Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh. Adobe Stock
Shetland Islands Council has voted to explore ways of achieving financial and political self-determination.
Councillors exasperated by centralisation under the devolved SNP government in Edinburgh decided on Wednesday by 18 votes to 2 to back the move. A Shetland Islands referendum is envisaged.
The democratic decision by Shetland Islands councillors adds another layer of complexity to the Scottish independence debate. It will be interesting to see how the SNP government in Edinburgh responds to a campaign for self-determination that could break up Scotland. Will Nicola Sturgeon allow the Shetland Islands a referendum? Who will set the question?
The option of the Shetland Islands becoming a Crown dependency in the event of Scotland voting for independence will be one of the options explored, I understand, to maintain links with the rest of the UK.
The excellent Shetland News has the story.
“It stemmed from growing frustration over what they saw as more decision making being centralised, and reduced government funding. Councillors were keen to stress that the motion meant options were only being explored, and that any constitutional change would see the public go to the ballot box.”
The motion said: “We believe that Shetland has the wherewithal to have a positive future. However, in recent times we have seen more and more decision making being centralised and public funding being consistently reduced. We are concerned that this ongoing situation is seriously threatening the prosperity, and even basic sustainability, of Shetland as a community. In order to look at alternatives to ensure Shetland can reach and maintain its full potential, we, the undersigned, move that: “The Shetland Islands Council formally begins exploring options for achieving financial and political self-determination.”
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston blamed the SNP:
“It’s clear that there has been a growing frustration in Shetland, and across Scotland’s islands communities, that the Scottish Government neither understands nor cares for their particular needs. Nicola Sturgeon only shows up when there is an election on and the positive words around the Islands Act have too often not been reflected in actions. Over 13 years of SNP Government in Edinburgh, countless promises have been made to our island communities but few are ever delivered. It’s no wonder islanders have run out of patience. Shetland’s geography and history have made it a distinct community within Scotland and the UK. I hope that a positive discussion can be had on the future of the islands, and Scotland’s other island communities as well. I believe it’s right that both of our governments work with the islands to help meet the aspirations and unique needs of their people. However it is clear that the current arrangements, where so much power is centralised in Edinburgh and the needs of Shetland often ignored, is some distance from where Shetlanders want to be.”
A developing story to watch.