Shetland Times Column 17th June 2022


Business in Parliament was extended on Tuesday with the addition of a ministerial statement on independence. This week the starting gun was fired on the SNP/Green Government’s priority, another push for independence and the break-up of the UK.

It brought a sharp rebuke from Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone who was less than impressed that the “significant news” which should have been announced in the Chamber “as a matter of courtesy and respect to the parliament” was first reported to national media in a press conference, trailed earlier that day. During the press conference the First Minister was flanked by her nationalist government partner.

When the Scottish Government was finally prepared to bring this news formally to the Parliament, the Presiding Officer made it clear that it was unacceptable to treat elected members this way and moved straight to questions instead of hearing the prepared ministerial statement.

It is not the first time that the SNP/Green Government has released information to the media before a planned ministerial announcement. Earlier this year a Covid update was in the media’s hands before coming to parliament.

The Scottish Government will now spend the next 18 months focusing once again on the constitution instead of the myriad of issues facing our citizens including the cost of living crisis and recovery from the pandemic.

The additional statement made the day’s timetable run over and impacted not only on the main business of the day, the Stage 3 proceedings of the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill, but members’ business after Decision Time.  The Good Food Nation debate was pushed back to Wednesday.

I was disappointed for school hostel residents that my amendment to give them some autonomy over their meal choices in what is their “home from home” during the school week was voted down by the SNP/Greens. The Cabinet Secretary indicated that there was enough flexibility built into school meals regulations which govern school hostel meals. That’s not what I heard from young people in the hostel.

Last Saturday saw a noisy but welcome event to Lerwick with the Royal Artillery’s 21-gun salute or ‘feu de joie’ (‘fire of joy’). It had been planned to take place in 2020 but Covid intervened and so the visit was well-timed as it took place at the end of HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Following the military precision parade with the Lord Lieutenant, we were witness to NHS Shetland signing up to the important Armed Forces Covenant.

There was a warm welcome and a cuppa at the afternoon teas for Shetland Carers Week. I heard first-hand of some of the challenges unpaid carers face. Often unseen, struggling with little time for themselves, caring 24/7 for loved ones.  There is help out there, as the exhibitors at the teas explained when I heard about the ‘Living Well Hub’ initiative which can connect carers with support options.

Finally, congratulations to the directors and staff on The Shetland Times newspaper reaching its 150th anniversary.


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