Listening to Drew Ratter on Radio Shetland’s “Public Platform” last week just about summed up why politics, local and national, are treated with such disdain or outright contempt by most folk – with the wonderful exception of the politically invigorating independence referendum.
Drew Ratter, Jonathan Wills, Allan Wishart and others over the years that have formed the ruling cabals in the town hall, are followers of “elected democracy” which to most of us means once we elect our members to the town hall they vote on our behalf in any way they feel, any project or spending proposal they personally prefer and blatantly commit our resources etc without further consultation with us until the next election.
If we didn’t like their actions on our behalf we can vote them out and that’s OK in the general run of governance, local or national.
Sometimes there are very important issues (usually large things that have massive impacts on the area, county or country) where elected democracy needs a reality check, go back to the community and hear what folk think, want or do not want.
The Scottish government had a referendum on Scottish independence as it was such an important matter, David Cameron threatens an In – Out referendum on EU membership on similar grounds of it being of huge importance.
In local terms the Viking Energy wind farm was/is far more important as it’s a development of monumental physical alteration of our islands’ landscape, amenity, global environmental credibility and so many other things money cannot buy – as opposed to just a political change.
This was/is the big one. The SIC’s elected members should have embraced the rare need to take democracy back to the people of Shetland and ask everyone if they wanted it or not.
They chose not to because of this somewhat lazy but very arrogant interpretation of democracy. At the end of the day the political players got their way but it was not done in the best spirit of democracy, and is such a blatant example of “elected dictatorship”
This is not the only case of a perverse take on “elected dictatorship” practiced by the names above & others, but by far the worse case since Sullom Voe.
The people behind this will go down in history more as serious abusers of local democracy than anything else and justly so, as they could quite easily have avoided the delays, costs and split to the community.
The wind farm supporters unjustly blame on Sustainable Shetland (who were only evoking what the law provides as a mechanism to protect communities form bad developments).
What a different outcome there would have been if there were measures in place to bring back former councillors and ex-officials so they can be held to account for their actions when appropriate.