Scotland's path to independence could become far rockier and more complicated than Alex Salmond might like, if the equally independent-spirited northern isles of Shetland and Orkney get their way.
That, at least, is the view of their respective Lib Dem MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur. In a paper submitted to the UK government's consultation on the independence referendum, the pair have provocatively suggested that the two island groups' willingness to stay within an independent Scotland cannot be taken as given.
Nor, if it comes to that, does ownership of "their" oil, which, by one measure, includes a quarter of the oil and gas wealth being claimed as Scottish by Salmond's nationalist government.The post goes on to point out, the notion that the former Viking earldoms of Shetland and Orkney have their own, distinct views on self-determination and identity is a long-standing one. Many islanders don't regard themselves as Scots at all and are openly hostile to Edinburgh rule.
And it quotes the words of the former Liberal leader and Orkney & Shetland MP Jo Grimond:
"The last thing the Northern Isles want is to be ruled by Glasgow trade unionists and Edinburgh lawyers."When I interviewed Tavish Scott, who was then the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, during the Lib Dem bloggers' unconference in Edinburgh in November 2009, I was struck by his "contempt of Scottish Nationalism in general and Alex Salmond in particular".
Clearly, Scottish identity is a more complex matter than Salmond likes to pretend.