The leader of the SNP group of councillors has pressed the local Labour Party to
publicly reveal to which of their members are standing in the council elections.
Donald Manford said: “Following recent confirmation from a senior Labour Party spokesperson
that “individuals with known party affiliations who stand for election without party
labels” may be considered routine, to do other than properly declare that affiliation
might be considered an abuse of the Standards in Public Life Code.”
He called on Labour and all other political parties to end the “tawdry episode” and
make it known to the electorate which of their membership seek election as independents.
“Tawdry” episode of “covert” council candidates
23 April 2017
It follows claims that prospective councillors standing as under a non-party label
may be influenced by their political affiliation and have failed to clearly declare
they are card carrying party members.
Mr Manford said it would be in “interests of local democracy” for islanders to know
who they were voting for.
He believes the council’s code of conduct requires councillors to declare their political
membership but a number of present incumbents “voiced the view that they were not
obligated to do that.”
The code requires membership or holding office in public bodies, companies, clubs,
societies and organisations such as trade unions and voluntary organisations are
registered and described.
Mr Manford who is a SNP candidate for the South Uist and Barra ward added: “In this
context, non-financial interests are those which members of the public might reasonably
think could influence your actions, speeches or votes in the council which could
include appointments to committees or membership of other organisations.”
At a seminar for councillors in 2015, the Standards Commission said that failure
to register “could be considered to be in breach of the code,” subject to evidence
of membership being available, he added.
Labour previously said it recognised that the attempt by both parties to introduce
party politics into local elections, has “not been welcomed” by the electorate and
is a “negative factor” in the workings of the Comhairle.
Island voters have not embraced the idea of political parties running the council,
it added, with the SNP only managing to put up 15 candidates last time and failing
to get half elected.
The Western Isles will be “best served” by councillors who take a generally like-minded
approach to local needs, without being tied to a party whip, said a Labour spokesperson.