DANUS Skene, the SNP candidate for Shetland who narrowly lost against Alistair Carmichael in last year’s general election, has passed away.
The 72 year old died in the early hours of Friday morning after undergoing surgery in London, the local party branch has confirmed.
Local party convenor Robbie McGregor paid tribute to Skene saying he was deeply sorry that he and the SNP had lost a good friend and servant.
“Our thoughts at this time are with his family to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.”
Despite still recovering from earlier heart surgery Skene also stood against sitting MSP Tavish Scott in this year’s Scottish Parliament elections and lost heavily.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to Skene by calling him one of the SNP’s “finest”.
She said in a statement: “Sad to hear Danus Skene has passed away. My thoughts with his family and friends.”
MP Alistair Carmichael described Skene’s passing was “sad news” and a loss “across the political spectrum”.
“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 said.
“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.”
Shetland MSP Tavish 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.”
Shetland Islands Council convenor Malcolm Bell said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.
“When we stood in the council election of 2012 in Lerwick North and Bressay, I found him to be a dignified, fair and hard-working opponent,” he said. “My thoughts are with his family and colleagues in the SNP.”
Robina Barton, who contested this year’s Scottish election in Shetland for Labour, said she was “devastated” by the death of her friend.
“Although we didn’t see eye to eye politically, I had a great respect for him. He was a good man and a decent human being,” she said.
“I feel very sad today because we had meant to get together sometime to discuss the aftermath of the Scottish elections and the EU referendum. I’ve been busy lately and I never quite found the time, which is something I will always regret. I’d like to send my deepest sympathy to his family.”
Gerry McGarvey, who represented Labour in the 2015 general election, said Skene was a “scholar and a gentleman”.
His Conservative rival in that election, Donald Cameron, added that the SNP man was an “intelligent, kind and gentlemanly opponent”.
In last year’s Westminster election, Skene managed to bring the Liberal Democrats’ majority down from 9,928 to 817 votes.
In May this year, Skene came second to Tavish Scott in the Scottish Parliament vote in Shetland with 23.1 per cent of the vote.
He twice fought for a Westminster seat for the Liberal Democrats – in North Tayside back in 1983, and in Moray four years later.
Skene was born in Dundee and first worked as a history and modern studies teacher. He then became an education official at Tayside regional council.
He has also served on the board of the Scottish Qualification Authority, and worked in schools abroad in Israel and Kenya. Skene was also on the committee of the local Althing debating society.
In 2015 he stood down as chairman of the board of Shetland Arts to focus on his Westminster election campaign.
Former director of the organisation Gwilym Gibbons described Skene as a “gentle, caring man with a passion for life and a huge intellect”.
The former SNP candidate, meanwhile, was also chief of the Clan Skene.