UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Sunday 21 July 2024
 14.1°C   WSW Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Politics / Party politics in the council chamber? Independent councillor becomes SNP Shetland branch secretary

Meanwhile another independent councillor – Stephen Leask – has joined the Labour party

AN INDEPENDENT councillor has become the secretary of the Shetland SNP branch – but he says there will be no conflict of interest between the two roles.

North isles councillor Ryan Thomson

Ryan Thomson, who represents the North Isles, has been a member of the party since April and has stepped in to become the secretary of the local branch.

Meanwhile independent Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Stephen Leask re-joined the Scottish Labour party shortly before former prime minister Rishi Sunak called the snap election.

It comes after Shetland Islands Council (SIC)’s political leader Emma Macdonald, also an independent elected member, joined the Liberal Democrats last year – and has since joined the local branch’s executive committee.

She said at the time that her political party membership would not interfere in her status as an independent councillor.

Only three of the SIC’s current 23 councillors were elected on a party ticket – Scottish Green’s Alex Armitage, Scottish Labour’s Tom Morton and the SNP’s Robbie McGregor. Speaking after last week’s general election, in which the SNP came second in Orkney and Shetland with 17.3 per cent of the votes, Thomson said his independent status will “remain unchanged”.

“I have observed several councillors are now more openly aligned with their political parties in an official capacity,” he said.

“While my own political allegiance has been well known, I am now formally committed to assisting my political party in its efforts towards becoming a prosperous independent Scotland and cementing Shetland’s status within that independent nation.

“My role within the council will not change. I will continue to represent the North Isles to the best of my ability for the remainder of this council term.”

Lerwick North councillor Stephen leask.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Meanwhile Leask said he did not view being a Labour party member as a “significant issue” in terms of his work as an independent councillor.

However, he said it might be something to think about if he were to stand in the next SIC elections in 2027.

Leask added that having briefly been a member of the Liberal Democrats in recent years joining Labour was “going back his roots”.

Labour came fifth out of six in the Orkney and Shetland election last week with 7.2 per cent of the votes.

During the election campaign independent Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan, whose register of interests does not include being a member of any political party, publicly showed support as an individual for Liberal Democrat candidate Alistair Carmichael.

The SIC has historically been made up of independent councillors but there has been a small smattering in decades gone by, including the Lib Dems and Labour.

Councillor Allison – Flea – Duncan supporting then Lib dems candidate Alistair Carmichael.

Meanwhile in a recent interview with Holyrood magazine, Shetland North councillor Morton said he was encouraged by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to stand for the party in the 2022 SIC elections.

He was elected after only three candidates put themselves for the three seats in the ward.

“I thought I had absolutely no chance because most councillors here are independents and I thought it was very, very unlikely anyone would vote for a party,” Morton was quoted as saying.

“I put myself forward as an official Labour candidate and lo and behold nobody stood against me. I’m one of three councillors for this ward, but nobody voted for me.”

During the las SIC elections in 2022 seven candidates ran with a party backing – three Greens, two SNP, one Sovereignty and one Labour.


Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.