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Letters / ‘Stop your pleepsin and do something!’

The current transport chaos is completely, utterly and rationally understandable – if you can take a moment to get over your ‘me, me, me’ obsessed selves.

Perhaps if we all calm down a bit, especially our miniscule (elected member numbered) Holyrood and Westminster, eternally oppositional political representatives. Your soundbites, scribbling, ‘shouting’, endless articles and news releases achieves absolutely nothing.

Just like customers’ Facebook rage and ranting, it never produces any action or ideas; it’s never going to get to the boardrooms like that. Your personal frustration ‘echo chamber’ is like looking in a mirror, it comes right back at you. All that anger and personal if not ‘professional’ politicking has, and will achieve, absolutely nothing.

While at it, all of you bloody well stop the attacks on often ill-informed, atrociously managed, understaffed frontline staff.

Spare your wrath from NorthLink or Loganair management too. You need in both cases act much further up the hierarchy to Serco and Loganair board level. Name, shame and bombard them with your barbs and yes, if you must, harass them. Harass the profit takers.

NorthLink and Loganair staff have no power over the weather or customers’ irrational behaviour i.e. you not forward-planning/booking far enough ahead.

Likewise, the companies’ frontline staff or management have no control or wiggle room over Covid created colleague’s absence, especially with most restrictions, if not legally, certainly behaviourally, lifted.  It, Covid, is still here – wash hands, mask-up, test, avoid and isolate where necessary, if not for yourselves, but for the vulnerable – aged and those with pre-existing conditions.

Blaming the boat for taking on 80+ potentially stranded travellers is not the stuff for criticism, but for compassion with staff. But no, pleeps, pleeps, pleeps, poor me, me, me!

The perfect storm then, even becalmed on flat calm foggy waters. With many having left travel and tourism jobs – many brexited back to mainland Europe, changed job/sector during or post furlough – getting out of low pay/poor conditions – and now with inevitable huge increases in Covid cases. (You didn’t bloody think about all of that, did you?)

We now are effectively in the inevitable ‘herd immunity’ phase – learning to live with it! Boris will be very pleased, his initial ‘do nothing plan’ has – two and a half years later – finally come into being.

Easy for politicians, who of course themselves, love to use chaos and ‘crises’ to further their personal political careers, keeping the names in the frames, especially and more so when completely party-politically impotent.

No wonder as the enfeebled public, you, jump on the bandwagon and get hopelessly angry and lost in rage about everything! So easy then to have a pop at Westminster & Scottish governments’ members, instead of coming up with ideas and solutions. Opposition politicians love this stuff. Blame the government to make personal political career capital, especially when they themselves are a political irrelevance – neither in government nor in opposition, but adrift in the lifeboat of life.

If you want to blame anyone for da nort boat chaos in particular, blame Serco, the contractor and its board. Don’t have the slightest clue who they are, do you?

Quietly, in hiding, in a tax-haven, avoiding the internecine political mudslinging. Laughing their bloody heads of. I say fine them. Stop/remove the profit element from contract. It is their responsibility contractually to provide a service.

Then we finally get to the most important realisation. Most importantly than anything else, blame yourselves for standing still, looking right, when you should have been actively moving and looking left. I know, you were angry, fuming, in tears, busy blaming. Well, where did it get you?

The only way we’ll get decent lifeline services off and to, and within, our islands, is to free ourselves to self-provide for ourselves. That means you doing something, I’m afraid.

No big government, big off-island contracts with big, greedy global corporates like Serco (don’t include Loganair, they’re hardly global, not even national outwith the Scottish context) and SSE continuing to hold us to ransom on transport and energy costs.

So have a look in the mirror and ask, what can I do to improve things?

While you’re not thinking but raging, you’re not acting. No, not by being a thespian, but by actually doing something.

Say, discuss, support and share the development of autonomy for our islands. For us to be more able to take the big policy and finance decisions which politically disinterested Westminster and Holyrood will never do. With our new freedoms we can invest strategically, for the long-term, in ourselves.

Use our £1.5+ billion oil reserve and charitable funds, public sector pension fund and now wind benefit funds to invest, with much long-term and better payback, directly to ourselves.

Use our huge collective wealth (per capita third highest outside royal family business and Kensington & Chelsea Council Trust fund) to leverage in private finance via the new Shetland Bank, money we can raise at very, very competitive global rates. The world is awash with cash at the moment.

No more your local private and public wealth going to profit for boardrooms and executives of  HSBC, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, Virgin Money, Bank of Scotland (Lloyd’s actually) or what once was our, Aberdeen based, mutual savings bank – TSB.

We need to stop investing in China, Russia, India, Brazil, greedy corporate global giants be it Serco, SSE, oil & gas, etc. and invest in ourselves.

So, stop your pleepsin and do something!

Write, no don’t write, it takes too long. Email/text (easier for you keyboard complainers) or better still phone (are you brave enough?) and demand your councillor urgently develop – through all night sittings and no summer holidays if needs be – an advance case with  a local referendum, for our autonomy.

Tell them, your councillors, to meet their election manifesto promise of fixed links, which will only be achieved by forcing Westminster and Holyrood’s hand, not through the threat of Shetland autonomy, but by actually practically progressing it.

If you want to add your voice and deeds, as well as much sought after ideas and thoughts FOR ACTION, act up at SAAT – Shetland Autonomy Action Team on Facebook.

We are treating a ‘like’ as a vote for progressing much greater Shetland autonomy, not independence (as no such thing exists in an inter-dependent world).

Please, like and share, share, share and encourage your 500+ FB friends to do the same. Should be able to cover Shetland, its ex-pats and diaspora in an evening or two.  We can take it. We can myth-bust, re-butt, wrestle – in the nicest possible way of course.

I fully appreciate the irony re using social media and keyboard warrior tactics, but the difference here is we are asking you to do something.

So email, text and call your councillor today, now –  OK after tae and Radio Shetland – but don’t wait, don’t leave it, and tell them, yes, tell them, to act on their promise on autonomy, which will deliver fixed links and improved off islands transport, and much, much more.  No magic bullet, no panacea, in and of itself, but an important, vital step.

Otherwise it may well be more years, tears and fears of endless media ping-pong and complaining by the next generation of Limp-Damp elected ‘ representatives’ (both with minorities of the total Shetland electorate, with our new council facing ‘moothless Shetlanders’ wrath  – surely a contradiction in terms  – in 2027, for not delivering on their promises).

Let’s make our co-joined voices, even on social media, our local autonomy referendum. We do not have to wait or indeed want Indyref2, we have a local mandate in the form of those returned at the SIC elections – irrespective of how limited our democracy, especially current locally democracy, is.

Let us take responsibility for ourselves, shape and make our future, rather than futilely energising our anger and blame, which has and will achieve absolutely nothing.

If we in pride through practical protest and celebration can deliver social and cultural change on the scale achieved this past weekend, then let it be an inspiration to be politically moothless no more. Not for party, political or personal power, but fir wir Poostir!

In an age of unreasonable politics and antiquated, anti-democratic self-proclaimed but failing democracies and a war raging about democracy in Europe. Git on wi hit. See Faroe – not far and not difficult.

James J Paton


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