The extent of the asset loss to the SNP resulting from the mindless external machinations that destroyed the credibililty of the party in local government in Argyll and Bute continues.
The Oban branch has lost another key long time member.
Billy Wilkie, father of the celebrated young traditional musician Rona Wilkie and her musically gifted sibling, a thirty year member of the party and the branch, a noted loyalist and one of the hard working activists who gets the posters and leaflets out in campaigns – a serious capital asset to every political party – has resigned from the party.
He is said to have told the branch meeting that he was resigning out of disgust that the branch had not given its twice former Council Leader, local councillor Roddy McCuish, the opportunity – which he had asked for – to inform the branch of the circumstances which lad led to the withdrawal of support by half of the SNP group from his SNP-led coalition administration at Kilmory.
Mr Wilkie is said to have told the meeting: ‘You’d let Dick Walsh come and talk to you, if he asked.’
He was referring to Councillor Dick Walsh, the current Council Leader, deposed in the May 2012 election, given the opportunity to return to power following the collapse of the SNP group. Councillor Walsh replaced Councillor McCuish as leader.
There will be wide public understanding of Mr Wilkie’s position.
Councillor McCuish is a deservedly popular hard-working councillor in Oban and across Argyll. There is widespread withdrawal of public trust here from a party which saw its own internal factions eat each other in dispute over the eventually successful external party instructions to get out of power in the interests of protecting the independence vote later this year.
The party hierarchy was afraid of the responsibility of government, which might have seen its local administration attract unpopularity through the possibility of having to take unpopular decisions necessary for the good of Argyll.
A party that campaigned to govern and ran away from the reality when it was given the opportunity, will struggle long to regain credibility in Argyll.
Their narrow concerns were, of course, accelerated under the second of its three administrations within a year of taking power here – that of Councillor James Robb – in the decision taken by the council to close Dunoon’s Struan Lodge care home.
In the way of our political life, Dunoon Councillor Dick Walsh naturally took full political advantage of the crisis within the SNP to lead a keening local campaign to save the care home which had been allowed to become run down under his own former administration.
The decision to close the underused and cost heavy home was correctly taken to protect adult care services across Argyll. Councillor Walsh, in campaign-promise mode, then claimed to be able to save the council-owned home by recruiting private investment.
It should be noted now that Councillor Walsh has had remarkably little to say about Struan Lodge since he took power again in the Autumn of 2013.
Mr Wilkie’s is a principled decision that can only cost him heavily in the short term. He has been a part of a sort of family, all dedicated to the same political mission, Scottish independence. He is right to leave a party that has badly let down voters and members in Argyll and that has abused one of its councillors, Roddy McCuish, who did all he could to try to make his a party face up to the responsibilities of government. But he will be feeling the lostness of the divorced for some time. No one wins in a mess like this.