People on this remote North Sea archipelago are following the Scottish independence campaign as intently as the rest of the U.K. Some even want another vote soon after—on their own independence from Scotland. Earlier this year a group of islanders petitioned the Scottish parliament for more referendums after Thursday’s vote on Scottish independence—a request that was denied. But that hasn’t silenced the debate over whether Shetland, along with the neighboring Orkney islands and the Outer Hebrides, should break away from Scotland, either to become independent on their own or to remain in the U.K. To be sure, the breakaway campaign is a fringe one. “I don’t get a sense there is an appetite for full independence,” said Malcolm Bell, a member of Shetland Island council. But, he added, “devolution shouldn’t stop at Edinburgh. We don’t feel any less removed from Edinburgh than London.”
The oil- and fish-rich Shetland Islands, 100 miles from the northernmost tip of Scotland, were transferred from Norway as part of a marriage dowry in the 15th century.
They retain their own distinct culture, and calls for more autonomy have gained traction in the past. One, known as the Shetland movement, enjoyed some political success in the 1980s, but has since faded.
Many in Shetland feel their fellow islanders pushing for independence from Scotland are extreme. But Shetlanders have nevertheless approached the Scottish referendum with their own agenda.