LAST week a story appeared in the press which was seized upon by the British nationalists and presented as a “stunning” move which has rocked Nicola Sturgeon – namely that Shetland Islanders want independence from Scotland.

It’s an old argument, and one which was well used in 2014, so it’s nothing that we are unfamiliar with. I was somewhat disappointed, therefore, to see Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp of Business for Scotland and others basically deploying the arguments of Better Together in response; that Shetland is too small and too poor to be independent, that they will have no oil. I think the only argument I didn’t see raised was “what currency will they use?”

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Do Shetland Islands really want to break away from Scotland?

I’m a great fan of the work Mr MacIntyre-Kemp has done to create verifiable, easy-to-use reference information to show that Scotland has the resources and know-how to be a well-functioning independent nation, so why fall back so quickly on a line of argument he has spent so much time discrediting?

Shetland is almost five times larger than Malta – in fact Shetland wouldn’t even make it into the list of the 10 smallest countries in the world! So much for Mr MacIntyre-Kemp’s painful put-down which said that Shetlanders had no more right to self-determination than the people of his street had, or that perhaps he could declare his house independent! It’s that kind of sneering, patronising attitude which has turned many Scots away from the UK and has led them to support our own independence.

READ MORE: Westminster has a history of using Scottish communities as dumping grounds

The idea that a group of islands should be held as a possession of a larger state in perpetuity due to a centuries-old treaty does not sit well with me, and reminds me of the attitude displayed by Spain against Catalonia. For me, if the people of Shetland decided after weighing up the arguments that they wished to run their own affairs then that is a matter for them, and them only. The correct counter argument is not sneering, love-bombing, or a Project Fear – the counter argument is to create an environment where the people of Shetland are happy with their lives and where they live, and feel that they are as valued and important and deserving of investment and infrastructure as any other part of Scotland. Our Central-Belt-obsessed media has played no small part in creating a climate where we seldom hear of these places unless there is a terrible tragedy. That has to change.

So by all means counter the latest incarnation of this story, but do it with respect to the people of Shetland; with facts and honesty. If we have to deploy the weak arguments of our most bitter opponents then I must ask, how much do we actually believe in the principle of self-determination?

Jim Cassidy

WHILE no reasonable democrat could deny Shetlanders, with their distinctive culture, the right to self-determination, shouldn’t the drive for it by the islands council be subject to the closest political scrutiny, not least by government, but particularly by Shetlanders themselves?

As a casual observer who has previously written in this journal of the trials and tribulations of those islanders fighting against the adverse effects of the wind farm programme which detrimentally impinges directly on them, and which they have been fighting privately at great expense because the political system abandoned them (and the potentially devastating effect on the peat bogs the wind farm is to be constructed on, in particular the release of considerable carbon into the atmosphere which massively counters the effect of the government’s green initiative ), it occurs to me that this council has operated like little more than an unfit cabal that sold itself to the bucks of the energy industry against real public interest.

Didn’t the councillors influence the use of reserved trust money as part of the initial investment in this project, an investment they’ve inexplicably since divested themselves of? And didn’t they shamefully also block the public inquiry that would have properly examined the impact of the plan, including the considerable and uneconomic cost (without huge government subsidy from Scottish taxpayers) of the line to the mainland for the output from the wind farm, which makes Shetland little more than a power generation plant, the downside of ugly massive turbines conveniently located away from those on the mainland who would reap the benefits?

There are serious questions that need to be asked about this council, and for sure its LibDems and closet LibDems have done little to properly examine the merits or otherwise of the project; their lack of action seeming like complicity rather than proper democratic representation.

On the face of this it doesn’t surprise me if the councillors are cranking up separation, and if the Shetlanders vote for it after having considered all aspects – cultural, political and financial – then I’d wish them well.

However, before that happens don’t we need to understand the machinations of the Shetland Islands council in their conduct over the whole wind farm project? Shouldn’t this council be subject to a full and proper public inquiry?

Jim Taylor