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Your candidates views on autonomy – Brian Nugent

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.

Brian Nugent – Shetland Central

I believe in self government for Scotland.

If Wir Shetland want autonomy, as in self government, then Wir Shetland should put their programme to voters in Shetland and find out what voters think.  Wir Shetland would have to become a political party, a suggestion I made at the Alting debate.

If autonomy means more powers for Shetland Islands Council, then it makes sense to me that the three island groups should work together to lobby the Scottish Government and see where that goes, to me OIOF (Our Islands Our Future) is the way forward.

Given Wir Shetland’s anti EU stance, I thought it was remarkable that Wir Shetland backed the Liberal Democrat in the Scottish Parliament election given how pro EU they are and they are now talking up a second referendum on the EU.

There is potential in Brexit for fishing but given how the Tories betrayed fishing when taking the UK into the Common market, I am not sure why people expect the Tories to look after fishing this time round.  I hope I am wrong but I suspect fishing will be sold out again.  Fishing effects so few constituencies in the rest of the UK that it is nearly a non issue there.

Your candidates view on autonomy – Duncan Simpson

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.

Duncan Simpson – North Isles – Wir Shetland Member

In response to your email.

1. Yes I believe Shetland should have much more power locally. Having been a member of Wir Shetland from the outset this is something I have believed in for a long time. I think we are unfairly treated by Westminster and Holyrood and that we have the resources here to manage our own affairs. Of course this would not happen overnight but I believe the OIOF campaign, while I have always supported it’s aims, does not go far enough and has not made enough tangible progress.

Our needs are often overlooked or ignored by the powers-that-be South of Fair Isle. There are a multitude of examples of self governing island territories (Faroe, Isle of Man, the Falklands) which we could emulate with our own version of autonomy.

2. Yes. In my manifesto I state that I would like to see the next Council commission a feasibility study into the various options for self governance and associated socio-economic benefits. I believe when the facts and figures are laid out in black and white people will be convinced it is an extremely attractive option for our future. The financial information we have received so far indicates Shetland contributes;

  • Income tax (gross of tax credits): £60M (liabilities 2013/14 latest figures)
  • Capital Gains Tax: £1.3M (liabilities 2015/16 latest figures)
  • Corporation Tax: £18.73M (liabilities 2014/15 latest figures)
  • Council Tax: £8.55M (SIC 2016 figures)
  • Value Added Tax: Conservative Estimate £73M (estimate calculated; VAT is 6.6% of UK economy, Shetland’s economy worth £1.1Billion in 2010. 6.6% of £1.1Billion is £73M. Conservative because Shetland’s economy has grown since 2011 and this also does not take inflation into account.)
  • Business Rates: £17.454M (Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics 2015-16)

The figures (5 confirmed and one estimate) show we are paying in approximately £180million from these 6 taxes. There are 21 other taxes which we have not yet obtained figures for, some of which (e.g. National Insurance, Fuel Duty) are likely to be large sums.

The above is just a glimpse of the financial case for a self governing Shetland. I hope within the next Council we can make a proper case for autonomy.

Your candidates views on autonomy – Andrea Manson

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.

Andrea Manson – Shetland North – Wir Shetland Member

Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions on further powers and autonomy for the Shetland Isles.

Do I believe Shetland should have more powers locally? Yes, definitely. Our powers and voice are being eroded as the Central Belt increases its grip on available finances. Our Islands Our Future has been a talking shop and we are light years away from any significant changes. The Crown Estate has been devolved to Scotland and I have every expectation that it will just be used as a money earner by Scottish Government and we will see no benefits here. We have been promised devolved powers through the Island Bill but we await details of what these will be. It always seems to be next month or next year. We have been promised a lot and I am fed up with feeling like the ‘poor relation’ when the Council are offered their Grant from Scottish Government.

Do I think autonomy is something the next Council should investigate? In these ever changing times it is essential that we have more say in our affairs. We need to have more powers to encourage the Oil Industry to bring the oil from the waters around us to SVT or SGP, we need to be able to protect the seas around us from overfishing by foreign boats, we need to have a seat at the table when our affairs and our future is being discussed, we need to be the ones issuing the contract for our Lifeline Services. The only way ahead is more autonomy and I am proud to be part of ‘Wir Shetland’ which will fight for more autonomy to secure a better financial future and protect our unique heritage. The Council must be encouraged to be involved in this from the outset and I do hope we will follow Orkney’s lead and seek further advice on our future position.

Your candidates views on Autonomy.

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 their responses to this page as they come in.

North Isles

Shetland North

Shetland West

Shetland Central

Lerwick North

  • Malcolm Bell – Elected
  • Stephen Leask – Elected
  • John Fraser – Elected
  • Thomas Williamson

Lerwick South

  • Cecil Smith – Elected
  • Peter Campbell -Elected
  • Amanda Westlake – Elected
  • Beatrice Wishart – Elected
  • Frances Valentine

Shetland South

  • Alison Duncan – by default
  • Robbie McGregor – by default
  • George Smith – by default

Your candidates views on autonomy – Cecil Smith

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.

Cecil Smith – Lerwick South.

I am going to be very brief with my reply.
The answer to both your questions would be a YES but there needs to be a whole lot of sensible negotiation take place to make sure we get the best ever deal for our community.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute.

Your candidates views on autonomy – The Question

Here is a copy of the email we sent to all the council candidates:-

Dear {{First Name}},

Firstly, we would like to extend our congratulations to you for deciding to stand in the upcoming Council Elections. It is a difficult and often thankless task but is vital to the future well being of our communities.

Wir Shetland recognise the vital role Councillors play in shaping Shetlands future, indeed we are lucky enough to have one (Andrea Manson) within our ranks and her help has been invaluable.

The political landscape we live in is currently undergoing momentous changes. Who really believed that Donald Trump would win when he first announced his candidacy? Who really believed when David Cameron was elected that his “Re-negotiation” with the EU would lead to Brexit? And who believed that we would be facing the prospect of another Scottish Independence Referendum within four years of the last one?

Change, by its nature, brings uncertainty but can also bring opportunity. Brexit brings the opportunity of a greatly enhanced Shetland economy through expansion of our fishing fleet and associated service industry. It also brings worrying uncertainty to the agriculture sector with the potential removal of subsidy and the loss of import tariffs causing the market to be flooded by cheap food from outside of the EU.

In our view, Shetland has a choice. We can let these changes happen to us and simply hope for the best, or we can take charge of our own destiny and ensure we and our descendants live in a fair, just and prosperous society. Throughout history Shetland has had strong ties to the rest of the world, positioned as we are at the heart of the Scandinavian islands and surrounded by natural resources. We have a golden opportunity to build on this long history and create a society to be proud of.

Given our beliefs and aims, we would like to know; What is your position on autonomy for Shetland?

In particular;
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)?

The only purpose of Wir Shetland is to work for a better future for Shetland and it’s people. We believe the best way to do this is by obtaining self governing status. The exact form of autonomy is up for debate but we strongly believe it is a debate which must be held.

We would be more than happy to discuss ideas and hear your views either before or after the election, whether you are successful or not.

Sincerely,
Wir Shetland Committee
James Titcomb (Chairman)
Andrea Manson (Treasurer)
Kathy Greaves (Secretary)
Duncan Simpson (Membership Secretary)
Paul Bird
Gary Smith
George Dickson
Aaron Smith
Norman Leask
Ivor Arthur

Your candidates views on autonomy – Ian Scott

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.

Your councilors vies on Autonomy – Davie Sandison

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.

Davie Sandison – Shetland Central.

Thank you for forwarding on your questions sent to all candidates in the forthcoming elections. I am happy to confirm my views on the broad issue of council powers and the debate on options for autonomy.
My election leaflet contains clear statements that have relevance here, as follows: –
  •  I will continue to support campaigns to bring decision making powers to Shetland. The Our Islands Our Future initiative will take time but has already resulted in commitments to an Islands Bill and to island proofing of new legislation.
  • I am opposed to any further centralising of decision making powers in Edinburgh and will campaign for powers to be brought back to Shetland in any area where we are perfectly capable of running our own affairs.
So the answer to your Q1 is Yes. I believe in the principles of subsidiarity, whereby decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level, closest to where they will have their effect, i.e. in a local area rather than for a whole country.
Regarding your Q2, my position is less clearly defined. Firstly, i believe that Shetland is quite capable, in the long term, of moving in stages toward greater autonomy. I am not inclined to see the development of this as a function of the coucil however, but rather for individuals/groups to develop the specific case and detail and gain support through whatever political engagement necessary – in the same way as any other political grouping.
I trust these answers are helpful to you and look forward to further debate on the issues you raise,
Best regards,
Davie Sandison
Prospective Candidate, Shetland Central Ward

 

Your candidates view on autonomy – Alec Priest.

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.

Alec Priest – North Isles – Wir Shetland member.

 To answer both questions, yes.
I believe a self-governance of Shetland as a British Overseas Territory would be the best possible outcome for Shetland in the current politically turbulent environment. As we will be faced with major political reforms going into be the future regardless of what we do, a pro-active approach is required to ensure Shetland gets the best deal possible.
In the current age of austerity with cuts to every public service, it can be hard to understand the extremely strong economic position Shetland is in.
  • Shetlands output in taxes was at least £250 million; this is based on figures from FOI requests to the HMRC and very conservative estimates based on national averages for VAT.
  • The SICs 2015/16 expenditure was £127 million but the block grant from central government was only £82 million.
  • Shetland is currently receiving an annual shortfall of £45 million but a self-governing Shetland would have a surplus of £123 million per annum plus its share of oil revenues.
This needs to be investigated further, if elected I will strongly push for a feasibility study to be carried out in order to let the Shetland public to make a decision on the available options. I cannot imagine anybody with Shetlands interests at heart would be against knowing all the facts.
 If Shetland chooses to pursue autonomy the United Nations laws are in place to both enable us and protect us. The UNs ‘Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’ (resolution 1514) is very clear on rights to self-determination.
The ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’ (UNCLOS) makes it very clear that Shetland would be in control of both its 12 mile territorial limit and our 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zone.
I will be happy to meet up and discuss the issue with yourself and the committee.
Regards,
Alec.

Your candidates views on Autonomy – Debra Nicolson

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.

Debra Nicolson – Shetland West

Yes, I am in favour of more autonomy for Shetland, the level of which I feel should be agreed upon with other councillors and the whole community.
Kind regards
Debra