On the morning of Nicola Sturgeon’s arrival in Shetland I was approached on the Wir Shetland members’ Facebook page by Councillor Westlake, ostensibly, taking me to task over WS supporting Tavish Scott in the coming election.
Knowing her SNP past – she has made no secret of her unsuccessful would-be candidacy – and that Nicola Sturgeon was here, I was wary and tried, unsuccessfully, to change the subject, as follows:
Rural schools are fundamental to Wir Shetland’s philosophy – they featured prominently in our public launch presentation, no less.
Alarmed by a rumour that a new school closures plan to merge Bells Brae and Sound schools into a brand new mega-primary, bankrolled by closure of country schools, is being worked on by SIC officials and Councillor Westlake is playing a leading role, it was an ideal occasion to confront her so I inquired whether she supported CURE and the campaign against school closures.
She persisted with her question about Tavish Scott, which I answered twice however she continued to evade my simple question, “does she support the campaign against rural school closures?”
I pressed her for an answer and having avoided the question several times, she finally decided she would rather resign than answer.
I concluded that she does not support the CURE campaign against rural school closures and accepted her resignation.
Councillor Westlake could have ended the exchange at any time but continued her evasion, until she decided to quit the group.
She then placed a post on her own Facebook page accusing me of “bullying” her and permitted her acolytes to make vile posts attacking Wir Shetland and its organisers.
For example: “Marvin Hutchison no they are not particularly ashamed at all, self promoting hitlers going to boot shetland into line and fill thier pockets at the same time , written all ower dem”.
At the time of writing, that post remained on Councillor Westlake’s personal Facebook page. Hardly becoming of an SIC councillor with ambitions for greater things.
People form alliances in politics and sever them when differences emerge. To preserve our integrity, it behoves us to be open about our conflicts of interest.
Councillor Westlake has been less than honest, purporting, after six months as a member, not to know Wir Shetland’s position on rural school closures, while actually playing a leading role in moves to revive that ill-considered project.
As for my being “rude” for pressing her on the subject, I simply kept asking her for an answer and I make no apology. Indeed, I would do the same again.