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Letters / In the interest of Shetland, vote for Tavish!

If the results of door-to-door canvassing and the energetic campaign of Tavish Scott are anything to go by, the last thing the SNP’s Danus Skene needs is a major row about the future of Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT).

Yet ‘da heid eens’ at SCT, ever alert for opportunities to defuse public outrage at their undemocratic actions have – mid-election – released their plan to end any say the Shetland people have over their own money by reducing the number of councillors on the trust’s board to four while increasing the number of trustees appointed by themselves, to eleven (Wills wants trust to restore democratic control; SN, 25/04/16)

Trust vice chairman Jonathan Wills describes it thus:

“The suggestion that we should greatly increase the majority of unelected trustees (from 53.2% to 73.3%) and leave a rump of four councillors on the trust would not be a reform: it would be perceived by “the inhabitants of the Shetland Islands” as a reversion to the early 19th century, when Shetland’s self-appointed, self-perpetuating Great and Good decided amongst themselves how best to distribute the contents of The Poor’s Box, not trusting ignorant, feckless peasants to elect their own trustees.”

Jonathan is 100 percent right.

This scandal is a consequence of outside interference in Shetland’s affairs by the Scottish government charities regulator OSCR who insisted the trust
implement its current undemocratic structure, back in 2012. Now those whom Jonathan refers to as “Undemocrats” are seeking to consolidate their grip on the trust’s coffers by declaring UDI from democratic accountability.

The initiative, led by an appointed trustee who is a member of potential beneficiary NHS Shetland, on Holyrood’s payroll, comes as little surprise.

There can be no clearer evidence that Shetland needs control of its own affairs and the only MSP election candidate showing credible commitment to significant local powers is Tavish Scott. He has:

  • Called consistently, over a period of years, for Shetland to have the right to determine its own future in the event of Scottish independence
  • Produced, with Orkney colleague, Liam McAskill, an ambitious Islands Plan.
  • Presented his plan and successfully proposed a motion to the Scottish LibDems Spring Conference that the LD Home Rule and Community Rule Commission Report, as presented to the Smith Commission, be implemented in full to deliver significant local powers.

Mr Scott is a local man brought up in Bressay who yesterday delighted
Whalsay crofters by delivering a lamb from “a difficult yowe”. Yet he is also a highly respected, senior Scottish politician with vast experience of Scotland’s political system.

By contrast, Danus Skene of the so-called ‘Tartan Tory’ SNP is an unattractive alternative. He has claimed, falsely, that all financial cuts hurting Shetland are the fault of Westminster.

Yet, for example, the disparity in ferry subsidies between the northern (down 14 percent) and western isles (up 41 percent), which has arisen over the past three years is entirely Holyrood’s doing. Westminster played no part.

Indeed, the party-hopping old-Etonian clan chief has little to commend him to voters.

In the overwhelming interests of Shetland’s future prosperity I urge Shetlanders to vote for Tavish Scott on Thursday.

John Tulloch
Wir Shetland