The Northern Isles will be better-off in an independent Scotland than under UK Government rule, local SNP MSPs Jean Urquhart and Mike MacKenzie have said.
The Highlands and Islands MSPs made their comments following claims by Alistair Carmichael that the islands should be ruled from London in the event of independence.
Jean Urquhart said that the Lib Dem MP’s comments were of little significance and that they should not distract from the bigger issues surrounding the debate on Scotland’s future.
“The days of London politicians telling us how things are going to be in Scotland are over – these comments only demonstrate just how much Westminster MPs live in cloud cuckoo-land.
“The people of Scotland elected an SNP Government in overwhelming numbers at last year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections and the SNP is totally committed to ensuring the people of the Islands and throughout Scotland can have their say the referendum in 2014.
“Residents of the Northern Isles need only look east to our Nordic neighbours for a vision of the economic prosperity they will enjoy under independence.
“The Northern Isles, in common with much of Scotland, voted in favour of devolution in 1997. The 2001 Census shows that the percentage of people saying they are Scottish is greater in the islands than a number of mainland areas of Scotland. The option of “Other British” and “Other” was available; this highlights the attempts by Mr Carmichael to say the islands are not Scottish as little more than really desperate stuff.”
SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie added:
“As an islander myself, I am a frequent visitor to Orkney and can empathise with Orkney issues. On my latest trip to Orkney I encountered many voters who wanted to have a full and frank conversation on the benefits of independence – something they are being deprived of by their Westminster representatives, whose first resort is to scaremongering, distraction and threat.
“I urge Alistair Carmichael and his Conservative cronies in Westminster to stop playing games and to have a mature and sensible discussion on the benefits that Scottish independence will have for all communities across the country.
“The big issues that people on the Northern Isles are having difficulties with including fuel poverty, transmission charges and mobile coverage are all currently issues reserved to Westminster. The Scottish Government are far more in touch with the needs and aspirations of the people of the Northern Isles than our Westminster counterparts.”