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Letters / Electorate of Shetland, wake up!

Many thanks and congratulations to Alistair Carmichael and Beatrice Wishart for organising a highly successful and well attended – for a wild Saturday afternoon – webinar on the issue of fixed links for Shetland.

Clear majority happy to pay tolls for using any tunnel that may be built in the future

I know I am usually highly critical – on differences of political ideas, not and never personal criticism  – of the vast majority of our political class, but this sort of event should become a regular feature of decision-making soundings to shake the Shetland populace from its complete soporific and apathy inducing council, which is  hugely secretive at worst, unengaged, disinterested in the public it claims to serve.

The presentation from our Faroese neighbours shows what can be done and shows us up for what we are. Political amateurs.

Whilst some of the current ‘great and good’ of our local politicians were present – well done – it was telling that most were not present.

Elected members from all of Shetland are required to make this much needed infrastructure happen telling then that the majority, who I assume are seeking re-election in May think an issue like this is for ‘ internal’ council insider debate.

The biggest single issue behind something like a fixed link programme, apart from local political incompetence, is the issue of far greater powers and autonomy of decision-making needing to come to Shetland.

I do have to pull Beatrice up on her huge contradiction in views. In one breath she argued that we should not be side-tracked with questions of pushing for enhanced island autonomy a la Faroe, and in a subsequent breath derided, rightly the centralist and centralising SNP and Westminster governments for making no reference to fixed links in either the latest Scottish Transport strategy or Levelling Up at Holyrood and Westminster.

You cannot have it both ways Beatrice, but a nice try in defending the going nowhere Liberal Democrat approach to Holyrood and Westminster – complete powerlessness.

So, the need for enhanced planning, economic, fiscal and social policy powers are essential. Do look out for the coming manifestos from council wannabees and see if they have it in them to really challenge Holyrood and Westminster.

In the meantime Alistair, gird your loins and prepare a debate and draft Bill –  The Shetland Autonomy Act 2023 – in tribute to, and following on from, Jo Grimond’s ZCC Act ( 1974).

That would demonstrate true political grit and action in the face of an extremely damp squib SNP’s meaningless Islands Act.

Electorate of Shetland, wake up and press your council candidates in May for firm commitments on action for autonomy. Demonstrate that you are indeed a community that cares!

James Paton
Lerwick