The Shetland branch of the SNP has launched its campaign for May’s local elections with a stinging attack on the outgoing council, saying the community deserves better than the “serial incompetence” and “mismanaged vanity projects” of recent years.
Two SNP candidates are seeking election on 3rd May – Danus Skene in Lerwick North and Iain Morrison in Lerwick South. SNP politicians Alyn Smith and Jean Urquhart, who sit in the European and Scottish parliaments respectively, were in Shetland today to launch a “new team” for the islands.
Nationalist figures in Edinburgh have begun to recognise the importance of establishing a stronger presence in Shetland and Orkney, particularly following MSP Tavish Scott’s call last month for a debate on greater autonomy for the Northern Isles ahead of the planned referendum on Scottish independence in October 2014.
Mr Smith delivered a hard-hitting message, saying the waste of public money and high-profile political mistakes made by the SIC in recent years were “simply inexcusable”. He suggested the backing of a party machine could help make councillors perform more effectively.
“The islands deserve better than the serial incompetence of the outgoing administration,” he said. “In my experience, having worked with councils the length and breadth of Scotland over the past seven years that I have represented Scotland in the European Parliament, independent politicians, with a few honourable exceptions, simply lack the resources and support, and often the discipline, to be effective.
“I think this is borne out in the sorry tale of the outgoing administration, which seems to have been characterised by mismanaged vanity projects and waste of public money. Some of the errors made in recent years are simply inexcusable.”
Mr Skene said the islands needed “a new approach”, and promised that if elected he would “put the interests of my constituents above all others”, and to “work constructively with others across Scotland to share experience and ideas to Shetland’s benefit”.
Mr Morrison added: “People all over Shetland have been telling me how willing they are to consider change. We deserve better. While we do have a tradition of independents in our local politics, there is a lot to be said for professionalism and competence too!
“The SNP approach that has seen such a focus on delivery could be of real use in the islands and I’m proud to be part of an SNP team.”
Ms Urquhart, who came third in last year’s Scottish Parliament contest in Shetland, said she had been “delighted to work with Iain and Danus” and was “struck by their hard work and commitment to seeing Shetland live up to the potential these islands have”.