Showing posts with label orkney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label orkney. Show all posts

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nationalism - where does it end?

Socialist Courier has already drawn attention to the unintended consequences for the nationalists in that where does separation stop in this post and here too.

The Guardian now reports, that politicians in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have begun talks among themselves about their own "home rule". The councils are investigating plans to model themselves on the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Falklands, which are crown dependencies and largely independent from the UK government, or to mimic the self-rule deal struck by the Faroe Islands with Denmark in 1948. Other less radical options include pressing for control over all their local fisheries, merging local health and social services, and taking control of the sea bed from the Crown Estates in London to help the islands profit from the boom in windfarms, on land and offshore, and marine energy projects about to start off northern and western Scotland. The three island groups are poised for a huge growth in investment by global energy companies: major tidal and wave energy parks are planned around their shorelines, while Shetland and Orkney are already seeing hundreds of millions of pounds spent on extra oil and gas terminals to service new fields being opened up in the Atlantic and North Sea.

Shetland council officials have drafted a detailed strategy on how to investigate Shetland's constitutional options. Shetland Council recently held a seminar to discuss the continuing loss of powers to Holyrood, the council tax freeze and various remedies including a bid for self-governing crown dependency status as currently enjoyed by the Isle of Man.Orkney council officials have compiled a 300-page briefing paper on the constitutional and political options which is being discussed by councillors.

Their alliance conjures up parallels with a campaign by rebellious Shetland islanders in the 1970s, when the Shetland Movement was formed to demand much greater autonomy for the islands as oil companies set up bases for the first wave of North Sea oil rigs.

Malcolm Bell, the convenor of Shetland Islands council, said the independence referendum offered an opportunity for the islands to carve out a new political settlement. "There's no point in Westminster devolving powers to Edinburgh if they are going to stop in Edinburgh. When you're 300 miles from Edinburgh, or 700 from London, at those kind of distances, Edinburgh feels as remote as London."

Central-belt Scots have relatively little contact with Orcadians and Shetlanders

Steven Heddle, Orkney's council leader, said: "We need to do this on a proactive basis because, if we don't do something ourselves, we're going to find the nationalists and the unionists pursue their aspirations, which don't necessarily tally with what we want."

The SNP’s Angus Brendan MacNeil, the MP for the Hebrides, said last year the islands might remain part of the UK “if there was a big enough drive for self-determination among their residents”,

Tavish Scott, the MSP for Shetland and former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said there had been a "remorseless pattern of centralisation" under Salmond's Scottish National party government. "For me, this is about home rule; our islands being able to assert their natural and local identity, their distinctiveness, and get the powers and responsibilities they need to make the best of the modern world. If we don't set out our position, we will be subsumed into Greater Grampian or Greater Highlands. As night follows day, both Labour and the Scottish National party are centralising parties. They won't talk about public sector reform, but we know discussions are going on behind the scenes that Scotland is too big infrastructurally."

If more autonomy for Orkney and Shetland is a good thing, isn’t it a good thing for every community?