An Orkney Islands Councillor has put himself forward as an independent list candidate for the Highlands and Islands region in the imminent Scottish election.
James Stockan, of Stromness, is no stranger to politics. He has served on the OIC for 13 years, where he chairs the development and infrastructure committee.
He is also the former vice-convener of the council and current chairman of the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans). In that position he believed he had gained a strong knowledge of transport infrastructure and a desire to safeguard the isles transport links.
Mr Stockan said: “Orkney and Shetland get a poor deal on ferry funding, but in the Western Isles the government pays for internal ferry services. That is wrong.”
In 2011 he stood as an independent candidate in Orkney where he finished second to Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur. He earned 2,052 votes on that occasion, around 25 per cent of all votes cast.
He will be hoping for similar success but this time around he will, as a list candidate, seek people’s second votes. If he gains a substantial enough percentage of votes from Orkney and Shetland he could be successful as a list candidate without needing support from the rest of the Highlands and Islands area.
With a catalogue of previous experience working in and around government Mr Stockan believes he has the necessary skills to work effectively in Holyrood.
He also feels that regardless of the result of the first votes he would be able to work effectively with both the Orkney and Shetland MSPs – whoever they may be – in order to “support the islands view”.
Alongside transport Mr Stockan’s main aims include the eradication of fuel poverty, achieving more autonomy for local decision makers and gaining more power for local councils.
He has chosen to stand as an independent because he believes there is an “unique opportunity for something different this time.”
He said: “People are fed up with party politicians and the enormous drift of power and decision making to Edinburgh.
“If we carry on with national party politics then rural issues stand little chance of being highlighted.
“Throughout the Highlands and Islands 60 per cent of the councillors are independent but they have no one to represent that at government level.
“I want to take local issues to the seat of power.”
Mr Stockan has strongly supported the work of the three island councils in drafting the islands bill, but says he would like to go one step further in order to gain “an islands deal.”
He will be in Shetland on Monday to launch his campaign.
He added: “I wanted to come to Shetland first because I wanted to let people there get to know me.
“I want to talk to people and find out what issues matter to them. I’ll be trying to get a ground up view of Shetland’s politics.
“In Orkney people already know who I am and know that I’m a straight talker who will tell it like it is. I hope to let the people of Shetland know this too.”