As all students of politics in Shetland over the last few years know, leadership from elected councillors has not featured strongly. Now that the reforms to the structure of the authority which were desperately needed, if predictably enough unpopular, have been more or less completed, it is surely time for the political leader to step forward with his programme for the remaining few months of this council.
Alas, after an insipid discussion and meek acceptance by members of the executive committee of proposals from officials to cut £26 million from budgets over the next two or three years, Josie Simpson was unwilling this week to share any thoughts about what will have to go, preferring to wait for suggestions that are to be brought forward, once again by officials. And if this is to be the magnitude of the cuts, we are surely talking about fewer and more costly inter-island ferry sailings, further slashing of school budgets, hard times in the care homes.
Ironically, the council’s civic leader, Sandy Cluness, is showing that when he wants to he can lead, with his proposal for a referendum on the future of Shetland Charitable Trust. Whether you agree with him or not, and the Old Rock has never seen eye to eye with Mr Cluness and his brand of Shetland exceptionalism, at least he is taking the initiative and pushing for what he believes in.
Come on Mr Simpson, what are you going to do to secure the financial future of the SIC without toppling Shetland into an economic downturn? It’s your job, you were elected to it by your fellow councillors. Let the shouting match begin.