Saturday, June 28, 2014

Orkney, Shetland, and Secession

While I haven't been in a position to blog lately, I've been doing my best to keep abreast of the Northern Isles' sentiments on the impending secession referendum. There have been several developments of note lately.

A couple of weeks ago, Scottish First Minister and SNP front man Alex Salmond visited Orkney to talk address the Our Islands, Our Future campaign (of which I've spoken previously)...
First Minister Alex Salmond has set out new powers proposed for Scotland's island authorities, in the event of a yes vote in September's referendum. Speaking in Orkney at lunchtime he said the proposals recognised the unique contribution that island communities make to modern Scotland. Under the plans Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles would receive 100% of net revenues from seabed leases for developments such as renewable energy and fish farming. Orkney + Shetland MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael described the proposals as a 'naked bribe'.
... and was simultaneously protested by a local councillor:
Stromness and south isles councillor Maurice Davidson has used the opening ceremony for Copland's Dock to make a point to First Minister Alex Salmond. While Mr Salmond was carrying out the opening ceremony Mr Davidson appeared sailing a traditional Orkney yole with a message for the First Minister hanging from the mast. The protest continued as Mr Davidson sailed around the pier displaying his message about replacement ferries for the county.
The message on the sign alludes to some issues I've discussed here and here. The sign suggests that islands that are strong SNP constituencies receive better funding for their ferry services, while Orkney and Shetland (which vote fairly consistently for the Liberal Democrats) are marginalized in this regard. As I've mentioned previously, in the unlikely event that Scots vote to secede from the United Kingdom, there's talk of Orkney and Shetland remaining part of the United Kingdom, or even becoming independent themselves. (Shetland was specifically highlighted in a recent edition of the BBC's Global News Podcast, at 23:26 - it should be available until mid-July 2014 before it's taken offline.)

With the referendum less than three months away, time is quickly running out for Alex Salmond and the SNP to convince voters that they have a viable plan. While I'm obviously ineligible to vote in the referendum, I nonetheless remain unconvinced.

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