Its with sadness that we heard today of the passing of Danus Skene who died peacefully we hope in the early hours of this morning. He has had a long career in teaching and served on the SQA as well as stints teaching abroad. By 2010 Skene was living in Lerwick where he was chair of Shetland Arts. He stood down from this post to contest Orkney and Shetland for the Scottish National Party at the 2015 General Election,in which he took a close second place, with 37.8% of the vote to a certain Alistair Carmichael. He was also selected as the party’s candidate for Shetland at the Scottish Parliament Election, 2016,coming second to the sitting MSP, Tavish Scott, with a share of 23.1% of the vote. What was similar about the both elections bid was his narrow loss to the Liberal Carmichael whom a court found had lied to the public and press about the so called Frenchgate scandal involving manufactured misinformation fed to the mainstream media to discredit the SNP. Second time around the Unionists formed an alliance to assist an otherwise failing Liberal candidate Tavish Scott to get over the line. Conniving Unionists at work on both occasions.
This is Danus’s recent political life and he has done a remarkable job helping to change people’s views of politics and most importantly peoples expectations of elected politicians.His earlier political history is also fascinating and we think demonstrates the ‘journey’ many people have made from Unionism to supporting Independence for Scotland.His political CV goes back to the 70’s where he served on the Labour Party’s Scottish Executive.In 1976, he was a founder of the Scottish Labour Party (SLP), a split from the Labour Party.Other co-founders included Jim Sillars and Alex Neill.
Almost as soon as it was formed the SLP was was the focus for ‘entryism’ from the International Marxist Group( IMG). At the party’s first congress the IMG were expelled. What followed was a series of purges of individuals or branches who did not see eye to eye with the leadership.Is any of this sounding familiar? Is anyone thinking about any famous Monty Python film scenes yet? So one ‘split’ led to another “SLP” being set up by those who split the first SLP and they called themselves something else and went on to become the Scottish Socialist League. Is anyone still with me?
The SLP had no great electoral successes at any level.This was put down to a lack of planning at the time of launching the party.Many of its early supporters either rejoined the Labour Party, re-entering through the back door presumably and some went on to join the SNP.The whole process was initiated due to the fact that people were unhappy about Westminster based approaches to devolution for Scotland and Danus Skene was in fact the secretary of the ‘Yes for Scotland’ campaign during the Scottish Referendum Campaign of 1979. There’s no Yessers, like an old Yesser we hear you say!
This process is one that has repeated itself in the more recent past with smaller parties forming alliances to form the Scottish Socialist Party which did have some short lived electoral success and Respect in England focusing around George Galloway’s popularity.(Pre-the George Galloway cat incident we think! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQA2X4yvK_g)
Isobel Lindsay had this to say in an article in the Scottish Left Review on the re-allignment of Scottish politics- ”So any post-referendum ideas of a new party have to recognise that the odds are that it will start in a blaze of optimism and end a few years later in bitter recriminations. For people who want to see an effective left space in Scottish post-referendum politics, there are three other possible approaches – a focus on strengthening the left in one existing party, sustaining cooperative alliances across parties or bringing the left in the two major parties together in a new coalition.”
This week we see an SNP leadership contest for the post of deputy and we are hearing socialism and equality being discussed at the hustings. An inaugural meeting is taking place tomorrow for an SNP socialist group. Details are here and here—–> https://www.facebook.com/SNP-Socialists-874182202693907
This would seem to give socialist minded people in the SNP an opportunity to contribute their ideas and not split into infinity as has happened so many times in the past, diluting the impact of progressive voices.
So thank you Danus for reminding us of the journey you made through your lifetime and the miles travelled.Scottish politics has hidden lessons for us all to learn.The greatest of which is “Be Prepared”.We are closer to the prize of Independence now than ever before and that prize has to include social justice and equality for all our citizens if it is to mean anything at all. G