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VOTE SHETLAND

The website for Shetland democracy.

Shetland Independence proposal:

As 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.

Of 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.

My 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.

The 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 here.

No 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?

The 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 Isles. The oil revenue should be seen for what it is - Shetland’s foreign aid to the UK.

Those 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 Brussels.

Shetland 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.

Government by 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 society.

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.

The 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 hear it.

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 impartiality.

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?

For more information on The Sovereign Nation of Shetland, see: www.sovereignshetland.com

Vote Shetland has no religious or party political affiliations.