Mathew Nicolson’s article contained some useful statistics but omitted a key point. There is no point in having party councillors if there are no parties.
The only moment during the period he deals with when there were active political parties in Shetland was the Thatcher era.
People like Chris Dowle, Leonard Groat, James Paton jr and Bill Smith discussed political questions at meetings of Shetland Labour Party before they went to council meetings.
They hated Thatcherism and did what they could to mitigate its results in Shetland. Their successes were greater than their numbers, because they had thought about the issues before they arrived at the Town Hall.
The Shetland Movement was different. Their councillors were an assortment of liberal-conservatives, with one or two extremely right-wing members. They had one response to Thatcherism: autonomy, and that was unattainable.
Everything changed when Blair came on the go. Ironically, the Labour Party began to falter in the council, and very soon disappeared from it.
Don’t forget that there had been socialist councillors in Shetland since 1905: it was a huge change.
And the liberal-conservatives took over, with not a political idea amongst them. This is a story about politics, not about numbers of seats.