Monday, March 19, 2012

It's Shetland's oil!

From the Guardian's Scotland Blog:
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.


Anonymous said...

In years past, Alec Salmond and the SNP recognised Shetland's claim to the oil - wonder if this will still be the case now?

Anonymous said...

To gauge just how opposed Shetland are to Edinburgh rule and how much they prefer London rule lets look at real votes in real ballot boxes rather than quote defunct politicians from a pre-Thatcherite age.

1997 Devolution Referendum - Shetland

"I agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament."
5,430 (62.4%)

"I do not agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament." 3,275 (37.6%)

"I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers." 4,478 (51.6%)

"I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers."
4,198 (48.4%)
Turnout: 51.5%

Looks like they not only prefer to be run from Edinburgh - they prefer to be taxed from Edinburgh too!

And I can't imagine they will be too enamoured of Mr Osborne's London-centric public sector pay ideas either!

Cheerio England - enjoy your privatised health service, your toll roads and your £9,000 tuition fees!

Dan Falchikov said...

Before you get over-run by the cybernats I think your penultimate sentence is significant. It was this contempt that contributed to the party's wipe out in Scotland last year and is still preventing the party getting to grips with the Nationalist phenonmenon:

Jonathan Calder said...

Yes, I was surprised by the vehemence of Tavish's opposition even to having a referendum on independence and suspected this had something to do with his Shetland background. If the only way of maintaining the Union is to avoid having a vote, then it is doomed.

As to the cybernats, my ancestors were there before them.

Mark said...

Presumably Grimond would have had other opinions if the Glasgow unionists or Edinburgh lawyers had voted Liberal...

Manfarang said...

What would be the result in a referendum for greater autonomy for Orkney and Shetland?
Can Orkney and Shetland have devo-max? If no why not?