By a Newsnet reporter

An opinion poll of residents of the Northern Isles, commissioned by the Press and Journal newspaper, has given the lie to claims by certain supporters of the anti-independence campaign that Shetland and Orkney might seek to remain a part of the UK if Scotland becomes independent.

The poll, published in the newspaper on Wednesday, finds that 82%, the overwhelming majority, of the islanders wish to remain Scottish.

Asked “Should Shetland/Orkney be independent countries, separate from Scotland?” only 8% of islanders who participated in the poll said that they were in agreement, with a further 10% saying they did not know.

Earlier this year Tavish Scott, former leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland and MSP for Orkney and Shetland, called on the islands to loosen their ties with Scotland. Mr Scott said that he was in favour of the islands forming a crown dependency in their own right, with a similar status to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Mr Scott and other supporters of the anti-independence campaign seized upon a report published at the beginning of this year by Capital Economics, an economic research firm, which cited the “strong” negotiating position of the islands if Scots vote for independence. The report was widely cited in the Scottish media as evidence that Shetland and Orkney would choose not to remain a part of Scotland if the rest of the country opted for independence.

Capital Economics is headed by economist Roger Bootle, who is a regular columnist in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Mr Bootle was previously appointed as an advisor and economic forecaster to the UK Treasury during the Conservative administration of John Major.

The analysis carried out by London based economist Martin Beck for Capital Economics said Shetland and Orkney islanders could decide to remain part of the UK in the aftermath of a Yes vote or insist on a high degree of autonomy from Scotland, similar to the relationship between Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

Claims that the islands could opt to remain part of the UK have featured regularly in the Scottish media, with BBC Reporting Scotland also broadcasting similar items.

Acording to a report published in the Times newspaper in 2009, during the campaign for Scottish Home Rule in the 1970s, UK Treasury officials suggested encouraging local campaigns for independence in Orkney and Shetland in order to deprive Scotland of as much of the oil reserves as possible.

In his diaries, the late Anthony Crosland, who was a Cabinet Minister in the Labour government until his death in 1977, admitted that the UK government intended to plant stories with sympathetic journalists and politicians to foster divisions between the Northern Isles and Scotland as part of a campaign to subvert Scottish self-determination.

Mr Crosland and his civil servants suggested that this could be achieved by carrying out “confidential briefings of selected public opinion informers” and placing articles in the press with no acknowledgement of official involvement.

In the current independence campaign, similar articles have appeared prominently in the UK media, although it is unknown whether the present UK government has adopted a similar strategy. However today’s opinion poll proves that there is little or no appetite amongst islanders for such a move, and the people of the Northern Isles see their future as remaining a part of Scotland.


2013-04-18 01:02

Much like Labour believe Glasgow belongs to them I think Tavish and other Lib Demmers believe the Northern isles to be somehow their`s but with most unionists what the people want always comes behind the needs of the union.
Always thought Tavish was smug and quite a poor politician also but i`m sure he has done some good for those he was elected to represent also.
Big Eye
2013-04-18 01:45

8 per cent, let’s hope this is the high point for Better Together!

Another day, another unionist non story bites the dust!

Is anyone counting anymore?

2013-04-18 05:42

Do I sense a “tipping point” in which we start to get balanced reporting?

The P&J; has to date been unionist leaning. Perhaps they now recognise the danger of the long term impact of such obvious bias in the heartland of SNP support. I do not desire a reversal of the situation – only fair and balanced reporting.

I am not naive enough to every expect the BBC or the UK main newspapers will change but perhaps the Herald and the Scotsman will return to being the newspapers they once were.

2013-04-18 07:57

Probably not.

You need to check out the graphic released by the title clootie, its a peach.…/

However, disguise it as they may, the question and answer were very, very clear. Its most important that for this show of support the folk of Shetland and Orkney are not let down in our support for them. They’ve blown the enclave/crown dependency argument out of the water with their response and left Tavish Scott with a huge amount of egg on his face. Wonder if Tavish will make an appearance today?

2013-04-18 09:54


Thanks for the link – I see what you mean. Not a very subtle attempt to mislead but it indicates the unionist leanings have not changed as I had hoped.

I see Gardham is still using Labour think tanks to mislead the readers on employment figures. For him every silver lining has a cloud.

2013-04-18 12:20


Ye gods. We are apparently the only country in the world at the moment who could strike oil, grow their economy by 0.5%, drop their unemployment figures for the fifth month in a row by five figures and STILL be unable to manage its own affairs. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the likes of Mr Gardham will always find that glass half empty spin.


2013-04-18 06:41

Apart from a few lunatic politicians,eve ryone accepts that the Northern and Western Isles are part of Scotland.The clue to this lies in the acceptance by Westminster that people residing in the islands are registered on the Scottish electoral role and consequently are eligible to vote in the referendum.
Should Tavish Scott and friends wish to separate the islands from Scotland,they will have to go through the same process as Holyrood beginning with a manifesto pledge to their electorate to do so.
If the poll reported in the P&J; is accurate then they may wish to consider an alternative career.
Saoghal Eile
2013-04-18 12:47

bringiton, i would have thought Tavish is already looking for an alternative career.

2013-04-18 07:58

The P&J; are a Unionist paper and are certainly no friends of the SG. I gave up buying the P&J; years ago due to their unionist bias. Call me a cynic but
this poll was perhaps not the result they wanted but fair play they did publish it.
2013-04-18 09:34

This is going to sound crazy to our brainwashed mindsets, but why aren’t a lot of Scottish islands linked by undersea road tunnels?
The Outer Hebrides looked into this a few years. Westminster price £11BILLION.
Norwegian specialists price £170MILLION, Orkney £100MILLION.
Google ‘Norwegian undersea tunnels.’
1% of people have an aversion to them, compared to a high % that won’t get on a ferry.
Wait for a ferry, an hour’s crossing and a high price or just drive and be there in under 10 mins night or day.
Can you imagine driving to Mull, what that would do for its economy not to mention Oban and its surrounding area?
Norway charges tolls, a fraction of ferry fare, then handed over to government when paid for- No Labour PFI.
Campbeltown could be linked to Northern Ireland, then Arran, Bute, Cumbrae and Largs. Drive Glasgow to Belfast in under 2 hours.
Ahh, what am I thinking only places like the Faroe Islands can afford it.
2013-04-18 09:40

and for those in Westminster without the local tongue
2013-04-18 10:52

The North Britsman had a poll, which was promptly removed, asking, should oil rich Orkney and Shetland have special treatment?
Orkney doesnt have any oil whatsoever and how much sea limit would Shetland receive if it did want to be part of England? It would not be 200 miles, as that would take them to Bergen and Aberdeen, a 12 mile limit would be more probable, which would exclude any oil, even 50 miles would only leave one field.
Having lived in Shetland, I know that most people have the attitude that we came to the union with Scotland, we will leave with Scotland and what happens after that is for us to decide.

The Shetlanders are generally very canny and clever people, and they know that their heritage is built around the Picts and the Vikings. Not too different from the rest of Scotland.

2013-04-18 11:01

OT – Breaking News

Another explosion in America.

Scores feared dead and hundreds injured in Texas fertiliser plant blast.…/…

“ The blast, which could be heard at least 45 miles away and produced ground motion equivalent to that of a magnitude 2.1 earthquake, happened just before 7pm local time last night, levelling up to 80 homes in the blocks around the facility.

As a mushroom cloud climbed into the sky, more than 1,000 people in the town of approximately 2,800 were left without power. “

2013-04-18 13:05

Maybe The Shetlanders heard about the 1 billion pound tax grab from the UK treasury from the Crown Dependencies like the isle of man and the channel islands this week.
This on top of the hundreds of millions lost to the economies of the crown dependencies in the last couple of years due to a recalculation of vat rebates perhaps they also discovered as a crown dependency their territorial waters only extend 12 miles out to sea meaning that no oil fields would not be under their jurisdiction. Its also worth pointing out that the Northern Isles was bought back by Scotland in lieu of a marriage dowry, so it belongs to Scotland not the people presently residing there who despite popular belief are not in the main descended from Vikings but good old Scottish stock.
(That’s if dna evidence is to be believed)
derick fae Yell
2013-04-18 19:27

Quoting jinglyjangly:

Maybe The Shetlanders heard about the 1 billion pound tax grab from the UK treasury from the Crown Dependencies like the isle of man and the channel islands this week.

No we hadn’t. I would be very interested in more details of that to share with my colleagues in Yes Shetland and with Yes Orkney


2013-04-18 13:29

It’s ironic that Tavish Scott is advocating “Independence” for the Northern Isles, but not for Scotland. The man’s a fool – you only have to look at what a bollocks he made of the Aberdeen bypass plans. He was given the choice of FIVE possible routes by the planners, but chose a sixth. Hence my nickname for him. “Six Roads” Scott.
2013-04-18 16:04

Don’t forget what Stephen had to do with the bypass.


2013-04-18 13:39

I trust at the next FMQs our First Minister will take the opportunity to verbally slap Scott down for his non-evidence based assertion. Further, I hope the Orcadians and Shetlanders will reject this joke of an MP, who has misrepresented them for so long.
2013-04-18 16:13

This is brilliant news, I would have hated to lose the islanders, they’re Scottish through and through. Scotland wouldn’t be the same without them.


Viking Girl
2013-04-18 16:27

The Territorial waters of Scotland surround Orkney and Shetland, that’s our Contiguous Zone, so it looks to me as if Tavish is trying to manipulate that.
The Northern Isles were foreclosed by the Scottish Crown in 1468, after the King of Denmark failed to pay the cash he had promised for his daughter’s dowry. He had used the islands as a pledge.
1468 was a long time before the Act of Union, and don’t forget, those islands, prior to the 9th Century invasion by the Norse folk, were part of the Northern Pictish Kingdom.
The DNA evidence shows that Shetlanders and Orcadians are 60% descended from the Norse. They have ‘ancient British’ DNA, that’s Pictish to you and me. (Check Dr Jim Wilson)
2013-04-18 21:48

He is just trying to manipulate Scottish opinion in a way that casts some doubt on ownership of resources.I have found a lot of people are pretty ignorant on this subject and I am sure he knows this.

2013-04-18 23:03

RE the tax grab,…/…

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