Maree Todd:Brexit Power Grab Will Affect Orkney

Maree Todd MSP

Maree Todd

It is fair to say that the undermining of devolution has been the big issue at Holyrood over the past week.

But how will this great power grab, which sees the Tories trying to steal 111 powers from Holyrood, impact on folk in Orkney?

Well, the most immediate and tangible powers on that long list revolve around agriculture and fishing.

It was extremely worrying when a think tank headed by Scotland Office minister Lord Duncan last week confirmed Tories’ intentions for this Brexit power grab and claimed that Scottish sheep farmers should not be advantaged by any system replacing CAP.

Following on from Tory admissions that they plan to seize control over agriculture in case the Scottish and Welsh Governments use those powers to help farmers, this should send alarm bells ringing in Orkney’s agricultural community.

New SPICe figures show that Scotland would lose out on over €2bn in subsidies if CAP funding is replaced by UK-wide per capita funding because it has a much higher concentration of farmers and crofters.

This is the real and highly damaging ‘centralisation’ that all politicians in Scotland should be campaigning against. And Liam McArthur, instead of concocting centralisation myths around the SNP, should be joining us in condemning the out of control Tories. However, it appears the Lib Dems are so anti-SNP and so pro-UK that they can’t bring themselves to criticise the Tory Government’s power grab, which will definitely harm the Orkney economy.

No wonder the Lib Dems are pretty much irrelevant in national politics nowadays.

Mr McArthur would do his constituents a much better service if he focused on fighting the real issues hitting them, rather than constantly aiming ill-founded claims at the Scottish Government.

I am happy to be proved otherwise, but I would venture to guess that folk in Orkney would rather be hearing what their MSP is trying to do for them rather than being bombarded with his latest views on how Police Scotland should be run.

On this particular topic the centralisation jibe is very wide of the mark, with local accountability far greater than it ever was under Northern Constabulary. However, this doesn’t fit in with the ‘one-size-fits-all’ mantra that Mr McArthur so loves to chant.

Instead of just two councillors from Orkney travelling to a Joint Police Board meeting, as happened under Northern Constabulary, now a much greater number of elected members and others in Orkney have a say in how police work locally.

In Orkney seven councillors on the Orkney Police and Fire sub-committee receive and recommend the Orkney police plan, which then goes before all 21 councillors on the Policy and Resources Committee. Ultimately the plan has to be approved by full council, so every single councillor has a say.

Clearly then, Orkney folk have a big say in what the police are doing.

Mr McArthur, of course, knows this. The challenge for him is to acknowledge it and to focus his efforts on real issues facing Orkney. I know that I am.

This is a fortnightly column by local MSP Maree Todd SNP 


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