Orkxit: Orkney Council considers re-joining Norway unless its ferries are replaced

Orkxit: Orkney Council considers re-joining Norway unless its ferries are replaced

An idea so genius that I wish I’d thought of it.

But this one doesn’t seem to have been anywhere near a creative director. It was dreamt up by the (very) good people of Orkney Council.

We’ve all been there, asking for something until you’re blue in the face. If it’s asking your kids to get their shoes on, shouting ensues. If it’s asking Holyrood and Westminster for your “lifeblood” ferries to be replaced and it’s taken fifteen years without any action, you go (and I think this needs to become a phrase) 'full Orkney'.

So sick were they of asking the Government to replace the 40-year-old vessels, they pulled one of the smartest publicity stunts of recent times and announced they were exploring re-joining Norway. 

Nobody likes to think they’re being left for someone who can better fulfil their partner’s needs, and it certainly riled the right people with Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman responding: “Fundamentally, we are stronger as one United Kingdom, we have no plans to change that. We’ve got no plans to change the devolution settlement.

Orkxit (my name, not theirs) has got the very best elements of the quintessential publicity stunt – shock factor, suggestion, support for a cause.

But behind that, it’s got rigour. 

The spokesperson I heard on Radio 4's Today programme didn’t just know that Orkney used to be part of Norway until 1472 when the islands were given to Scotland as part of a royal marriage. He knew there is a possible issue with the contract and dowry, a technicality that makes this idea seem like a real possibility to the powers that be and has garnered real support from Orcadians. With its flag already modelled on the Norwegian one and Kirkwall already celebrating Norway’s national day, it’s not as bold a threat as it might seem, either.

I don’t reckon Orkney will leave the UK but I do think they’ve now got all the right people paying attention. 

Nicely played Orkney Council. Ferry, ferry nicely played.

Lead image credit: iStock/Nicola Colombo

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