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Letters / Shetland’s best interests

Jonathan Wills has reminded us (Europe, fish and the referendum, ST 5/9/14) that Shetlanders voted to leave the EU, following Harold Wilson’s efforts in the 1970s to delay the introduction of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). They voted astutely, to protect the fishing industry.

After building a strong case for Shetland to leave the EU, Jonathan goes on to conclude that Shetland’s interests would be best served by staying in the EU but with an independent Scotland “having a vote in Brussels”.

An independent Scotland could certainly contribute positively to the EU, especially, if the northern and western isles join them, as opposed to becoming independent or staying with the rUK.

EU membership, however, like everything else, including the departure of the UK’s nuclear deterrent from Faslane, will be negotiable.

Does anyone seriously imagine that Alex Salmond will succeed in negotiating entry into NATO, the (predominantly-NATO) European Union AND currency union with the rUK while, simultaneously, honouring his pledge to close the nuclear submarine and missile bases at Faslane and Coulport?

And if the price of winning EU membership is signing on to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), what will our Scottish fishing vote in Brussels be worth?

Jonathan’s conclusion that Shetland’s interests would be best served by remaining in the EU, albeit, with a Scottish vote, does not follow from his argument. Quite the reverse.

It’s clear that, especially, in the case of Shetland’s £300 million p.a. fishing industry, it would be better, like Iceland and Faroe, to remain outside the EU.

And given Magnie Stewart’s chilling warning (A fighting chance; SN 8/9/14) that an independent Scotland joining the EU would automatically lose the existing UK derogation on quotas for Scottish vessels, it’s also clear that Shetland would be wiser to stay with the rUK who, having gained permanent right wing government due to the departure of Scottish socialist MPs, would, also, be more likely to leave the EU.

Following this argument to its conclusion, it’s highly unlikely that Shetland votes will swing the referendum result one way or the other and if Scotland wins independence, there’s nothing to stop Shetlanders joining them, should they wish to.

So there’s no harm in voting No, in Shetland’s best interests.

The difference will be that, with a Shetland No, doors will open in Westminster and Holyrood for meaningful negotiations, ahead of a local referendum.

Shetland residents will, for once, have some say in their own destiny, as opposed to being told “NO, it’s YOUR Future, OUR Islands,” by Holyrood, who have already shown their true colours by seizing the SIC’s housing support grant, intended by Westminster to cover interest payments on the SIC’s 1970s oil boom housing debt, incurred at government’s request, leaving Shetland, effectively, £30 million worse off.

Shetlanders will be welcomed into an independent Scotland, at any time, but will be wise to do so on their own terms, A majority Yes vote by Shetland would be extremely ill-advised, like “turkeys voting for early Christmas”.

It’s in Shetlanders’ own, vital, interests, to deliver a resounding NO, on September 18th.

John Tulloch