James Stockan with Cllr John Mackay, the Comhairle's Chair of Transportation
You may never have heard of James Stockan, but he is urging you to vote for him as your regional candidate in next month’s election.
Mr Stockan (58), is standing as an independent candidate for the Highlands and Islands – the first person to do so in 13 years.
Formerly the vice-convener of Orkney Islands Council, James Stockan is currently the chairman of regional transport group HITRANS.
For over 25 years he worked in the family business, ‘Stockan Oatcakes’ before becoming a councillor 13 years ago.
“The reason I am standing in this election is because I have identified an opportunity for the islands and the remote and rural areas to almost get a second voice in a way that will really promote the areas and work for the islands in the next parliamentary session,” he told www.welovestornoway.com
“At the moment the SNP look as if they will form the next government and in their manifesto they have promised an Islands Bill.
“I am keen to get another islander on board for the Highlands and Islands, and I don’t see any of the mainstream parties having an islander on their list for the regional vote.”
Having been independent for the entirety of his political career, Mr Stockan said he saw the good and the bad in parties.
“I have never used a party ticket to actually achieve anything,” he said.
“I have always felt that the best way is to listen to good ideas, and never to decry them just because of a different political persuasion.”
“Around 60 per cent of councillors in the Highlands and Islands are Independent, but there is nobody in Holyrood.
“There is no ‘go-to’ person there.”
Mr Stockan stood as a constituency candidate in Orkney in the last Scottish Election, narrowly missing out on election in what is a staunchly Liberal area.
He took huge encouragement from the late Margo Macdonald, who got in touch to assure him that an Independent in Holyrood could succeed, and not to give up.
“My personality is such, that I want to sort things out,” he said.
“I am not interested in words, only actions.
“What HITRANS has opened my eyes to is the range of issues that each individual area faces.
“Some are unique, but a lot of them are cross cutting right across the region
“We must address fuel poverty, which is actually a combination of low wages and high heating costs.
“That is partly climate related and partly because the properties we live in were built in a different era for different purposes.
“Historically, we on the periphery are low waged economies and therefore my concern is that while the government has good intention, by the time they put in all the bureaucracy we don’t get the best results.
“A lot of money is being spent in population centres, when we have the most extreme problem with very little resolution.”
Mr Stockan said that transport was another huge issue on which he would be focussing.
“With reducing council budgets, people don’t realise how much more important roads are to us here in the Highlands and Islands,” he said.
“For us to go anywhere we don’t travel five miles, we travel 500 miles.
“It is a completely different concept for us.”
He added: “As we live in a faster-moving world in every sense, we cannot be left any further behind than we already are.
“We must keep our business economy up to speed. I don’t like the idea of people surviving in the periphery. I want to see them thriving.
“If I am voted in, I will not be working against anyone. I will be working for our benefit. When the government does something that doesn’t work for us, I will be challenging it.
“I will highlight the different cultures that we have here, so we don’t get the ‘Edinburgh fix’, where they think they have ticked a box and done something for us, when we know that it is not the best outcome.
“We are unique people and we need unique solutions.”