Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Shetlands and the Channel Islands

Argentina claims the Falklands (partly) on the basis of geographical proximity. By that logic, says a correspondent in today's Independent, France should get the Channel Islands - Les Iles Normandes - and Norway the Shetlands.

To me there is a big difference between the Shetlands and the other two. Shetlanders pay UK taxes and are entitled to all the protections which UK citizens expect until such time as Scotland votes for independence (as I hope it does).

In contrast, Falklanders and Channel Islanders do not pay UK Taxes - indeed, in the latter case they pay very little tax because their main industry is defrauding the UK Treasury of tax revenues. In similar fashion, the Falklanders flog flags of convenience to merchant ships.

Since they do not pay taxes it is unclear why they should benefit from any kind of protection or assistance funded by UK taxpayers. Mr Cameron has made commitments to the three thousands Falklanders which imply an uncapped budget: if the Argies invade again, we will spend as much as it takes to get them out (again). It is unclear why.

When the Germans invaded the Channel Islands in World War Two, enabled by their proximity to occupied France, the Churchill government made no effort to kick them out. That the Islands weren't part of the UK was one of the reasons for not immediately resisting.

The Islanders didn't seem greatly troubled by the Occupation and the Germans felt secure enough in their hold on the place to open a small concentration camp on Alderney. It was from the Germans that the Channel Islanders got the idea that there is money to be made from issuing postage stamps from which they nowadays derive a supplementary source of income. The stamps specialise in reactionary Royalist themes, as befits places the status of which is essentially feudal - "Crown Dependencies" is the term used in law.

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