It’s not often that you get to have your cake and eat it – but an opportunity is there for Highlands and Islands voters to do just that at the upcoming election to the Scottish parliament in May.
“How is that?” you may ask.
Well, the key fact is that in Holyrood elections every elector has two votes: one for a constituency candidate and one for a regional candidate.
At the forthcoming election, councillor James Stockan of Orkney Islands Council is standing as an independent regional candidate for the Highlands and Islands. This means that under Scotland’s Additional Member System of proportional representation James can be genuinely an additional voice to represent the interests of our rural and island areas.
James will not compete head-to-head with any constituency candidates. He will compete instead against the faceless regional list candidates of the parties. This means that electors can vote for their favoured party candidate for their own constituency and also vote for James as an additional non-party regional MSP.
We believe that James has enormous credibility as a candidate for the Scottish parliament. He has served with energy and commitment as an outstandingly effective member on the Orkney Islands Council for 13 years, including spells as vice-convener and as chairman of the vital development and infrastructure committee. In successive local authority elections he has been returned with an increasing share of the vote.
As chairman of Hitrans, the statutory transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands region, he is already very experienced in negotiations with the Scottish government on the complexities of highland and island transport.
We also see it as a positive benefit that James is a successful businessman, rather than a full-time professional politician. (Who hasn’t enjoyed Stockan’s oatcakes?)
When James stood as a constituency candidate for Orkney at the last election to Holyrood in 2011, he put up a remarkable performance, coming very close to unseating the incumbent. The strategy this time around is very different but the earlier track record underlines the credibility of his candidacy.
We share and attest to the core values which James holds dear – honesty, integrity and hard work.
We also fully endorse the five policy planks of the platform on which James is standing:
• Improving and safeguarding our regional transport networks;
• Working towards the eradication of fuel poverty;
• Helping our local economies to thrive;
• Seeking better digital connectivity;
• Bringing decision-making nearer to the people it affects.
We, the undersigned Orcadian councillors, close colleagues of James Stockan, wholeheartedly endorse his candidacy and urge Highlands and Islands voters to support him in his bid to speak for the region in Edinburgh.
If he is successful the rural and island areas of Scotland, which he knows so well, will hugely benefit from his independence, his energy and his wealth of personal experience.
We must emphasise that we are making this endorsement in a personal capacity and not on behalf of Orkney Islands Council.
All members of Orkney Islands Council