the Scottish referendum approaches, Shetland needs to know where it
is before it decides where to go. I know that many people do not
believe we can do anything other than go along with what is offered
by those in authority, but I am encouraged by the support I get from
people who would like to see some changes here, and do not know where
to start. There will always be those who sit on the fence offering
only criticism - and they usually have the loudest voices. I do not
pretend to have all the answers, but I am prepared to stand up
against those who would pretend to have authority here without being
able to prove it.
course, it is obvious that Scotland and the UK exercise power here,
but the question is, do they have the authority to exercise that
power? That is a matter that only the courts can decide. The question
has never been tested in the courts and unfortunately, they have
shown themselves to be expert at avoiding the issue.
actions in the courts have forced the Crown to reveal that its
authority in Shetland relies on a magazine article by our archivist
Brian Smith. They cannot produce a shred of proof that Shetland is
part of Scotland, yet continue with business as usual as if nothing
has happened. The only way they can maintain control is by naked
force - we even have the prospect of armed police here in Shetland.
Scottish independence referendum has made people think about how
Shetland will fit into the new scenario - whichever way the vote
goes. One thing is certain. Now that the Crown has revealed its
pathetically weak position, there need be no limit to Shetland’s
dreams and ambitions - unless we are content to accept that The Word
of Brian gives the Scottish and UK governments legitimate authority
longer does Shetland have to watch idly by while other people decide
how we are to run our society and how they can take advantage of what
we have. If we so wish, we can take total charge of our destiny. Why
would we want anybody else to do it for us?
Scottish Government has abandoned its commitment to democracy by
denying a petition which asked for a referendum in the islands after
the main independence referendum. So they make it clear that nothing
has changed - they intend to continue taking advantage of us as
before. Shetland, the most remote of the islands, just has to accept
that its role in the brave new world of Scottish independence is to
cough up its fishing, oil and renewable resources and keep quiet
While the UK takes around £10 billion in oil revenue from
Shetland waters, Shetland is asked to be content with the money it
gets from the oil terminal leases and the harbour dues. They can
produce no proof they own the seabed - in fact the people of Shetland
have a higher claim as explained in the book Stolen
The oil revenue should be seen for what it is - Shetland’s
foreign aid to the UK.
in authority denied us a referendum on the Viking Energy wind farm
because they suspected the public would turn it down. On the closure
of rural schools it took a massive show of public feeling for the SIC
to change course. It had become obvious that money, not educational
benefit was driving their policy. Unfortunately, their policy is
driven by Holyrood, and Holyrood’s policy is dictated by
has the opportunity to re-shape its society precisely as it wants.
For instance, that is not a matter of voting for one political party
or another, but asking if we even need political parties. We
allegedly live in a democracy - let’s examine exactly what that
means and see if we can’t do it better than at present.
A brief definition of democracy is:
‘government of the people, by
the people, for
the people’. What we have at present is more like a plutocracy:
‘government of the people, by an elite for an elite’. If
we are to have a true democracy, people need to have the means to
control those who wield power on their behalf. That control is denied
because of the delay between elections. Only by having a much
quicker process can the power be returned to the hands of the people.
the people for
the people. That means you and me. If you want someone else to take
all the decisions for you, you will get what they want, not what you
want. That’s how it is right now. If you want things to change,
it involves taking responsibility and deciding what we want as a
Having a direct input into the way our society
works removes the need for political parties and career politicians.
Those we elect to work on behalf of the society deserve our respect
as long as they do what we want and do not impose what they think is
best for us.
Mistakes will be made - that is inevitable. We
make them as individuals and we will make them as a society. What is
important is what we do with them. Do we learn, or do we blame? The
only sensible way is to learn from our mistakes and make sure we do
something different next time. Unfortunately we have been taught to
blame, which takes the responsibility away, leaving us feeling safe
and smug, but at the mercy of others. We become victims.
one big flaw with the Scottish referendum is that it is an
instantaneous decision - yes or no, and much of the information
needed to take that decision is not available, so it becomes a leap
of faith. Far better in my view is a gradual process by which people
can try out new ideas, find out if they work and implement them when
they are comfortable with them.
Opening the decision-making process to the
people, which is where it belongs, allows us to make changes at a
pace which suits us. Hopefully, as people realise they actually have
a say in the running of their society, they will embrace the idea and
engage with it. If everybody takes part, a consensus is reached that
reflects what we want as a society.
I am an incomer to Shetland, and have lived
here for thirteen years - the best days of my life. I am passionate
about Shetland, but it is not my place to tell anyone what to do.
However, not everything is right here and I will strain every sinew
to facilitate the changes people want.
The Scottish referendum:
If Shetland is not part of Scotland, the
Scottish referendum is not only irrelevant, it is illegal in
Shetland. If I am wrong, let the courts decide. In early August I
presented a petition for suspension and interdict (the equivalent of
an injunction in English law), to stop the referendum in Shetland
because there is no proof that Shetland is part of Scotland.
Unsurprisingly, the court returned it a week later with a refusal to
Interestingly, the court was unable to give any
legal reason for refusal, so I sent it back and asked them to think
again. At the time of going to press there is no reaction, but things
are getting interesting. In previous cases judges have engaged in all
kinds of antics, even ignoring their own rules and breaking the law
in their efforts to avoid confronting this issue. This matter is so
politically sensitive that they are prepared to abandon their
If the referendum goes ahead, I urge you not to
take part. By doing so you give a veneer of legitimacy to what, on
present evidence is a foreign occupying power that only seeks to take
advantage of Shetland. As long as we don’t complain, everything
seems normal, but as soon as we do, the iron fist is revealed under
the velvet glove. Is this what we want?
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