Once again, the big wheels – “spinney wheels” – of SNP Shetland birl into action, carpet-bombing the local media with crudely spun yarns exhorting Shetlanders to vote SNP in the forthcoming by-election.
Crowned by two supporting visits from first minister Nicola Sturgeon, plus depute first minister John Swinney, MEPs Christian Allard and Alyn Smith and MSP Maree Todd, Shetland shimmers with “Vote SNP” posters.
Photographs of Tom Wills and a host of glowing SNP worthies and children adorn every corner of social media. New arrangements allowing sixteen-year-olds and even prisoners to vote should boost their chances of success.
They are trying very, very hard. So hard that they’ve forgotten to explain what benefits independence, their defining policy, would bring to anti-independence Shetland. In fact, they’ve forgotten to mention it at all!
Of course, all parties seek electoral success, but why is the SNP so palpably desperate to win “peerie aald Shetland”?
The answer is simple. Shetland (and Orkney) is indispensable to their plans for Scottish independence. Without the isles’ maritime resources, independence will be unattractive to all bar their die-hard, core support.
Major problems will arise if Scotland votes Yes in an independence referendum and Shetland votes No. The SIC could then seek to negotiate Shetland autonomy, analogous to that enjoyed by Faroe and the Isle of Man; a mouthwatering prospect, indeed.
However, our negotiating position must be defended at all costs. It must never be thrown away by allowing the SNP to hold political power in Shetland.
The SIC and Jo Grimond demanded autonomy in 1978, ahead of the 1979 devolution referendum. On that occasion, there was insufficient support for devolution for it to proceed so the autonomy bid fell by the wayside.
The moral is clear. Having a council and parliamentarians committed to representing Shetland’s interests is imperative at such a time. As opposed to political leaders whose first priority is Scottish independence.
Given the ongoing Brexit turmoil, there could be a rerun of the 2014 referendum, very soon.
This is why the SNP is, literally, “desperate” to win Shetland and why they are throwing everything, including the ‘kitchen sink’, into their campaign. They simply must have the power to kill autonomy, at any and all stages, from conception to birth.
And given the chance, kill it they will.
That is why Shetlanders must never permit the SNP to win political power, at any level, in Shetland.