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Viewpoint / Viewpoint: For fishing, for democracy

Brian Nugent.

A critic of the European Union for decades, local Scottish Leave Left campaigner Brian Nugent set out the case for a UK exit ahead of the EU referendum on Thursday.

Karmenu Vella is a major player in Shetland. Who? The Maltese politician is the unelected appointee who happens to be the EU commissioner for the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.

Fishing is currently worth £300 million a year to the islands and is worth more to Shetland than the value of the oil, gas, agriculture, tourism and creative industries together.

So fishing is a huge issue, or should be, and should have been in 1973 when Ted Heath cared more about joining the then Common Market than about fishing when he accepted the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which was slipped in at the last moment.

The allegation, never challenged, is that the CFP document in French was accepted by Heath without being translated, unread.

In negotiation at the same time, Norway took the trouble to translate the CFP document and decided that control of their fishing was too important to give away.

If Britain votes Leave then we could join EFTA (European Free Trade Association). The main point about EFTA countries is that they have total control over fishing and farming.

The Fishing for Leave web site (http://ffl.org.uk/) is worth a visit to find out about the damage that the EU has visited on fishing. On the supporters page there are many boats from across Britain and from Shetland too.

Fishing for Leave organised a demonstration on the Thames going past the House of Commons. Such is the lack of respect for the fishing industry that the Remain campaign thought it would be a good lark to organise a dangerous counter demonstration to which the river police had to be called.

In amongst all the nonsense, Bob Geldof and friends and their antics got most of the publicity. Fishing and the real issues sank without trace.

Out of the EU, fishing would surely fare better.

All the main political parties are supporters of the EU and they all say that the EU needs to be reformed. However, none of the parties ever say how the reforms will be carried out.

Partly, this is because the EU is so complex and, partly, because the EU is unwilling to change for the UK because there are 27 other countries who would want changes too.

If there is any doubt about the chances of reform look at the reforms that David Cameron said he had negotiated. His reforms have disappeared from the campaign as they were no more than window dressing anyway.

When Cameron needed something significant from the EU to boost the Remain campaign there was nothing on offer.

Back to Vella, the unelected appointee. Whatever you think of the government in Westminster or Edinburgh, every five years or so you get the chance to kick out the politicians and the governments.

No one elects the EU Commission. The 28 commissioners are all appointees. No voters are involved. The EU is not democratic. Vella could be the best or worst fisheries commissioner ever, but no matter, Vella is unaccountable to voters.

Cecilia Malmstrom is the trade commissioner. She said: “I do not take my mandate from the European people” when responding to a question on the over three million people across Europe who signed a petition against the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP).

If we remain in the EU, then TTIP has to be a huge worry. The biggest problem with TTIP is that it is secret but what has slipped out appears to put government public services, including health, under threat of being sued by private companies limiting national governments ability to enact policies for their voters benefit rather than private companies.

In my opinion, the damage done to fishing is the main issue in Shetland, and the main issue across Britain is the lack of democracy in the EU. For fishing, for democracy, on Thursday vote Leave.