It’s only days since Iain Angus Macdonald resigned from the SNP and from his position as a Councillor for Oban North and Lorn to which he was elected as an independent in the Local Authority elections of May 2012.
Today, 15th March 2016, another SNP Councillor – and another Iain, Iain Stewart MacLean, has resigned from the SNP but not from the council, intending to stay on as an independent.
Both were apparently facing party group disciplinary proceedings in connection with their attendance records.
The SNP group has issued a statement calling on Mr MacLean to resign from the council as well and test his position at the ballot box in a by-election. This is clearly a less-than-veiled retributive action, effectively threatening to throw the uber-dominant SNP attack dogs at him in such a campaign.
It is interesting to note that, when Iain Angus Macdonald joined the SNP during his tenure as the independent councillor as which he had been elected, the same electoral proprieties did not appear to trouble the SNP group of councillors. Both they and Mr Macdonald resolutely resisted calls from others at that point that, in honour, he should resign and stand again.
If Mr MacLean does stand down as a councillor, this would see a double by-election in Oban North and Lorn, which would certainly make local politics quite exciting.
The situation is not one from which the SNP emerge with shiny fur.
Iain Stewart MacLean has been a councillor for a scant eighteen months. He was elected in October 2014 as an SNP Councilor after having been defeated by Labour’s Neil MacIntyre six months earlier in the Oban South and the Isles by-election of May 2014. In that campaign he had been disgracefully treated by the local Oban party – who selected him in a process contested by another strong local SNP candidate – and then left him to swing in the wind.
Infamously, at a hustings on Mull in that campaign, not a single local SNP official, never mind the usual posse, accompanied Mr MacLean who, as one man with no dog, was left to beg a lift with competing candidates and stand, with no support, to face the barrage of assaults on what [and this seems like pre-history now] was then an internally riven and shambolic local branch.
The SNP hierarchy has long been in despair at the limply mediocre performance of the formal group of SNP councillors at Argyll and Bute – a small rump of eight, after these two resignations and after the party’s music-hall and far from spontaneous combustion before indyef 1.
A few months ago the party was starting to conduct manoeuvres to see this group fall apart and be replaced by an ‘official’ SNP group which would have contained some of the councillors who departed the SNP in that combustive episode.
That move has been abandoned – but one has to wonder whether the coincidence of two current SNP councillors resigning from the party within days of each other is a signal as much of a deeper covert move against the hapless ones as it is of individual discomfort with the party?
Note: The eight remaining councillors who formally represent the SNP [some others are now non-designated ‘sleepers’ at Kilmory] ae:
- John Armour [South Kintyre]
- Gordon Blair [Cowal]
- Ann Horn [Kintyre and the Isles]
- Julie McKenzie [as pf 18th February 2016]
- James Robb [Helensburgh Central]
- Isobel Strong [Bute]
- Sandy Taylor [Mid Argyl – Group Leader]
- Richard Trail [Helensburgh South and Lomond]