As the clamour for autonomy and greater self-governance resounds throughout the council chamber, it’s important, I think, to establish what is actually being clamoured for and who is doing the clamouring.
This particular clamouring for greater control of our Shetland’s governance presents me with a bit of a dilemma though.
Our councillors, our clamourers, those who are actually calling for increased control of our islands, are the self-same councillors who are happy to allow complete strangers to choose who our senior officers will be.
Our chief executive, our finance chief, et al, all chosen by complete strangers. Those same councillors have also swallowed, hook line and sinker, I think, the economic and financial garbage that was presented to us by the Accounts Commission.
Again, complete strangers, drawn from the great and the good of Scotland’s social elite, are dictating that Shetland does exactly what they command (slash spending) and have somehow managed to completely gull our local champions. So much for local control and local independent thought.
We have always to remember that Shetland has, at its disposal, over £800m in its reserves, yet for the sake of a few hundred thousand pounds, our council has recently overwhelmingly voted against the introduction of universal free school meals, universal free bus travel, and has deemed it necessary to raise our council tax and council house rents and has, for good measure, cut our kids swimming lessons.
The Charitable Trust, sadly, is, as always, singing from the same austerity hymnal that our councillors hold dear. But you can rest assured that we will find £400,000 without blinking, for a new football pitch in Lerwick.
What will also happen to our care for the elderly and all other vulnerable groups in our islands, will paint a very sorry picture.
I recall Margaret Thatcher declaring that the NHS was safe in Tory hands. More recently I heard our very own MP repeatedly telling, what was called by Lady Paton, “a blatant lie,” in order to save his political skin.
But all I would do is call for caution when listening to our localised champions. As the Irish people found out to their cost, when independence was gained, all that replaced Westminster were the Catholic Bishops.
Shetland Central councillor