six months to go before the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September, islanders have the chance to listen to both sides of the arguments.

On Friday, local Better Together activists will be joined by Labour MSPs David Stewart and Sarah Boyack as they host a street stall in Lerwick’s Commercial Street starting at 1pm.

Spokesman Graham Johnston said this was chance for local residents to get involved in the Better Together campaign.

“This campaign isn’t just about politicians so it will be good to have many of our local activists out on Friday.

“I hope that on the back of our street stall and leaflet delivering that more Shetland residents become part of the campaign to make the positive case that the best future for Scotland is as part of the UK,” he said.

“Don’t worry if you’ve never done anything like this before, there will be plenty of experienced campaigners who will tell you all you need to know and also people who are brand new to campaigning as well.”

Highlands and islands list MSP David Stewart added that the choice was clear.

“On the one hand we can have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish Parliament, with the guarantee of more powers, backed up by the strength, security and stability of the larger UK; or we can take a leap into the unknown with all the risks that separation brings,” he said.

Meanwhile, a newly formed Shetland branch of Women for Independence (WfI) will host their first public meeting the following Thursday.

The non-party, broad based campaign group aims to ensure that women are involved in the independence debate and that their voices are heard.

The group has invited independent list MSP Jean Urquhart to speak at a launch event on 17 April at Islesburgh Community Centre, starting at 7pm.

Group founder Jenny Stout said WfI Shetland were planning to hold a series of informal drop-in discussions around the isles to encourage all women, regardless of their opinion on the upcoming referendum, to come along and get involved.

She added: “Women are less likely to speak up in meetings, panels are frequently all-male – women’s voices are not being heard in this debate, and this must change.

“I am campaigning with Women for Independence because, for me, the referendum is about pursuing equality and social justice, the opportunity to change the status quo.

“We want to encourage women’s participation in this debate and hear what they have to say, as well as making our case for a yes vote.”

Our special referendum debate pages can be found at www.shetnews.co.uk/features/scottish-independence-debate/