As an Orcadian, I care deeply about the island communities that surround me. Having enjoyed a childhood, a working life and a loving family, I have benefitted greatly from the culture, people and opportunities that Orkney has provided me over the years.
Now, after serving for 13 years as an Orkney Islands Councillor, I want to make a positive difference in Holyrood for the people across the Highlands and Islands. It is for this reason that I have put myself forward as an Independent candidate on the regional list in the upcoming Scottish Parliament election on May 5th.
I am currently Chair of the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HiTRANS). This experience, along with representing Orkney Islands Council (OIC) on a variety of COSLA Committees, gives me confidence to claim that I work effectively within and across local government and with both the Scottish and UK Governments.
I believe I have a track record of seeing through a problem, recognising the potential or opportunities it offers, and then collaborating with partners in the community to deliver solutions. Whatever it is I undertake, I always hold fast to the traditional values of honesty, integrity and hard work.
If elected as your MSP, I would focus on 5 important issues affecting our rural communities:
Improving and safeguarding our transport networks
Working towards the eradication of Fuel Poverty
Helping our local economies to thrive
Seeking better digital connectivity
Bringing decision-making nearer to the people it affects
These issues are extremely prescient across the Highland and Islands but I believe the Western Isles provide unique local challenges and opportunities that I want to embrace during my campaign and then hopefully in Parliament.
The Western Isles is one of the worst affected areas in Scotland for Fuel Poverty. A huge number of households are spending an unsustainable and unfair proportion of their income on merely keeping warm in their homes.
If elected, I would fight to see energy tariffs reduced and government subsidy for home insulation increased. National initiatives are so often ineffective in the Islands, so derogation of the funding is needed to allow unique Island solutions to be found to address Fuel Poverty.
Moreover, while the Islands Bill shows real promise, it will need close scrutiny in Parliament to ensure that bureaucracy and ineffective governance does not water it down.
If elected as your regional MSP, I would work hard for a solution that would achieve regeneration in the Islands similar to that promised in the City Deals.
I am standing in the Regional List ballot at this election as the only independent candidate, which means you can vote for your favoured constituency party candidate as well as for me. If you elect me as a list MSP, I would support whoever gets elected locally here in the Western Isles to challenge or support government policy as and when situations dictate.
As an independent, I do not have to tow a party line; I do not have to keep quiet when my party whip tells me to do so; and I will always be free to respond to the needs and desires of those who I represent, without infringement. Therefore, I would be able to offer the island communities, a strong, local, and independent voice in Parliament.
To achieve this, I need your help! I plan to be in the Western Isles during my campaign and I would be very keen to meet with anyone who would like to help with the campaign or who would just like to know more.
Please get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through my Facebook page: James Stockan For MSP on which we will post details of forthcoming visits.