Letters / Democratic deficit persists

The resignation of Cllr Leask is the council, and da Waastside’s, loss. A ‘vexation’ as we would say.

West councillor to step down

It yet again demonstrates that the councillor role is a full-time one, still hugely misunderstood by the vast majority of the Shetland public.

A council of 13 full-time councillors would be more than adequate, but they must then be paid full-time,  and not of course have second jobs, as many do currently out of financial need.

Do the public actually want a council entirely of retired people or part-timers? A council of wise (?) sages? Demographically far from representative still of women.

A full-time council should come with more effective and efficient decision-making and improving local democracy, with elected members having much more time for policy and idea generation and developing community engagement and involvement, rather than relying far too much on officers for the ‘political’ work.


The constraints placed on local government by Holyrood, and it in turn by Westminster, prevents people from taking the full and proper responsibility for local action and decisions.

No one can doubt that our democracy at UK level, through absence of proportional representation (PR), and an antiquated, corrupt, over-centralised system, is broken.

Holyrood is only slightly better, but with no full PR and certainly over- centralisation in the Scottish context, the important decisions for  Shetland are certainly still far too remote.

Fully acknowledging that Holyrood tries its best, irrespective of who is in power, within the huge fiscal, big policy and vexacious constraints of Westminster.

Only by really pushing the Shetland autonomy agenda, can Shetland reach its true economic, social and environmental potential.

The Shetland public must rise to the challenge, beyond ‘living off the interest’  from oil and now wind, and take much more responsibility. LibDem pleepsin (a party more than ever a complete political irrelevance) at Holyrood and Westminster, reduced to muscling, or is it tunnelling, in the council and councillors’ jobs – negotiating with Holyrood and Westminster.

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SAAT – Shetland Autonomy Action Team on Facebook awaits discussion, debate and much needed public support to give our council the impetus to now act on their decision to pursue much greater local powers.

As Paul Weller sang, ‘The public gets, what the public wants’. Do Shetlanders really want the status quo – no, not the band!

James J Paton

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