GR Direct - Sony - Save up to £300 on selected Bravia OLED & LED TVs
Monday 27 May 2024
 11.3°C   SE Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Letters / Not so disastrous

So, Boris Johnson thinks devolution has been “a disaster”, does he?

He forgets, or maybe never knew, that if a Labour government had not reconvened the Scottish Parliament in 1999 the Tory party would certainly have faced electoral disaster in Scotland, where it has not won a UK general election since 1955.

Thanks to the proportional representation system agreed for Holyrood by Labour and the Liberals, the Tories have been able to retain a parliamentary voice and some influence in Scotland.

When they were almost wiped out in first-past-the-post contests for Westminster seats, and for most geographical constituencies in Scotland’s devolved parliament, they managed to keep a toehold in Holyrood’s additional member seats, roughly in proportion to their party’s electoral support.

If Johnson bothered to check his facts (which would be out of character, I realise) he would see that devolution has actually been a boon for his party, saving it from well-deserved oblivion north of the border.

For Shetland, devolution has certainly not been ‘a disaster’. One of the first things the post-1999 government in Holyrood did was to arrange a new ferry contract for the Northern Isles.

NorthLink, unlike its predecessor P&O Ferries, now provides a nightly passenger service to and from Aberdeen with greater comfort and punctuality than before.  Full credit to Tavish Scott for seeing to that, when he was transport minister in the Lib-Lab coalition at Holyrood.

NorthLink is not perfect and it costs a fortune, but the Scottish Government provides a very large subsidy to keep our lifeline shipping link going. Some of that money gives pensioners free passage on two returns trips a year to Aberdeen, something we never had before devolution.

Likewise, with the two dedicated freighters on the route. There are criticisms that freight capacity is less than shippers would like but it’s a great deal better than what we had before devolution.  So, still some problems, yes, but “a disaster”? I don’t think so.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

Devolution has brought many other improvements that help make Shetland a healthier, safer and more civilised place, many of them passed into law since the SNP first formed a minority government with Green Party support in 2007.

Examples include free NHS prescriptions, free personal care for elderly citizens and the abolition of tuition fees for students (both measures described by Mr Johnson as “monstrous”), as well as free bus travel for pensioners, the smoking ban, minimum unit prices for alcohol, the baby box scheme, the Scottish Child Payment, cash to mitigate the effects of the Tories’ evil policies on the bedroom tax and the rape clause and, most recently, the ban on smacking – which gives children the same protection from assault as adults enjoy.

Very few Shetland folk would describe these measures as ‘disastrous’. Very many of our families and friends south of the border envy us and compare favourably the public spirit and effectiveness of successive Scottish governments with the runaway corruption and incompetence they see in Westminster.

Jonathan Wills
Bressay

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.