5th April 2020
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Skene cannot read my father’s mind, says Johnny Grimond

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The son of the late Liberal stalwart Jo Grimond has described Danus Skene as “presumptuous” after the SNP candidate accused the Lib Dems of failing to hold true to his father’s principles.

Johnny Grimond criticised Mr Skene after the now nationalist claimed that Mr Grimond would not have supported the current Liberal Democrat party in a short interview which is available on YouTube.

The late Jo Grimond who began the trend of a Liberal or Liberal Democrat candidate being returned for the Orkney and Shetland seat.

The late Jo Grimond who began the trend of a Liberal or Liberal Democrat candidate being returned for the Orkney and Shetland seat.

During the film, Mr Skene ac­cuses the Lib Dems of abandoning the principles “on which Jo stood”, adding that “Jo would be pretty dissatisfied” with the current party.

Mr Grimond said his father had come to know Mr Skene when he stood for the Liberals.

“I’m not saying there wasn’t some common ground over the years, but I think the person who’s shifted is Danus. I don’t think that he has any right to presume to be able to read my father’s mind and say that my father would no longer be loyal to today’s Liberal Demo­crats.

“I don’t think he would have changed his tune about nationalism, Scottish nationalism and the union. He thought about this so much dur­ing his life and he wrote about it.”

Mr Skene insisted he had respect for Johnny Grimond, that they had exchanged correspondence with one another and had “agreed to differ”.

“Jo died in 1992 before devolution. I’m not, emphatically not, claiming that Jo was an advocate of independence. What I am saying is that his political criteria, which had considerable influence on me, led me to a yes vote.”

Full story in tomorrow’s Shetland Times.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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  1. iantinkler

    sLet’s face it, Danus Skene is more motivated by ambition than belief hear. Third try for election, pity about ditching his employees at Shetland Arts to follow his own dreams. Pity he tried to highjack the reputation of Jo Grimond to benefit his own ambition. Maybe the Nationalist self only attitude is rubbing off on him. He looks a bit unstuck now, a bit sad really, I always thought him honorable until the Jo Grimond ploy and the ditching of Shetland Arts for reasons of self-interest. Never mind, his silence on most things local speaks volumes, just turning into a typical Nationalist, nothing important or original to say, just blame Westminster for everything..

    • Robert Sim

      When folk resort to shameful personal attacks, you know they have nothing to say.

      • iantinkler

        Is this the kind of negative personal attack you are referring to Robert Sim? or my to comments
        which are drawn from actual events and follow actual facts? Is Danus’s other side is becoming more apparent day by day?

        Danus Skene in The Shetland News, to quote, “Gerry McGarvey shows himself to be the most tawdry kind of spin-doctor “

    • Robert Sim

      Ian, in your reply to me you say that it is ok to accuse Danus Skene of “ditching his employees at Shetland Arts…” because you are referring to “actual facts”. My point is that you are saying nothing about Danus’s policy statements as a candidate and instead attacking his personal behaviour in a previous role.

      In the Shetland News exchange to which you refer, Danus was referring to Gerry McGarvey’s approach to the facts about the local NHS as set out in a published letter from Mr McGarvey – that is as far from an ad hominem attack as it is possible to get. It is interesting, by the way, that Mr McGarvey chose to attack the SNP rather than engage in positive campaigning of his own.

      • John Tulloch

        @Robert Sim,

        McGarvey is desperate for any votes he can get to save his deposit and the SNP is an easy target.

        He probably got a scolding from his bosses after the ‘love-in’ at the Althing, too, I shouldn’t wonder?

        I thought his points were valid, though, he scored well from that exchange.

  2. Gordon Harmer

    I got it a bit wrong in my letter below, 06/03/15, when I said the SNP candidate was a Trojan horse I should have said he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Where have all the hundreds of politically engaged, vibrant young SNP members we keep hearing about all gone? I really expected to see them all clambering over each other to become the SNP’s Westminster candidate for Orkney and Shetland. Maybe the antics of Mhairi Black the 20 year old SNP candidate for Paisley who has a desire to head butt her political opponents has influenced the local SNP selection committee to select someone who can only be described as a Trojan Horse for the job.
    They have selected Danus Skene who comes across as a decent, intelligent, public-spirited, septuagenarian who has unsuccessfully fought a Westminster seat twice for the Liberal Democrats in North Tayside in 1983, and Moray in 1987. An ex Liberal Democrat who can wax lyrical about Jo Grimond and has been known to quote Mr Grimond while taking part in political debates and hustings leading up to the referendum. All part of the masquerade to make Liberal Democrat voters think they are getting someone who holds the values of Jo Grimond to heart.
    The initial tactics of the SNP and their supporters was to attack the reputation and achievements of the incumbent true Liberal Democrat Westminster MP. Now they have sent in this Trojan Horse in the form of Danus Skene an ex Liberal Democrat to try and sway Liberal democrat voters over to the SNP. This is backed up by George Pottinger’s letter in last week’s Shetland Times where he spuriously claims that the SNP now hold true to Jo Grimond’s political values.
    Let there be no mistake Danus Skene will be standing as an SNP candidate holding all the SNP values to the fore. Values of a party whose political mandate is independence, independence, independence, whatever the cost. If elected he will in reality only represent the one third of the Orkney and Shetland electorate, those who voted yes. His ethos is matched to Alex Salmond’s which is to get to Westminster and drive a train through the UKs political system to gain independence by any means.

  3. John Tulloch

    On first hearing of Danus Skene’s candidacy, I commented that he would provide a benign face, a ‘fig leaf’, to mask the unpalatable truth about the SNP’s actions in Shetland.

    What better way, as a former Liberal candidate, to garnish the unmentionable than to drop Jo Grimond’s name, repeatedly, ‘steal his political clothes’ and claim he would disown the present Liberal Democrats, whose candidate, Alistair Carmichael, has done such sterling work for his constituency.

    It has been a shoddy piece of work which has done Mr Skene and his party no credit and it’s little wonder Mr Grimond’s family have been perturbed by his tawdry stunt which is likely to backfire at the polling booths.

  4. Beryl Simpson

    A mistake with the date – Jo Grimond died October 1993 not 1992. I remember the year for my neighbour died in the church at his funeral in Finstown, Orkney.

  5. Jonathan Wills

    Danus Skene doesn’t need to “read the mind” of the late Jo Grimond. All that’s required is to read what Jo wrote.
    Some of us also remember what he said. I met Jo many times, first as a candidate in the two general elections of 1974 and later as a broadcaster and journalist. We were on friendly terms, however warm the political debates. It was always perfectly clear that Jo supported full Home Rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom.
    I am certain he would have regarded the Smith Commission’s watered down proposals with a mixture of amusement and exasperation.

    • John Tulloch

      The Liberals are only one of the parties involved in the Smith Commission, everything has to get through the main parties.

      My own memory of that era is of the Liberals calling for a federal system which would preserve the unity of the UK. Perhaps someone from the Liberals can confirm the facts?

      The Smith Commission proposals are an advance, part of an ‘incremental process’ – not unlike that favoured by OIOF in their quest for greater autonomy – so they can’t be all that bad, can they,….Jonathan??

      Given the “£7.5 billion” hole in Scottish finances, perhaps, it’s as well Smith didn’t go any further?

      • Robert Sim

        “The Smith Commission proposals are an advance, part of an ‘incremental process’ – not unlike that favoured by OIOF in their quest for greater autonomy…”. Interesting point, John – and you illustrate beautifully one of the reasons we need a strong SNP team at Westminster: to ensure the proposals, such as they are, are implemented. And of course Danus Skene is also committed to more powers for the islands, so an excellent combination.

      • Brian Smith

        In his last years Grimond became an admirer of and apologist for Thatcher. And as Tom Nairn once said, in his constituency he was just a ‘one man ruling class’. His legacy is a lot more complex than the Liberals and SNP commentators fondly think.

      • Ali Inkster

        They do say “with age comes wisdom”, Brian. 🙂

      • John Tulloch


        Still throwing polemic bricks at the windows of the Old Labour Thatcher ‘anti-shrine’?

        I suppose it’s understandable. After all, she did end the ‘age of the dinosaurs’?

      • John Tulloch

        Alas, no, Robert Sim, the very LAST thing Shetland and Orkney need, with or without Clan Chief ‘Skene of Skene’, is the SNP holding any power at Westminster.

        For the simple reason that they would use it to block any meaningful progress in negotiations between the UK government and the OIOF island groups leaving the SNP holding all the cards.

        Competition between suitors for Shetland’s and Orkney’s ‘hands’ is an essential prerequisite for a long term, secure relationship, as opposed to ‘sandbagging’ of isles negotiators by the SNP.

        Shetland and Orkney voters are not so dull as to allow that.

  6. Iantinkler

    I am certain, late Jo Grimond, would regard the behavior and tactics of the SNP and some of their followers, with complete amazement and incredulity. With regard to “Danus Skene’s” attempts to hijack his reputation and use it as no more than a hollow election ploy, I believe Jo’s feelings would be of disgust and anger. Danus Skene had absolutely no right to do that, it was not a decent thing to do!

    • Jonathan Wills

      Why don’t you check what Jo wrote in his book? That is what Mr Skene was quoting. Do you suggest he made it up?

      • Gordon Harmer

        The SNP are good at making it up, just take a look at their white paper and their manifesto, pure fiction. I think you make it up as you go along Jonathan, some years a go you gave an interview to the Shetland Life magazine where you were quoted as saying: “I think the SNP are a serious threat to the stability of this country. I am British and glad of it, like many of mixed Shetland and English or Scots ancestry. Independence is unnecessary, expensive, damaging to the economy, socially disturbing and probably unachievable any way in a Europe of the regions. I believe the people of Scotland will want to try out devolution in the new parliament to see how we get on”. What changed your mind?
        In your recent letter you condemn the Tories; the party of austerity, yet you are the one who wants to padlock a great number of Shetland schools because we cannot afford to keep them open. Surely there is no difference between you and the Tories, what is shutting schools if not austerity?

      • John Tulloch

        Aye, boys, I doot yun comment o’ Gordon’s faas inta da category o da ‘torpedo, amidships’!

    • laurence paton

      I have just read Douglas Carswell’s book ” The end of politics and the birth of idemocracy”

      Douglas Carswell’s radical, clear sighted and subversive book is an illuminating glimpse of how the West urgently must and still can escape death by top-down bureaucratic suffocation.
      I recommend it for blinkered political dinosaurs everywhere.

      I had a good laugh the other day , I read a letter on Shetnews urging folk to vote labour !

      • Brian Smith

        It’s a pity to see the Shetland Times news website taken over by UKIP and other right-wing contributors. For a brilliant anatomy of the world they love see Tariq Ali’s recent The Extreme Centre: a warning (Verso 2015) – first chop.

      • Ali Inkster

        The death of politics so loved by the left wing and the birth of true democracy so loved by the rest of us. Your tired old ways have had their day Brian, the world is waking up in the information age.

  7. iantinkler

    Mr Wiles, no one has suggested Danus Skene made it up Jo’s words. It is however highly inappropriate to use the words of a long dead and highly respected figure in order to boost your own popularity. That is what Danus Skene has done here, no more no less. There is not and never was one iota of evidence that Jo Grimond campaigned for an Independent Scotland outside the United Kingdom, he was not a Nationalist, nor remotely followed the bitter divisive creed of the SNP. Danus Skene should apologies for his “silly behavior” and admit he made a mistake, he would be a better man for doing that.

    • Robert Duncan

      Mr Skene did not suggest Jo Grimond would have supported independence, just that he would have been disappointed in the modern Liberal Democrat party and its approach to the issue.

  8. John Tulloch

    @Robert Duncan,

    What would Mr Grimond have objected to about this?

    “Less than 24 hours after the Scottish electorate voted 55-45 against independence, Carmichael told Shetland News that new powers to raise taxes and distribute welfare would be devolved to the Scottish Parliament after the general election next May.
    This, he said, would unlock the key to a federal UK as it would create a constitutional imbalance between Scotland and the rest of Britain that would have to be addressed”


    • Ali Inkster

      Would this redress in the imbalance be the English Votes for English matters put forward by the conservatives and so opposed by the SSnp?

  9. iantinkler

    Robert Duncan, just how could Danus Skene have the remotest of an idea that Jo Grimond would be disappointed in the modern Liberal Democrat party and its approach to the issue. Is Danus supposed to be omniscient, or thinks that he is? Of course not. this is purely an attempt by Danus Skene to boost his popularity and forward his credibility as an electoral candidate. Jo Grimond would, I am sure, would be appalled by such a ploy by Danus. I just hope the electorate see through this unpleasant posturing by Danus Skene and remember Jo Grimond had not one iota of sympathy nor empathy for The Scottish “Nationalist” movement. Danus should apologies to Jo Grimond’s family, and withdraw his stupid remarks.

    • Robert Duncan

      I was just pointing out that what you say (“There is not and never was one iota of evidence that Jo Grimond campaigned for an Independent Scotland outside the United Kingdom, he was not a Nationalist, nor remotely followed the bitter divisive creed of the SNP”) is a distortion of the argument. Beyond that, I have no horse in the race nor any wish to defend Mr Skene on it. I just wish you wouldn’t twist things to suit your argument so much.

  10. Iantinkler

    I realize Robert Duncan from your previous comments, how you lean towards independence, is that not the real reason for your entering this argument. My argument here is self explanatory. Danus Skene’s presumptuous statement was no more than an attempt to boost his popularity and forward his credibility as an electoral candidate by claiming he shared Jo Grimond’s view point, a manifestly untrue claim.

    • John Tulloch

      Quite Ian,

      It’s a bit late in the day for ‘fig leaves’ and ‘stealing Jo’s political clothes’.In Shetland’s case, to borrow one of Mr Skene’s own catch-phrases, “the horse has already bolted”!

      The SNP’s actions have damaged Shetland gravely, that’s why they won’t talk about local issues.

    • Robert Duncan

      I did not challenge the argument that Mr Skene is being opportunistic, put forward rather more neatly by John Tulloch, just your completely irrelevant musings that Mr Grimond, “did not campaign for independence”. Mr Skene did not make the “manifestly untrue claim” that Jo Grimond would have “shared his view point” and I do not believe you cannot see the nuances in what is being said.

      I leant very slightly but voted No and do not support it, as we have been over many times. My main issue is with ardent Unionists (such as yourself), who to be quite frank do more harm than good to the strength of said Union, with needless belligerence and arguments so twisted and polarised that people do not trust what is being said.