Danus Skene dies following surgery in London

The man who stood against Tavish Scott in this year’s Scottish parliamentary elections, Danus Skene, has died.

SNP member Mr Skene died during the early hours of this morning following surgery in London.

Local party convener Robbie McGregor told The Shetland Times he had lost a good friend, while the SNP had lost a “loyal and able servant”.

“I won’t forget that he showed tremendous character in fighting the election following his recent illness. He was just a lovely guy.

“I’m certainly going to miss his humour, and I’m sure Shetland will miss the contribution he made to island life, and we in the SNP will miss the contribution he made to Scottish independence.”

Speaking about the health difficulties Mr Skene experienced during the Holyrood campaign, he added: “Danus thought that he had let us down in some way, and that in some way he wasn’t able to fight it properly – but that was far from the case.

“His standards were so high. He was concerned he couldn’t spend every hour of every day knocking on doors, so that left him quite frustrated. But I had no issues with the campaign he fought.”

In a short statement. Mr McGregor said: “I am deeply sorry that I and the SNP have lost a good friend and servant.

“Our thoughts at this time are with his family to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.”

Mr Skene stood for the SNP in this year’s Holyrood elections But his campaign was blighted by ill health.

He lost to Mr Scott by a large majority – but only last year he cut Alistair Carmichael’s majority by a significant margin when he stood against the former Scottish Secretary in the Westminster elections.

In a statement, Mr Carmichael said: “This is sad news. I know that Danus had not kept good health for some time but when I spoke to him last month he appeared to be on the mend and was clearly enjoying time with his family who were then in Shetland.

“He was a very intelligent man who was passionate about his politics but was always reasoned in his argument.

“He will be missed by his many friends across the political spectrum and throughout Scotland and also in Africa where he had a longstanding and very practical commitment.”

The Westminster election’s Labour candidate, Gerry McGarvey, said: “I am very sorry to read this as I enjoyed Danus’ company and conversation during the General Election campaign in 2015.

“As was reported following The Althing debate at that time – described as “a two party love-in”, a very rare thing between SNP and Labour candidates – we had much in common.

“He was truly a gentleman and a scholar, and his death marks the passing of a particular kind of politician and politics.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues in the SNP.”

Mr Scott added: “I am sad to hear that Danus Skene has passed away and would express my condolences to his family, friends and party colleagues here in Shetland.”

Prior to his campaigning for Westminster and Holyrood elections, Mr Skene stood for the Lerwick North seat in the SIC elections in 2012.

Member for Lerwick North, convener Malcolm Bell, said Mr Skene had been “dignified, fair and hard-working”.

“I’m obviously shocked and saddened to hear that Danus has passed away. He was very active in Shetland public life and when we stood together in the council election in 2012, at Lerwick North, I found him to be a very dignified, fair and hard-working opponent.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Mr Skene also served as the chairman of Shetland Arts and was active in the Church of Scotland, serving as a Kirk elder.

Minister of St Columbus Church, Rev Dr Caroline Lockerbie said: “His death is a tremendous loss. He was a remarkable lover of people and of justice.”


Add Your Comment
  • Gerry McGarvey

    • August 19th, 2016 12:30

    I am very sorry to read this as I enjoyed Danus’ company and conversation during the General Election campaign in 2015.

    As was reported following The Althing debate at that time, described as “a two party love-in”, a very rare thing between SNP and Labour candidates, we had much in common.

    He was truly a gentleman and a scholar, and his death marks the passing of a particular kind of politician and politics.

    I extend my deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues in the SNP.

  • John Tulloch

    • August 19th, 2016 14:06

    I was sorry to hear Danus Skene has passed away.

    Never having met him, I had the impression that he was, as Gerry says, both a gentleman and a scholar. Certainly, from a non-partisan perspective, he made a major contribution in recent years, nearly making Shetland and Orkney political history in the 2015 General Election.

    Politics are politics but when the Great Leveller intervenes there’s a place for setting aside differences and making room for common humanity.

    I extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends, notably, in SNP Shetland and wish them well for the future.

  • Rab Kay

    • August 19th, 2016 16:58

    My thoughts, love and prayers are with Danus Skenes family.

  • Robin Stevenson

    • August 19th, 2016 17:53

    My deepest sympathies go out to Danus’s family, friends and colleagues, a great loss to Shetland SNP and for politics in general.

    Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to make his acquaintance, but having listened to him and read his views on many occasions, I was struck by his fair-minded and open approach towards others of a differing political opinion.

    As John rightly said, Danus Skene came within a whisker of making political history. I believe his hard work and legacy shall not be forgotten, and will have sown the seeds for future change in Shetland and Orkneys political landscape.

    A true gentleman of politics will be sadly missed.

  • Bridget Cook

    • August 19th, 2016 18:56

    I’m very sorry to hear of Danus Skene’s death. I admired him greatly and would like to extend my condolences to his family.

  • Leslie Lowes

    • August 19th, 2016 21:43

    I am sorry to learn of Danus Skene’s passing. He served as a trustee of Shetland Arts Development Agency through the period of the construction of Mareel. He later became chairman of the trust and saw it through the transition period between the departure of Gwilym Gibbons and the appointment of Graeme Howell as General Manager, when trustees became hands-on managers of Shetland Arts and Mareel. It is to Danus’ credit that this transition was smooth and problem free. As his Vice Chair he consulted me regularly about changes that were coming in and it is to Danus’ credit that the six month transition period was smooth and problem-free. He stepped down as Chair during the run up to the Westminster General Election, but did so having made sure that the organisation was now fit to face the future in a period of fiscal sobriety. I did not share his political views, but always enjoyed political discussion with Danus, not confined to UK politics by any means. He was well travelled and was personally involved with an education project in rural Kenya, where he supported a secondary school which he visited regularly. Danus has contributed a great deal to improving life in Shetland and was always a genial host with a great sense of humour and a fascinating library. I am sorry we have lost him and my sincere condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues.

  • ian tinkler

    • August 20th, 2016 0:36

    Music, when soft voices die,
    Vibrates in the memory—
    Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
    Live within the sense they quicken.

    Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
    Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
    And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
    Love itself shall slumber on.

    So sad, God speed.

  • Haydn Gear

    • August 21st, 2016 11:56

    Despite coming from and living in South Wales, I have followed the various events and unfoldings according to Danus Skene’s activities and it has always been apparent that he was respected and held in high regard. I am so sorry to learn of his passing and I send sympathy to his family. RIP

  • Alexandre Barros

    • April 5th, 2017 7:23

    I was very sorry to know about Danus’s death. We were good friends and colleagues at the University of Chicago.
    He was a bright professional and a good friend. Recently he visited me and my family in Brazil and it was a very joyfull occasion for us. We extend our condolences to his family and we will miss him very much. Alexandre Barros.

  • John Spiers

    • November 11th, 2018 8:14

    We were fellow-students at the University of Sussex in the mid-sixties. He was a stalwart defender of free-speech and democracy, and one of the vocal resisters against the Trotsky left there. His loss is very sad.


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