The Shetland Islands are nearer to Norway than they are to England. The main town of Lerwick is a centre for the oil industry and further to the north is the Sullom Voe oil terminal. However, the oil industry is in decline and there is a return to traditional industries such as fishing and knitwear production. Other industries that continue to provide employment are tourism and the booming salmon farming industry.
The parliamentary constituency of Orkney and Shetland has been held by the Liberal Democrats since the 1950s. However, local politics reflect the islanders' general lack of interest in party politics. All but three (1 Labour, and 2 Liberal Democrat) of the local councillors do not represent any of the main political parties. The islanders have also been less than keen about the prospect of devolution. Shetland would have its own Member of Scottish Parliament but this may not be enough to convince the islanders that their interests would be sufficiently represented if one were set up.
Results of 1979 referendum:
ICM/Scotsman poll published on 22 August 1997:Question: Should there be a Scottish Parliament?
Question:Should a Scottish Parliament have tax-varying powers?
(Total Sample Size: 1,001, Fieldwork: 19-20 August 1997)
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