We’ve been asking the candidates in the upcoming council elections what their views on autonomy are. The specific questions we asked are:-
1. Do you believe Shetland should have more powers locally?
2. Do you think autonomy is something the next Council should investigate (as the Orkney Islands Council are taking steps to do)?
We shall be adding a page for each response as they come in.
Ian Scott – Shetland Central
The question is so vague as to be meaningless, but I’ll try to answer it like this. What are powers locally? If you are speaking of local democracy, that is a different matter altogether… for instance we have the Charitable Trust which is a local power, yet is not accountable or democratic in any degree. We have a nominee of the Queen as its Chair, and that is seen to be ok … but yet a local power. We have SLAP, another local power, unaccountable and shrouded in mystery. Our own Council, very much a local power, goes into Papal Conclave when it suits itself. We have no knowledge of the Whitehouse fiasco, and no idea of the cost of the Town Hall renovations… yet again local power with no accountability. So really, local power is what anyone wants to make of it. I feel the answer lies in the power part of the question.
As for the issue of autonomy, self determination, independence, call it what you want – I’m sure the pedants will be debating the differences in the meaning of the word. Again like local powers, autonomy can be all things to all people. Throughout the world for the last 100 years, peoples and regions, areas and states have fought for and argued for autonomy, self determination, independence etc. It very much depends on the circumstance in which we find the issue. For instance, the Scottish National party is a hugely different party then it was 40 years ago, because it has adapted within a changing culture and a broadened mind, thus transforming itself into a more socially progressive entity. Sadly and predictably, its promise has evaporated. Again autonomy for the Sudatenland in the late 1930s was not socially progressive and as such not to be supported, however valid their claim may have been. The independence movements in Africa, for instance, contrived to parade as independent progressive movements, but the results have been mixed to say the least.
Autonomous or not, local powers or not, the essential factor centres around the degree of democracy in which these concepts arise. My personal feeling is that the autonomy, which is proposed by Wir Shetland is a retreat into an insular and little Shetlander mentality, reminiscent of the Shetland Movement of past years. Oh yes, I remember the present Lord Lieutenant and current Chair of the Charitable Trust was a leading standard bearer of that noble movement.