As the very recent and quite fanciful clarion call for autonomy approaches whisper level, it is ironic that our councillors voted overwhelmingly to note (ignore / kick into the long grass / use any other phrase you fancy) two petitions signed by many hundreds of our concerned citizens, but agreed, half an hour later, to devote time, energy and resources to pursue some vague and hazy notion of Shangri – La, or perhaps a Grand Cayman of the north.
Being relentlessly told that this is a non-political council, councillor Leask found himself in an apparently untenable position, because he happened to disagree with the non-political council’s political strategy. His honourable resignation means, at least for the moment, our community has lost an enthusiastic and hardworking champion.
Self-determination and enhanced local democracy are indeed admirable aims, in fact, most local authorities in Britain would welcome a greater degree of local control, but as with most things in life, it is not just what is being said, it is also who is doing the saying.
It would appear that this clarion call is driven by a yearning to return to Tory/Lib Dem austerity, a desperate fear of an independent Scotland, and a section of the fishing community that seemingly needs unbridled access to our waters.
Autonomy for 23,000 Shetlanders, but alas not for millions of Scots. Perhaps Orkney too will dip its toe into the murky waters of Westminster.
Were our local champions of democracy crying out on behalf of the beleaguered Palestinians, or had they been demanding a homeland for the Kurdish people, then that presents us with a different proposition entirely.
Sadly though, when we look at our council’s voting history in recent years, we see an introverted, inward-looking, neo-liberal landscape, which belies any prospect of progress on the social front, and therefore as a community, we need to think long and hard about our future direction.
If I’m not mistaken, the Liberal Democrats will be returned again in May with a handsome majority, and will therefore leave the rest of us to push for real social progress.
With an independent Scotland, Shetland will thrive and prosper, there is no doubt about that. We cling on to Westminster at our peril.
Councillor the Shetland Central ward